How often we lament the idiots who post in official forums, the trolls who knee-jerk reaction is to criticise. Well, I lament it often, anyhow. This isn’t just WoW, it’s the internet. More accurately, being stupid is part of the human condition. I like to presume that most people are stupid and lazy until proven otherwise, and am delighted when I find intelligent people.
One of the things which annoys me, a lot, is those moderately intelligent people, or at least articulate, who cannot analyse properly. They have flaws in reasoning. They do not deploy critical thinking: the ability to have some distance between yourself and your ideas. Objectivity about your own thinking.
Like most aspects of humanity, we have cataloged and analysed those flaws themselves. Here are some of those ways.
“Black and white thinking” is particularly frustrating for me. It’s like the person is using a mental short-cut rather than accepting and dealing with the true complexity of the world, or the situation at hand.
Vested interests piss me off in business when the person does not have the strength of character to disclose. This happens all the time. It creates political situations. It causes arguments which rage around the positions the two parties are taking rather than a negotiation based on one anothers’ interests.
Confirmation bias is one of the mechanisms by which people defend religious beliefs or horrible cultural traditions. To a scientist, it is particularly damaging since their perspective is compromised. I’m reading a great book at the moment on the intersection of quantum physics and psi phenomena, which is itself a genuine scientific field of research that is belittled in part because of this bias.
Logical fallacies are amongst the most common of tricks used to support arguments (often seen in qq posts about nerfs or class balance and so on, but sadly seen across the world in ways which harm us).
If you are not familiar with the codified fallacies, and want to improve your skill at disassembling an opponent’s argument (or in simply ignoring it in a more intelligent fashion), the about.com site I linked also has succinctly-written descriptions.
The “no true Scotsman” fallacy is relatively well-known compared to the others. You will see politicians use this in negative divisive moves where they might say “no true <insert demographic> would support abortion”.
Ghostcrawler’s a clever chap, and sometimes alludes to his understanding of these fallacies and flaws, sometimes directly naming them. I don’t know how he has the patience to contribute there, to be honest.
I used to trade on the financial markets. This can be a seriously risky endeavour. There are two absolutely key skills, beyond technical analysis or momentum or reading the news or your latency to the CME, which contribute to success:
- your ability to make distinctions
- emotional awareness and control.
The absolute defining book on these topics is the Disciplined Trader, by Mark Douglas. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
The relevant point here though, is about distinctions. If you know a subject matter really well, you can make more fine distinctions between items than a novice. In trading, if you can identify a sideways or upward movement and distinguish that from a reversal, you can trade profitably.
However, the second factor then comes in, which is intellectual distance from your own judgement. You need to allow yourself to be wrong and change your view very quickly. This is hard when you are invested (literally) in a trade.
Changing your opinion on something is not easy, due to emotional commitment to the decision or your own intelligence.
Bonus. I found an electronic copy of the Disciplined Trader if you want to read it in PDF. I’ve actually bought a copy twice, though, when I lost the first one and would suggest anyone who trades should do the same.