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If you believe that you think rationally, define the word without referring back to a synonym of rational.

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Socratic Method is one of the oldest and most respected forms of productive debate. There are many unproductive methods. All of which should be avoided. Socratic method is a very old and respected means to quickly and definitively resolve difficult issues by adhering to rules of conversation which are carefully designed to keep the discussion on track and drive it toward rapid and unreserved conclusion. Conclusion is reached when after carefully selecting questions designed to spotlight an affirmation's error, no one involved in the conversation is any longer willing to dispute the rationality of the affirmation.

Wikipedia on Socratic Method

In this way, conclusion is forced upon those who remain in disagreement, but have no rational reason for their disagreement. One remaining in disagreement is forced to admit "I still disagree, but fail to provide a reason for my disagreement which others perceive as rational." The irrationality of his or her position becomes obvious to those involved in the conversation.

For this reason Socratic Method is very unpopular with politicians who often desire to remain uncommitted on some issues.

How do I comment in Socratic Method if I disagree?

Do not pose an alternate position or attempt to show that there is a better way to handle the issue. This is the error most make in debate. Nothing ever ends up resolved because both sides continue supporting their respective and opposing views and neither view is refuted. Neither party has any reason to concede. Neither party finds it intellectually embarrassing to continue supporting their original position.

First, make sure you disagree. An argument is not won with fancy words, but by discovering the winning side before choosing your position. Is your position winnable? If not, accept it and change your mind, otherwise Socratic Method will reveal your irrationality to others. Once you've answered that, list the assumptions upon which the affirmed statement rests, and which if shown to be false, make the affirmed statement's error obvious to others.

Restate that assumption in language and terminology which make the affirmation's reliance upon the assumption obvious and ask those affirming if they agree with the assumption.

If the assumption is specious, wait to point out the assumption's flaw in your second question after those affirming answer their agreement with the assumption. Post "Considering that you agree with that particular assumption, do you also agree with its obviously erroneous implication, thus.....?

If you have difficulty finding an erroneous assumption or an error of conclusion implied by assumptions made in the affirmation, double check that you still disagree. You may find, to your surprise that you agreed with the statement all along. You just didn't think about it carefully enough at first.

If you think that you think rationally, define the word "rational" without referring back to a synonym of rational.

After trying, click here to see the definition-- Any statement is rational if and only if it can be restated in terms of the fundamental logical operator NAND.

This is an opinion comment on humans' ability to think rationally and suggests a metric.  
I quote no sources.  

Read at your own risk.  

16 Paragraphs; 1,281 Words.

Compare your intelligence to the current state of artificial intelligence.

Humans are not born with the ability to "think."  Biology insures that our brains direct us to avoid danger, obtain those things which increase our comfort, including nutrients, and nurture relationships with others that increase our effectiveness at the former two.  Rational cognition is simply not hard wired into our brains.

"The computer plays the game using the  same intellectual methodologies that humans who are skilled at thinking use..."  

A goat figuring out how to open the gate of his pen and Eratosthenes of Cyrene questioning and then calculating the diameter of the planet are two completely different things.  One speaks directly to comfort level.  The other derives its value more abstractly from what is called, in the most general terms, time preference.  Contemplating such requires mental dexterity far beyond that with which biology alone equips us raw from the womb. This is the difference between hunter-gatherer and civilization.  Development of that level of cognitive skill requires deliberate effort.  Thinking is a learned skill. We are not born knowing how to think.

How well do we think?

Most just live and learn and hope that they pick up the skill of thinking somewhere along the way.  Twenty years ago, a board game called MasterMind was available in any department store's board game section.  Today the glitz of computer gaming has all but eliminated interest in board games. Or it might be that people just don't like to think.  It makes their head hurt.

"...possess the three fundamental cognitive skills."

Regardless of the inventor's intent, MasterMind caught the attention of mathematicians for the unusually thorough mental challenge it provides.  If one masters MasterMind, one can be sure, his or her mind has adapted one of the three most important fundamental skills required to consider complex subjects effectively.  That of Logical inference. And touches on one of the other two, Assumption identification. It does not, however, stimulate Task resolution.

