Secret Hitler box

Secret Hitler

A hidden identity game for 5-10 players by Max Temkin, creator of Cards Against Humanity. The first production run was funded on Kickstarter and the game should be available to all soon.

Secret Hitler is a dramatic game of political intrigue and betrayal set in 1930’s Germany. Players are secretly divided into two teams – liberals and fascists. Known only to each other, the fascists coordinate to sow distrust and install their cold-blooded leader. The liberals must find and stop the Secret Hitler before it’s too late.

We’ve released the entire game as a free print-and-play project – you can download the game [PDF] and the rules [PDF].

See also

Progression and regression

How to play Secret Hitler

In Secret Hitler, each player is randomly assigned to be a liberal or a fascist, and one player is Secret Hitler. The fascists know in advance who Hitler is, but Hitler doesn’t know who his fellow fascists are, and the liberals don’t know who anyone is. Since the liberal team always has a majority, the fascists must play like moles, gaining the trust of the liberals to sabotage their plans and make them suspicious of each other.

Gallery

The Peter Principle: the scientific reason everything is a bit s**t

Adam Westbrook: We live in times of seemingly unending progress – and yet somehow things still always go wrong: trains are late, broadband speeds suck and the promotion always goes to the wrong person. Well, it turns out there’s an explanation for all this – and progress itself is the problem. Meet The Peter Principle.

The Peter Principle

The Peter Principle

See also: The Long Game: The struggle for art in a world obsessed with popularityA series of video essays by Adam Westbrook: All of history’s greatest figures achieved success in almost exactly the same way. But rather than celebrating this part of the creative process we ignore it.

Umberto Eco
Shape of things to come

Umberto Eco on fascism

This essay by the late Umberto Eco for the New York Review of Books is an excellent breakdown of the key features of fascism, old and new.

I rarely reproduce an entire work in this manner, but now more than ever doing so feels like an essential public service. Highlights my own.


Eternal Fascism:
Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt

By Umberto Eco

In spite of some fuzziness regarding the difference between various historical forms of fascism, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.

* * *

1. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.

Traditionalism is of course much older than fascism. Not only was it typical of counterrevolutionary Catholic thought after the French revolution, but is was born in the late Hellenistic era, as a reaction to classical Greek rationalism. In the Mediterranean basin, people of different religions (most of the faiths indulgently accepted by the Roman pantheon) started dreaming of a revelation received at the dawn of human history. This revelation, according to the traditionalist mystique, had remained for a long time concealed under the veil of forgotten languages — in Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the Celtic runes, in the scrolls of the little-known religions of Asia.

This new culture had to be syncretistic. Syncretism is not only, as the dictionary says, “the combination of different forms of belief or practice;” such a combination must tolerate contradictions. Each of the original messages contains a sliver of wisdom, and although they seem to say different or incompatible things, they all are nevertheless alluding, allegorically, to the same primeval truth.

As a consequence, there can be no advancement of learning. Truth already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.

If you browse in the shelves that, in American bookstores, are labeled New Age, you can find there even Saint Augustine, who, as far as I know, was not a fascist. But combining Saint Augustine and Stonehenge — that is a symptom of Ur-Fascism.

2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism.

Both Fascists and Nazis worshipped technology, while traditionalist thinkers usually reject it as a negation of traditional spiritual values. However, even though Nazism was proud of its industrial achievements, its praise of modernism was only the surface of an ideology based upon blood and earth (Blut und Boden). The rejection of the modern world was disguised as a rebuttal of the capitalistic way of life. The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.

3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake.

Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering’s fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play (“When I hear the word ‘culture’ I reach for my gun”) to the frequent use of such expressions as “degenerate intellectuals,” “eggheads,” “effete snobs,” and “universities are nests of reds.” The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.

4. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.

In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.

5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity.

Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.

6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration.

That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old “proletarians” are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.

7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country.

This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the United States, a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson’s The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others.

8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.

When I was a boy I was taught to think of Englishmen as the five-meal people. They ate more frequently than the poor but sober Italians. Jews are rich and help each other through a secret web of mutual assistance. However, the followers of Ur-Fascism must also be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy.

