Category Archives: Critical Thinking

Summary of Uscinski’s, “On Conspiracy Theories: A Primer”

© Darrell Arnold Ph.D.– (Reprinted with Permission)

Joseph Uscinski’s Conspiracy Theories: A Primer (Roman & Littlefield, 2019) is a helpful primer, providing, as Uscinski notes in the preface, not a complete picture of conspiracy theories, but a “complete enough picture.” Continue reading Summary of Uscinski’s, “On Conspiracy Theories: A Primer”

The Backfire Effect


© Darrell Arnold Ph.D.– (Reprinted with Permission)

I first heard about the “backfire effect” in a work by Michael Shermer, Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time. (Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (the authors of the New York Times bestseller, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness) have also referred to it in various contexts.) Continue reading The Backfire Effect

Election Recounts and the Backfire Effect

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Doubt is an uneasy and dissatisfied state from which we struggle to free ourselves and pass into the state of belief; while the latter is a calm and satisfactory state which we do not wish to avoid, or to change to a belief, in anything else. On the contrary, we cling tenaciously, not merely to believing, but to believing just what we do believe.
~Charles Sanders Pierce “The Fixation of Belief”1 Continue reading Election Recounts and the Backfire Effect

Critical Thinking & COVID-19: Argument from Authoritarianism

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Critical Thinking & COVID-19: Argument from Authoritarian
by Professor

While it would be irrational to reject medical claims of health care experts in favor of those made by President Trump, there are those who do just that. Considerations of why people do this is mainly a matter of psychology, but the likely errors in reasoning are a matter for philosophy. Continue reading Critical Thinking & COVID-19: Argument from Authoritarianism

Critical Thinking & COVID-19: Trump’s “Expertise”

Critical Thinking & COVID-19: Trump’s “Expertise”
by Professor

Donald Trump was elected president and hence he has the legal authority conferred by this office. By having legal authority is not the same as having authority as an expert. In this essay, I will assess Trump’s authority as a medical expert. Continue reading Critical Thinking & COVID-19: Trump’s “Expertise”