Social Studies skills

From A+ Club Lesson Planner & Study Guide

, Social Studies Skills

  • tools, concepts, and terms to be applied to the study of society and history

See also:

Article Objective

  • conceptual tools for the Social Studies
  • tools for development higher-level thought
  • tools for student appreciation and engagement of Social Sciences

These tools provide the conceptual framework for understanding the Social Studies

  • students may apply these tools towards any subject in the Social Studies

Distinctions[edit | edit source]

  • "in distinction is learning"
  • a primary tool for understanding the Social Studies content is the ability to distinguish
    • moving students from generalization to distinction is core goal for thoughtful approach
    • student logic and writing is frequently marred by the absence of effective distinction
    • examples
      • "Egypt was unified because of the Nile"
        • this statement makes no distinction between the Nile and other rivers, thereby it assumes that all civilizations along rivers will be unified
      • >> to do>> more examples at higher levels

Geography[edit | edit source]

Note: change to separate category and entry for Geography or leave here as a skill and add new entry /category for Human Geography

Movement[edit | edit source]

  • geography shapes human interactions
    • when people mix, exchange, interact, we call it "cultural diffusion"
    • = the spread of ideas, languages, religions, values, cultural practices, technologies, disease, etc. through trade, migration and warfare
    • see full section on Cultural Diffusion below
  • geographic barriers to movement:
    • inhibitors = less movement = less cultural diffusion
  • types of barriers or inhibitors to movement:
    • mountains, deserts, oceans & seas, crossing rivers, jungles, deserts, canyons, waterfalls (cataracts)
    • long distances
    • climate: extreme climates and differences in climate across regions = barrier to cultural diffusion
  • geographic catalysts for movement:
  • facilitators = more movement = more cultural diffusion
  • facilitators = aids to movement
  • types of facilitators to movement:
    • valleys, going along rivers or coastlines, flat lands,
    • similar climate = aid to movement
    • short distances
  • geographic features that can act as both barriers to and facilitators of movement :
    • rivers = "both a highway and a moat"
    • a coastline as both inhibitor and facilitator of movement
    • woods, lakes, and rivers as
      • barriers during warm weather
      • and facilitators in cold weather (ice, lack of underbrush during winter, etc.)
  • examples

Isolation[edit | edit source]

  • a state of geographic separation from other people and places
  • isolation is caused by geographic barriers
  • note that isolated areas may have isolated regions within themselves
  • isolation creates regions

Regions[edit | edit source]

  • definition = areas of something in common,
    • defined by:
    • geography/ movement, which defines:
      • language, religion, culture, etc.
      • political control
    • regions contain sub-regions and sub-regions to that:
      • USA = East coast, Midwest, West Coast, South, New England, etc.

Natural Resources[edit | edit source]

  • details

Climate[edit | edit source]

  • details

Causality[edit | edit source]

  • study or understanding of why things happen or not
  • causality can be complex and misleading
    • students may evaluate causes, agents, and events for historical comprehension
  • see section on agents, triggers & catalysts
  • below for terms associated with causality

Correlation v. causation[edit | edit source]

  • correlation = associated events, generally at or around the same time
    • correlation does not mean causality
      • ex. "I washed the car, so it rained the next day."
  • superstitions are frequently derived from a confusion between correlation and causation
  • rationalization is a form of misallocation of correlation for cause:
    • ex., if a student gets a low grade:
      • "It's my teacher's fault" or
      • "Well, I didn't have time to study, anyway"
      • = placing blame on something that did not cause the outcome of the low grade

Types of causes[edit | edit source]

Direct cause[edit | edit source]

  • the closest cause to an event
  • the cause that triggers an event

Indirect cause[edit | edit source]

  • a cause that contributes to an event or outcome but is not directly related to it
    • may be a "necessary clause" but not necessarily

Long term cause[edit | edit source]

  • similar to a "ultimate cause," but encompassing other causes more closely related to an event or condition

Proximate cause[edit | edit source]

  • same as "sufficient" cause
    • especially in a legal context, identical to "sufficient cause"
  • in the Social Studies, proximate causes are often confused with "short term" cause

Short or near term cause[edit | edit source]

  • similar to "direct cause," but encompassing other causes more closely related to an event or condition
  • synonymous with "proximate cause"

Ultimate cause[edit | edit source]

  • similar to long term cause, but indicates a "necessary cause"
    • i.e., it is necessary that this cause exists, but it is not "sufficient" to trigger the outcome

Causality chain[edit | edit source]

  • causality can be very complex, inter-woven and inter-connected
    • we can think of causality as a "chain"

Agency, catalysts, triggers & constraints[edit | edit source]

  • = things that contribute to, facilitate, or make or things happen (or not)
  • "agency" comes from PIE root *ag- meaning "to drive, draw out, move"
    • thus act, action, agent, agency = something happening or making something happen

Agent / agency[edit | edit source]

  • active causes for events (or non-events)
    • generally deliberate
  • "agent" = someone who makes something happen, such as:
    • "travel agents" make travel happen, "secret agents" make secrets/spying happen
  • see "human agency" below

Catalyst[edit | edit source]

  • similar to an agent but may not be deliberate
    • more like a condition that creates or facilitates change
  • think of use of "catalyst" in science: an element that causes a reaction

Trigger[edit | edit source]

  • a specific event or condition that directly causes something to happen
  • associated with "direct cause"
  • not necessarily deliberate
    • such as, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by Serbian nationalists triggered World War I"

Constraint[edit | edit source]

  • whereas outcomes are shaped by agency, catalysts, and triggers,
    • constraints always exist and shape outcomes
  • "constraint" =
    • con- (with) + *strain (bound, pulled together)
    • thus "with limits"

Necessary v. sufficient causes[edit | edit source]

necessary cause[edit | edit source]

  • = something that must happen in order for an event or outcome to happen...
    • but the event or outcome did not have to happen because of that necessary cause
    • in other words, a necessary cause does not alone make an event or outcome happen
      • but the necessary cause must be present for that event or outcome to happen
    • a necessary cause may exist but that does not mean the event or outcome had to happen

sufficient cause[edit | edit source]

  • = something without which an event or outcome would not have happened
    • in other words, the event does not happen without the sufficient cause

Necessary v. sufficient causes example[edit | edit source]

I mowed the lawn last Tuesday
  • I have a lawn w/ grass
  • the grass was high
  • my lawn mower works & has gas
  • my wife complained about the grass getting too high
  • all these causes are "necessary" but not "sufficient" for the outcome to happen that I mowed the lawn last Tuesday
  • all of these causes could still be present (especially the wife complaining about the grass) but didn't unto themselves cause the lawn to be mowed last Tuesday
  • it was Tuesday
  • I went to the shed, got out the mower
  • It started it and it worked properly
  • I completed mowing the lawn
  • without these events the lawn would not have been cut last Tuesday
goal scored in a soccer game from an assist
  • both players in game
  • 1st player makes an assist
    • without the assist, the goal shot couild not be taken
    • therefore, the assist is a necessary cause
    • the assist alone is not sufficient for the goal
  • 2nd player receives the assist and scores the goal
  • the "sufficiency" here is that without the successful shot on goal no goal would be made

Logical sufficiency[edit | edit source]

  • given the statement, "John is a batchelor"
    • since it is necessary for each statement that John be male, knowing that "John is a batchelor" informs us that John is a male, unmarried, and an adult
  • however, this sufficiency does not exclude other conclusions outside of that

Other causality terminology[edit | edit source]

Connection[edit | edit source]

Effect[edit | edit source]

collateral effect

Mono-causality v. multi-causality[edit | edit source]

  • mono-causality = a single or dominant cause (simple)
  • multi-causality = multiple causes (complex)

Motive[edit | edit source]

  • motives are frequently behind agency, catalysts and triggers
  • historical literacy is enhanced by understanding motives

Unintended consequence[edit | edit source]

  • when an expected outcome yields additional, unexpected and/or unpredicted outcomes
    • those outcomes may be positive or negative
  • frequently historical choice is made that causes a different outcome than that expected by the actors or agents
    • ex. Some French aristocrats early on supported the French Revolution but themselves became victims of it.
  • a problem of the unknown unknowns
    • what is expected may happen
    • but the unexpected was not expected = unintended consequence

Why the cat died last night: an exercise in causality[edit | edit source]

butterfly effect[edit | edit source]

  • small effects that lead to larger events
  • ex. George Washington sparking the global Seven Years War

Goldilocks principle[edit | edit source]

  • like Goldilocks who found the right bowl of porridge and bed to sleep on,
    • the "just right amount" is the "Goldilocks Principle"
    • = the sufficient (needed and perfect) conditions for something to happen
  • ex.
    • habitable planets require a perfect set of conditions to support life, which only earth presents
    • in economics, the Goldilocks economy is one in which economic inputs (trends/ happenings) are in balance and the economy is stable (very rare)

Contingency[edit | edit source]

  • = conditions and choices
  • = the idea that things didn't have to happen the way they did

"Packages"[edit | edit source]

  • the conditions necessary for certain outcomes, such as
  • "packages" are useful for students to understand distinctions in historical places, eras, and outcomes
    • ex., the industrialization "package" of the 1870's United States included the Civil War, immigration, laissez-faire governance, plentiful resources, etc.,
      • whereas the industrialization "package" of 1870s India included plentiful resources, high population, British governance and colonial resource manipulation,
      • thereby India did not industrialize in the 1870s the same way as did the U.S.

Regression analysis[edit | edit source]

  • contingencies can be revealed and understood by "regression analysis"
    • = extracting variables to identify causality
  • in the discipline of History, it is an intellectual exercise, since we can't change events
    • sometimes called "counter-factual" or "historical fiction" ("what if?" type scenarios)
    • however, it's illuminating to consider and evaluate different variables that create historical contingencies and actual outcomes

Path dependencies[edit | edit source]

  • also called "pathway dependencies"
  • using contingency, we see that set conditions define available choices
    • we also see that those choices are constrained by those conditions
      • i.e., an isolated agrarian society cannot simply choose to industrialize if the conditions for industrialization are not present
      • that society can engage in a series of choices that might create those conditions over time
  • however, sometimes even available choices are not present not because while those choices might seem available "path dependencies" inherently limit them
    • ex., early United States could have chosen to abolish slavery as that choice was articulated and available
    • however, the early US suffered from a "path dependency" in the constitutional relationship between the slave and free states that prevented that choice from being taken
      • instead, the choices taken ultimate led to civil war
  • path dependencies shape decisions in a form of a circular argument:
    • ex., "we cannot increase food production because we don't have enough food to provide for workers to increase irrigation that would lead to higher food production"

Contingency Traps[edit | edit source]

Contingency Fallacy[edit | edit source]

  • an error of historical interpretation through the lens of the present
    • i.e., one's understanding of the past is shaped around conditions and perspectives that accord to the present but are not valid in interpreting the past

Contingency Trap[edit | edit source]

  • by failing to consider the nature of a contemporaneous past (i.e., how and why things were at the time),
    • modern points of view fail to appreciate the conditions and choices that led to their own modern, contemporaneous conditions and the choices they face.
  • the "trap" occurs by negating the value of an historical moment while failing to identify that event as necessary and sufficient for the present day
  • "traps" create a paradox

Dictators paradox[edit | edit source]

  • from President Herbert Hoover (1927-1931):
    • "It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own."
  • the idea that
    • to attain power a dictator must have access to free speech (press, publicity, etc.)
    • but to maintain power, a dictator must shut down free speech (of opponents)
  • an ultimate effect is that by prohibiting speech and dissent, the dictator also
    • reduces access to information from which to guide policies and hold on power
    • generates resentment and hostility

Grandfather paradox[edit | edit source]

  • the idea that time travelers who changes the past may erase their own future lives, thus themselves
  • was expressed in 1931 in a reader letter to a science fiction magazine that discussed:
"the age-old argument of preventing your birth by killing your grandparents"

Tyrants paradox[edit | edit source]

  • local leaders are chosen by the dominant power
    • but do not have support of local population
  • as opposed to "subsidiary" = local control, which has greater access to local information

Utopia paradox[edit | edit source]

  • the idea that what happened in the past could or should have been different
  • the fallacy occurs from transposing (switching upon) present-day outlook upon the past
    • i.e. measuring or defining the past historical values, conditions and choices with present-day values, conditions and choices
    • would these historical actors be satisfied with conditions of today?
    • if so, what would they have done differently
  • aside from its impossibility, the Utopia paradox misunderstands history:
    • by confusing what actually happened with what the observer wishes had happened
  • note that study of contingency helps avoid the Utopia paradox:
    • by studying conditions and choices based upon those conditions ("contingency") we can better understand both the present and past worlds

Effects[edit | edit source]

Proximate Effects[edit | edit source]

Ultimate Effects[edit | edit source]

Causal Effects[edit | edit source]

Minor Effects[edit | edit source]

Inverse Effects[edit | edit source]

Unexpected consequence[edit | edit source]

Externalities[edit | edit source]

Time, change & continuity[edit | edit source]

measurement of time[edit | edit source]

  • in history, time is both linear and relative
    • i.e., common cycles & conditions may occur at different times in different places
    • each measures itself
  • peoples across history measure time via
    • sun, seasons, moon cycles, weather, and leaders or dynasties
  • modern measurement of time
    • B.C. or B.C.E.
    • A.D. or C.E.
    • B.P.

