You need to be prepared to refute the
uncritical thinker argument by having objections to their arguments or by
proposing alternative actions. In some cases the refutation has begun even
before the face to face interaction by using the anticipation as explained in
Having objections is claiming that there
is contradictions in the argument. Either a contradiction between several
arguments or contradictions with proven facts of reality. This process of
objections will be conducted through the Socratic questioning process. The
critical thinker will be actively engaged in the discussion by asking questions
in order to test the solidity of the argumentation of the antagonist. If the
antagonist wants to remain in the discussion he will have to answer the
questions. He will either have to lie or to be honest and expose his
contradiction. If he chooses to lie then he will be engaged in creating further
contradictions which will weaken his position even more. This is possible only
through the questioning process. Only questioning will reveal the weaknesses of
the uncritical thinker and will make him admit that he has contradictions in
Another option to defend oneself against
predatory self-interested uncritical thinkers is by proposing other plans of
actions, that are either as valid as the one they propose or better. Normally a
predatory uncritical thinker will propose actions that benefit him in the short
term but that are against the interest of the person he is making the request.
In addition the short term benefit will fade away in the long term. The
critical thinker is therefore always winning when he proposes a counter
proposition to the uncritical thinker. Examples of counter propositions are:
proposition of the antagonist is less good than the present situation. It
will cause more harm than good and will worsen the situation instead of
bringing a benefit.
proposition of the antagonist has good sides but in fact it can be
improved by doing what I propose.
proposition of the antagonist is not as good as mine. I propose a better
course of action different from the one from the uncritical antagonist.
proposition is less significant than claimed. The proposition will bring
benefits but they will not be as great as the antagonist claims.
advantage is not unique to the proposition, other propositions can bring
the same result.
proposition will fail to reach the advantages it aims at.
The proposition will in fact bring disadvantages
more significant than the proposed advantages.
In the case for which one claims that the
proposition will not produce the benefits claimed one has to expose the
barriers that will prevent these benefits from being achieved. Then one has to
explain the degree to which the identified barriers will reduce the actual
benefits of the proposition.
In the case for which one claims that the
plan will produce significant disadvantages, one has to identify the ill effect
the proposition will produce. Then one needs to make clear the link between the
proposition and the ill effect. One needs to make clear the significant
negative impact of the ill effect. Then finally conclude that if we do not
adopt the proposition we will avoid the consequences of the ill effect.
One can also first accept the opponent’s
argument and then use it against them. One can say that the opponent’s argument
is good and use the argument against them. You can say that the argument is in
fact good for your own position. Convert one of the opponent’s strong arguments
to your own use. Because the opponent has defended the argument when it was at
his advantage, he cannot attack it, he has to concede.
As a guide, one can you the five following
steps for refutation:
your opponent’s argument
your opponent’s argument such that everyone knows which argument is
your objection to the opponent’s argument
your counter argument with evidence
Explain the impact of your argument, explain how
it weakens the opponent’s argument
For a refutation to be efficient, one
needs to show the contrast between one’s position and the opponent’s position.
Once one has exposed the weaknesses of the
proposed plan from the predatory uncritical thinker, one has the option to
simply and legitimately opt out of the proposition or to propose a counterplan.
In some situations, it will not just be
enough to reject the position of the predatory uncritical thinker. One will
have to propose a plan of action because something needs to be done. This could
happen for example at the workplace.
One can as a default choose to defend the
status-quo by saying that the present situation is good and should not be
changed for the one proposed by the opponent because it could bring more
disadvantages than the current situation.
k) Ethos, logos, pathos and rhetoric
The critical thinker needs to be aware of
the way conviction is gained and how it can be faked. Aristotle proposed that
conviction rested on the ethos, pathos and the logos concepts. Ethos is the
credibility of the person making the claim. Pathos are the call to emotional
response, this happens when a claim is emotionally charged and is connoted.
Logos is the use of reason to conduct one’s argumentation.
Each of these elements can be faked and
used in order to manipulate others.
The predatory uncritical thinker will use
ethos in different ways. He can use it for himself, claiming that he has the
right credentials for making the claim. He can claim that he has a PhD in
biology and therefore the claims he makes in biology can be trusted. He can
also use the credibility of experts to support his claims. He could say for
example that this idea is confirmed by Einstein, when in fact it is not true.
He will rely on the reputation and credibility attached to Einstein to make one
accept his dubious claims.
The predatory uncritical thinker can also
use pathos in is tentative to manipulate the critical thinker. He will make
appeals to emotions, to greater good, to universal values in order to disarm
the critical thinker. He can use connoted words that have a positive emotional
meaning to push forward his proposition. He could use negatively connoted words
to belittle the critical thinker’s proposition.
He can also use logos to manipulate the
critical thinker. This is done through fallacies. Fallacies are false arguments
that sound reasonable because the human brain is wired such that it will
respond positively to some argumentative structures. If the argument structure
is sound then even if its content is false one would have a tendency to accept
it. The example is the syllogism. The syllogism is an argumentation structure
that is sound and that when used the human brain has tendency to accept its
claim, mainly based on the structure: All A are B, All B are C, therefore all A
are C. The sophist used this structure to push their false arguments.
Finally it is important also to be aware
of the use of rhetoric. It is a subject that is beyond the subject of the book
but still very relevant in a face to face interaction. Rhetoric is the ability
to talk and present one’s delivery in a seductive way, in a way that will gain
the consent of others even if the content is not solid.
l) Negotiation option: The Trader’s Principle
The trader principle which we introduced
in section 3 of this chapter, is a very important tool for dealing with
non-critical people. It is a guiding principle. It says that one should no give
the unearned nor accept the unearned.
The predatory uncritical thinker will be
seeking to acquire things that are not legitimate for him to acquire. He will
be relying on unfair tactics to get what e desires. It is the role of the
critical thinker to be firm and refuse to provide the unearned to the
uncritical thinker. He will eventually even use emotional pressure or appeal to
higher values to break the resolve of the critical thinker. Nevertheless the
critical thinker thanks to his integrity and rationality is able to reject
these types of pressure.
The uncritical thinker will also try to
provide favors to the critical thinker, unearned favors, such as compliments,
invitations, gifts, taking side with him…This in order to soften his
resistance such that he will then be able to ask him favors in return and be provided
the unearned. He tries to create a chain of unearned values. If the critical
thinker sticks to the trader’s principle he will reject any of these tactics
that try to control him through providing unearned values.
The critical thinker will the will to
always be in charge of his mind, to never go out of focus. He takes
responsibility for his mind, his thoughts, his purposes, his goals and his
values. He does not rely on others and therefore does not accept the unearned
nor provides the unearned.
m) Sub-conscious Standing Orders