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The Art of Clear Thinking

The Art of Clear Thinking

The Art of Clear Thinking

One important skill is the art of clear thinking.

For this you need to be able to separate the "arbitrary" from the "possible".

Many people think there are only two kinds of statement:

  1. True statements
  2. False statements

In fact, there are FOUR classifications of statements:

  1. True
  2. False
  3. Possible and
  4. Arbitrary

True.

Defined as "a statement where all the available evidence supports the statement and none contradicts it.

Example: You are reading this article.

False.

Defined as "a statement where all the evidence contradicts the statement. There is none to support it.

Example: You are NOT reading this article.

Possible.

Defined as "a statement where there is some available evidence to support it but not enough to be labelled true"

Example: Mankind's carbon emissions are affecting the world climate.

Arbitrary.

Defined as "a statement where the statement is conceivable, but there is no evidence to suggest it is actually true."

Example: There is a burglar hiding in your house, right now!

Identifying the arbitrary from the possible.

It is vital that you separate the "arbitrary" from the "possible".

DO NOT confuse ARBITRARY statements and think of them as being POSSIBLE.

Do not make the almost universal error of accepting "arbitrary" (ie conceivable but with no evidence to support it) statements, as having the same status as "possible" (ie as having evidence to support it).

If you make this error you will have joined the other 99% of the world's population who are confused by this.

Separate the "arbitrary" from the "possible"

Imagine someone says to you:

"Is it possible there is a burglar lying in wait under your bed right now?"

"Is it possible that your partner is cheating on you when he/she goes out in the evening?"

"Is it possible that you might crash your car on your way home tonight and die?"

If you reply "yes - it is possible" you will cause yourself unnecessary worry.

The correct reply is "That is a conceivable, but arbitrary statement. What evidence have you got?"

Summary

Remember, there are four kinds of statement, not just true and false, but also possible and arbitrary.

Challenge other people who make arbitrary statements and claim "it is possible". Learn to say in response: "That is a conceivable, but arbitrary statement. What evidence have you got?"

Avoid blurting out your own arbitrary statements. Doing so can make you sound naïve.

Stop yourself from creating arbitrary fears (conceivable but without evidence) and reacting to them as if they were "possible" (ie statements with evidence to back them).

Do this and you will think more accurately and rest more soundly.

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