Stability[edit | edit source]

  • humans crave stability and predictability
    • people do not like uncertainty
    • religions, institutions & other social structures are designed to manage uncertainty
  • societies change or don't change according to events or conditions
  • agents of change include:
    • cultural diffusion
    • climate
    • food supply (impacted by climate and cultural diffusion)
    • population (impacted by food supply)
    • technologies (impacted by climate and spread by cultural diffusion)

Change[edit | edit source]

Continuity[edit | edit source]

  • punctuated equilibrium
    • moments of rapid change
    • = critical juncture

Cultural diffusion[edit | edit source]

Cultural diffusion

Process of cultural diffusion
  • the spread (diffusion) and mixing of people
  • cultural diffusion operates through:
    • trade, migration & warfare
  • cultural diffusion spreads or mixes:
    • culture, disease, race, religion, identity, technology, etc.

Cultural diffusion: movement, change & assimilation[edit | edit source]

  • cultural diffusion causes change
  • cultural diffusion occurs when people of one place interact with another
    • in fact, people in any given "place" are the result of prior episodes (events, processes) of cultural diffusion
  • the more movement in a region, the more that region

Geography & cultural diffusion[edit | edit source]

  • isolation
  • crossroads
  • rivers as both "a highway and a moat"
  • see geographic barriers: inhibitors to movement
  • see geographic catalysts: facilitators to movement
    • spreads more readily across similar climates and latitudes (east - west)
      • rather than across different climates (north - south)

Technology & cultural diffusion[edit | edit source]

  • boats
  • bridges
  • horses
  • mechanized transit, including
    • automobiles
    • railroads
    • steamboats
    • telegraph / telephone
  • rails (pre-steam)
  • radio / TV
  • roads
  • writing

Historical technological advance that enhanced cultural diffusion[edit | edit source]

Writing[edit | edit source]

Hammurabi's Code[edit | edit source]

Telegraph, Radio & TV[edit | edit source]

  • 1909: President Taft using telegraph to launch NYC automobile race
  • 1922: President Harding gave the first presidential address via radio
    • Harding's dedication to a Baltimore memorial to Francis Scott Key was broadcast via radio

Historical technological advance that enhanced cultural diffusion[edit | edit source]

Writing =[edit | edit source]

Hammurabi's Code[edit | edit source]

Telegraph, Radio & TV[edit | edit source]

  • 1909: President Taft using telegraph to launch NYC automobile race
  • 1922: President Harding gave the first presidential address via radio
    • Harding's dedication to a Baltimore memorial to Francis Scott Key was broadcast via radio

Cultural diffusion as historical agent[edit | edit source]

  • mixing of cultures, technologies, language, relgion, etc.
  • Do the conquerors conquer the conquered or do the conquered conquer the conquerors?, examples:
    • Mongol conquerors of China became Chinese (Yuan Empire)
    • Turk invaders of Anatolia became Muslim
    • Norman invaders of England became English
    • Ptolemaic (Greek) rulers of Egypt

Comparison[edit | edit source]

Distribution of Power[edit | edit source]

  • a measurement of how societies "distribute" or organize sources and applications of power
  • "power" may be considered any application of force or coercion or structure that achieves the same
    • examples,
    • policing = power to enforce laws
    • a state religion would create a possibly coercive structure to which members of that society belong
  • "narrow distribution" of power = centralized governance
    • may include
      • monarchy, tyranny, totatalitarian, etc.

"wide distribution" of power = decentralized governance

  • may include:
    • republic, democracy, anarchy (absence of governance)
    • typical of groups of city states
      • (although individual city states may have highly centralized rule)
  • no society is all one or the other
    • even anarchy essentially distributes power to the individual level, which may be coercive at that level
    • even a totalitarian society may allow for family units which govern themselves or religious freedoms
  • see "Social Organization" above

Centralized v decentralized systems[edit | edit source]

Centralized Decentralized
Incentive compatibility incentives for elites only, so little compatability between general incentives and results incentives for positive behaviors increase as their rewards are more widely distributed and available across society
Certainty, stability higher stability, predictabilty less stable, subject to change
Risk-taking low incentives for risk-taking unless organized centrally higher incentives for risk-taking
Rents (taxes, profits, benefits of economic activity) flows up to and contained to elites spreads across society
Competition less competition leads to less innovation more competition leads to more innovation
Decision making orderly, contained to elites more input, can lead to disagreement but also more effective communication and persuasion
Relation to state subject citizen
Relation to one another heirarchical distributed (to various degrees, or across social structures)
Cooperation forced, less incentive outside of compulsory behaviors incentives for cooperation through cooperative rewards
Overall benefits orderly society, less change, political stability, can manage disagreement and protect minorities innovation (economically, politically, institutionally), broader benefits for citizen cooperation
Overall challenges less innovation, inability to adapt to external change less stable, susceptible to charismatic leadership; minorities unprotected

political dissent[edit | edit source]

  • those disenfranchised by disparate distributions of power may seek alternative forms of expressing dissent or confronting larger powers

asymmetric warfare[edit | edit source]

  • when access to "levers" or instruments of power, the disenfranchised may seek alternative forms of engaging or participating in the larger society, including
    • isolation
    • resistance
      • uncooperation or other passive resistance
      • active or violent resistance
    • coalition building

Heckler's veto[edit | edit source]

  • disruptions of events and political advocacy deliberately intended to shut them down
    • ex. A threat is called in to an arena where a speech is to take place, and the venue is shut down, resulting in a "veto" of that speech, as it was not given as a result of the threat

Revolution paradox[edit | edit source]

  • Tocqueville observed "that the most dangerous time for a bad government is usually when it begins to reform."
    • from "The Old Regime and the Revolution" (1856)
    • see below for the "Tocqueville effect"

Thucydides Trap[edit | edit source]

Tocqueville effect[edit | edit source]

  • or "Tocqueville paradox"
  • Alexis de Tocqueville noted that
"The hatred that men bear to privilege increases in proportion as privileges become fewer and less considerable, so that democratic passions would seem to burn most fiercely just when they have least fuel. I have already given the reason for this phenomenon. When all conditions are unequal, no inequality is so great as to offend the eye, whereas the slightest dissimilarity is odious in the midst of general uniformity; the more complete this uniformity is, the more insupportable the sight of such a difference becomes. Hence it is natural that the love of equality should constantly increase together with equality itself, and that it should grow by what it feeds on."
- Tocqueville, Alexis de (1840). "Chapter III: That the sentiments of democratic nations accord with their opinions in leading them to concentrate political power". Democracy in America
  • The "Tocqueville effect" occurs when marginal portions of society gain economic and/or political power and their demands for reform increase, along with attacks on the established order upon which the greater equality arose.

>> todo: bring in Mancur Olson and Theory of Groups >> see wiki entry Mancur Olson about how interests tend to coalesce over time and focus on protection of gains, stifling innovation... organizations become "congealed" (from "How Phil Falcone Was LightSnared" WSJ, Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. 2/18/2012) and resist competition and protect the status quo.

Easterlin paradox[edit | edit source]

  • similarly to Tocqueville's observations, in 1974 Univ Penn Professor Richard Easterlin noted that the growth in (gross, or overall, national) happiness tends to diverge from growth in economic wealth. Whereas overall growth in happiness parallels economic growth in initial stages, as
  • an explanation for the effect is "social comparison," which states that people take a relativistic and not absolute view of their individual wealth or position in society:
    • i.e., people do not view their personal wealth in terms of what it actually is ("absolute")
    • and instead view is in comparison to others ("relative")

Economic disparity[edit | edit source]

  • a measure of disparities in income distribution across an economic unit or country
    • i.e., the extent to which income is distributed equally or unequally
    • ex. high economic dispary means that a small percentage of a country controls a high percentage of that country's assets or economic activity
  • see Gini coefficient - Wikipedia
  • see Thomas Picketty / todo
  • problems include
    • while a certain segment of a population may control a significant portion of assets, it may not also constitute a disproportionate amount of economic activity
    • government dispersals of or redistribution of income may hide underlying economic disparities in standards of living, purchasing power, etc.

Order & Chaos[edit | edit source]

  • see below for certainty v uncertainty
    • order = certainty
    • chaos = uncertainty

Order[edit | edit source]

  • social structures are primarily designed to bring stability to human interactions
  • order advantages
    • stability
    • predictability
      • especially for commerce, food supply, peaceful existence
  • order disadvantages:
    • inequities inherent in any large social structure
    • inability to self-correct
  • consequences of too much order:
    • lack of feedback and information
    • dissolution and atrophy
    • systems decline, can't adjust to change
    • may lead to unintended negative consequences

Chaos[edit | edit source]

  • chaos is either cause or effect of change
  • chaos as "change agent"
  • benefits of chaos:
    • correction
    • challenging inequities or inefficiencies in an overly-structured system

ideal balance of order & chaos[edit | edit source]

  • healthy systems combine elements of both
    • creating predictability and stability
      • while mitigating harms of overly structured system
  • feedback and self-adjustment without a need for drastic change
  • Thomas Jefferson idea of generational revolution
    • Jefferson believed that each generation required a renewal from the prior

>> source to do

Certainty v. Uncertainty[edit | edit source]

  • humans dislike change
  • humans fear the unknown
  • humans yearn for predictability
  • see Thomas Hobbes' "Leviathan" for analysis of human fear of uncertainty

Click EXPAND for excerpts from Leviathan on uncertainty:

Only the present has an existence in nature; things past exist in the memory only; and future things don’t exist at all, because the future is just a fiction of the mind, arrived at by noting the consequences that have ensued from past actions and assuming that similar present actions will have similar consequences (an assumption that pushes us forward into the supposed future). This kind of extrapolation is done the most securely by the person who has the most experience, but even then not with complete security. And though it is called ‘prudence’ when the outcome is as we expected, it is in its own nature a mere presumption.

from Leviathan, Chapter 3, "Train of Imaginations" and

Anxiety regarding the future inclines men to investigate the causes of things; because knowledge of causes enables men to make a better job of managing the present to their best advantage. Curiosity, or love of the knowledge of causes, draws a man from consideration of the effect to seek the cause, and then for the cause of that cause, and so on backwards until finally he is forced to have the thought that there is some cause that had no previous cause, but is eternal; this being what men call ‘God’.

from Leviathan, Chapter 11, "The Difference of Manners"

Calendar & Astrology[edit | edit source]

  • tracking time, seasons, and years brought stability and predictability
    • especially for seasonally dependent activities such as trade, farming, and warfare
  • Astrology, or the study of the position of the stars
    • = method of tracking time and seasons
    • led to advances in navigation and mathematics
  • see below for importance of the Winter Soltice

