73 Clues Your Theory Is Bunk
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People unknowingly subscribe to false assumptions. When widely shared, these become powerful mass delusions. While voices of truth ultimately have the advantage, and do win out eventually, there can be epic losing streaks along the way.

This author (who has a passion for arguing with people who are clearly wrong) noticed recurring patterns in these false assumptions, and in the characteristic ways they're advanced and defended. Here he reveals (and explains) a multitude of common tells–universal clues to the presence of bunk.

This book offers a new weapon to the side of truth. By listening to people explain and debate, you'll be able to spot the faulty theories and challenge their misguided proponents, even on unfamiliar subjects.

Whether you look at others' theories or your own, 73 Clues will help you understand how wrong ideas infect the minds of otherwise reasonable people, and possibly recognize your own false beliefs and misconceptions.



Publié par
Date de parution 06 juillet 2022
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781456639419
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0250€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


73 Clues Your Theory Is Bunk
Everyone's Guide to Being Wrong
Andrew Akers
Copyright 2022 Andrew Akers,
All rights reserved.
Formatted, Converted, and Distributed by eBookIt.com
ISBN-13: 978-1-4566-3942-6 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4566-3941-9 (ebook)
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
I. Using Clues to Detect Bunk
What makes a theory
The problem of bunk
Why bunk never ends
What makes a clue
What clues can do
How to use clues
Overview of chapters
II. Clues to Faulty Evidence
1. Your best evidence is a lack of disproof.
2. What you claim is evidence has no comparison.
3. You memorize statistics to cite as evidence.
4. You like to say the theory is scientific.
5. You think the theory was misapplied.
6. You give enormous weight to sparse evidence.
7. You know some of the theory's evidence is faulty.
8. There's no best evidence for the theory.
9. Evidence is in areas you know the least about.
10. You think evidence is hidden or manipulated.
III. Clues to Illogic
11. The theory is highly unpopular.
12. The theory has internal contradictions.
13. The theory is a target of funny jokes and satire.
14. The theory makes a new distinction.
15. The theory uses novel terms or definitions.
16. The theory employs a new method of analysis.
17. Even fake evidence is no match for the theory.
18. To explain the theory, you cite an author or text.
19. There are incompatible variations of the theory.
20. There's infighting among the theory's advocates.
21. You think infiltrators claim to be on your side.
22. The theory is similar to one that's bunk.
IV. Clues to a Better Theory
23. A rival theory is far more popular.
24. The theory is harder to understand than a rival.
25. You talk about a rival theory instead of yours.
26. You misunderstand a rival theory.
27. In the game of debate you play offense.
28. Your argument is more questions than answers.
29. You assume all critics defend the rival theory.
30. You regard the rival theory as a temptation.
31. Some critics formerly believed in the theory.
V. Clues to Weak Arguments
32. You're accused of having a double standard.
33. You use a conclusion like it's an argument.
34. You've heard an answer but don't remember it.
35. You think the evidence speaks for itself.
36. You're accused of using logical fallacies.
37. You bend the rules when debating opponents.
38. You'll never concede an opponent's point.
39. You'll shift the subject of debate.
40. You stereotype the skeptics you encounter.
41. You undermine the credibility of critics.
VI. Clues to Emotional Motivation
42. You can't explain your change of mind.
43. The theory seems to be the only moral choice.
44. You don't like midground or indecisive people.
45. You won't wager on the theory working.
46. Criticism of the theory offends you.
47. You hate the theory's outspoken opponents.
48. Opposition to the theory seems irresponsible.
49. You laugh at an opposing theory or evidence.
50. You empower proponents of the theory.
51. The theory inspires an organization.
52. Winning is more important than being right.
VII. Clues to Intellectual Isolation
53. Some questions don't deserve your answer.
54. You admonish skeptics to do some research.
55. You're absolutely certain the theory is correct.
56. You dismiss all skeptics of the theory.
57. You refuse to debate opponents of the theory.
58. You'll walk out on a debate and claim you won.
59. You analyze the critics, not their arguments.
60. You doubt the good intentions of opposition.
61. You think critics secretly believe in the theory.
62. You think devious forces oppose the theory.
63. You think fellow proponents are mistreated.
VIII. Clues to Failed Applications
64. The theory involves awareness of some danger.
65. You focus on a problem instead of a solution.
66. The theory calls for personal sacrifices.
67. The intent is more important than the effect.
68. You make a problem seem worse than it is.
69. You don't notice when the plan fails.
70. You prefer punishments over rewards.
71. The theory only works if people believe in it.
72. You say there ought to be a law.
73. The theory justifies a desperate battle.

