Daniel Dennett has posted a fantastic set of “seven tools for thinking” in an article in the Guardian that has gone so viral that if you haven’t seen it yet, then you must be doing the internet wrong. Perhaps the most novel involves hitting CTRL-F:
“in this age of simple searching by computer: look for “surely” in the document and check each occurrence. Not always, not even most of the time, but often the word “surely” is as good as a blinking light locating a weak point in the argument.
Why? Because it marks the very edge of what the author is actually sure about and hopes readers will also be sure about. (If the author were really sure all the readers would agree, it wouldn’t be worth mentioning.) Being at the edge, the author has had to make a judgment call about whether or not to attempt to demonstrate the point at issue, or provide evidence for it, and – because life is short – has decided in favour of bald assertion, with the presumably well-grounded anticipation of agreement. Just the sort of place to find an ill-examined “truism” that isn’t true!”
I just hotfooted it over it Amazon to grab a copy of the book which the article is excerpted from Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking and was pleasantly surprised to see that the audio version can be grabbed for free (with a free trial of Audible). There’s still some tickets left to catch Dennet speaking on Tuesday at Bristol Festival of Ideas. I’ll try and grab a copy of the audio and whack it up here if possible, like I did with the Hitchens debate at last year, so if you’d like to listen to that, bookmark this page and check back here soon.
Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons/Mathias Schindler