Epistemic closure is an act of will

Just reviewing what epistemic closure is…a good 2010 NYTimes article: “‘Epistemic Closure’? Those Are Fighting Words

It’s a very good read.

Reading a logical analysis of ‘epistemic closure’ — the logic topic — on http://plato.stanford.edu, there is an argument against the existence of epistemic closure: 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘳𝘨𝘶𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 f𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘺𝘴𝘪𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘒𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘭𝘦𝘥𝘨𝘦.

I think we MUST concede that there is a logical definition, and then there’s its non-logical application. It’s precisely 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 there is lack of analysis of knowledge that there is closure.

Or better still, you can “analyze” what you 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 is knowledge (when it’s not knowledge) and simply reinforce “truth” of what you believe (bias confirmation) or just add volume to the muck of what you believe is fact.

What we mean by closure is that new knowledge based on analysis of facts (existing “knowledge”?) or even the willingness to consider facts outside your echo chamber is non-existent or seriously (willfully) inhibited.

With epistemic closure, when there is cognitive dissonance, people “resolve” the dissonance in favor of what fits the narrative they want to believe or that fits within what they think they “know.”

The existence of “death panels” was a shining example. Without critical evaluation of facts (like actually reading the bill), you hear “death panels” from a demagogue; and no amount of presenting facts works to dissuade you from believing such a thing exists. It echoes well with both what you want to believe and what you think it fits “logically” into what you think you “know.”

God didn’t make them JUST male and female

I read a couple of articles dealing with the transgender kid who committed suicide because her parents, although loving her “unconditionally,” rejected a great deal about her on religious grounds. That rejection manifested itself on so many cruel levels, including “God doesn’t make mistakes…God’s going to send you straight to hell.”

Some thoughts:

1. God “made them [standard] male and [standard] female.” Makes it sound like there’s an absolute dichotomy, always. Generally speaking, it’s true. But speaking specifically, it’s NOT true. We are a puddle of chemicals where our development and outcome rely on what substances are released at what time in what (utero) environment.

The reality is there is a considerable spectrum of “intersex” physical configurations, which can manifest as gender dysphoria. Continue reading

Maine GOP Platform: a case study in Straw Man fallacy

The following paragraphs are ones I wrote in response to a thread analyzing the Maine GOP Platform (May 8, 2010).  I’m only posting it so that I can refer to it in other posts, such as the very next one on this site.


I hope these comments aren’t too far off topic (making the Constitution mean what they want it to).

The first thing that struck me in the preamble was the setting up of a straw man that starts with a philosophical “conversely”(1) statement.  Not that the statement itself constitutes setting up a strawman, but rather it is stated as something of a justification: It firstly asserts that the enemy exists and identifies what intent of the enemy is, namely to “throw off the shackles of restraint” in order to take control of the people.  (Actually, if the straw man isn’t a distortion of an actual position, but rather the invention of a position with its attribution to your opponent, that’s not Continue reading

Poisoning the Well: Freedom of Speech without Consequences

The other night I listened to a clip from a Sarah Palin speech where she said we had to “hold the press accountable when they’re making things up and not telling the truth.”  In another speech, she says, “They talk down to us. Especially here in the heartland. Oh, man. They think that, if we were just smart enough, we’d be able to understand their policies.”

Before that, I listened to Dr. Laura tell the networks that she wants to “take back” her Second-Amendment Rights to free speech that have been “hijacked” by the likes of Media Matters. This, after she machine-gunned an African American caller into her show with the ‘N’ word.

One of the things I try to do on a regular basis is review logical fallacies and try to identify what it is that I sense is going on in even up-beat sorts of rhetoric. When I consider the tactics that these two women are employing, it occurs to me that some sort of poisoning the well, among other fallacies (such as ad hominem),  is occurring.

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No true Scotsman … er … dog-lover

The other day, we were at a restaurant with our little dog, Picasso. While there, a couple of ladies sat down next to us with their own dogs — three of them. Not a problem. However, during the course of our visit and meal, there were occasions when then dogs barked.

This rankled me somewhat, and I made a comment that I think it rude for owners to subject others in a closed environment like a restaurant where dog-barking is not a distraction that is expected or appreciated. Serious conversation ensued:

– Dogs (like humans) need to be put into the environment about which you want to train them.
– Fair enough. But maybe something like the environment without imposing on people around you?
– But how would that be an authentic context?

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