In the amazing European childhood fairytale of “Little Red Riding Hood,” Mr. Wolf was attractive and friendly but yet he was not Red Riding Hood’s friend. Being a con-artist, Mr. Wolf sent the poor child down the long scenic route to her grandmother’s house. By taking the short cut, he got to the house first; ate the grandmother; coaxed the child into grandmother’s house; and then ate her. Fallacies (Greek, “deceitful”) are like Mr. Wolf–attractive on the outside but deceptively flawed (i.e. the “payload”) where it is devastating. Suspected Fallacies alarm Critical Thinking (CT) into detecting, defending against, and maneuvering around Brute or ignorant people–especially those using “Subtle” tricks that SEEM right or are ALMOST right. It is hard for good people to think that those among the “best” in a given society would deliberately teach people how to be dishonorable. Nevertheless, that method is the rule rather than the exception. Ancient Greek Sophists (c460 BC) deceptions were not done to stir up a conflict situation by opposing what people believe. Instead, it was smoothly designed to subtly steer people toward staying focused on the “shiny trinket penny” (e.g. “Trinkets and Trivia) they put in ones face while ignoring or ridiculing the peoples treasures of Truth. “Payload” information just a shade off the Truth-Track is done by fashioning the misleading or fallacious so that its plausible Subtlety (evasive reasoning, superficial soundness) “SEEMS ALMOST” right. The Old English word “Almost” (all + most = ‘for the most part’) originally meant ‘mostly all’ or ‘nearly all.’ “Almost” and “Nearly” both mean within a small degree of–or within a short space of. Still, “Almost” is of smaller degree and/or of a shorter space than “Nearly.” If one pulls the blanket over ones body on a cold night and is comfortable, except for one tiny uncovered area, one is closer to being completely covered (“Almost”) than if one was “Nearly” covered. Yet, in either case, one might not get back to sleep until the cold draft is eliminated.
It is CT’s job to recognize mistakes and flaws in reasoning (commonly called “Fallacies“). The place for me to always start is with myself. From a long history of experience, I know it is easier to pick out flaws in other’s thinking than in my own. But since I am not on top of my thinking game every moment of every day, there are four categories for ordering my life–Necessary, Important, Desires, and “A lick and a Promise.” It is in this order that sharpness for thinking is required. The Necessary is where I strive for ‘Human Perfection.’ The ‘Necessary’ is anything of a life-maintenance (food, housing, safety, etc.), life-shaping (e.g. “How Shall I Live?”) or life-changing (e.g. overcoming losses, lacks, and barriers) nature. Being the captain of my Selfhood vessel I cannot imagine letting anyone tell me what to think or do in these areas. Yet, I will listen to and assess the opinions of anyone–and the weight I give those opinions has nothing to do with their ‘authority’ status or recognized power or amount of money. I simply most respect the purity of Thought or Feelings. With Necessities, “Almost” is not good enough and it is my job to research and reflect on the subject until it is a “Human Ideal.” In the category of “Important,” there is a small space for “Almost.”
Often here, for any number of reasons, I lack the ingredients in the moment to arrive at a “Human Ideal.” Thus, I put down all I know so it can Marinate (etymologically, ‘dunk it in the sea’) inside the matrix of my mind whereby “Like-Kind” thoughts out of memory and coming in from the outside world will support aspects of its evolution. Matrix–a nice word, implying to ‘mother’–is a complete organism womb which imposes itself on, restricts the contents of, and places a boundary around a Thought or Creation. Meanwhile, it supplies nutrition, assists organization, and fashions orderly progression of development until the thought process or the creation is completed; or at least well along the way. Later, when I come back to the topic, its “wholism” aspects have been cleared of the fog–a fog otherwise likely to cause me to settle for “Almost.” Next, some things have the potential possibility to be Important. But if its time has not come, then I will do the “A lick and a Promise” thing I learned as a boy. Aunt Cherry would say this when a little something had to be done but there was not time to do the job right–something like: “I’ll take off the top dirt from the rug and promise to beat the rug tomorrow.” Here, “Almost” is good enough. jabaileymd.com