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Some guidelines for spreading clear thinking

Only speak the truth. Never claim something to be absolutely true unless there is undeniable evidence. State the most likely possibility of truth. For example, you can say: "Given the amount of scientific evidence gathered over the last two centuries, the theory of evolution is a very solid scientific theory. No evidence has been found to contradict it, (but if there were, the theory would be modified), and the biblical story of creation is not supported by the evidence, and is a matter of faith, and therefore, unscientific."

Never insult another person's intelligence. Always treat others' ideas with respect. When you disagree, state why you disagree, and ask what evidence they have to support their stated idea. Always cede the point when the disagreeing person says something that is true. Your goal is to find truth, not to win arguments or score points in a debate.

Never assume that because a person is a clear thinker in one or more areas of his/her life, that he is a clear thinker about everything. Remember that we all have emotional attachments to certain beliefs, and it is difficult and sometimes painful to let them go.

Realize that unclear thinking is natural, and that clear thinking requires effort. If you can convince an unclear thinking person to exercise just one aspect of clear thinking, you will have made the world a better place.

Do not be intellectually arrogant. People are intelligent (and ignorant) in unique ways, including you.

Do not belittle belief in the supernatural. Simply ask why the person believes as he does, and ask pointed questions. If you can get him to start thinking, you have been successful. Indoctrination sinks very deeply into some individuals, and they need guidance, and time, to overcome it.

Never offer strong opinions on subjects of which you actually know very little. It makes you look like a fool in front of people who know something of the subject. We are all guilty of this, and it requires conscious attention to our pronouncements.

When you acknowledge the truth of your opponent's / discussion partner's point, he is more likely to acknowledge when you have made a true point.

Realize that some people are incapable of abstract thought, objective observation, analogies, etc. They are incapable of reason. Do not disdain or ridicule them, simply cease to discuss rational topics with them, unless they are dangerous, and the debate is public, with some rational people observing. Perhaps you can help an audience member to start thinking clearly.

Try to outline the basic steps of clear thinking whenever it is possible, and appropriate.

People hate unfairness. Point out whenever your discussion partner is being unfair.


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St. Augustine on Curiosity ***

There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity... It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.

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***10/5/2013 - Note: this is probably a misquote, for the purpose of defaming St. Augustine.  I published it without any research as to its veracity, and I regret it.  He is a revered figure in Christianity and western culture, and whether we subscribe to his philosophy and views or not, everyone deserves at least to be described accurately. - James Carr.

'Cause I'm the Tax Man

What's next? Is nothing sacred in this world?

From BBC:

Sweden targets strippers for tax

Sweden's tax authorities are seeking the bare facts about webcam strippers' income, estimating that hundreds of Swedish women are dodging the law.

The search involves tax officials examining websites that feature Swedish strippers, in an effort to identify them and chase them for tax returns.

The tax loss is estimated at about 40m Swedish kronor (£3.3m) annually.

Project leader Dag Hardyson said 200 Swedish strippers had been investigated so far. He said the total could be 500.

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Detective work

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