9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.

Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such “final solutions” implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.

10. Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.

Ur-Fascism can only advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people in the world, the members or the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to) become a member of the party. But there cannot be patricians without plebeians. In fact, the Leader, knowing that his power was not delegated to him democratically but was conquered by force, also knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler.

11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero.

In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Spanish Falangists was Viva la Muerte (“Long Live Death!”). In nonfascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.

12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.

This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons — doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.

13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.

In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view — one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.

Because of its qualitative populism, Ur-Fascism must be against “rotten” parliamentary governments. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism.

14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.

Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.

* * *

Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares.” Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances — every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt’s words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: “If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land.” Freedom and liberation are an unending task.


Writing in New York Review of Books, 22 June 1995, pp.12-15.
Excerpted in Utne Reader, November-December 1995, pp. 57-59.

(via interglacial.com)

See also

Standard

Morality in the Mechanics

Mark Brown, Game Maker’s Toolkit:

Games have been messing with morality for ages – but are karma systems and binary choices the best we can do? Inspired by Darkest Dungeon’s neat twist on video game villainy, lets look at some indie games that make morality a central component of their design.

See also: Learning lessons from Mario games to master Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker

The ethical dilemma of self-driving cars

Self-driving cars are already cruising the streets today. And while these cars will ultimately be safer and cleaner than their manual counterparts, they can’t completely avoid accidents altogether. How should the car be programmed if it encounters an unavoidable accident? Patrick Lin navigates the murky ethics of self-driving cars.

(via Laughing Squid)

Ghost In The Shell: Identity in Space

Nerdwriter discusses Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell after last week’s exploration of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men. Both video essays look at the backgrounds of these films and what they reveal about their respective worlds.

Children of Men: Don’t Ignore The Background

YouTube: The Medium Is The Message

It’s no surprise that the great triumph of television is the triumph of advertising. What could possibly be more attuned to the medium of television than commercials?

The largest ingredient of online video is the awareness that every consumer is a possible creator.

Sam Harris
Shape of things to come

Sam Harris on the problem of artificial intelligence

“The fact that we seem to be hastening towards some sort of digital apocalypse poses several intellectual and ethical challenges. For instance, in order to have any hope that a super-intelligent AGI would have values commensurate with our own we would have to instil those values in it, or otherwise get it to emulate us. But whose values should count? Should everyone get a vote in creating the utility function of our new colossus?

“If nothing else the invention of an AGI would force us to resolve some very old and boring arguments in moral philosophy.

“It’s interesting that once you imagine having to build values into a super-intelligent AGI, you then realise that you need to get straight about what you think is good, and I think the advent of this technology would cut through moral relativism like a laser. I mean, who is going to want to engineer into this thing the values of theocracy?”

Sam Harris in the most recent episode of his podcast.

See also: Sam Harris on the mechanics of defamation and other posts tagged ‘philosophy’

Standard
The Buddha Dordenma statue in Thimphu
Humans and other animals

“You need to think about death for five minutes every day”

“It is this thing, this fear of death, this fear of dying before we have accomplished what we want or seen our children grow. This is what is troubling you.”

Advice given to a western traveller by Karma Ura, director of the Centre for Bhutan Studies.

“Rich people in the West, they have not touched dead bodies, fresh wounds, rotten things. This is a problem. This is the human condition. We have to be ready for the moment we cease to exist.”

BBC Travel: Bhutan’s dark secret to happiness, by Eric Weiner, a self-described “recovering malcontent and philosophical traveler”.

Standard
Rachel Levit
Humans and other animals

The Moral Bucket List

David Brooks in his New York Times column:

It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?

We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé ones. But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.

I came to the conclusion that wonderful people are made, not born — that the people I admired had achieved an unfakeable inner virtue, built slowly from specific moral and spiritual accomplishments.