Divine intervention & explanations for events[edit | edit source]

  • the Winter Solstice (Dec 21/22) marks the sun's lowest trajectory in the northern hemisphere
    • why is this important?
      • that the sun has descended and that it will commence its rise again to higher points in the sky
      • = rebirth, a new start = celebration and deep life-cycle significance
  • At the Battle of Marathon (Greeks v. Persians), the Athenian commander (War Archon) Callimachus promised to sacrifice a kid (baby goat) to the goddess of the hunt, Artemis. Having killed 6,400 Persians, the Athenians had to kill 500 goats a year in her honor for more than a decade. (source: "The Greco-Persian Wars" by Peter Green; p. 32)
    • after losing ships to a storm prior to the battle of Thermopylae, Persian king Xerxes ordered his Magi to placate the weather with offerings and spells; the storm subsided
    • Herodotus, the first Greek historian, noted, "or, of course, it may just be that the wind dropped naturally" ("The Greco-Persian Wars" by Peter Green; p. 124)
  • Babylonian king Hammurabi wrote on Hammurabi's Code that the laws were given to him by his gods in order to protect the people he ruled (divine justification)
  • in ancient world outcomes were explained by divine intervention
  • victors in war or power struggles were thought to have been selected by gods (divine choice)

Legitimacy[edit | edit source]

  • favorable outcomes = divinely determined = therefore divinely chosen = legitimacy of outcomes
  • unfavorable outcomes = loss of legitimacy
  • examples
    • break-down of Old Kingdom pharaonic rule in Egypt following reduced flooding of the Nile
      • pharaohs lost legitimacy and social, political, and religious rules were freely broken as result of widespread famine and social collapse
    • Xerxes punishes the Hellespont for disobeying him
      • after a storm wrecked his boat-bridge across the Hellespont, Xerxes ordered soldiers to whip its surface in punishment for insubordination

Ritual[edit | edit source]

  • to bring certainty to uncertain events
  • to bring order and predictability
  • rituals can:
    • appeal to god(s) for desired outcome
    • predetermine events by acting them out "ritualistically" (such as a hunt)
    • superstitions mitigate uncertainty

risk v. reward[edit | edit source]

  • social choices
    • social organization
  • unintended consequences
  • opportunity costs
  • comparative advantage
    • examples:
      • farming v. hunting gathering
      • war: Pyrrus v. the Romans
  • conditions v. choice

Unity / disunity[edit | edit source]

  • << move to order/chaos above
  • unity can formed or defined by
    • power/ force
    • homogeneity
      • same language, religion, ethnicity, etc.
    • geographic isolation
      • drives homogeneity
    • crisis
  • disunity
  • agents of unity
  • agents of disunity
    • dissent
    • heterodoxy / nonconformity

Food <<>> Population Cycle[edit | edit source]

  • in agrarian societies, the relationship between food production and population
  • in industrial societies, the relationshiop between labor and economic output
  • in post-industrial societies, the demographic strain of aging, population static societies

Objective v. Subjective[edit | edit source]

Scarcity & Surplus[edit | edit source]

  • scarcity = state of not having enough
    • generally regards food supply
    • condition of scarcity
    • impact of scarcity
      • competition over resources / food supplies
      • population growth limited to available food supply
  • surplus = state of having more then enough
    • generally regards food supply
    • condition of scarcity
    • impact of surplus
      • population growth
      • trade
      • social stratification
  • balanced food supply
    • self-sufficiency = state of having just enough food / resources
    • stable food supply
    • hunter-gatherers can be seen to maintain a balanced food supply
      • nomadic lifestyle = to maintain food supply by following/ finding food sources
        • in ideal state maintain balanced food supply for stable population
  • sources:

Identity[edit | edit source]

  • details
  • sources:

Literature & Arts[edit | edit source]

  • links to do

Architecture[edit | edit source]

  • Types & periods of human organization & food sources

Hunter-gatherers[edit | edit source]

  • subsistence economy
    • self-provision (getting) of food, clothing, shelter
    • from Latin subsistens for "to stand still or firm"
      • sub- (under) + sistere (staying still, in place)
      • from PIE *sta- to stand, make still
  • band / tribe
  • nomadic (moving about)
  • technologies
    • stone hunting tools
    • plant, especially seed identification and
  • trade limited to objects not surplus food

Pastoral / pastoralism[edit | edit source]

  • subsistence economy
  • herding animals
  • animal husbandry / domestication / livestock
  • nomadic, semi-nomadic
  • cooperative use of land

Pastoral farmers[edit | edit source]

  • subsistence economy
  • sedentary (not moving, not nomadic)
  • animal husbandry (controlled domesticates, livestock)
  • seasonal or early planting

Farmers[edit | edit source]

  • ranges from subsistence to trade economy
  • sedentary
    • transition to defined areas ("farms")
  • planting & animal husbandry
    • specialization
    • division of labor
    • technology
    • expansion of trade

Urbanization[edit | edit source]

  • sedentary
  • trade economy
  • farming-based food supply
  • specialization
  • social and political organization
  • state monopoly on force

Civilization[edit | edit source]

  • from city-states to empire
  • trade economy
  • standardization
  • state monopoly on force
  • writing systems

Social & Political Organization[edit | edit source]

  • structures, systems, rules, identities
    • social = culture, religion, education, entertainment
    • political = governance
For educational purposes only ** do not distribute **
  • In "Guns, Germs & Steel," Jared Diamond analyzed social organization by type and characteristics
  • his chart serves a very useful comparative tool
    • especially for measuring social organization over time and place
  • Dunbar's number:
"Dunbar's number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships—relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person"
from [[ Dunbar's Number (wiki)]]

Social, Political and Economic Structures[edit | edit source]

Government[edit | edit source]

Economy[edit | edit source]

Social Structures[edit | edit source]

  • social classes
  • identity
  • religion
  • family
  • gender
  • citizenship v. subject
  • sources:

Political Efficacy[edit | edit source]

  • concept
  • definitions
    • internal
    • external
  • utility
  • Machiavelli on the political efficacy from "Discourses on Livy":
    • NOTE: Machiavelli did not use this term
  •  "Whoever undertakes to govern a people under the form of either republic or monarchy, without making sure of those who are opposed to this new order of things, establishes a government of very brief duration. It is true that I regard as unfortunate those princes who, to assure their government to which the mass of the people is hostile, are obliged to resort to extraordinary measures; for he who has but a few enemies can easily make sure of them without great scandal, but he who has the masses hostile to him can never make sure of them, and the more cruelty he employs the feebler will his authority become; so that his best remedy is to try and secure the good will of the people."
    • Source: Machiavelli, Niccolo; Burnham, James; Detmold, Christian E. (2010-11-25). Discourses on Livy (with a study by James Burnham) by Niccolo Machiavelli, Christian E. Detmold, James Burnham.
  • From Discourses on Livy, CHAPTER XVI
    • select expand to see quotation
  • Human agency & leadership[edit | edit source]

    • an element of contingency, choice, represents "human agency"
      • "agent" = a causal element, i.e., that makes things happen
      • thus "human agency" = the choice and actions of people in historical events and outcomes
    • while organizations, conditions, structures, geography, etc. largely shape historical conditions and outcomes
      • human agency, or choice and actions, is how history happens
    • thus "leadership" is as important as structures
      • however, human agency is limited by available choice
        • i.e., leaders of an inland country, say Mongolia, will not likely choose or be able to create a maritime empire
          • instead, effective leadership did organize Mongolia into a land-based empire using existing structural elements of Mongolian geography, economy, and culture
          • then, using that land-based power, the Mongols conquered China, established the Yuan Dynasty, and used Chinese structures and culture to build a maritime power.
    • see Leadership entry

    Standards/ Standardization[edit | edit source]

    standard meaning[edit | edit source]

    • standard (noun) =
      • a baseline rule or line of common agreement
        • i.e., what a society agrees upon as commonly expected
      • etymology (word origin):
        • from Old French estandardfor fpr "to stand hard", as in fixed
        • derived from Latin extendere" for "to extend" and applied to an "upright pole"
        • applied to a flag, a "standard" represents an army or people
    • standardize (verb)
      • means to make in common or in common agreement
      • standardization (noun) = in the state of being standardized; action of creating common agreement

    purpose of standardization[edit | edit source]

    • standards are a key element of creating rule, sovereignty and/or unity
      • especially across large distances
      • when a people agree upon something, it is "standard"
    • forms of standardization include:0
      • language, laws, money, religion, social customs, weights and measures, writing
    • effects of standardization include:
      • economic activity (trade), social and political organization, unity
      • rule, power, especially in the sense of enforcing standards
    • the below will review these different forms and purposes of standards and standardization

    law[edit | edit source]

    • may be by
      • consensus
      • tradition
      • statutes (legal codes)
    • key to functional law are coopration and enforcement
    • as well as equitable application

    money[edit | edit source]

    • “Money can be anything that the parties agree is tradable” (Wikipedia)

    notes to do:

    • money & trade
      • trade =
        • geography
        • movement
        • scarcity/surplus
        • technology
        • technological and cultural diffusion

    history of money[edit | edit source]

    • “I understand the history of money. When I get some, it's soon history.”
    • money must be:
      • scarce
        • too much money reduces its value
        • inflation results from oversupply of money
        • or corruption or devaluation of money
        • see Latin expression: void ab initio
          • = fraud from the beginning taints everything the follows
      • transportable
        • ex. Micronesians used a currency of large limestone coins...9-12ft diameter, several tons... put them outside the houses.. great prestige... but they weren’t transportable, so tokens were created to represent them, or parts of them... Tokens = promises
      • authentic
        • not easily counterfeited (fraudulently copied)
      • trusted
        • government sanction
      • permanent
        • problem with barter of plants and animals is perishability
          • i.e., fruit and goats can be traded, but fruit goes bad and goats die
    • early non-coinage forms of money:
      • sea shells
        • which are scarce (rare), authentic, visually attractive (pretty)
      • cattle
      • crops/ herbs/ spices
        • especially specialty crops, such as spices
          • such as pepper, which is dried and therefore transportable and non-perishable
      • gems, gold, rare minerals
        • measured by weight
    • modern period money forms:
    • during Age of Discovery (15th-17th centuries) rum became currency
    • 18th century Virginia, tobacco became money
    • in prisons or prisoner of war camps, cigarettes have become currency,

    history of Coinage[edit | edit source]

    • starts with the “touchstone”
      • = a stone that can be rubbed to measure its purity (trust, value)

    >> to do: Phoenicians: created currency Representative Money: paper money = coin value Fiat money = backed by a promise only

    weights and measures[edit | edit source]

    writing[edit | edit source]

    > create new page for writing

    • power of writing
    • from Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs & Steel", p 30:
    Another chain of causation led from food production to writing, possibly the most important single invention of the last few thousand years (Chapter 12). Writing has evolved de novo only a few times in human history, in areas that had been the earliest sites of the rise of food production in their respective regions. All other societies that have become literate did so by the diffusion of writing systems or of the idea of writing from one of those few primary centers. Hence, for the student of world history, the phenomenon of writing is particularly useful for exploring another important constellation of causes: geography's effect on the ease with which ideas and inventions spread.

    and, regarding his analysis of the Spanish conquest of the Inca, p. 81:

    Why weren't the Incas the ones to invent guns and steel swords, to be mounted on animals as fearsome as horses, to bear diseases to which European lacked resistance, to develop oceangoing ships and advanced political organization, and to be able to draw on the experience of thousands of years of written history?
    • from "An Inca Account of the Conquest of Peru" by the Incan prince, Titu Cusi (who learned and wrote the book in Spanish), on some of the first Incan encounters with the Spanish:
    we have witnessed with our own eyes that they talk to white cloths by themselves and that they call some of us by our names without having been informed by anyone and only by looking into the sheets, which they hold in front of them.

