Author Archive

I’m Gettin’ Me Mallet: Society’s Impact on Aging

November 11th, 2022 No comments

There are so many stereotypes associated with aging. Just about every negative trait is thrown at older adults with the hope that it sticks. Some claim that older adults are closed-minded, grumpy, forgetful, and slow. And of course, on top of these there are positive stereotypes as well, like older adults being wise, kind, generous, and so on. Between these stereotypes, though, there is the reality that our behavior is influenced by the various social factors around us. These explain the reason why stereotypes are so pervasive. Essentially, one’s social environment has an impact on their cognitive development, two ways of which I will attempt to highlight in this blog: through positive/negative environmental support and through internalization of stereotypes.

This is a picture of Eustace Bagge from Courage the Cowardly Dog. Eustace is a prime representative of the stereotype of older adults being grumpy and stuck in their ways (Copyright Cartoon Network)
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Appealing to Authority: From Decision Making to Disinformation

April 27th, 2022 No comments

Debates: you either love them or you hate them. For some, they can be interesting discussions that provoke thought in fields ranging from philosophy to politics to the sciences and everything in between. For others though, they are outlets for pretentious people to engage in pretentious fighting about pretentious topics. Among some of the more pretentious aspects of debate is the calling out of fallacies. 

To someone who has no idea what these debaters are talking about, it can be confusing to hear the words “strawman,” “red herring,” or “ad hominem” over and over. These terms all fall under the category of fallacies, which Merriam-Webster defines as arguments using false logic. By using false logic in arguments, debaters would be able to back up their claims using evidence that, while convincing, is actually deceptive. And by understanding these fallacies and calling them out, debaters would be able to avoid losing their argument – essentially filtering for disinformation. Understanding how fallacies like these work can point towards key cognitive processes that we rely on on a daily basis to decide what we deem as true.

One of these fallacies is what is called argumentum ad verecundiam. On top of being a mouthful, it describes an argument that is based on an appeal to a false authority. We appeal to authority very regularly for information, so one might ask what makes this a false argument. It is a fallacy because the expertise of the authority figure in question does not translate to expertise in the field of the argument. It is like citing an expert painter to make an argument about roadwork. Sure, maybe their fields have some potential overlap, but they are different and require different structures of knowledge.

This is a Palla’s cat. Unlike a domestic cat, it is not a source of authority regarding the intricacies of climbing cat trees nor will it be reliable on topics concerning the theory and practice of litterbox management (Photo by Radovan Zierik for Pexels)
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