If we wanted to be gimmicky, we could say these accomplishments amounted to a moral bucket list, the experiences one should have on the way toward the richest possible inner life. Here, quickly, are some of them:

  • The humility shift: “…all the people I’ve ever deeply admired are profoundly honest about their own weaknesses.”
  • Self-defeat: “…character is built during the confrontation with your own weakness.”
  • The dependency leap: “We all need redemptive assistance from outside. Character is defined by how deeply rooted you are.”
  • Energized love: Dorothy Day — “No human creature could receive or contain so vast a flood of love and joy as I often felt after the birth of my child. With this came the need to worship, to adore.”
  • The call within the call: “We all go into professions for many reasons: money, status, security. But some people have experiences that turn a career into a calling.”
  • The conscience leap: “In most lives there’s a moment when people strip away all the branding and status symbols, all the prestige that goes with having gone to a certain school or been born into a certain family. They leap out beyond the utilitarian logic and crash through the barriers of their fears.”

Although I’ve excerpted much more than I usually would from this column, you should absolutely read it in its entirety:
David Brooks — The Moral Bucket List

Standard
Nietzsche
Miscellany

Nietzsche’s Angel Food Cake

By Rebecca Coffey:

  1. Allow the angel to reach room temperature. Then kill it.
  2. Kill God. Set Him aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Ecstatically whip, as if possessed by a storm-wind of freedom, 1-1/2 cups of excellent egg whites with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1-1/2 tsp. cream of tartar. Continue until peaks are as if raised to their own heights and given wings in a fine air, a robust air.
  5. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, about 3 tbsp. at a time.
  6. You are brilliant.
  7. Now, add 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 tsp. almond extract, and then sift together 1-1/4 cups flour and 3/4 cup sugar.
  8. Blend in God and the angel. Emboldened, add the egg mixture.
  9. Gaze into the überbatter. The überbatter will gaze into you.
  10. While prancing about in a frenzy of self-satisfaction and anticipation, use a rubber scraper to push the überbatter into an ungreased 10” tube pan, for it is destined to be there.
  11. Bake on a lower rack until done, usually 35-40 minutes, while reciting to the upper rack a long, convoluted anecdote about your childhood.
  12. Invert the tube pan over a bottle for a few hours. Then impetuously rap the pan. Shout, “Aha!” and slide a knife along the pan’s insides.
  13. Call what tumbles out a cake if you dare. Call it miraculous even.
  14. Eat it. It is delicate, morbid, loveable, and you will die depressed, delirious, and overweight.

From Nietzsche’s Angel Food Cake: And Other “Recipes” for the Intellectually Famished, by Rebecca Coffey

Standard
Use your words

Interestingness vs. truth

Oliver Burkeman on maverick sociologist Murray S. Davis’ 1971 paper That’s Interesting! [PDF].

We live in the Era of Interestingness: attention is money, and purveyors of the interesting can make millions from Twitter feeds of amazing facts – even if they’re not always true facts – or from books or blogs offering intriguingly counterintuitive perspectives.

There are only a handful of main ways for an idea to be interesting. To grab people’s attention, you should argue that something we think of as bad is good, or vice versa; that some apparently individual phenomenon is really collective; that several seemingly disparate things are actually part of the same thing; and a few others.
This column will change your life

Standard
Nigel Warburton
Use your words

Nigel Warburton: Five key tips for thinking and writing clearly

Nigel Warburton interviewed by Stephen Law for the Cambridge Journals Blog on the importance of clarity in philosophy:

What would be your five key tips for thinking and writing clearly?

  1. Care about being understood.
  2. Read George Orwell’s essay ‘Politics and the English Language’ (1946). It has excellent practical advice about writing to be understood.
  3. Use examples. These can be highly imaginative and creative. This will force you to think through what you mean by generalisations and will also help your readers to understand what you mean. If you want your writing to be impressively obscure, don’t descend from abstraction and use as much jargon as you can.
  4. Know what your conclusion is, how your reasons and examples support it and your response to obvious counterarguments and counterexamples. If you don’t know that, how can you expect your readers to work out what you are saying?
  5. Don’t bullshit. Most people know when they are doing it. If you don’t, you are probably in the wrong subject.

Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds host one of my favourite podcasts, Philosophy Bites, which I love precisely because they expertly bring great clarity to whichever topic happens to be under discussion.

Links →

Standard

RIOT is a simulation game based on real events that have been influencing western civilisation in the past few years.

What is that triggers such a strife? What does a cop feel during the conflict? In “Riot”, the player will experience both sides of a fight in which there is no such thing as “victory” or “defeat”.

To be released for PC/Mac/Linux, iOS and Android. Taking bets now on how long before it gets removed from the iOS app store, or if it will just be outright rejected!

Light-based media

Riot simulation game

RIOT is a simulation game based on real events that have been influencing western civilisation in the past few years.

Gallery
Giulietta Carrelli
Humans and other animals

How did toast become the latest artisanal food craze in San Francisco?

Ask a trivial question, get a profound, heartbreaking answer.

John Gravois tracked down the craze for overpriced toast hitting the coffee shops of San Francisco and discovered a very human origin story centered at a cafe called Trouble.

As places of business go, I would call Trouble impressively odd.

Trouble’s specialty is a thick slice of locally made white toast, generously covered with butter, cinnamon, and sugar: a variation on the cinnamon toast that everyone’s mom, including mine, seemed to make when I was a kid in the 1980s.

Trouble’s owner, and the apparent originator of San Francisco’s toast craze, is a slight, blue-eyed, 34-year-old woman with freckles tattooed on her cheeks named Giulietta Carrelli. In public, Carrelli wears a remarkably consistent uniform: a crop top with ripped black jeans and brown leather lace-up boots, with her blond hair wrapped in Jack Sparrowish scarves and headbands.

Carrelli’s explanations made a delightfully weird, fleeting kind of sense as I heard them. But then she told me something that made Trouble snap into focus.

More than a café, the shop is a carpentered-together, ingenious mechanism—a specialized tool—designed to keep Carrelli tethered to herself.
A Toast Story – Pacific Standard

Standard

This is probably Thoreau’s most famous quote: “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify.” I like to paraphrase it as: “Simplify”.

Maciej Cegłowski’s XOXO 2013 talk:

First, though, a word of warning. Thoreau is a wonderful writer and often extremely quotable. But when people are very quotable, it can make it harder to listen to what they actually have to say.

Walden is a layered work. You can’t just go in and strip-mine it for a bunch of Tim Ferriss-style life hacks, or inspirational quotes, without missing the entire point of the book.

Since we have limited time, though, I’ve gone and picked out some Tim Ferriss-style lifehacks and inspirational quotes, which I will present as a set of bullet points.
Thoreau 2.0

Book of Bad Arguments - Cover

Bad Arguments

This book is aimed at newcomers to the field of logical reasoning, particularly those who, to borrow a phrase from Pascal, are so made that they understand best through visuals. I have selected a small set of common errors in reasoning and visualized them using memorable illustrations that are supplemented with lots of examples. The hope is that the reader will learn from these pages some of the most common pitfalls in arguments and be able to identify and avoid them in practice.

Humans and other animals

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments

The literature on logic and logical fallacies is wide and exhaustive. This work’s novelty is in its use of illustrations to describe a small set of common errors in reasoning that plague a lot of our present discourse.

Gallery
Arnold Kling
Humans and other animals

The Three Languages of Politics

Economist Arnold Kling argues that Progressives, Conservatives, and Libertarians each have their own language and way of looking at the world, making it easier for each group to demonise the others, resulting in ideological intolerance and incivility.

Speaking on the EconTalk podcast, Kling explains:

What I claim is that Progressives organize the good and the bad in terms of oppression and the oppressed, and they think in terms of groups. And so the good is to align yourself against oppression. The second axis is one I think Conservatives use, which is civilization and barbarism. The good is civilized values that have accumulated over time and have stood the test of time; and the bad is barbarians who try to strike out against those values and destroy civilization. And the third axis is one I associate with Libertarians, which is freedom versus coercion, so that good is individuals making their own choices, contracting freely with each other; and the bad is coercion at gunpoint, particularly on the part of governments.
Arnold Kling on The Three Languages of Politics

By understanding the mindset of others, Kling suggests we can do a better job discussing our policy disagreements and understand why each group seems to feel both misunderstand and morally superior to the other two.