    Culture and Cultural & Technological Achievements[edit | edit source]

    • details
    • sources:

    Historical sources & methods[edit | edit source]

    • tools and techniques to study history

    types of historical evidence[edit | edit source]

    • archeological evidence:
      • remains (bones, fossilized human, animal, insect remains with DNA)
      • carbon-material for dating

    primary source[edit | edit source]

    • historical evidence created by the historical actors or at the time
      • i.e., contemporaneous = "of the time"
    • eye-witness testimony
      • contemporaneous interviews or accounts, such as:
        • newspaper reports of eye-witness accounts
      • diaries
      • personal letters
        • court testimony
      • oral history
      • interviewing someone about their personal experiences in the past
      • may involve selective or inaccurate memory
    • other original documents, including:
      • official papers
      • newspapers

    secondary source[edit | edit source]

    • historical evidence created by non-participant observers
      • could be contemporaneous or historical
        • an "indirect witness" would be someone who lived at the time but did not directly participate in the event

    techniques to evaluate historical documents[edit | edit source]

    • OPVL
      • Origin
      • Purpose
      • Value
      • Limitation
    • HAPP-y
      • Historical context
      • Audience
      • Purpose
      • Point of view
        • y = just to make the acronym "HAPPy" complete

    Historiography[edit | edit source]

    = the study of how history is studied

    Historiographic schools[edit | edit source]

    Bias in study or writing of history[edit | edit source]

    • confirmation bias
      • see Confirmation bias
    • editorial bias
    • hagiography
      • biography that idealizes the subject
      • from Greek for writing about saints
    • political bias
    • note: application of a particular historiographic techniques does not imply a bias
      • although it could have bias in the work
    • see Historiography section

    archeology & other historical evidence[edit | edit source]

    >> to do

    Economics[edit | edit source]

    Comparative Advantage[edit | edit source]

    • Definition: A particular economic advantage, resource or ability a country possesses over either its own other economic situations or those of another country.
    • the term "comparative advantage" was
    • origin of the idea:
      • late 1700s Scottish philosopher Adam Smith (1723-1790)

    click EXPAND for Adam Smith quotation on "absolute advantage":

    ''If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it off them with some part of the produce of our own industry employed in a way in which we have some advantage. The general industry of the country, being always in proportion to the capital which employs it, will not thereby be diminished ... but only left to find out the way in which it can be employed with the greatest advantage.'' (Book IV, Section ii, 12)
      • Comparative advantage means concentrating on what your country is good at making/doing in order to get what other countries are better at making/doing."
      • early 19th century British economist David Ricardo (1772-1823):
        • argued for specialization as basis for national wealth and increased trade
        • = laissez-faire, free-trade
        • related comparative advantage to the concept of "opportunity cost"
          • i.e. what is lost by not engaging in an activity
          • Ricardo argued that it would be more costly to for country A to attempt to produce something that country B can more efficiently create than to focus on what that country A itself does better (its comparative advantage) and simply purchase the other goods from country B
          • and by doing so, both country A and B will benefit from the trade

    click EXPAND for David Ricardo's quotation on comparative advantage:

    it would undoubtedly be advantageous to the capitalists [and consumers] of England… [that] the wine and cloth should both be made in Portugal [and that] the capital and labour of England employed in making cloth should be removed to Portugal for that purpose.
      • British colonizer of Australia and economist Robert Torrens independently developed the idea of comparative advantage

    click EXPAND for Robert Torrens' quotation on comparative advantage from 1808:

    ''if I wish to know the extent of the advantage, which arises to England, from her giving France a hundred pounds of broadcloth, in exchange for a hundred pounds of lace, I take the quantity of lace which she has acquired by this transaction, and compare it with the quantity which she might, at the same expense of labour and capital, have acquired by manufacturing it at home. The lace that remains, beyond what the labour and capital employed on the cloth, might have fabricated at home, is the amount of the advantage which England derives from the exchange.''

    Desire Path[edit | edit source]

    A desire path between concrete sidewalks at the Ohio State University (wikipedia)
    • specifically: a path created by people off or outside of an established, planned path
    • generally: the idea that people will more efficiently choose their methods and means of conducting day-to-day affairs better than planners
      • related to Frederick Hayeks' idea of the "emergent order" created by accumulated individual decisions rather than by a collective decision

    Economies of scale[edit | edit source]

    • definition: lower costs of production based upon higher volume
      • i.e., the larger the production facility, the cheaper it costs to produce any single item
    • economies of scale result from:
      • greater efficiency in higher production rates
      • greater purchasing power to lower costs of supplies and materials
      • lower per capita labor cost per cost of unit produced

    Free markets[edit | edit source]

    Gresham's law[edit | edit source]

    • "Bad money drives out good money"
      • Sir Thomas Gresham (1519–1579), was an English financier in the 16th century
      • he advised Queen Elizabeth to restore confidence in the English currency, which had been "debased" (made impure)
      • Gresham argued that the monetary value of coinage should equal the value of its metallic base
        • i.e., $1.00 gold coin should be worth the weight in gold of that coin
    • inflation results from "bad" money
    • historical instances include:
      • Roman empire debasement of silver coins (from 92% purity to
      • Yuan Dynasty issuance of paper money to finance war, resulting in inflation

    "I Pencil"[edit | edit source]

    Herbert Stein's law[edit | edit source]

    • "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop"
    • in economics and history, this concept is important for students to appreciate
      • cycles
      • non-linear paths of events
      • change
    • Herbert Stein's Law may serve as a good discussion point for evaluating choices in history
    • Stein's law is an expression of "Regression to the Mean" (see entry)

    Jevons paradox[edit | edit source]

    • also called "Jevon's effect"
    • law that states that increases in efficiencies lead to more and not less use of a resource
      • also: greater efficiencies lowers cost, which increases demand
    • from William Stanley Jevons who in 1865 noticed that more efficiencies in coal-power generation led to more use of coal
    • interesting historical tool
      • controversial in the 2000s regarding energy use
        • see New Yorker article on subject Dec/ 2010 >> to confirm

    Lucas critique[edit | edit source]

    • Univ. of Chicago professor Robert Lucas "critiqued" (criticized) macroeconomic theories or models that describe large-scale systems, especially as drawn from "aggregated data" (accumulated) won't impact individual choices or behaviors, or those individual choices and behaviors won't change
      • in other words, macroeconomic models fail to account for micro-economic or individual behaviors
    • the utility of the Lucas critique is to point out that policy makes often fail to recognize that individuals make rational decisions that macroeconomic forecasting cannot account for.

    Milton Friedman's "Four ways to spend money"[edit | edit source]

    • late 20th century Economist Milton famously defined the "Four ways to spend money" (paraphrased, not original quotation):
    1. You spend your money on yourself
    2. You spend someone else's money on yourself
    3. Someone else spends their money on on you
    4. Someone else spends someone else's money on someone else

    click EXPAND to see the implications of the Four ways to spend money

    • Table format

    Whose money is spent by whom Money is spent on whom Efficiency of Outcome
    You spend your money... on yourself
    • seek highest value
    • with lowest cost
    • = maximum efficiency
    You spend someone else's money... on yourself
    • seek highest value
    • no concern for cost
    • = lower efficiency
    Someone spends their money... on you
    • seek lowest cost
    • no concern for quality
    • = lower efficiency
    Someone else spends someone else's money... on someone else
    • no concern for cost
    • no concern for quality
    • = lowest efficiency

    Opportunity Cost[edit | edit source]

    • definition: The value of the next best choice one had when making a decision.
      • i.e., the trade-off of a decision.
      • Opportunity cost is a way of measuring your decisions: if I do this, would having done something else been more or less expensive? What did I give up in my decision?
    • Frederic Bastiat developed the "Parable of the broken window" to express the concept
      • known as the "Broken Window Fallacy*" or the "Glazier's Fallacy"
        • (* not to be confused with "Broken Windows Theory")
      • from his essay, "Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas" ("What is seen and what is not seen")
      • the parable discusses the "unseen" costs of fixing a broken window
        • even though the broken window provides benefit to a "glazier" makes money fixing it
        • the shopkeeper suffers the "unseen" costs of not being to do something else with that money
        • additionally, the opportunities to fix broken windows may create an "unintended consequence" of a "perverse incentive" for glaziers to go about breaking windows in order to make money fixing them

    click EXPAND for a review of Bastiat's theory of "opportunity cost" and associated concepts of "unintended consequences" and "perverse incentives"

    • Parable of the broken window
      • a shopkeeper has a careless son breaks a window
        • his neighbors argue that broken windows keep "glaziers" (window-makers) in business
          • if it costs 6 francs to fix, they argue, the money spent on the window is productive, as it goes to the glaziers
        • Bastiat replies that, yes, money has thus circulated, but "it takes no account of what is not seen" (ce qu'on ne voit pas)
          • the shopkeeper can't spend those 6 francs on something else of his choosing
          • or, perhaps, he has another need for 6 francs that he can not now fix
          • therefore the accident of the broken window prevents the shopkeeper from using his money more efficiently
      • Bastiat writes, "Society loses the value of things which are uselessly destroyed"
      • the parable also develops "the law of unintended consequences"
        • ex.: if the glaziers figure out they can pay a boy 1 franc to break windows, and they can still make a profit at 5 francs per window,
          • there will thereby exist a "perverse" incentive to break windows
            • "perverse incentive" = an incentive that produces a negative outcome
      • economists have argued over the "opportunity costs" of damaging events:
        • disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes which require repair and thus create jobs & economic activity)
        • wars (spur economic activity and mobilization)
        • however, whatever the benefit it does not account for Bastiat's "unseen" costs and cannot in any way outweigh the suffering, death and loss of choice created by the disaster or war
    • see:
    • Examples:
      • If you own land on an urban road, and you decide to build condos on it, what else might you have done, and what would that have cost -- or earned -- for you?
    • Questions:
      • If the U.S. imports oil from Saudi Arabia, is the U.S. giving up the potential of its own oil industry?
      • If Saudi Arabia relies on oil, what is the cost of that reliance?

    Pareto Principle[edit | edit source]

    • also known as the "80/20 rule" or "law of the vital few"
    • = the idea that 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes
    • the early Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) observed that
      • in Italy 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the population
    • other observers have found that many natural and human systems follow this distribution pattern

    Other useful Economics and "Political Economy/-ics" terms and concepts[edit | edit source]

    • 80/20 rule (see the "Pareto Principle" above)
    • diminishing returns
    • emergent order
    • Broken window fallacy (also "Glazier's fallacy)
    • client politics
    • churning
      • assets churning
        • a form of rent seeking whereby a regulated public utility seeks replacement infrastructure solely for the purpose of generating interest income on the investment, and not for a genuine need for that infrastructure, or, worse, intentionally investing in assets or infrastructure that will require future replacement (see "planned obsolescence")
      • brokerage churning
    • externalities
    • Inflation/ deflation
    • Labor supply / flexibility of labor supply
    • planned obsolescence
      • obsolescence = out of date, no longer useful or appealing
      • deliberate design for a product or asset to require replacement
      • practices may include, automobile or cell phone design to entire consumers to purchase based upon a new "look", fad, or feature that does not make the previous version obsolete
    • public goods
    • regulatory capture
    • rent seeking
    • regression to the mean (return to the mean)
    • risk mitigation
    • scarcity v. surplus
    • sunk cost / "sunk cost fallacy"
    • Third-party payer effect
      • when a third-party pays for goods or services, quality goes down and prices go up
      • see Milton Friedman's "Four ways to spend money"
    • top-down v. bottom-up
    • trickle-down theory
      • the idea that economic benefits conferred or made available to the top of society will "trickle down" to the rest of society
      • has been attributed to "Reaganomics"
        • but only by its critics, not its proponents
        • in other words, "trickle down" theory is an economic criticism and not a proposition
      • "trickle down" theory originated in William Jennings Bryan's 1896 "Cross of God Speech"

    click EXPAND for quotation from Bryan's Cross of Gold speech that expressed "trickle down theory"

    There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous, their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.
    • Tragedy of the Commons
    • zero sum transaction
      • both sides of transaction receive equal benefit
        • i.e., the buyer and the seller gain equal value
        • thus the "sum" of the transaction is "zero"

