Dr. DiCarlo Is scheduled to speak to Trent University
Dr. Christopher DiCarlo: We Get Him!
Dr. Christopher DiCarlo, professor, author and lecturer extraordinaire has been to tour the world to discuss his new book: How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass: A Critical Thinker's Guide to Asking the Right Questions from Prometheus Press. If the title is isn't intriguing enough here's a little background on the man himself.
He has been invited to speak at numerous national and international conferences and written many scholarly papers ranging from bioethics to cognitive evolution. His latest book was released on August 23, 2011.
He is a past Visiting Research Scholar at Harvard University in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences: Department of Anthropology and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Here, he conducted research for two books he is currently writing entitled: The Comparative Brain: The Evolution of Human Reasoning and The Evolution of Religion: Why Many Need to Believe in Deities, Demons, and the Unseen.
In April, 2008 he was awarded TVO’s Big Ideas Best Lecturer in Ontario Award. In August, 2008, he was honoured with the Canadian Humanist of the Year Award from the Humanist Association of Canada.
In September, 2008, he was awarded the UOIT Complementary Faculty Teaching Award.
Dr. DiCarlo is currently seeking philanthropic interest to develop a large project which aims to establish a comprehensive series of models for understanding value and human behaviour in an effort to develop fairer and better ways to establish social policies in the management of human and natural resources in various fields such as law and justice, healthcare, politics, business and industry and education. This is called the OSTOK (or Onion Skin Theory of Knowledge) Project.
To get involved in the sort of discussion Dr. DiCarlo encourages please visit our Atheist Forum and answer the Big Five Questions.
Dr. Christopher DiCarlo is scheduled as an invited speaker at Trent University on November 4th at 7 PM in the University's WENJACK THEATRE. Dr. DiCarlo's appearance is the result of a joint effort between the Trent U Philosophy Department and the Trent University New Atheist Movement, an atheist student Group and NAM affiliate.
“This work on critical reasoning should be read by students in all fields.”
- Michael Ruse - director of the program in history and philosophy of science, FSU
But What About the Book?
In short, it's good!
How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass is an incisive, engaging, and entertaining Guide to Critical Thinking and its benefits. The overall purpose of this book is to provide readers with tools which will allow them to question beliefs and assumptions held by those who claim to know what they’re talking about. A really good pain in the ass is someone who is empowered with the ability to spot faulty reasoning and, by asking the right sorts of questions, hold people accountable not only for what they believe but how they behave. This book revolves around asking and answering five very important questions. They are so important, they are called the Big Five. They are:
1) What can I know?
The way you answer these questions can tell you a lot about yourself. And if you ask others, their answers will tell you a good deal about them, how they think, and what they value. Of course, if you persist in asking these questions, others may think you’ve become a pain in the ass. But that’s not such a bad thing according to Dr. DiCarlo because it means you’ve learned to think critically.
This witty and incisive guide to critical thinking provides you with the tools to allow you to question beliefs and assumptions held by those who claim to know what they’re talking about –from politicians and lawyers to bankers, doctors, the divinely inspired, and even your boss. But be aware that many people do not like having their views and beliefs questioned and challenged.
As a result, being a really good pain in the ass can be lonely; it can lose you friends, promotions, jobs, and marriages; it can get you hurt, beaten up, and sometimes even killed.
Michael Ruse, director of the program in history and philosophy of science, Florida State University, calls How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass “lively and entertaining in an informal but important manner.” He says, “This work on critical reasoning should be read by students in all fields.”
However mundane or lofty your goals may be, Dr. DiCarlo’s new book will empower you with the necessary tools that will allow you to think more clearly and confidently about important issues that affect all our lives.
The Wreck of the Medusa
This would happen simply because the good Captain held a belief that he felt justified his actions. In a society such concessions cannot be made to people who hide behind the so-called sanctity of the mind.
Like a Captain
we have a
those around us.
