How to survive in the post-truth era Part 1

Simple tips that will help you distinguish truth from meaningless claims and to build a reasonable argument.

Neighbors say they need to refuse vaccination on television to discuss the coming of the next end of the world, in the Internet write that kefir diet (Forex trading, holotropic breathing, running naked) will forever make you happy.

Around us too much information, and a substantial part of it is complete nonsense. How to distinguish true and reasonable statements from blatant manipulation and sincere, but no less dangerous stupidity? It might be enough to seek the assistance of common sense, to dispel with the light of truth all the confusion? The problem is that common sense deceives us very often.

If people had to make do with only them, we’d still thought that the Sun revolves around the Earth, which is flat. It is to common sense, the often invoked, for example, creationists. How could all the wealth of nature to appear in the result of the case? No, it is clearly not without reasonable Creator.

Matter how intricate nor were the arguments of those who are trying to mislead you, ultimately they boil down to just a few things. Writer John Grant conducts a session of this simple magic with exposure in his recent book “Don’t believe! How to see the truth in a sea of disinformation”. We have identified the most important of these techniques and share tips on how to distinguish the crap from the only meaningful and true.

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Focus on the main thing

After reading some article or hearing someone’s loud assertion, think about what you want to convince and what you report, and then look to the details. It is useless to argue about how many people were victims of Stalin’s camps, if the apartment of your opponent hung with portraits of the leader. At the time forget about metaphors and rhetorical techniques. Highlighting the actual content of someone else’s statements you still can’t determine whether it’s right or wrong. But without this step you just can not do.

Note on quotes and references to the authority

Remember: the opinion of Newton is not authoritative in matters of quantum mechanics, the name of your grandmother — in issues of international politics, and even the most talented dermatologist hardly versed in climatology enough to his assertions about global warming was worth unconditionally believe.

No less common technique is selective quotation. Darwin in the “Origin of species” he wrote: “In the highest degree absurd, frankly, may seem to be an assumption that through natural selection could have formed the eye with all its inimitable inventions to regulate the focal length, to control the amount of light penetrating, for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration”. But he wrote it only to immediately challenge the absurdity of this statement. Faced with the dubious quote, check it with the context. Perhaps there was meant something completely different.

Beware of “straw stuffed” and go to the person

People are always eager to put their opponents in an unfavorable light. If someone supports the legalization of marijuana, his opponent will say that he is seeking unlimited access to drugs and undermines public morality (although this is not the same thing). Welcome “straw man” works especially well if you are not familiar with the arguments that the opponent rejects. You will be easier to convince that nothing good is just not there.

If that doesn’t work and it’s, get ready to go to the individual. As soon as is reasonable argument call someone a fool or an idiot, you should be wary. The labels only to those who can not oppose to the opponent anything meaningful. You should be interested in not what a person looks like and where he came from, and the actual side of the issue.

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