    Logical and observational fallacies & paradoxes[edit | edit source]

    • see Economics section for economics-related fallacies and paradoxes
    • see Logical fallacy for list of fallacies especially regarding logic and argumentation

    Benchmark fallacy[edit | edit source]

    • a logical or statistical fallacy that measures incompatible data or other comparison point ("benchmark")
    • examples:
      • using a date of reference (benchmark) in order to hide a statistical trend from its true nature
        • also called "cherry-picking" of dates or data
      • commonly used by stock market observers in order to exaggerate or minimize the extent of a stock's rise or fall
      • commonly used by politicians to make claims for or against themselves or opponents, such as:

    click EXPAND for an example of a benchmark fallacy


    Housing Starts 2000-2021 selected years
    2000 2006 2009 2015 2021
    1.65 mm 2.25mm 0.50 mm 1.2mm 1.7 mm
    • mm = millions
    • numbers are approximate
    • benchmark fallacies using this data might include:
      • a politician wanting to exaggerate a decline in housing starts might select 2005 as the benchmark date for 2021 rates (thus 2021 would have a lower rate of housing starts than 2005); conversely,
      • a politician wanting to exaggerate a rise in housing starts might select 2009 as the benchmark date for 2021 rates (thus 2021 would have a higher rate of housing starts than 2009)

    Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon / Frequency Illusion/ New Car Syndrome[edit | edit source]

    • the phenomenon in which upon buying a new car, one all of a sudden sees other cars of the same model or color that one didn't notice before
    • first identified as the "Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon" following an internet message board user who mentioned the name of the German terrorist organization, Baader-Meinhof, realized that he started seeing numerous references to the group, even though he had never noticed it before
    • the phenomenon was later labeled "frequency illusion," in reference to the tendency to notice things only after noticing it for the first time, which leads to the assumption that the frequency of that thing is greater than it really is
      • i.e., it was always there
      • but the person didn't notice until first experiencing or observing it
    • thus the "new car syndrome"

    "Cargo Cult" fallacy[edit | edit source]

    • fallacy of superficially mimicking someone, something, or some activity will result in the same benefits accrued to those who are being copied
      • i.e., by taking sticks and marching in military-lines, that one would have the same power as the real army being mimicked
    • in science, called "cargo cult science", whereby one researcher copies the results of another without testing it independently
    • the term "cargo cult" originated in belief by indigenous Pacific islanders that ritualistic mimicking of Western symbols, constructions or actions would yield the same benefits observed of those westerners
      • especially construction of mini-airstrips and models of airplanes that the U.S. military brought to Pacific Islands during WWII would also yield the benefits those things brought to the westerners, such as material goods, health care, etc.
    • the term "cargo cult" was coined by Australian planters in Papua New Guinea
      • anthropologists adopted the coin regarding certain indigenous beliefs across Melanesia (eastern Pacific islands)

    Confirmation bias[edit | edit source]

    • drawing a conclusion not from evidence but from the "bias" one uses to interpret the evidence
      • akak
        • seeing only what you want to see
        • "to a hammer, everything is a nail"
    • confirmation bias impacts all areas of human thought, including
      • scientists who ignore or deny contrary evidence
      • politicians who take only one side of a political question even against evidence that negates it
      • historians who are biased toward certain historical outcomes
    • origins of the idea of confirmation bias
      • Aesop's fable: Fox and the Grapes, which is where we get the expression, "sour grapes" ("oh well, those grapes are probably sour")
    • David Hume and confirmaton bias
      • 18th century Scottish philosopher who argued that knowledge is derived from experience (called "empiricism")
      • however, Hume warned against reason alone as the basis for knowledge, as one can "reason" just about anything
        • Hume wrote, “Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger.”
      • Hume warned against jumping to conclusions based on limited knowledge
        • i.e. drawing conclusions based on our own confirmation bias
    • may also be called "motivated reasoning"
      • i.e. drawing conclusions ("reasoning") based upon bias or reason for ("motives")
    • see:

    historical examples of confirmation bias[edit | edit source]

    • in 1938, British Prime Minister Chamberlain returned from Germany after signing the Munich Agreement, under which Hitler agreed not to many further claims on Czechsolvakian territory (after siezing the Sudetenland), and announced that the agreement would bring "peace for our time."
      • within six months Germany had annexed more of Czechoslavia and would soon after invade Poland.
      • Chamberlain and his allied nations so wanted Hitler not to be a problem that they accepted anything he proposed thinking that appeasing him would stop his agression.
    • the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 were driven by confirmation bias that considered evidence gave proof of witchcraft, and even otherwise harmless things, like a broken fence, served as proof of it.
      • Worse, authorities accepted without question ridiculous claims such as that a witch supposedly made cows jump
    • The New Testament tells of various miracles performed by Jesus, some of which occur on the sabbath, which is the Hebrew "day of rest" (no work is allowed)
      • when some of the Jewish leaders, "Pharisees," witness a miracle, instead of responding in awe of it (such as healing a cripple or giving sight to a blind man), they become upset that Jesus performed the miracle on the sabbath
        • basically, saying, "Yeah, whatever, you healed a dude, but you can't do that on a Saturday!"
      • the bias of the Pharisees was so strong that they ignored the miracle and instead accused Jesus of breaking the law by "working" on the sabbath

    Correlation is not causation[edit | edit source]

    • a cause and effect fallacy that mistakes "correlation" for cause
      • i.e., just because two events are related or coincidental does not mean one caused the other
    • this fallacy is one of "conflation" as opposed to bad logic, as in the Post hoc fallacy

    False dilemma fallacy[edit | edit source]

    • fallacy of conclusion drawn from limited evidence or a false premise
    • the fallacy ignores evidence contrary to the conclusion drawn from it

    Framing effect[edit | edit source]

    • the 'effect" or phenomenon that people will select an option based upon how it is "framed" in positive or negative terms
    • the framing effect occurs when the options are of equal value (are the same), even if presented in oppositive terms
      • the difference is in how it is presented or perceived by the decision maker
    • examples:
      • 33% survive v. 66% die
        • A) given this choice, 33% of people will be saved; versus
        • B) given this choice, 66% of people will die
          • respondents are more likely to select A) because it focuses on lives" saved" versus "people who will die"
          • even though both outcomes are the same (33% saved = 66% die)
      • an event has a late registration fee
        • option A) the late registration fee is highlighted on top of the regular cost of registration
        • option B) regular registration is treated as a discount from the total cost of late registration
          • respondents are more likely to select A) because they want to avoid the perceived additional cost
          • even though the early registration for A) is the same as for B)
      • an opinion poll asks for support of a policy, with emphasis on either its positive or negative impact
        • A) 100,000 people will get jobs, while only 10,000 unemployed will result
        • B) 10,000 people will lose jobs, while only 100,000 people will find employment
          • respondents prefer A) due to its positive emphasis on jobs gained
          • even though the net jobs gained or lost are the same

    Gambler's fallacy[edit | edit source]

    • the idea that past performance necessarily indicates future results
      • either that since it happened in the past, it will continue
      • or, if it happened in the past, it will not happen again
    • the fallacy is especially important in random events, such as gambling (cards, dice)
    • see Law of Averages and Regression to the Mean

    Heinlein's Razor[edit | edit source]

    • “Never assume malice when incompetence will do”
      • similar to Occam's Razor, which posits that the most direct explanation is likely the most accurate
      • in that many human endeavors are the result of "incompetence" as much as good or bad intention
      • makes for a good test for "conspiracy theories"
    • from wikipedia:
    A similar quotation appears in Robert A. Heinlein's 1941 short story "Logic of Empire" ("You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"); this was noticed in 1996 (five years before Bigler identified the Robert J. Hanlon citation) and first referenced in version 4.0.0 of the Jargon File,[3] with speculation that Hanlon's Razor might be a corruption of "Heinlein's Razor". "Heinlein's Razor" has since been defined as variations on Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice.[4] Yet another similar epigram ("Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence") has been widely attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte.[5] Another similar quote appears in Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774): "...misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. At any rate, the last two are certainly much less frequent."

    Law of averages[edit | edit source]

    • = the greater the number of instances, the greater the probability of the average outcome to occur
      • in other words, the more times something happens, the more likely the results will be the same
    • the classic example is coin tossing
      • the more coin tosses the more likely the result between heads or tails to be 50/50
    • related to
      • the "law of large numbers" from Jakob Bernoulli
      • "regression to the mean"
    • see:

    Loss aversion[edit | edit source]

    • a psychological disposition to not want to lose out or not have something
    • loss aversion occurs when people give up something of value or that is functional in exchange for something new that isn't needed
      • ex. getting the latest cell phone even though your current one is working fine
    • loss aversion drives decisions by "not wanting to lose out" on something

    Mandela effect[edit | edit source]

    • false memories created by the spread of one or more sources of innacurate or false information that is then shared by others
    • named the "Mandela effect" for a "paranormal researcher" who claimed that she was sure Mandela died in prison in the 1980s, and upon publishing this on a website she found that many other people shared in or adopted her false memory
    • these false memories are then propogated and believed by others who were not part of the original false memory

    Necessary and sufficient conditions[edit | edit source]

    • confusion between necessary and sufficient conditions can lead to false or poor logic and confusion about causes and effects.
    • see entry above under causality

    No real Scotsman fallacy[edit | edit source]

    • also called "No true Scotsman fallacy"
    • a logical fallacy of "universal generalization"
    • the fallacy makes a universal claim, then improperly excludes any counter-examples
    • the "no real Scotsman" fallacy works as such:
    A: "No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge"
    B: "My uncle Angus is Scottish, and he does."
    A: "Well, no real Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge"

    Normalcy bias[edit | edit source]

    • a bias towards continuation of what is or has normally been
    • given absence of change, a normalcy bias is accurate
      • only it's accurate until it's not
    • we can see across history when civilizations, peoples, or leaders counted on things "staying the same"
      • consequences can be
        • catastrophic systemic breakdown without preparation for change
          • examples include, Ancient Egypt, Roman Empire, various Chinese dynasties
        • lack of social, economic, cultural, and technological advance
          • which unto itself becomes a source of breakdown, esp. vis-a-vis competitive societies
          • see "stability v. change" above

    Occam's Razor[edit | edit source]

    • original latin = lex parsimoniae
      • = the law of parsimony, economy or succinctness
    • = idea that the simplest explanation is most often the best
    • = best solution or option is that which assumes the least variables or assumptions
    • origin
      • William of Ockham (c. 1285–1349) English Franciscan friar and logician
        • practiced economy in logic
        • "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity"
    • term "Occam's Razor" developed later
      • "razor" = knife to cut away unnecessary assumptions
    • Occam's razor for students:
      • to evaluate opposing theories
      • to develop own theories
      • to evaluate Myths & Conspiracies outline
      • to develop logical thought
        • see also sufficiency in logic
    • note: Occam's Razor has been used by philosophers to deny any explanations that include God or religion (see "Blame it on Calvin & Luther," by Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal, Jan 14, 2012

    Post hoc fallacy[edit | edit source]

    • also "Post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy
    • fallacy that since Y followed X, Y must have been caused by X
      • just because something happened after something else, doesn't mean the first event caused the second

    Regression to the mean[edit | edit source]

    • in statistics, math, etc., that the average of a system is unlikely to change despite extreme observations or events
      • the reason observations of extremes are not likely to be repeated, thus averages prevail ("the mean")
    • in social sciences, indicates that change can't happen forever
      • i.e., exceptional events, persons or places, positive or negative, will likely subside or return to what was previously normal
      • and what was before, or similar to it, will prevail
      • we see this in terms of cycles: economic, political, social
    • in economics, regression to the mean
    • in late 1800s, Francis Galton argued that
      • extreme characteristics of an individual are not passed entirely to offspring
        • so offspring tend to have one or another of either parent's characteristics, but not all of them
      • Galton called it "Regression towards mediocrity in hereditary stature"

    Regression fallacy[edit | edit source]