Theories are little maps of reality that tell us about how the world works and potentially aid us in making things work out the way we want. They can be notions about the known, the unknown, or even the unknowable. But all too often, these maps get confused with the territory itself. When our map of realty is wrong and we don't know it, our view of reality is itself distorted.
Mistaken beliefs about the workings of reality, known by terms like pseudoscience, conspiracy theory, false narrative, mass hysteria, old wives' tale, religious dogma, and many more, don't tell us how the world really works. Instead, they offer another kind of tool for dealing with the world—one that's relatively mysterious but not entirely unknown. This differing utility is a distinguishing feature common to all bad theories that gain popularity and is the ultimate source of the clues we'll be exploring.
A bad theory doesn't work the way a theory is supposed to work. It is useful, though in an entirely different way. Any theory will explain things, helping us to feel like we understand what's going on. A bad theory just doesn't explain things accurately , such that we know what's actually going on. A bad theory can only pretend to do what an accurate theory does, which is to both explain and predict .
In many disagreements, arguments, and debates, we see an absolutely right side and a horribly wrong side. In some cases, both sides will be wrong, though perhaps with one side more incorrect than the other. But wherever there are conflicting interpretations of reality, it's safe to presume at least one of them is wrong. We can count on the fact that normal human beings sometimes put faith in total nonsense and have a mental block to realizing their own error, even when it's carefully explained to them.
No one wants to be wrong, of course. We all want to be on the right side of every debate, even on the right side of history when those debates are finally settled in some distant, enlightened future. But alas, we're all capable of being wrong about things. The best we can hope to do is reduce the instances of our own wrongness. This book can help.
The conflicts between multiple descriptions of reality aren't so much intellectual battles as they are struggles between reason and emotion, where emotion (and the bad theory) often wins out. Inaccurate theories are able to embed themselves in the mind to a degree seldom matched by accurate ones. There, unconscious motives drive people to cling to and advance their favorite bad theories, to implement them in some cases, and then to persist in the face of disastrous outcomes.
Nothing has more potential for disaster than the false beliefs that infect people's minds. Besides being potentially dangerous to those who hold them, bad theories are at the root of the worst kind of evil: preventable tragedies caused by people acting with good intentions . Conscientious people should seek every available tool to expose bunk and turn its adherents around. This book is designed toward that end, to help the reader identify bad theories of any kind, wherever they may occur.
The prevalence of bunk in modern society isn't an unsolved mystery. We just need to apply what's already known about the general phenomenon. This book makes no claims as to whether specific theories are correct or bunk. It doesn't look at any actual theories at all. It merely examines the way proponents of a bad theory characteristically distort evidence, subvert logic, manipulate opinion, and rationalize failure on an infinite range of subjects.
Because the ability to hold bad theories is universal, the aim here is to be neutral toward any theories held by the reader, no matter how absurd they might seem to the author. The goal is to simply catalog the most common, recurring signs of bad theories. If you're not already committed to one side of a debate, these clues can help you make an educated guess as to which side is more likely to be wrong. They'll make other people's nonsense easier to notice.
But what if your mind is already made up? Unfortunately, it's only the bad theories of others that ever stand out to us as being absurdly wrong. From your distorted point of view (as someone buying into bunk), other people's perfectly accurate claims will sound like bunk . And their totally valid criticisms of your theory will seem contrived or irrelevant. Subscribing to a bad theory thus feels like holding an accurate view.
Adopting the bad theory isn't a rational choice you made, though you're inclined to think it is. It's more like being possessed. Like a demonic curse, a bad theory causes you to turn a blind eye to everything that's wrong about it, including any catastrophic consequences of its application. And the truth will always undermine some of your power, authority, or self-respect. To even comprehend an alternative, much less exorcise the demon, you must be willing to give up a piece of yourself, cut away a part of your identity.
So, going further, this book is written in a way that will help you grow in awareness by recognizing that your own preferred theory is bunk. That is, in the event you want the bitter pill of reality, we are going to look at how you are infected with false beliefs. Getting the added benefit from this book calls for an

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