Libertarianism versus Determinism


‘So, a lot of us figure that our thoughts and actions are free. But, most of us also believe that every effect has a cause, and that everything that happens now, in the present, is the necessary result of events that occurred in the past. This view is known as hard determinism. And [many people would argue that both can be true]; that many of your actions are free, and that the world is governed by cause and effect.

But, it turns out, you can’t rationally hold both views. Because, traditionally, libertarians have defined free actions according to what’s known as the Principle of Alternate Possibilities. That might sound like the plot device for a sci-fi show, but this principle says that an action is free only if the agent – that is, the person doing the thing – could have done otherwise.

So, truly free actions require options. Determinism, by contrast, doesn’t allow options. It holds that every event is caused by a previous event. Which means that an agent can never have done anything other than what they did, and therefore, they are never free.’

– Green. H. (2016, August 15) Determinism vs Free Will: Crash Course Philosophy #24

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The Authority Fallacy


‘A lot of fallacious forms of argument cluster around the use of “authorities”. It is often necessary in argument to make use of some kind of authority – if only because we want to refer to facts and findings. But authorities can also be used as a way to bully opponents by suggesting that in failing to agree with some venerated source they must themselves be weak-minded, ignorant or wildly and dangerously at odds with common standards.’

– “Can you spot a rhetorical fallacy?” The Guardian, 13 September 2013

IKEA Effect


People attach greater value to things they have made themselves than if the very same product was produced by someone else. This cognitive bias is known as the IKEA effect.

Creating something yourself boosts people’s feelings of pride and competence, and has the added effect of showing off their competence to others. This can lead to an overly subjective view of a project.

Chandler: [Rips his jacket on the large wooden tv unit.] Wow! That ripped! That ripped real nice!
Joey: How many times I have to tell you! You, turn and slide! You know, turn and slide.
Chandler: Oh you don’t turn and slide, you throw it out! I’m tired of having to get a tetanus shot every time I get dressed!
Joey: Well, we’re not throwing it out! I built this thing with my own hands!
Friends (1997) Season 4, Episode 2; “The One with the Cat” [No. 75]

Post-truth Politics


The combination of populist movements with social media is often held responsible for post-truth politics. Individuals have growing opportunities to shape their media consumption around their own opinions and prejudices, and populist leaders are ready to encourage them.

How can we still be speaking of “facts” when they no longer provide us with a reality that we all agree on?

The problem is the oversupply of facts in the 21st century: There are too many sources, too many methods, with varying levels of credibility, depending on who funded a given study and how the eye-catching number was selected.

It is possible to live in a world of data but no facts.

We are in the middle of a transition from a society of facts to a society of data. During this interim, confusion abounds surrounding the exact status of knowledge and numbers in public life, exacerbating the sense that truth itself is being abandoned.

– Courtesy of: The New York Times

Unbelievable Truth: Aeroplanes


This is a short lecture that is entirely false save for five pieces of true information which are cunningly concealed amongst the lies. Today’s subject is aeroplanes, heavier than air flying vehicles with fixed wings which are usually powered by propellers or jet engines.

Since the dawn of time, man has gazed up in the sky and dreamt of what it must be like to sit in it somehow eating Mini Pretzels and half-watching Paul Blart Mall Cop. Well, today we can answer that question in two simple words: aero planes.

Aeroplanes have existed in the wild, of course, ever since pterodactyls. But the first man-made aeroplane was built by a pair of simple Ohio biscuit salesmen, Wilbur and Orville Wright. The Wright brothers were, as I say, pigeon farmers by trade and it was watching these majestic creatures take flight that inspired Orville to turn to his brother one morning and say:

“Wilbur, I wish I could fly! Right up to the sky! But I can’t.”
A curious light came into Wilbur’s eye as he replied:
“Orville, you can!”
“I can’t!”
“You can!”

And so, financed entirely by their day job which, you remember, was running a bike shop, they set to work designing an aeroplane.

So they set to work designing an aeroplane. Tensions ran high. As Orville was keen to build an ‘F-16’ fighter whilst Wilbur had his heart set on the ‘Boeing-747’. When such arguments arose the brothers would deliberately swap sides midway and argue the other’s point of view. At first, Orville thought this was a stupid idea but then Wilbur made them swap sides and after that Orville convinced Wilbur it was a good idea, so they did it.

Aviatress Lilian Bland built the first aeroplane in Northern Ireland using a whiskey bottle as a petrol tank and her aunt’s ear trumpet to feed it. It had the engines of a lawn mower, the wheels of a pram and the wings of an albatross. Earning her a lifetime ban from Belfast bird sanctuary.

And she called her aeroplane the ‘Mayfly’ as in ‘it may fly or it may not’. In 1929 Elsworth W. Bunce became the first man to walk along the wing of a plane in flight. In 1930 he became the first man to milk a cow on a plane. And in 1931 he became the first man to realize that no matter what wacky things he did on planes his parents would still prefer his brother.

Since then aeroplanes have been designed in every imaginable shape and size. For instance, the Lockheed McDonnell 3-12, which had both wings on the same side of the fuselage and was consequently very good at turning right but very bad at not turning right. Then there was a Caproni Ca.60 which had nine wings and eight engines and contained a cocktail bar, a swimming pool, a racecourse and an aerodrome.


See other: Unbelievable Truth Posts

PS Consult the comment section to find out the truths.

The Scharff Approach to Interrogation


Perhaps ironically, the most effective approach to extract information from someone may be kindness. In 2014, Swedish researchers compared a common, direct interrogation—where the questions are direct and specific—to the Scharff Technique, named after the highly successful German interrogator Hanns Scharff.[1]

Scharff was not a typical Nazi interrogator. Unlike the infamous Klaus Barbie, he did not believe in using physical violence. Instead, Scharff got prisoners to spill their secrets through kindness and cunning.

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” ― Voltaire

According to Pacific Standard magazine, he even used to share his wife’s baked goods with allied fighter pilots. Once, while strolling with a captured allied fighter pilot through the woords, Scharff claimed that American tracer bullets left a white instead of red smoke due to a chemical shortage, the pilot jumped in to correct him, saying the white smoke was a signal to pilots that they were low on ammo. Thus Scharff was armed with the information he sought. Contemporary researchers are now beginning to put his techniques to the test.

In the Swedish study, participants were given a story with 35 details and interrogated by phone, Scharff’s approach not only resulted in more (and more precise) information, but those being interrogated thought they gave up less information than they actually had, while those being interrogated directly felt they gave up more than they actually had. Kindness is not the only key ingredient to the Scharff Technique; having a “know-it-all” attitude compels information-disclosing corrections, as in the case of the pilot correcting his “friend.”

“The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?” ― George Orwell, 1984


[1] Oleszkiewicz. S., Granhag. P.A., Montecinos. S.C. (2014) The Scharff-technique: eliciting intelligence from human sources.