    • errors in observation or prediction that fail to account for regression to the mean
    • = observations or predictions that include extremes or outliers (beyond the normal range) and ignore the law of regression to the mean that would otherwise indicate that those extremes and outliers are just that and not indicative of the mean (average)
      • an interesting application of this idea is seen in positive and negative reinforcement
        • positive reinforcement may incorrectly praise an extreme or outlier, thus subsequent behaviors may fail to replicate what was being praised
        • this dynamic can explain why people may feel great about some outcome yet fail to repeat it subsequently
          • they expect that same extreme/outlier without realizing that outcomes will likely "regress to the mean"

    Sunk cost fallacy[edit | edit source]

    • "sunk cost" is an economics term for a transaction or financial cost that can no longer be recovered
      • i.e., it is "sunk"
    • the "sunk cost fallacy" is that because a cost has been incurrent but not recovered, more investment is required to make it back
      • also known as "throwing good money after bad"
    • the sunk cost fallacy results from an emotional response to a bad situation
      • in which it would be irrational to continue to incur additional costs
    • the opposite response to the sunk cost fallacy is "cutting one's losses" and moving on
    • in non-financial analysis, especially historical, the sunk cost fallacy occurs when actors "double down" on a bad decision or situation
      • doubling down has frequently occurred in politics and warfare
    • an example of the Sunk cost fallacy was the "Concorde fallacy"
      • the British and French governments decided to keep spending money on the supersonic Concorde airliner despite having already lost huge amounts of money on it
    • related to Loss Aversion

    Sutton's law[edit | edit source]

    • from the bank robber Willie Sutton who, when asked why he robbed banks
      • he replied, "Because that's where the money is."
        • Willie Sutton denied ever having said that, but affirmed that he "probably" would have if someone asked him
    • = seek first the most obvious answer first
    • used in Medical school to teach students best practices on diagnosis and testing

    Texas sharpshooter fallacy[edit | edit source]

    • occurs when negative evidence is ignored while positive evidence is over-emphasized
      • i.e., conclusions are drawn from convenient data, while ignoring data that is not convenient to the argument
    • "Texas sharpshooter" comes from an old joke about a Texan shoots at a barn first, then draws a shooting target over the closest cluster of bullet holes
      • thus proving himself to be a "sharpshooter" after the fact, whereas his shooting was hardly accurate
      • related to
        • Post hoc fallacy
        • False dilemma fallacy
        • Correlation is not causation fallacy

    Zebra rule[edit | edit source]

    • "When you hear hoofbeats behind you, don't expect to see a zebra"
      • similar to Sutton's law that the most obvious answer is likely correct
      • used by medical schools to teach focus on the most obvious patient conditions/ illness causes

    Kafka Trap[edit | edit source]

    • a logical trap whereby the argument uses its own refutation as evidence of a fallacy
      • i.e., "because you deny it, it must be true"
    • the term refers to the dystopian novel by Franz Kafka "The Trial," in which a man's denial of a charge was used as evidence of his guilt
    • the "Kafka trap" was coined by Eric Raymond as "Kafkatrapping" in 2010 article

    Leading questions and question traps[edit | edit source]

    • questions that assume an answer ("leading") or are designed to "trap" an answer
      • similar to the Kafka trap
    • leading questions are used in order to guide
      • Socrates engaged in "leading questions" in order to make his point

    Motte and Bailey Doctrine[edit | edit source]

    • or the "Motte and Bailey fallacy"
    • a fallacy of exaggeration in which an argument is presented with absurd exaggerations ("the Motte") and if objected to is replaced by an undoubtedly true but hardly controversial statement ("the Bailey", which is then used to advance the original exaggerated claim

    click EXPAND for more on Motte and Bailey Doctrine:

    • the term refers to a protected medieval castle and nearby indefensible village
      • the Motte is the defensible, protected tower but is not appealing to live in (built on a mound or "motte")
    • the Bailey is an appealing place to live but cannot be defended
    • if attacked, the occupants of the retreat to the Motte for safety
    • thus the exaggerated and fallacious (untrue) argument appears more reasonable
    • the Motte and Bailey Doctrine frequently employs
      • "strawman fallacy"
      • Humpty Dumptying
      • "either-or" fallacy
      • "red herring" fallacy

    click EXPAND for an example of a Motte and Bailey fallacy regarding a gun control debate:

    Person A. "Guns don't kill people, people do" (the Bailey)
    Person B. "But that won't stop people from using guns to kill people."
    Person A. "Yeah, but guns are legal" (the Motte)
    Person A has conflated (confused or joined illogically) the legality of guns with their use.

    or on the opposite side:

    Person A. "Gun control keeps criminals from committing crimes with guns" (the Bailey)
    Person B. "But criminals commit crimes and won't obey gun control laws."
    Person A. "Either way, it's bad when guns are used to murder people." (the Motte)

    Methodology] click EXPAND for excerpt from Shackel explaining the Motte and Bailey Doctrine:

    A Troll’s Truism is a mildly ambiguous statement by which an exciting falsehood
    may trade on a trivial truth .... 
    Troll’s Truisms are used to insinuate an exciting falsehood, which is a desired doctrine, 
    yet permit retreat to the trivial truth when pressed by an opponent. In so doing they 
    exhibit a property which makes them the simplest possible case of what I shall call a 
    Motte and Bailey Doctrine (since a doctrine can single belief or an entire body of beliefs.) 
    A Motte and Bailey castle is a medieval system of defence in which a stone tower on a
    mound (the Motte) is surrounded by an area of land (the Bailey) which in turn is
    encompassed by some sort of a barrier such as a ditch. Being dark and dank, the Motte is
    not a habitation of choice. The only reason for its existence is the desirability of the
    Bailey, which the combination of the Motte and ditch makes relatively easy to retain
    despite attack by marauders. When only lightly pressed, the ditch makes small numbers of
    attackers easy to defeat as they struggle across it: when heavily pressed the ditch is not
    defensible and so neither is the Bailey. Rather one retreats to the insalubrious but
    defensible, perhaps impregnable, Motte. Eventually the marauders give up, when one is
    well placed to reoccupy desirable land.
    For my purposes the desirable but only lightly defensible territory of the Motte and
    Bailey castle, that is to say, the Bailey, represents a philosophical doctrine or position
    with similar properties: desirable to its proponent but only lightly defensible. The Motte is
    the defensible but undesired position to which one retreats when hard pressed.

    Ethics[edit | edit source]

    Aristotle[edit | edit source]

    • by Aristotle's view, the study of ethics is essential to understanding the world around us and for finding virtue and happiness
      • ethikē = ethics
      • aretē = virtue or excellence
      • phronesis = practical or ethical wisdom
      • eudaimonia = "good state" or happiness
    • steps to become a virtuous person:
      1. practicing righteous actions guided by a teacher leads to righteous habits
      2. righteous habits leads to good character by which righteous actions are willful
      3. good character leads to eudaimonia
    • classes (types) of virtue/ non-virtue people
      1. knows right, does right, does not yield to temptation
      2. knows right, does right, but has to fight temptation
      3. knows right, falls to temptation thus does not do right
      4. knows right, deliberately does wrong
        1. the worst of these deliberately imposes or leads others to do wrong

    ethical or moral dilemma[edit | edit source]

    • dilemma =
      • a situation that has dichotomous (or contrary) negative outcomes
      • i.e., "no good choices"
    • see below for ethical lies
    • ethical dilemma =
      • a situation that presents or causes conflicting ethical requirements
        • "requirement" means a required ethical response or choice
        • i.e., if chosen or acted upon, it would be unethical
    • conflict of interest
      • present ethical challenges
      • have degrees of severity
        • such as the ethical requirement to follow a law against, say, trespassing
        • but such trespassing is required in order to save a life

    lying[edit | edit source]

    • lying happens all the time
    • we might think of ethical degrees of lies
      • some lies may be justified, as in acting a character in a play or telling a joke
      • other lies have severe consequence
      • any lie that deprives another from the truth, possible benefit, or causes harm is unethical
        • unless that lie avoids an even worse consequence upon either party

    types of lies[edit | edit source]

    • bold-faced lie
      • flat-out lie told as if the absolute truth
    • b.s.
      • a lie that is obvious and exaggeration
    • broken promise
      • a promise made with no intention of carrying it out
    • cheating
      • cheating is a lot of things, but it is fundamentally a lie
    • deception
    • defamation
      • lies with intent to "defame" or harm a person's reputation
    • disinformation
      • lies targeted at an audience to shape a belief, usually in politics or politically-tainted news reporting
    • exaggeration
      • also called "puffery" for trying to be bigger than you really are
    • false dilemma
      • a lie of omission in that it hides options or conditions that exist
      • ex. "you either hate me or love me"
    • fake news
      • lies in news reporting with intent to hide or cover up something true
    • fraud
      • deliberate deceit in order to make or defraud someone of money
    • half truth
      • a lie of omission, in that the intent of the lie is to create a false impression by withholding contrary evidence
    • little white lies
      • seemingly inconsequential lies that cumulatively create a larger or ongoing deception
    • misleading statements
      • contains a truth but is designed to deceive
    • plagiarism
      • claiming as one's own what belongs or comes from someone else
    • rumors
      • also called "fabrication"
    • slip of the tongue
      • an unintentional lie
      • also called "misspeaking"
        • misspeaking becomes a lie when it is used intentionally to deceive or harm
      • telling something without certainty of its truefullness
    • story-telling
    • white lie
      • a lie that produces a positive outcome
      • see below for lies and situational ethics
    • sources:
    • Eight Types of Lies that People Tell - TheHopeLine
    • Lie - Wikipedia

    lies and situational ethics: life-threatening dilemma[edit | edit source]

    • lying may be ethical if used to
      • avoid severe harm or save a life
        • ex., someone with clear intent to harm a resident knocks on the door, and is told that that person is not home
    • an ethical lie must avoid a seriously negative outcome
      • without creating a worse ultimate outcome
    • ethical lies do not deprive another person from a legitimate outcome
      • ex. it is not ethical to lie in order to win a game that the other person has just as much right to win as do you

    Christian thought on lying[edit | edit source]

    • Christians consider lying an offence to God
    • Christian philosopher Saint Augustine (Augustine of Hippo) held that:
      • every lie is sinful
      • however, there are degrees of sinfulness in lies, depending on the context, such as inadvertent lies
    • Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin also held that lies are always wrong
      • argues that every situation presents a correct or "blameless" option

    lies and situational ethics: entertainment[edit | edit source]

    • a lie that does not pretend to be a truth
      • comedic effect
      • entertainment
      • fiction
      • paternalistic lie
        • such as telling young children about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny
      • play-acting for conversation or entertainment

    "Trolley problem"[edit | edit source]

    • a dilemma created by the need to sacrifice one innocent person to save (usually given as) five others
    • scenario:
      • a runaway (out of control) trolley is heading towards a track with five workers on it (or sometimes presented as five people tied up and who are unable to move)
      • there is a secondary track that was not in the original pathway of the trolley and that has one person on it
      • an engineer who sees the situation can divert the trolley to the secondary track, thus killing the one person on it but saving the five on the original track
        • the problem is that that one person was otherwise not in danger and not wrongfully on the track
        • is that sacrifice ethical?
    • the "utilitarian" view holds that it would be ethical and morally responsible to divert the trolley as it would save more lives
      • by "utilitarian" we mean a choice or action that benefits the most people, even at the expense of some others
        • i.e. "maximize utility"
    • objections to the utilitarian response include:
      • the engineer had no intention to harm the five but by diverting the trolley would have made a willful decision to kill the one; therefore the act would be morally objectionable
        • = deliberately harming anyone for any reason is morally wrong
        • = violating the "doctrine of double effect," which states that deliberately causing harm, even for a good cause, is wrong
    • the Trolley problem shows up in other situations:
      • artificial intelligence, such as driverless vehicles
      • Isaac Asimov explored moral and ethical dilemmas regarding artificial intelligence in his collection of essays, "I Robot."
        • Asimov envisioned the Three Laws of Robotics

    click EXPAND to read the Three Laws of Robotics

    First Law
    A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    Second Law
    A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    Third Law
    A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

