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I stumbled upon a very helpful list of maxims of clear and careful thinking that I’m passing on to you. It comes from James Beverley and is gleaned from a section entitled “How to Think and Reason Correctly” in his book Holy Laughter and the Toronto Blessing, published by Zondervan.
I stumbled upon a very helpful list of maxims of clear and careful thinking that I'm passing on to you. It comes from James Beverley and is gleaned from a section entitled "How to Think and Reason Correctly" in his book Holy Laughter and the Toronto Blessing, published by Zondervan.
- Emotion does not settle issues of truth.
- Tradition is not always right.
- Do not give human authority figures uncritical allegiance.
- Be careful of the way you use words. Words are tools. They must be used properly and carefully.
- Do not force people into limited or false options.
- Do not use name-calling or put-downs as a debate tactic (argumentum ad hominem).
- Be careful of accusations based solely on the presumed origin of a given idea or practice (the genetic fallacy). The popularity or unpopularity of something does not make it either true or false.
- The fact that something is either an old or a new idea does not automatically make it correct (chronological snobbery).
- Be careful in the use of "guilt by association." Do not dismiss good ideas or practices by letting your imagination take them to inappropriate extremes.
- Be prudent when using the "slippery slope" argument (not all slopes are slippery; i.e. "b" does not necessarily follow "a" in all cases.).
- Be alert to cause and effect errors (post hoc propter hoc).
- Make sure that conclusions follow from adequate evidence and support (non sequitur does not follow). Do not accept clichés or popular slogans uncritically.
- Do not "stack the deck," i.e. only point out observations that support your pet theory, ignoring all evidence to the contrary.
- Be wary of generalization. Remember that the truth is not always in the middle.
- Do not take ideas or people out of context.
- Understand that spiritual discernment means being ready to admit to weakness or limitation in that very gift; being willing to abandon "shortcuts" in return for the demanding spiritual disciplines that produce lasting fruit; and resisting the temptation to judge the hearts of others.
From Clear Thinking Vol. 2 No.3, Winter 1997, Stand to Reason (copyright 1997 - Do not copy without permission.)