Saturday, February 28, 2009

On an Emotional/Subconscious Level

Usually, when we talk about woos, we've done it on a conscious level, pointing out fallacies, lack of evidence, and so forth. One thing I'm curious about for this thread: How do you think about them on an emotional level? What mental associations have you developed?

I've gotten to think of some generic crystal-waver sort, stuck in linear, robotic lines of thought and prone to what I call 'categorical thinking' which leaves them particular vulnerable to things like false dichotomies and unable to understand fuzzy logic or the idea that human labels are constructs.

This thread is WILD and thus not subject to most of my comment rules.


Margaret said...

The two characteristics of woos and of some otherwise intelligent people that keep the woos going are

1. they seem to think words are somehow real -- as you put it "unable to understand ... the idea that human labels are constructs."

2. they don't think it matters whether or not something is true -- "whatever works for them"

It's the 2nd that really drives me nuts in an otherwise intelligent friend.

MWchase said...

I especially liked it when Nick was assuming, back during that argument, that thinking about forms of logic beyond first-order predicate logic forced whoever was contemplating the given logic to adhere to it in all situations. It makes sense if you assume that "logical" => "Truth" (capitalization oh-so-intentional), but literally meant that he thought that thinking about alternative ways the world could be described was destructive, not even because it could destroy faith, but because it could make you do CRAZY THINGS.

(The fact that FOPL, in cases that mathematicians do their best to avoid, is wrong, is just the icing on the cake.)

(I actually posted this comment just to ask: Doggerel is well and good, but it was a bit of a pain to search through the couple times I decided to cite examples point-by-point in an argument. Would you mind if I started up a wiki to act as a more semantic index of the entries. You have some tags and crosslinks, but you can't be expected to take note of every topic that might lead to a given piece of Doggerel. What I'm saying, in typically long-winded fashion, is that I think there should be a more user-friendly way to find a particular entry, and I think I can get that started on a wiki. Think of it as... Foundations of Woo takes down faulty premises, and this would, to start with, provide a user-maintained Doggerel index, and might, once it's more established, start dealing with common themes, etc... Trying to summarize and synthesize the individual criticisms that you and the guest writers... write.)

(π_π That parenthetical was meant to be short.)

Bronze Dog said...

Sounds like a good idea, MW. I had thought about making a second index where it listed Doggerel by type, but a wiki might be more effective.