    Cognitive biases, effects & syndromes[edit | edit source]

    Celebration Parallax[edit | edit source]

    • parallax = different views from different vantage points of the same object
      • see Theory of Errors
    • conceived by journalist Michael Anton, who defines the celebration parallax as
      • "“the same fact pattern is either true and glorious or false and scurrilous depending on who states it.”
    • more plainly stated as the phenomenon of when an observer or public speaker denies the existence of something, then goes on to state that, "while it is not happening (or true), it's a good thing that it is"
    • see also the "Law of Merited Impossibility"

    Confirmation bias[edit | edit source]

    • observer bias limits observations to expected or desired outcomes
    • confirmation bias powerfully limits one's ability to see something from a different perspective and, therefore, to evaluate it effectively and accurately
    • confirmation bias has significant effects in science, as many, even empirical, studies yield results that the investigators are looking for
      • note that confirmation bias may also yield great insight, especially if that bias leads to a new or different perspective that others would not see

    Crab mentality[edit | edit source]

    • also called "crabs in a bucket" effect or mentality
    • when groups or individuals prefer to deny to others something they do not or cannot have
      • out of jeaousy or resentment
    • expressed as: "If I can't have it, neither can you"
    • see also the "Tall Poppy Syndrome"

    Dunning–Kruger effect[edit | edit source]

    • the cognitive bias of overestimation of one's own competency and lack of awareness of one's own limited competence
    • an error in self-awareness whereby a person cannot evaluate his or her own competency
      • called "illusory superiority"
      • the effect also shows that people of high ability tend to underestimate their own competence
      • original study was entitled, "Why People Fail to Recognize Their Own Incompetence"
        • "the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."
        • the authors later explained that the Dunning–Kruger effect "suggests that poor performers are not in a position to recognize the shortcomings in their performance"
    • the Dunning-Kruger effect is observable but not provable
      • i.e., it can happen but just because someone does not have competence does not mean that person will draw hasty, broad and wrong conclusions

    Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM)[edit | edit source]

    Elaboration Likelihood Model Information Graphic of Bias and Objective Thinking. Peripheral Route is to the left ("biased") and Central Route to the right ("ojbective")
    • identifies the association between persuasion and bias
    • "elaboration" means the extent to which a person engages in objective mental processing before making a decision or adopting a point of view
    • ELM shows that much persuasion is driven by perceptions of status
      • i.e. high or low status perceptions drive people's attitudes towards persuasion
    • ELM identifies two paths to persuasion or "attitude change":
      1. high-elaboration likelihood, called "Central Route" = motivated to engage the argument with critical thought open to evidence
      2. low-elaboration likelihood, called "Peripheral Route" = external cues or influences are present that shape reception to the argument without critical thought
    • the "Central Route" requires intellectual honesty and engagement
    • the "Peripheral Route" engages biases and emotional states and yields little critical thought
    • the "Route" taken at any given time is related to a person's self-perceived social status or that of the source of the argument or information (or persuation)
      • that is, people process arguments or new information according to their perception of the source of that argument or information
      • also called "prestige bias"
    • "Motivation" strongly impacts the "Route" taken by the recipient of the information/ persuasion (i.e., decision-maker)
      • motivation = conditions, desires, perspectives, or states of mind that influence a decision
      • thus motivation may engage biases and thus the "Peripheral Route"
    • see

    Entropy[edit | edit source]

    • "entropy" is the 2nd Newtonian Law of physics that energy will move from high to low systems
      • i.e., a something hot will transfer its heat to something colder
    • in Social Sciences, entropy indicates that systems will tend to decline over time\
      • related to Thucydides Trap and Stein's Law

    Hawthorne effect / Observation bias[edit | edit source]

    • also known as "observer effect"
    • when the observer changes the actual event / object being observed
      • example : typically checking the air pressure of an automobile tire requires letting some air out of it in order to place the pressure gauge on it to measure the air pressure
    • the "Hawthorne effect" is named for a study at "Hawthorne Western Electric"
      • conducted at the company electrical plant in Illinois, 1924-1927
      • researchers studied the impact of lighting (illumination) on worker productivity
      • however, the increases in worker productivity was not a result of the changes in lighting
        • but due to the fact that the workers knew they were being observed
        • which motivated them to work harder
    • Hawthorne effects may change observational data
      • called "clinical trial effect", in drug or medical testing, some patients may respond to the attention they receive from providers and not necessarily the drug or procedure being measured
        • "placebo effects" are positive results in control patients (those who do not receive the drug or procedure)
          • placebo effects are a "reactivity" phenomenon by which the patient changes attitude, behavior or undergo a subconscious reaction to a situation that changes the patient's outcomes
    • related to:
      • "Turing paradox" by which the act of measurement changes the physical properties of what is being measured (applies to subatomic quantum systems)
      • Goodhart's law: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure".

    Illusion of truth paradox[edit | edit source]

    • in economics, consumers believe they have myriad choices, when in actuality their consumer choices have little distinction from one another and, worse, are owned by only a few conglomerates (large businesses with many branches)

    Inventor's paradox[edit | edit source]

    • from mathematician George Pólya in "How to Solve It":
      • a phenomenon by which a solution to a particular problem is found by seeking a solution to another, more general problem
        • and that investigation to the general problem yields a solution to the particular problem that was previously unapparent
    • the idea is to look beyond the immediate problem to a larger generality, then apply it backwards to the particular
    • in mathematics
      • to add all the numbers from 1-99 would be difficult to do in one's head
      • so, instead of thinking through 1+2=3, +4 = 7, +5 = 12, + 6 = 18
      • we can "generalize" to adding numbers that add up to 100, as in
        • 1+99 = 100, 2+98 = 200, 3+97= 100
        • we can then assume that there will be 49 such pairs of numbers, which = 4,900 (49 x 100)
        • these pairs leave the number 50, so we have to add 50: 4,900 + 50 = 4,950
      • see Inventor's paradox - Wikipedia
    • the less mathematically inclined might call it the "Lost Keys Paradox"

    Law of Merited Impossibility[edit | edit source]

    • a statement that denies the existence or possibility of something, but then condemns those who oppose it

    Lost keys paradox[edit | edit source]

    • the lost keys paradox is that when looking for where you put the keys, you will only find them when you go looking for something else, such as your glasses, or your phone
    • a possible explanation for the Lost Keys Paradox is that our focus of attention can be limited to a particular goal or activity, which, blinds us to alternative solutions
      • thus it is a form of confirmation bias
    • when freed of the bias of seeking one particular thing, we are more likely to discover the unexpected solution that we could not see while focused solely on that one thing
    • coined by Michael Bromley

    Mediocrity paradox[edit | edit source]

    • = the idea that conformity to inept, incompetent or corrupt systems
      • = leads to individual advancement within those systems without changing or improving that system
        • in fact, mediocre people do not want to change inept systems precisely because they benefit themselves
    • similar to the Peter principle, but explains why people are promoted above their competency

    Munchausen syndrome[edit | edit source]

    • named for the fictional character Baron Munchausen, an absurd adventurer who recounted ridiculous stories, such as riding on a cannonball, with objectivity and detachment
    • = a "factititious disorder" in which a person tells exaggerated or dramatic stories with the intent to impress or deceive
    • the Munchausen syndrome is also used to express "circular logic," as in the story of Munchausen saving himself from drowning by pulling himself out of the water by his own hair
    • see entry for Baron von Munchausen
    • in psychology, the "Munchausen Syndrome" is a serious mental health condition in which the patient imagines or feigns illness, injury or other trauma in order to draw attention or garner sympathy
      • = similar but not the same as
        • hypochondria, the condition of thinking that one has or hyper-concern about having a disease or medical condition that does not exist
          • thus the joke that, "even hypochondriacs get sick sometimes"
        • psychosomatic illness, an actual illness that has no percievable physical cause or underlying condition

    Narrative Fallacy[edit | edit source]

    • a logical error of generality from a specific, in this case of a "narrative" or "story" that would seem to explain a certain outcome,
    • yet, another who experienced that same "narrative" would not experience the same outcome
      • from Nassim Talib

    Newspaper paradox[edit | edit source]

    • following the rule that when you see in the news an event or topic to which you have expertise or experience, the reporting on it will be incorrect, sometimes completely wrong
    • however, we don't often apply that same level of inquiry or tests to news we see about things we do not know well or have experienced
      • thus the paradox that we accept as true something reported that we know little about, all the while knowing that an expert on or direct witness to that news would know it is inaccurate.
    • from Michael Bromley

    Noble savage fallacy[edit | edit source]

    • also "Noble savage myth"
    • = the false assumption that human nature is good and society is bad
    • based on the false premise that pre-civilization, humans lived in harmony and peace
      • the noble savage fallacy assumes that any negative outcome following rise of civilization is due to that rise
      • = an inverted Post hoc fallacy, which assumes cause from chronology
        • Post hoc fallacy = if x came before y, then x is the cause of y
      • this fallacy assumes:
        • x = pre-civilization
        • y = post civilization
        • z = a negative outcome
      • and states that
        • if z exists after y, then y caused it
        • and since z did not exist under x, then x is superior to y
      • it is obvious that negative consequences of civilization could not have existed prior to civilization
      • but it is a logical fallacy to assume that pre-civilization was problem-free or did not have its own negative outcomes
      • it is also a logical fallacy to assume that negative outcomes of civilization negate civilization's positive outcomes

    Peter principle[edit | edit source]

    • the idea that people within an organization tend to rise to their "level of competency"
      • started as a satirical observation of how companies promote people
        • the observation is largely accurate that people will be promoted to higher levels until they are no longer able to demonstrate competency at some level, and will therefore not be promoted again
    • the Peter Principle may help explain why historical actors rise and then become mediocre at their pinnacle

    Political Framing[edit | edit source]

    • a political message, policy, position, perspective or statement that is shaped and ultimately derived from that political point of view
    • the "frame" is the perspective which shapes the content of the "picture", i.e. the topic, subject, or position
    • the goal of the "frame" is to shape audience understanding by through emphasis and deemphasis of various elements of a topic
      • i.e., if the topic is health care, the "frame" could be one the emphasizes cost, which deemphasizing quality
      • the "frame" guides the audience to that "point of view"
    • also called "spinning", which is to "spin" or redirect a negative into a positive

    Prestige bias / Prestige paradox[edit | edit source]

    Rorschach test[edit | edit source]

    • from the "Rorschach Inkblot Test"
      • a controversial psychological / personality test developed by the Swiss psychoanalyst, Hermann Rorschach in 1921
      • the idea of the test was to assess someone's personality based upon perceptions of "ambiguous designs"
        • i.e., "blots" of ink on a paper
        • the test was supposed to indicate a personality type or condition based upon response to the "Inkblot"
    • for the Humanities (social sciences & literature), "Rorschach test" is a reference to a bias
    • so a situation or idea can be used as a Rorschach test to indicate a certain line of thinking, outlook, or perspective on something
      • i.e., "The current crime wave is a Rorschach test of people's views on policing."
    • however, as with the original Inblot test, use of a Rorschach test in the humanities is itself biased
      • so one must be careful in its application

    Seven is the most selected number[edit | edit source]

    Smarter than the Average bias[edit | edit source]

    • the bias of the more than half of people who believe they are smarter than the average person
    • = a form of confirmation bias
      • in which people compare themselves to only their own surroundings
      • it is possible for a person to be smarter than most of those around them, yet less smart than the average
      • it is equally possible for a person to be less smart then those around them, yet smarter than the average
      • this same type of bias is why Americans frequently under- or over-estimate the percentage ethnic breakdown of U.S. demographics
        • they frequently think that their own race is more dominant than it is
        • or that a race that has a larger presence in their lives (surroundings, media, etc.) than it actually has

    Streisand effect[edit | edit source]

