In trying to come up with clearer axioms to gauge all the various poop-storms without getting into emotives or purity tests, I ran into this article about Daniel Dennet's tools for trying to be a critical thinker. I will report the paraphrase below:
- Accept you make mistakes, and then use them to be a better person.
- Respect your opponent.
- Beware of "surely" as it is overused as a rhetorical device to avoid critical thinking by assuming something is sure.
- Answer rhetorical questions. As with 'surely', using a rhetorical question is a way to avoid thinking about something by being facetious.
- Employ Occam's Razor
- Employ Sturgeon's Law. 90% of everything is rubbish... [which cuts both ways.] Don't waste your time defending rubbish and don't waste your time attacking it. Work on the 10-20% which isn't.
- Avoid deepities... things which are deep and profound but not well defined. [Another way of looking at it is "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is".]