Standard
The woman in the red dress
Light-based media

Colour and meaning in The Matrix universe

In answer to a fairly simple question on Quora – In Matrix Revolutions, what’s going on when Neo and a sentinel appear to merge? – Chris Peters (citing Philosopher Ken Wilber) wrote this wonderful explanation of what the different colour gradings mean in The Matrix universe:

The Matrix universe is themed around 5 colors, Green, Blue, Yellow, Red and White, which represent different levels of our existence.

Take the red pill →

Standard
Less Wrong
Humans and other animals

Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions: Essential readings for skeptics

Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions are a ‘core sequence’ of essays by Eliezer Yudkowsky from Less Wrong, a skeptic community blog, discussion board and general resource site.

I haven’t read all of these yet, but I thoroughly recommend all the ones I have. The posts are each an easily digestible mini-essay with a single point made very well. I’ve cut and pasted a few sound-bites below from some of the posts that grabbed my attention.


“It is a great strength of Homo sapiens that we can, better than any other species in the world, learn to model the unseen. It is also one of our great weak points. Humans often believe in things that are not only unseen but unreal.”
Making Beliefs Pay Rent (in Anticipated Experiences)


“Where it is difficult to believe a thing, it is often much easier to believe that you ought to believe it.”
Belief in Belief


“Your strength as a rationalist is your ability to be more confused by fiction than by reality.”
Your Strength as a Rationalist

More Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions →

Standard

The Philosophy of Hayao Miyazaki, a comic by Ashley Allis.

Humans and other animals

The flawed concept of “good vs. evil”

The philosophy of Hayao Miyazaki, a comic by Ashley Allis

Gallery
Daniel Dennett
Use your words

Daniel Dennett’s seven tools for critical thinking

Cognitive scientist and philosopher Daniel Dennett is one of America’s foremost thinkers. In this Guardian extract from his new book (Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Critical Thinking), he reveals some of the lessons life has taught him.

  1. Use your mistakes: When you make a mistake, you should learn to take a deep breath, grit your teeth and then examine your own recollections of the mistake as ruthlessly and as dispassionately as you can manage. Try to acquire the weird practice of savouring your mistakes, delighting in uncovering the strange quirks that led you astray.
  2. Respect your opponent: Here Dennett quotes Anatol Rapoport‘s rules to composing a successful critical commentary:
    1. Attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly and fairly that your target says: “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”
    2. List any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
    3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.
    4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
  3. The “surely” klaxon.
  4. Answer rhetorical questions: Whenever you see a rhetorical question, try – silently, to yourself – to give it an unobvious answer. If you find a good one, surprise your interlocutor by answering the question.
  5. Employ Occam’s razor.
  6. Don’t waste your time on rubbish: In order not to waste your time and try our patience, make sure you concentrate on the best stuff you can find, the flagship examples extolled by the leaders of the field, the prize-winning entries, not the dregs.
  7. Beware of deepities.

I hadn’t heard of deepities before, but I will have fun looking out for them in the future!

A deepity is a proposition that seems both important and true – and profound – but that achieves this effect by being ambiguous. On one reading, it is manifestly false, but it would be earth-shaking if it were true; on the other reading, it is true but trivial. The unwary listener picks up the glimmer of truth from the second reading, and the devastating importance from the first reading, and thinks, Wow! That’s a deepity.

Here is an example (better sit down: this is heavy stuff): Love is just a word.
Daniel Dennett’s seven tools for thinking

Standard
Use your words

How to spot a weak argument

When you’re reading or skimming argumentative essays, especially by philosophers, here is a quick trick that may save you much time and effort, especially in this age of simple searching by computer: look for “surely” in the document, and check each occurrence. Not always, not even most of the time, but often the word “surely” is as good as a blinking light locating a weak point in the argument. Why? Because it marks the very edge of what the author is actually sure about and hopes readers will also be sure about.
Daniel C. Dennett

Standard