Anyone qualified to hold a position of public trust should find this game difficult at first, but easy to master.

Playing the game MasterMind well should certainly not be a requirement for holding public office.  But those who are trusted to make decisions which effect the lives of others are also morally bound to possess the three fundamental cognitive skills. As such, anyone qualified to hold public office should find this simple game easy to master.  If someone finds this game difficult to master, that person lacks proficiency in one of the fundamental skills required to rationally consider important and complex issues.

Play the game. Link to Online Version.  This version also contains an Artificial Intelligence suggestion option.

You will learn effective strategies quickly and gain an appreciation for the complexity of the game.  Then watch as A.I. plays the game using the same intellectual methodologies that humans who are skilled at thinking use. It shows you which guesses it is considering.  Watch how long it considers one guess before discovering a better guess.

Mathematicians have devised a programatic solution to the game, which always guesses the hidden answer in as few guesses as is mathematically possible.  The artificial intelligence suggestion option provided in this online version does not use that mathematical solution.  Instead it considers its guess using the very same methods you or I do when we play the game.

The key to general artificial intelligence is finding an AI algorithm which can gain the skills it needs like humans do rather than require a programmer's effort for each new skill.  This is coming. Until then enjoy a glimpse into the future.

How to play

Online Version of the Game

The answer consists of four random letters, each A through F. The answer is hidden behind "????" There are 1296 possible combinations of four letters each A-F.

The object of the game is to discover the randomly selected combination. This is done by making better and better informed guesses.

Each guess is compared to the answer. The number of letters which are the same and appear in exactly the same position as in the answer are reported as "Exact," Which letters those are is not revealed.

As well, how many letters in the guess are the same letters as those appearing in the answer, but in different locations are reported as "Same," Which letters are not revealed.

In this example,

My first guess is "aabb" I found that two of the letters were exactly correct, but don't know which two. It may be the a's or the b's or one of each. If a letter is an exact match for a letter in the answer, that letter is not also reported as same for another of that same letter which may appear elsewhere in the answer.

I decided to find what other letters may lie in the answer, so I guessed "ccdd" I found that neither c nor d appear anywhere in the answer.

Knowing that there are no "c," I used "c" to discover if one, both or none of the "a" are the ones which are shown to be exactly correct in guess 1. I found there are also no "a." From this and from guess 1, I can infer that the answer contains at least two "b" and those must be in the third and fourth position. There may be more "b."

I decided to check on "f" and "e" one at a time. Since I knew the two "b" were on the end, I tried "f" in the first two positions. Indeed, one of the "f" is correct. Just don't know which.

I know the answer can not contain "a" "c" or "d" and contains only one "f," but I don't know if the "f" is in the first or second position and if the fourth letter is an "e" or "b." "e" was confirmed by guess 5.

Guess 5 implies the "f" and "e" are in the wrong order. The computer reported that there was only one single possible answer, given the five guesses which had already been made, but gives no indication what it might be. You can cheat and click Show. That number is frustrating, when the computer is telling me that only five possible answers remain, but I have no idea which.

After entering "efbb" and clicking Guess, the computer confirmed that was correct.

You can click A.I. Suggest any time. It will simply do exactly what you would do. Consider all guesses and select that guess which it believes will reveal the most about the hidden answer. It may select a guess which it knows must be incorrect. Sometimes an incorrect guess is the easiest way to eliminate possibilites.

When it selects an answer, it places the answer in the new guess text box. You still have to click guess to process the guess.

Let A.I. play the whole game and examine its novel strategies. Does it play better than we do?

Having A.I. explain its rationale for favoring one guess over another to an observer is a different skill than finding the best guess. I only taught it the skill of using human rationale to determine a guess. I did not teach it how to explain itself.

You can cheat and show all the possible answers given the guesses already made and you can show the answer itself.

You can also select and set an answer or generate an entirely new random answer. This is useful if you want to test the A.I. with a hidden answer you feel might be particularly difficult to guess.


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