In politics, in commerce, in science, in child-rearing, in justice, beliefs must be justified. Religious belief is no exception. Religious belief must be justified to neighbors, to clergy, to bodies of justice, to authority, to children, to the paper boy, but mostly it must be justified to oneself. The religious must answer for their beliefs. This principle does not just apply to conversations about religion by the religious with other religious; it must apply at all time, and under all circumstances. Religion is not being singled out for special abuse; quite the opposite. The religious are simply being dragged, kicking and screaming to the same standard everything else in society is currently held to. But this is the story of religion anyway, always 300 years behind the rest of the world.
-Trevor Burt, 2011
Bumper-Sticker Thinking: Let’s Think for a Change
A lot of lazy-minded, passive, pseudo-spiritualists, and politically correct, though ineffectual intellectuals, feel that it is OK to believe whatever you want so long as you don’t try to push your views onto others.
This has been the longstanding anthem of the unthinking masses: “People have a right to believe whatever they want.” Wrong.
It seems that most people haven’t bothered to think this assertion through to its obvious conclusion which is interesting in itself, because it illustrates how people are willing to connect just as many dots as they have to before any serious thought occurs. People have mastered the art of not thinking, of thinking less and less, of adapting throw-away lines that stifle thoughtful conversation, to bring an abrupt end to mild inconvenience, or anything else that is perceived as rising above the level of banality.
Support our Troops. This is another throw-away line that has nothing to do with the Troops or understanding why one would or would not support them. Such a line is designed to kindly help people out of thought. Advertisers have understood this concept for decades. Television news also understands that the average viewer is really only interested in thinking in sound-bites. No one wants to think if they can help it. Not thinking is the next best thing to a good sleep.
In this way, statements like "People have a right to think whatever they want,” persist. Such a statement would not persist if more people analyzed the meaning and the ultimate end of thinking whatever they want. Thinking whatever you want is based on the rightful assumption that the mind is sovereign. It has taken time to gain sovereignty over our own bodies, but the mind has always been a given. Or has it? One is easily reminded of 1984 or Brave New World and how the mind and the thoughts that persist within it are not sovereign. But for now let’s assume that thoughts and beliefs are those of the individual’s and no one else has a right to supplant anyone else’s thoughts. In this way, all thoughts have an equal right to be thought, to be held. The logical extension of this is that all beliefs have an equal right to be believed, to be held. This could be interpreted to have derived from the idea that all people are equal or that all people are the same.
"I would submit that we
resist the urge to repeat
All people are NOT equal. All people are equal is another throw-away line repeated too many times in speeches by politicians, or dramatic television and movie actors. Children are not equal to adults. A baby is not necessarily equal to a child. A very old, dying man is NOT equal to a healthy infant. We all of us place different value to different people based on varying degrees of evaluation. Stating that, fundamentally, we are all the same, that we are all the same species, that we are genetically and historically linked, that we all live on Earth, that we all exist, is technically accurate but tells us nothing about how to assess the reality of our relationships with each other. Sure, we are all of us human beings. That’s lovely and a very suitable candidate for a throw-away line, perhaps a bumper-sticker contender, but we are NOT all the same.
I am NOT the same as a criminal, a murderer, a Chinese baby, a woman, the destitute, the rich, a genius, or a want-wit. A woman who sells all her possessions in order to feed a starving child is not the same, or the equivalent of a triple-murder-rapist. This is such an obvious statement of fact, yet so often overlooked because of the throw-away lines available.
I would submit that we resist the urge to repeat gibberish because we’ve heard someone utter it on television, or read it on a bumper-sticker. We should be aware of our thoughts, and why we think them. We should be placing much of what we believe on the table for serious assessment. With a bit of scrutiny we can proceed with a healthy spring cleaning, and do away with the clutter and junk we’ve been holding onto since childhood. Any serious, thinking person, who has any interest in intellectually honesty, may find themselves brushing their childhood religion into the trash where it belongs.
-Trevor Burt, 2011
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