Bullshit Detector

How well does a belief that you currently subscribe to hold up under these 10 questions?

  • Do I have any actual evidence for the thing I say I believe, and what is the extent and quality of that evidence?
  • If I don’t have direct physical evidence or data that support my belief, do I at least have other good reasons—deductive or inductive—for believing what I say I do?
  • Given the quantity and quality of the evidence and reasons available to me at this time, how strongly should I actually hold my belief?
  • Is my belief coherent with my background knowledge (the things I think I already know about the universe and how it works)?
  • Have I actively sought out disconfirming evidence and arguments against my belief?
  • Have I weighed alternative beliefs or explanations about this matter, and really come to the best belief and explanation on offer?
  • What framing or spell-casting associations, stories, metaphors, or analogies have I been telling myself in support of this belief which, on closer inspection, might be misleading me, making it difficult to think clearly about the matter at hand?
  • What role is desire—desire of any sort—playing in my conclusion?
  • What blind spots might I potentially have about this belief, and what might be causing them?
  • Are there forces at work that are fogging my ability to objectively, patiently, and clearly focus on this matter (time pressures, illness, electronic distractions, noises, decorum, lack of sleep, envy, guilt, paranoia, strong-willed influencers, emotional blackmailers, authority figures, temperamental inclinations either to optimism or pessimism, fear, etc)?

Is there a crucial and non-redundant question that I might have missed?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to Bullshit Detector

  1. hbhatnagar says:

    Have the teachers of this belief, in the process of imparting it to me, encouraged frank, open and honest criticism and questioning of the belief system?

    • santitafarella says:

      That’s a good question. I may add it to the list. Thank you. (Though it probably fits under #10 as “strong-willed influencers”).

      —Santi : )

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