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Reason Vs Excuse

Reason vs Excuse

Reason vs Excuse

Here is an important rule of thumb: Clear thought is good. Confused thought is bad.

The first step to wisdom is to have an accurate conception of things. Unfortunately, there is a series of "similar but opposite things" - dichotomies - that confuse the mind.

Dichotomies confuse the mind because their two branches seem to be intermingled.

Examples of such dichotomies are:

  • Reason vs Excuse
  • Determined vs Stubborn
  • Fact vs Opinion
  • Insult vs Criticism

It is important to distinguish between a "reason" and an "excuse".

It's good to be determined but not stubborn.

Learn to separate facts from opinions.

It is important to distinguish between a criticism and an insult.

Don't take valid criticism as a personal insult, and don't insult people and then pretend that it was merely "constructive criticism".

So what is the difference between these dichotomies?

Reason vs Excuse

Reason

A reason for not doing something.

If someone offers an explanation for why he can't do something, then, in order for it to be judged as a reason, it should be: logical, factual, verifiable, a one-off event, unavoidable, and commensurate.

Excuse

If someone offers an explanation why he can't do something, then, in order for it to be judged as an excuse it will be:

False (a lie), illogical, un-verifiable, multiple use of the same old story, inconsistent, avoidable, foreseeable, disproportionate.

Example: I can't come into work today because my hamster is sick.

Don't get these two mixed up!

Determined vs Stubborn

Determined

Determined means committed to the goal: no matter what temporary defeats you suffer, you keep adapting the plan and trying again.

Stubborn

Stubborn means committed to the one PLAN: no matter what temporary defeats you suffer, you keep doing the same thing over and over and refuse to change or adapt the plan.

Don't get these two mixed up!

Fact vs Opinion

Fact

A fact is information provided by direct sense perception (what you directly see, touch, hear, taste or smell) ie the redness of a tomato.

And/or the information that has been tested and verified by objective and independent experimentation and scientific investigation. ie the Earth has the shape of an oblate spheroid.

Opinion

Information that is gained by any other means: ie gut feel; majority vote, subjective feeling, revelations or wishful thinking.

Example: Modern art is not real art.

Don't get facts and opinions mixed up!

Insult vs Criticism

Insult

An insult is a feedback message that is: vague, subjective, opinionated. And does not suggest a specific corrective action.

Example: You are an idiot.

Insults are of no value to you or your organisation.

Criticism

A criticism is the opposite

A criticism is a feedback message that is:

Specific, factual, objective and does suggest a corrective action.

Example: You are twenty minutes late for the meeting. That is five times you been late this month alone. You need to be on time for meetings.

Criticism is of the highest value to you and your organisation.

Don't get criticism and insults mixed up!

The art of distinguishing between two similar concepts.

See how many dichotomies you can identify and define the distinguishing characteristics that make one good, and the other bad.

Here are some more dichotomies for you to ponder:

A false statement and a lie

A lady once said to me "Either you accept what I say as being true, or you are calling me a liar!"

What is wrong with this false dichotomy?

Critical thinker and Cynic

Do you know people who believe they are critical thinkers, but actually they are only miserable cynics?

If you do know some cynics, then what is it that defines them as cynics, not as critics?

Don't get critics and cynics mixed up!

Understanding and Agreement

Have you ever made an agreement based on a misunderstanding?

Never make agreements based on misunderstandings. So, what is the difference?

The first step to wisdom is to have accurate conceptions of things:

Clear thought is good. Confused thought is bad.

Summary

Dichotomies are similar but opposite things; that are confusing to the mind, because their meanings seem to be intermingled.

There are many dichotomies, see if you can find them. Then separate them out and distinguish between them. Finally never get them mixed up again!

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