    • a form of "psychological reactance" by which people become interested in something only after they are told they are not allowed to know about it
      • = an unintended consequence of censorship
    • called the "Streisand" effect because, when the singer/actor Barbara Streisand threatened to sue a photographer for publishing an aerial photo of her house in California.
      • the lawsuit generated publicity, and people became interested in seeing Streisand's house because of it
        • when they before the lawsuit had no interest in it at all
    • similar to the "Howard Stern effect" , which is the phenomenon of celebrities who attracts an audience from people who hate them more than of those who like them
      • named for "shock jock" Howard Stern, a radio personality, who specializes in offensive, rude, or shocking content

    Tall poppy syndrome[edit | edit source]

    • criticism, scrutiny, resentment and even legal recourse against successful people
    • i.e., the "tall poppy" gets cut down because it is higher than the rest
    • related to "Law of Jante"
      • a social code (tradition, more, informal rule) in Denmark that disapproves of expressions of individuality or personal success
    • egalitarian tribal culture also dislikes stand-outs
      • some tribes will assault anyone who brags or shows off
      • the idea is that an individual who is or acts better than others endangers tribal coherence and is a threat to take over the tribe
    • see also "crab mentality"

    Theory of errors[edit | edit source]

    • also called "observational errors"
    • the rule that given an accumulation of even erroneous observations, the mean or average of all observations will generally yield a correct observation
    • in statistics, it is called "Propagation of uncertainty", and it is used to
      • used famously to identify the correct location of a moon of Saturn by taking the average of a series of incorrect observations, which yielded the precise location of the moon
    • theory of errors is similar to "wisdom of the crowd", a phenomenon that affirms that the average opinion or action of a crowd is likely the correct one
      • a test of the wisdom of the crowd would be to ask random people the number bubble gum balls in a jar.
        • individuals guesses will be incorrect
        • but the average of all guesses will yield a close or proximate answer

    Other/ todo[edit | edit source]

    • alleged certainty fallacy
    • attribution to experts fallacy
    • unbroken leg fallacy
    • wisdom of the crowd

    Other theories & conceptual tools[edit | edit source]

    Glasl's model of conflict escalation[edit | edit source]

    Glasl's "Nine stages of conflict escalation"
    • when analyzing conflict, diplomacy, events, etc. students may employ the conceptual framework of "conflict escalation" by Friedrich Glasl (here from wikipedia)
    • Glasl's model divides disagreement or conflict scenarios into "stages" based upon three core outcomes:
      • win-win
        • both sides benefit
      • win-lose
        • one side benefits, the other loses
      • lose-lose
        • conflict w/ bad outcomes for one or both parties
    • conflicts escalate through and into:
      • tension and dispute
      • debate
      • communication loss
      • coalition building (seeking sympathy or help from others)
      • denunciation
      • loss of face (pride)
      • threats and feelings of threat
      • depersonalization (treating the other as not human)
      • attack, annihilation, defeat
    • deescalation includes:
      • mediation from third-party (intercession, intermediation)
      • process guidance
      • arbitration, legal actions
      • forcible intervention, especially from higher power
    • Glasl's model works at the individual (a family fight) or global level (international affairs)

    Graham's hierarchy of disagreement[edit | edit source]

    Graham's hierarchy of disagreement
    • tech entrepreneur Paul Graham in 2008 proposed a model for levels (hierarchies) of disagreement
    • the top of the hierarchy is refutation of the "central point"
      • i.e., that the opposing idea is fundamentally "refuted"
        • via logic, demonstration, evidence, etc.
    • the bottom of the hierarchy is "Name-calling", which leads to no resolution and further anger or dispute
    • key points in the negative side of the hierarchy are essentially logical fallacies:
      • name-calling (ad hominem) and
      • criticism of tone or attitude rather than substance ("responding to tone")
      • contractions without evidence
    • on the constructive side are
      • strong argument via reason, logic, evidence
      • refutation: proof

    Overton Window[edit | edit source]

    • An illustration of the Overton window, along with Treviño's degrees of acceptance
      Joseph Overton observed that along the spectrum of social or political thought, policy, or opinion
      • there exists a mainstream "middle" of consensus
        • that middle may have variances, but most people generally agree with it
      • with extremes on both sides that are not generally accepted
      • however, as one extreme or the other becomes acceptable, they enter into the "Overton Window"
      • example:
        • in the 1950s, rock music was considered anti-social, thus lay outside of the Overton Window
        • as its popularity grew, especially following Elvis Presley, rock music became popular music
          • and thus, entered the Overton Window
    • in the Overton Window, "Policy" should reflect a consensus of points of view within the window, and will move according to changes within that window
      • so, while "Policy" may not always reflect the middle of the Window, it acts to reflect changes in the window.

    Weber's "Protestant Work Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism"[edit | edit source]

    • Social Scientist Max Weber attributed the economic success of U.S. and northwestern European nations to their dominant "Protestant work ethic"
    • based on
      • individualism and notions of self-sufficiency
      • ethics of hard work, timeliness, frugality, etc.
        • that cumulatively yielded productive economies and a dominant middle class
    • note that Weber's seen today by "critical race" theorists as elements of "white privilege"

    External Resources[edit | edit source]

    Websites[edit | edit source]

    Articles[edit | edit source]

    See Also[edit | edit source]

    • bulleted link to other related internal or web articles
    • bulleted link to other related internal or web articles

    Lesson Plans & Teaching Ideas[edit | edit source]

    Sub Heading[edit | edit source]

    • details
      • details
    • details
      • details
      • etc.
    • sources:

    Sub Heading[edit | edit source]

    • details
      • details
    • details
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      • etc.
    • sources:

    Other Student Projects and Investigations[edit | edit source]

    • ideas for student work / engagement with the topic

    Readings for students[edit | edit source]

    • Active Reading
      • apply Prior Knowledge as you read: "what do I already know about this?"
      • identify New Knowledge about what you read: "oh, that!"
      • develop questions about the New Knowledge as you read: "Okay, but what about...?"
    • links and more ideas here

    >> see SocialScience-EssentialSkills11.wpd

    • Comparative Advantage exercise: Tuvulo & Nauru comparison
      • Possible economic choices for Nauru and Tuvalu include:
        • phosphates
        • oceans/fishing
        • tourism,
        • .tv domain registrations (Tuvulu)
        • technology
        • foreign aid
        • banking center
        • leaving the island
      • Questions:
        • Is it advantageous for Nauru to produce phosphates?
        • Is it advantageous for other countries to purchase phosphates from Nauru?
        • it advantageous for Tuvalu to develop an Internet domain name?
        • Is it advantageous for other countries to use that domain (.tv)
        • What should Nauru have done instead of relying on phosphates?
        • What would Tuvalu be giving up by relying on foreign aid?

    Logic[edit | edit source]

    • todo

    >synthesis: Hegelian dialectic: # The thesis is an intellectual proposition. # The antithesis is simply the negation of the thesis. # The synthesis solves the conflict between the thesis and antithesis by reconciling their common truths, and forming a new proposition. wiki: In classical philosophy, dialectic is an exchange of proposition (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses) resulting in a synthesis of the opposing assertions, or at least a qualitative transformation in the direction of the dialogue. It is one of the three original liberal arts or trivium (the other members are rhetoric and grammar) in Western culture.

    History jokes & jokes from history[edit | edit source]

    Jokes about historians[edit | edit source]

    Four historians walk into a bar....

      • click EXPAND for the punchline:

    They sit down and order a beer. As he serves, them the bartender asks the first one his name and what he does for a living. "I'm Victor. I'm an historian. I study proto-Natufian semi-nomadic culture." Impressed, the bartender looks at another one. "You a historian, too? What's your name?" The second replies, "My name is Victor. I'm an historian of colonial North America." "Cool," says the bartender, and, looking at the other two, says, "And you two?" "Me, I'm Victor." replies the third. "I'm an expert on the Cold War. And this guy next to me is Victor. He's an historian of medieval feudal agrarian economics."

    "Amazing!" exclaims the bartender. "History really is written by you guys!"

    How many historians does it take to change a lightbulb?

      • click EXPAND for the punchline:
    There is a great deal of debate on this issue. Up until the mid-20th century, the accepted answer was ‘one’: and this Whiggish narrative underpinned a number of works that celebrated electrification and the march of progress in light-bulb changing. Beginning in the 1960s, however, social historians increasingly rejected the ‘Great Man’ school and produced revisionist narratives that stressed the contributions of research assistants and custodial staff. This new consensus was challenged, in turn, by women’s historians, who criticized the social interpretation for marginalizing women, and who argued that light bulbs are actually changed by department secretaries. Since the 1980s, however, postmodernist scholars have deconstructed what they characterize as a repressive hegemonic discourse of light-bulb changing, with its implicit binary opposition between ‘light’ and ‘darkness,’ and its phallogocentric privileging of the bulb over the socket, which they see as colonialist, sexist, and racist. Finally, a new generation of neo-conservative historians have concluded that the light never needed changing in the first place, and have praised political leaders like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher for bringing back the old bulb. Clearly, much additional research remains to be done.
    - from the web

    History jokes[edit | edit source]

    Ancient history jokes[edit | edit source]

    * What did ancient Mesopotamians wear to work? ** click EXPAND for the punchline:

    * Their cuneiform

    * Why was the pharaoh so handsome? ** click EXPAND for the punchline:

    * Because he took after his dad, not his mummy

    * Why is it called "Mesopotamia"? ** click EXPAND for the answer:

    * Because there weren't just a lot of Potamians, there was a Mesopotamians!

    * What does Alexander the Great have in common with Kermit the Frog? ** click EXPAND for the answer:

    * the same middle name, "The"

    Europe jokes[edit | edit source]

    * "I have two cousins, Alsace and Lorraine." ** click EXPAND for the punchline:

    * "They never did get along."

    * Why is it called the "Dark Ages"? ** click EXPAND for the answer:

    * Because there were so many knights

    Roman jokes[edit | edit source]

    * A Roman walks into a bar and holds up two fingers and says... ** click EXPAND for the punchline:

    * "Five beers please"

    * What cut the Roman Empire in half? ** click EXPAND for the answer:

    * A pair of Ceasars

    I don't like how the months don't line up with their number, like September, October, November, December. ** click EXPAND for the punchline:

    * Whoever did that should really be stabbed.

    Viking jokes[edit | edit source]

    * How did Vikings send secret messages? ? ** click EXPAND for the answer:

    * By Norse Code

    * Did you know that Vikings discovered the formula for the area of a circle? ** click EXPAND for the answer:

    * Area = π × rrrrrrrrr²

    * How did Louis XIV feel after building Versailles? ** click EXPAND for the answer:

    * Baroque

    Pilgrim jokes[edit | edit source]

    * What music did the Pilgrims listen to? ** click EXPAND for the answer:

    * Plymouth Rock

    World War I & II jokes[edit | edit source]

    * Why was WWI so quick? ** click EXPAND for the answer:

    * because they were Russian

    * Why was WWII so long? ** click EXPAND for the answer:

    * because they were Stalin

    Soviet Union era jokes[edit | edit source]

    * A man in the Soviet Union saved up his money to buy a car. He went to the dealer and ordered the only car available. ** "Great," he said to the salesman, "When do I pick it up." ** "Oh," the salesman replied, "March 21st next year." ** "Okay," replied the man. "What time?" ** "What time?" asked the salesman. "It's not for a year and a half from now! Why do you care what time?" ** click EXPAND for the punchline:

    * "You see," the man explained, "I have an appointment that morning w/ the plumber."

    * A Russian man escaped the Soviet Union and came to America. His neighbor asked him what life was like back in Russia. ** Russian: “Oh, my old apartment was perfect. I could not complain.” ** American: "What about your job?" ** Russian: “Oh, my old job was perfect. I could not complain.” ** American: "Wow. What about the food?" ** Russian: “Oh, the food was perfect. I could not complain.” ** American: "Well, if everything was so great in the USSR, why'd you come here?" ** click EXPAND for the punchline:

    * Russian: "Here I can complain."

    other to do[edit | edit source]

    * Anachronism * Apocryphal * Social Studies vocabulary list >> and add a category see pages for critical and analysis