Friday, 15 March 2013

On Rational Discourse and Blogging

I taught Logic for years. I taught Debate. I taught Rhetoric. These were at the university level. These parts of the Trivium should be taught earlier than college or university, but rarely are. I had Logic in first year of secondary school, when I was fourteen.

I know the fallacies. I know how to think. I know how to lead students to think and there is hardly anything more exciting than watching students learn to think. It is an amazing experience.

I also have a journalist background, working in high school, college and city newspapers.

I have blogged from 2007-2009 and January 2012 until now.

I read many, many blogs and comment on some.

The past two days have been painful in the blogosphere. One reason has been the lack of logic and the use of fallacies.

Opposing sides of an argument have used faulty thinking, which are the fallacies, instead of sticking to points and arguing from logic.

Why this has happened is simply that most people have not learned to think or argue logically.

Emoting is useless and, on line, selfish and boring.

Sadly, adults have not mastered these stages. I would change the words "persuasion" and "persuasively" in the two diagrams to "argumentation" and  "debate". Persuasion uses emotion. which is subjective, while argumentation used object logic and facts.  Fallacies reveal faulty thinking and the application of subjectivism, such as name calling.

Name calling and ad hominem statements cause pain and hurt.

The problem is compounded by the fact that many people are afraid of the truth.

I hope all of us who belong to the Guild and all who read the Guild only want truth and not sentiment or comfort.

The truth, as Christ said, makes us free.  Anything less imprisons us in an adolescent state of either denial or confusion.

Confusion is not from God. Clarity is from God. Division is not from God. Unity is from God. But, unity must be real and not fake niceties.

Let us take a moment and pray for the Church, our new Pope, and Catholic bloggers everywhere.


  1. Ooooh, fscinating! So, where would you rate my blog? ;-)

  2. I have a question first..who writes it--you or Msgr. Miaowrini? I need more facts for a rational answer. lol

  3. Actually it is dictated to me by Cardinal Mastai-Furretti, with liturgical notes supplied by Mgr. Guido Miaowrini. Does that help?

  4. Thanks for the brief tutorial. I teach at the same levels, and the same subjects. I don't always follow these rules on my blog, but... At least I know when I am violating them.

  5. By the way, this graph is not exact...all those things happen at a much earlier age.

  6. Thanks for the qualification - was about to go all anti-piaget on your ass-umptions :)
    Taught logic too [only basic aristotle/syllogisms/lukasiewicz and smullyan]
    [couple of my names for fallacies caught on too - even reached webster's]

    As for getting too involved...wonder what you'd think of this? I've only just discovered it on google even though it discusses my rants!! believe it or not it began as a blogpost on how to deal with trolls -
    have me doped up to the nines on painkillers after an accident and well?chaos ensues...I seriously don't remember this - which is scarily disconcerting.

  7. On the side that you also taught logic; which level?

    The graph was the only one I could find quickly; of course, as Catholics, we believe, and know, if we have kids, and have taught, that the realization of cause and effect comes much earlier: hence, the age of reason being seven and the reception of the sacrament of Confession possible.

    Actually, someone is my family made his first Confession and Communion much, much earlier thanks to an enlightened priest in Hampshire.

    My blog is too basic to get trolls...sigh. I have not made the troll list.

    However, the silly season for writing is in full-gear. But, I am war-weary today.

    Sorry about your accident. Prayers. Where was St. Raphael?

  8. Oh when I was doing teacher training we were given ludicrous statistics that a child doesn't have any real self-consciousness until two, thought until five that someone not in their periphery did not exist and until thirteen was incapable of abstract thought...which I think are all out by a factor of at least ten [remember my daughter at ten months being in hysterics watching Mr Bean playing golf down a manhole identifying the sounds with unseen actions...]

    Only recently I recall a lady-blogger commenting that until nine months a child did not think they were a separate entity from their mother...something I know to be so ludicrous as laughable...Lord spare us from 'child experts'...and when it comes to the age of discretion seven is a good marker - you just watch a toddler of two [and younger] knowing defiantly that they are doing what they are not supposed to be doing...

    Quam Singulari is one of the most beautiful papal decisions from someone who knew the hearts and minds of children...and it's shameful when we have others pontificating that a child must wait until 10 or 12 or even 16 before they receive the Blessed Sacrament - or a special needs child [think the Ellarby case] can't receive unless they've had extra years of 'instruction'...

    Pope John Paul II had to personally insert the qualification for Confirmation being that one was understanding, willing and able to adopt the mantle of personal witness to the faith - against 'academic' retorts of 'that's not the theological understanding of the sacrament' [many at the time were commending Archbishop Kelly confirming at 7] to which came the insightful common-sense response 'well if that's the case what does the name of the sacrament mean?!!' and His Holiness remained resolute that the threshold of adolescence was the correct timing for this initiation and made sure his wording entered Canon Law.

    I took over the logic lessons in seminary after the lecturer caught hepatitis - taught the square of opposition,conversion/obversion/contraposing etc the syllogism [plus its special rules], the NCAKED pre-'logic gate' stuff...just the real basics...did a couple of fallacy lectures [inventing a load of names for those which hadn't really been named] [although Bo Bennet's recent 'Logically fallacious' has done a good job at helping the cause along] then many years later did it at Stamford as their acting head of RE at AS & A2 levels where I really drummed home the necessity of authentic 'critical thinking' and lateral thinking and not accepting current academic fallacies/idle prejudices...a veritable roller-coaster ride...

    The plan for the first class I took is on my blog

  9. Great comment, On the side of...well, objective truth is not politically correct and, of course, kids no longer sin, apparently. I personally prefer the Byzantine Rite of giving all the Sacraments of Initiation to Babies.

    As to kids being smart, wowie yes. I have Montessori training and little ones can do tremendous things.

    Thanks for you interesting link.

  10. except, I cannot get the link to work, sigh.


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