Are the majority always right?

If, in a referendum, the majority vote that 2+2=5 this does no make 5 the correct answer.

Inspired by Socrates’s reply to Melesias in “Laches, or Courage” by Plato

Sunlight and Free Speech

The sunlight of free speech is the best disinfectant against the darkness of irrational beliefs.

Photo by Rajiv Bajaj on Unsplash

Based on a metaphor in Free Speech by Andrew Doyle

Reflection and Commitment

Reflection and commitment

If you commit without reflection you are a fanatic. If you reflect but never act you are of no practical use.

The secret to the instant clear communication of an argument

The secret is the top down sequence.

First state the question and in a few words explain the context.

Second, state your conclusion.

Third, state how many reasons you have for your conclusion.

Fourth, say what each reason is about and then give details.

Fifth, repeat your conclusion.

For example:

“The question is whether the house on 6th Street should be demolished.

My view is that it should be.

I have two reasons for this.

First, it is a health hazard: The walls are broken. The roof is beyond repair. The building is infested with rats.

Second, It is a fire hazard: The rooms are full of rubbish, broken wood and other flammable material. Vagrants light fires in the ruin.

Consequently, my view is that the house should be demolished.”


  • The hearer is immediately knows what the communication is about.
  • The hearer is immediately told the conclusion.
  • The hearer is told there will be two supporting reasons.
  • The hearer is given a warning that a reason is coming, is told what the reason is and then is given details.
  • The hearer is again told the conclusion.

Watch Lord Jonathan Sumption using this way of arguing. Lord Sumption is regarded as one of the cleverest people in England. Click here.

The top down approach is similar to the Pyramid Principle taught by Barbara Minto. Her book is on Amazon. Click here. Please note this is an affiliate link. This blog post was prompted by my listening to Lord Sumption

Chinese Ink vs. Memory

Put all important communications and contracts in writing, Later it makes it easy for you to prove what was communicated or agreed.

Good advice. Why? Memories fade away. A written record lasts much longer.

A saying attributed to China explains it this way:

The faintest ink is more powerful than the sharpest memory

Inconvenient Truth vs Comfortable truth diagram

When choosing between Inconvenient Truth and Comfortable truth the choice is up to each of us.

Consider this diagram and read the explanation below the diagram.

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  • Most people have decided in advance what they will decide (Person already running right).
  • Following “Comfortable truth” is dangerous (Red).
  • People following “Comfortable truth” may not have the courage (yellow) to face up to “Inconvenient Truth”.
  • “Comfortable truth” is “truth” not fully investigated (lower case “t”)
  • Following “Inconvenient Truth” in the long run leads to positive growth (Green).
  • Well researched truth is “Truth” (Upper case “T”)
  • Relatively few people have the courage to follow “Inconvenient Truth”.

Verbal abuse incoming? A tip from a USAF female combat fighter pilot

Photo by Pixabay on
I don’t know which jet fighter Sn. McSally flew.

You are in an important discussion. You are about to demolish your opponent’s argument, Your opponent knows it and starts to abuse you verbally instead of dealing with the issue. Lots of verbal flack is coming your way.

You can be sure of one thing: You have found the weak and vulnerable spot in your opponent’s argument. You are at the jugular.

This was very well summed up by Senator Martha McSally, a former USAF combat fighter pilot and squadron commander, who said:

“We fighter pilots have a saying: You know when you are over the target when you are getting flack”.

There we have it!

Take care next time you are in verbal combat.

Source: CNN 27 May 2020 and here.

Intellectual Honesty

“Intellectual honesty consists in stating the precise conditions under which one will give up one’s belief. …”

Imre Lakatos

Photo by Pixabay on

Take Away One.

In an argument when your opponent is adamant that they are right ask them: What evidence would convince you to change your mind?

Take Away Two.

Ask yourself the same question before you yourself pontificate about some topic!

What has a gadfly to do with this?

Socrates the Gadfly

The philosopher Socrates was a great nuisance to the powerful people in Athens long ago. So much so that he called himself the “gadfly”. Why was he a nuisance and why did he call himself a gadfly?

As you may know, a gadfly is flying insect with an extremely painful sting.

Socrates was a nuisance because he kept pestering and stinging the powerful leaders in Athens with difficult questions which showed up their ignorance and their failure to know what they were talking about. He kept stinging them like a gadfly. And Socrates did this in public debate – to the delight of the youth in Athens who no doubt then started questioning the wisdom of their elders.

This was too much for the exposed elite. Like Joseph’s brothers they decided that “the dreamer has to go”. In this case it was Socrates who had to go.

Like a gadfly!

So, the exposed and stung elite trumped up a charge against Socrates: “Corrupting the youth of Athens” (code for: “He persuaded the youth to think for themselves”).

We all know the result. Trial, death sentence and the hemlock.

And another result: Socrates became one of the most respected philosophers and seekers after truth, of all time.

A word of caution: Think twice before you decide to become a gadfly.

Matrix thinking and a warning during COVID19

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

The matrix below is offered to help us think about the relationship between Shut Down Options, the Economy and the Health of the Population. The matrix applies to any country. Even seeing where the matrix is wrong and how it can be improved may help. I hope so.

It goes without saying we need a vaccine desperately and also, if possible, a cure.

Our thoughts are with all those suffering during the pandemic.

In the meantime the question is: What is the best way forward for the economy and the health of the population?

Options Matrix


Photo by Pixabay on

The only option to save the economy and the health of as many people as possible is to have a limited economic shutdown combined with limited social distancing (strictly enforced), supported by a general population committed to self-enforcement.

Warning: Committed self-enforcement by the general population is vital.

Keep safe.

A huge thank you to all Health and Essential Workers world wide.

Thank you.