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Simpleology: The Simple Science of Getting What You Want

by Mark Joyner



The WebCockpit

Logical fallacies. This site gives an exhaustive list of fallacies, categorized within a unique taxonomy.

The 36 Strategems

  • The ancient Chinese collection of strategies to hide your intentions from the enemy.

Twenty-Five Ways to Suppress the Truth: The Rules of Disinformation (http://www.proparanoid.net/truth.htm)

1) Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil

2) Become incredulous and indignant

3) Create rumormongers

4) Use a straw man

5) Sidetrack opponents with name-calling, ridicule

6) Hit and run

7) Question motives

8) Invoke authority

9) Play dumb

10) Associate opponent charges with old news

11) Establish and rely on fall-back positions

12) Enigmas have no solution

13) Use Alice in Wonderland logic

14) Demand complete solutions

15) Fit the facts to alternative conclusions

16) Vanish evidence and witnesses

17) Change the subject

18) Emotionalize, antagonize, and goad

19) Ignore facts, demand impossible proofs

20) False evidence

21) Call a grand jury, special prosecutor

22) Manufacture a new truth

23) Create bigger distractions

24) Silence critics

25) Vanish

Plus, 8 Traits of the Disinformationist

1) Avoidance

2) Selectivity

3) Coincidental

4) Teamwork

5) Anticonspiratorial

6) Artificial emotions

7) Inconsistency

8) Newly discovered; time constant


How to Solve It, by G. Polya

1) Understand the problem

2) Devise a plan

3) Carry out the plan

4) Look back


1) Understand the problem

  • Is it really a problem?
  • What is the unknown? What are the data? What is the condition?
  • Is it possible to satisfy the condition? Is the condition sufficient to determine the unknown?
  • Draw a figure. Introduce suitable notation
  • Separate the various parts of the condition. Can you write them down?

2) Devise a plan

  • Find a connection between the data and the unknown. You may need to consider auxiliary problems.
  • Have you seen it before? Or in a slightly different form?
  • Do you know a related problem? A theorem that could be useful?
  • Look at the unknown. Try to think of a familiar problem having the same or a similar unknown.
  • Given a related problem you have solved before, can you use it? Its result? Its method? Should you introduce some auxiliary element to make its use possible?
  • If you cannot solve the problem, try to solve first a related problem. Can you think of a more accessible related problem? A more general problem? A more specific problem? An analogous problem? Could you solve part of the problem? Keep only part of the condition, drop the other part. Could you change the unknown or data, or both if necessary, so that the new unknown and the new data are nearer to each other?
  • Did you use all the data? Did you use the whole condition? Have you taken into account all the essential notions involved in the problem?

3) Carry out the plan

  • Check each step. Can you see clearly that each step is correct? Can you prove it?

4) Look back

  • Examine the solution. Can you check the result? The argument?
  • Can you derive the solution differently? Can you see it at a glance?
  • Can you use the result or the method for another problem?


Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land


Avoiding the pitfalls of bivalent (black/white) logic:

1) "So far as I know"

2) "Up to a point"

3) "To me"

4) The What Index--are you overgeneralizing?

5) The When Index--the truth of a matter may depend on the timeframe in question

6) The Where Index--the truth of a matter may depend on a particular location or incident


The Rules of Utilitarian Model Flexibility

1) Thoughts are not things--thoughts are models (incomplete and in flux)

  • Ask a friend to write down a definition of democracy. Write one down yourself independently. Now compare the two. We watch pundits raving on TV, and nod in agreement--not even realizing that we're not talking about the same thing.

2) We have the ability to choose our models

  • It doesn't matter what others say or think--you have the ability to choose what to believe. Furthermore, you can pull yourself in and out of these models at will, depending on which will help you.
    • You don't have to focus on the unhappy X; you can focus on the happy Y
    • You don't have to let those who attempt to influence you have control
  • You have control over how you feel
    • Make decisions to improve your health
    • Choose not to worry
    • Take physical actions that bring about the physiological response of happiness (e.g. jumping up and down, dancing)
    • Choose not to let things make you unhappy

3) These models can be used as tools (either for you or against you)

  • Take the example of US WW2 propaganda "Stay on the job until every murdering Jap is wiped out!"--today, they are among our closest allies.

4) Utility is the measure of a tool's value

  • Adopting a model is a temporary strategy, not a rigid, unchanging commitment.
  • Over time, even if it served you well in the past, a model can stop serving you, or you can find better ones.

5) Utility is not the same thing as truth

  • Test your model, not to see whether it's true, but whether believing so serves your purpose
  • On the other hand, the utility of a deception can be severely hampered by contrary evidence. Better to build a model based on what you observe to be true

6) No model is absolute

  • If someone really possesses the ultimate truth of the universe, should he/she encourage questioning? The more you question, the more you should discover they are right. If a person becomes defensive, angry, or insulting, perhaps he is not so certain of what he speaks.

7) No two people share the same model

8) Models are not mutually exclusive

  • You can learn many various, seemingly contradictory models and apply them as needed. When you learn a newer model, don't throw away your old ones. They might come in handy.

9) Models do not have to be accepted in whole

  • You can cherry-pick parts of any given model as it suits you



1) The First Law: The Law of Straight Lines

  • If you want to get a particular result, don't add any extra steps. Take the simplest and most direct route.

2) The Second Law: The Law of Clear Vision

  • To hit a target, you need to see it clearly. Before you start, create a clear vision of *exactly* what you want.

3) The Third Law: The Law of Focused Attention

  • To hit a target, you must focus sufficient attention on it until you hit it.
  • If a surgeon were going to give you a heart transplant, would you want him to be watching a ball game on TV at the same time?

4) The Fourth Law: The Law of Focused Energy

  • To accomplish something, you must focus sufficient energy on it until you have done so.
  • A knife is sharp because it has focused energy. Just as the sharper the knife, the greater the cutting power, energy becomes more and more powerful the more you focus it.

5) The Fifth Law: The Inescapability of Action/Reaction

  • You are always acting, even if you think you are not
  • For every action we take, there is some reaction
  • There is no such thing as procrastination or laziness--they are just ineffective actions masquerading as inaction.
  • To get whatever you want, stop performing the actions that don't bring about your desired result and start performing the actions that do.

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