The most common fallacy is to put one’s logic (conclusions) before grammar (research). We can see this in many people who have opinions about topics they haven’t sincerely researched first, make hasty conclusions, cherry pick, skim through books/articles but don’t read the entire work and references, resulting in distortions and throwing out the baby with the bathwater…or mistake the bathwater for the baby. Since nothing is black and white, discernment is key while watching our conditioned biases that filter/distort information unconsciously. There are numerous logical fallacies all of us can fall into if we don’t understand them, like strawman arguments, ad hominem, tu quoque/you too fallacy, bandwagon, appeal to authority, appeal to emotions,the texas sharpshooter, middle ground etc. A good website that summarizes the most common ones is https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/
Learning, understanding and applying the Trivium can help to not waste time and energy in unproductive discussions about a topic (especially on facebook) and it also provides a systematic framework to research any given subject as it helps us to think clearer. It’s the foundation of critical thinking.
Grammar asks the questions of the Who, What, Where, and the When of a subject, discovering, researching, and ordering facts of reality. It comprises basic – systematic Knowledge. Logic answers the Why of a subject, the conclusions based on grammar/research leading to Understanding. Rhetoric provides the How of a subject, applying Knowledge (grammar) and Understanding (logic) expressively leading to Wisdom, or, in other words, useable knowledge and understanding.
However, besides learning how to think critically we also need to engage in sincere self-work to calibrate our “reading instrument” (the self) and perceptions. We all have subjective blind spots and biases based on upbringing and cultural/social conditioning, also shadow projections based on childhood wounds, trauma and personality disorders.
Anyone who seeks truth needs to always keep their own biases in mind and make efforts to calibrate their perceptions accordingly. Dislodging these programs and unconscious tendencies to lies to ourselves and others takes tremendous work and effort. This also includes emotional cleansing because we can’t trust our feelings and emotions 100% all the times. Much of what we feel in immediate reaction to certain information can be conditioned responses that have nothing to do with the information or situation at hand but simply challenge our beliefs, identity and self-image, also known as cognitive dissonance.
This work never stops and we need to adjust our view of reality as new information comes in. Seeking truth doesn’t result in an end of “knowing it all”. It’s a continues process that expands and changes. It is tightly connected to the inner work we are engaging in, helping us to sharpen intuition as well. So the work is two fold, on an emotional level and intellectual level. Body-awareness is key in that regard. Hence I strongly recommend to have a consistent body-mind practice as well, such as yoga, Qi Gong, meditation or getting bodywork on a regular basis. Also, diet affects the way we feel and think. Wheat, gluten, sugar and grains have detrimental effects on our brain, physical and emotional body. There is much research out there these days which has proven that.
It’s important to observe the internal process and how deeply programmed we are, the friction that occurs inside when presented with information that contradicts our long held beliefs. That’s when many people stop and deny, engaging in black and white thinking, because piercing through that conditioning can be very painful and vulnerable. It’s always been for me. It’s part of “the work” so humility is needed, admitting to ourselves that we have been wrong about some things we thought to be true. Avoiding this vulnerability results actually in logical fallacies and rationalizations and projecting them on others. It also relates to anger which is a huge buffer to avoid deeper feelings of vulnerability. Even humor can in many cases be an unconscious buffer to avoid confronting our own unacknowledged wounds.
But once you let the internal programs break down under the light/sword of truth and new data and work through the discomfort of accepting information that contradicts what you have believed most of your life or what most of the world believes (not mistaking that for blind belief of anything that comes down the pipe line, and also not being overly skeptical and judging without sincerely researching), then you truly raise your consciousness/awareness. Hence separating “the work” to seek truth from our professional ambitions, self-image/public image is key, so it doesn’t get polluted by internal considering or the the need to be “accepted”. Considering other factors from an esoteric perspective, like the “General Law” and forces working through people in order to vector us away from this path adds even more complexity but is crucial to understand as well. As Humberto Braga said so eloquently:
“When breaking beyond conventional limitations, people will always try to mock, guilt, and shame you for being the bearer of new knowledge and uncomfortable realizations. They will distort your expanded perception through their tiny lens. They will try to make it seem as though you are wrong for being who you are and they’ll try to make you feel small. Your playing small does not serve your greater purpose. There is nothing enlightened about limiting your path in life to comfort the illusions of others. Those who seek Objective Truth are bringers of light in to a very uncomfortable darkness, and it will seek to stop you in any way it can. We must not give in to the darkness that tells us to dim ourselves. Every courageous step toward Objective Truth is what liberates others to do the very same. This is the battle to awaken and we must not lose sight of this objective.”
“A man must first of all understand certain things. He has thousands of false ideas and false conceptions, chiefly about himself, and he must get rid of some of them before beginning to acquire anything new. Otherwise the new will be built on a wrong foundation and the result will be worse than before. To speak the truth is the most difficult thing in the world; one must study a great deal and for a long time in order to speak the truth. The wish alone is not enough. To speak the truth one must know what the truth is and what a lie is, and first of all in oneself. And this nobody wants to know.”-