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Better Thinking

It helps if we pay attention to the connections we are making, in other words how we are putting our ideas together. Sometimes our generalizations are sloppy, or we generalize when we should be reaching for greater specificity. Sometimes our ideas are overly simplistic.

For example, there is the assertion that "guns don't kill people" — a pompous over-simplicity suggesting that we might think that firearms trigger themselves (uttered perhaps with the aim of stifling debate about the availability of guns).

There were those who blamed Adam Lanza's murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School on his suffering from Asperger's syndrome, but others with Asperger's syndrome had not engaged in shooting rampages. We needed to look for other influences that were working on Lanza.

Some of us trudge ahead, our minds closed, never measuring our ideas against rival ideas or measuring new circumstances that we have discovered.

The new circumstances problem is something military generals have faced. Planning a new war with various new cirumstances, some of instead have drawn from circumstances that belonged to a previous war.

The mental pictures we create are most clear without metaphors or analogies. Poetry and lyrics (sometimes decorated with music) add emotive power to our ideas but not clarity.


CONTINUE READING: Writing History

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