“What a leader needs to have is not a set of rules but a good method of analyzing the situation in which he [or she] must act. If the analysis is adequate, a way of dealing with the situation will suggest itself.” – George C. Homas (sociologist)
In today’s environment we have to prepare our youth for more than just finding work; we have to prepare them to be able to have tough and meaningful conversations that can bring progress to our society. I make this claim because of two social observations that are mixing in our society today.
1) Our youth either aren’t able or don’t know how to appropriately deal with people who disagree with their opinions so they ask for EXTERNAL measures to be in place to protect their emotional well-being from such thoughts. This observation is laid out in the article ‘The Coddling Of The American Mind.’
2) According to the Pew Research Center, about 50% of Americans 18 years old and up, find it difficult to distinguish between FACTS and OPINIONS. Check out that NEW piece here and take their test to see how you do!
What would the prevalence of that mix do to the building of society?
If you ask any young person, especially in college what they want to be, almost all of them will say a leader or boss of some sort regardless of industry. If we believe the opening quote to be an accurate assessment of what leaders do to be efficient, what type of complete analysis would a person be able to carry out if they are constantly dealing with emotional scarring (that leads to “behavioral meltdown”) because of someone else’s point-of-view?
I believe that one of the main solutions for this comes from a sound cliche we’ve all heard before – we need to teach kids how to think not what to think. Along that line of thought we will list below, even though the assumption is that the majority of people who read this blog knows this, a list of 7 logical fallacies. The hope is two-fold: 1) to highlight the moments in conversation that may seem factual but are really opinion, 2) for us to search more about strategies of debate.
7 Common Logical Fallacies
1) Straw man
Misrepresenting the other person’s argument to make it weaker then attacking the misrepresentation.
(ex. If someone said, “Jordan is the best basketball player.” Someone else responds, “You think Jordan is more influential? He’s not even executive producing films and opening schools like Lebron”…that’s a straw man.)
2) Slippery Slope
Using the premise ‘if A happens then B must happen’ and the conclusion follows, therefore A must not happen.
(ex. If kids play violent video games our entire youth population will be violent. Stop all violent video games.)
3) Begging the Claim
The claim has its conclusion embedded in it.
(ex. Unnecessary and harmful marijuana should never be legalized.)
4) Genetic Fallacy
The origins of whatever is produced is determined to be good or bad based on from where or whom it came.
(ex. The economic policies are sickening because republicans designed them.)
5) Ad hominem
Attacking the character or personal traits of a person and not their opinions or arguments in hope of undermining their credibility
(ex. Lying Ted, Crooked Hillary…)
6) Ad populum
An emotional appeal to accept a claim because it’s a popular sentiment held by many or most people.
(ex. Everyone should stand during the singing of the national anthem)
7) Red Herring
A diversionary tactic used to avoid the issues at hand by addressing a totally different issue.
(ex. If i said “I believe that youth should learn ‘how to think’ and how to manage their mental resilience” and someone else responded, “I can’t believe that you believe that youth are irrational and should be taken for granted”….that is a red herring)
Beginning to understand some of these and remaining in tough conversations, will help us understand when we are uniformed (missing some knowledge), misinformed (having wrong knowledge) or just illogical (reasoning is off).
This issue for me is deeper than feeling strong during some argument but it’s about having the right kind of strength that is needed for building a better tomorrow. This is about community to me, it’s about team. The idealist in me holds to the romantic notion that we all want to live in some sort of harmony as we live out our lives. Am I right about that? I don’t know.
But if we do want to come together, it all starts with listening to other points-of-view and not attempting to usurp another person’s thinking process. Unity isn’t realized because we have quieted the differing opinion, that’s tyranny and oppression; togetherness demands a bit more work. Are we willing to go through that process? Are we willing to go through the discomforts and misunderstandings, through the tempers and through the pulling down of our mischaracterized perceptions? That’s team building! That’s community!
Whenever I speak with college aged youth, I tell them to read “How to Read A Book” by Mortimer Adler. Trust me…read it. I’ll end this post with this quote from the book.
To be informed is to know simply that something is the case. To be enlightened is to know, in addition, what it is all about: why it is the case, what its connections are with other facts, in what respects it is the same, in what respects it is different and so forth….
This distinction is familiar in terms of the differences between being able to remember something and being able to explain it. Enlightenment is achieved only when, in addition to knowing what an author says, you know what he means and why he says it.
Do you see these two social observations as a problem? What ideas do you have?
© 2018, Ira Webbe Jr, all rights reserved