Critical Thinking Essays and Websites
If you want to see passion, watch a creation v evolution debate. In the Bill Nye v Ken Ham debate, the inventor of the MRI scanner was very passionate about special creation and a young earth. Watch almost any creation v evolution debate and you will see many very passionate people arguing for creation and against evolution. For even more passion, watch a pro-choice demonstration and observe the interaction between the pro-choicers and the anti-abortionists. Just as appeal to authority is a fallacy so is appeal to passion.
One thing that all sides should agree on is that humans are masters at rationalization. This was very evident in the Nye-Ham creation v evolution debate when Ken Ham was explaining a young earth that was specially created by Jehovah. Ham quoted many facts but then took the facts and distorted them to fit in to his predetermined beliefs. The audience at the debate was also skilled at rationalization. Critical thinkers can usually give many examples of fallacious reasoning such as appeal to authority and post hos ergo propter hoc that they have witnessed on any given day. The problem with critical thinking is applying it to oneself. In any given controversy, each side will say it has critical thinking on its side just as each will probably say it has science on its side. These are unsubstantiated claims and should be treated as such. The answer as to who is right lies in examining the evidence. Massimo Pigliucci addresses this:
A recurring theme of this book is that one cannot simply trust authority no matter how, well, authoritative it may appear to be. There is, unfortunately, no shortcut to using one's brain and critical sense and doing some background research before taking a position.  p90
Alan Sokal is Professor of Physics at New York University and Professor of Mathematics at University College London. He is also author of the 1996 article titled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,” which was published in the cultural studies journal Social Text. The article was a nonsensical parody of certain aspects of Post-Modernism and exposed much of Post-Modernisms for its lack of meaning and irrelevancy.
Sokal has published three essays on the website Scientia Salon, which was founded by Massimo Pigliucci.
If you are interested in critical thinking and science, I strongly recommend the three essays. They contain many points relevant to my position on animal models.
Also on the same website is an article titled: “The strange phenomenon of the cult of facts: three case studies,” by Massimo Pigliucci. I quote from many of Pigliucci’s books and articles and recommend pretty much anything he writes.
A related website is Clearer Thinking. From the website:
Our brains are incredible machines. By using our reason and intuition, we can process complex situations and make excellent decisions most of the time.
But our brains don’t work perfectly. From time to time we all make reasoning errors, and we all make decisions that aren’t the best for achieving our goals. In fact, it is now known that there are certain systematic biases built into the structure of all human brains. Disturbingly, most of the time they operate without us even being aware of them. To date, psychologists, neuroscientists and economists have discovered more than 30 of these biases that regularly occur in human thinking and decision-making.
In order to discuss animal models, from an ethical or scientific perspective, one needs to understand the concepts discussed on these and related websites (see here and here and here). I assure you most of the people that you will argue against do not understand these concepts or have never studied the issue.
Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
1. Pigliucci, M., Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk. 2010, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.