How to think critically:

(mental models and logical fallacies)
Whenever possible, confirm the "facts."

"Fact-checkers are just fake authorities anointed by the media, according to fact-checkers." — @naval
Authorities can make mistakes.

Don't fall for the "arguments from authority fallacy."

"In science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts." — Carl Sagan
Survival of the fittest argument.

Always think of multiple explanations for an argument.

Then think of tests to disprove each explanation.

Whatever remains has a better chance of being right than simply sticking with the first idea.
Two mental models that fit here:

Occam's Razor: When faced with multiple explanations pick the simpler.

Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." In other words, there can be honest mistakes.
Debate all points of view.

"Be skeptical of the side of a debate that is less willing to try to see the other side’s point of view." — @sama
Be open to disproof.

Unfalsifiable ideas are not worth much in the grand scheme of the universe.

"It’s smart to take help of a pessimist to find blind spots in an idea you feel very confident about. That’s their only good use I've found so far." — @kunalb11
Choose knowledge over ego.

Just because an idea is yours doesn't make it right. Accept that others can and will find faults with it.

"The trick to viewing feedback as a gift is to be more worried about having blind spots than hearing about them." — @JamesClear
Quantify.

Numbers provide a faster and better approximation than vague qualitative assessments.

For example, using a scale from 1 to 10.

Sure, qualitative issues matter. They just require more time and may defeat the purpose.
A chain-of-argument is only as strong as its weakest link.
Criticize the idea and not the person.

Attacking the arguer instead of the argument is known as the "ad hominem fallacy."

This one is the most common weapon for political arguments and — especially — social media trolls.
Appeal to convenience fallacy.

Sometimes we want to believe that an idea is true just because the downside is undesirable. And vice versa.

For example, "I invested in this generative art NFT (or stock or crypto) so it's floor will only rise."
Sometimes it's better to err on the side of ambiguity.

Appeal to ignorance is a logical fallacy where people claim that whatever has not been proved false must be true, and vice versa.

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
Ok boomer isn't ok.

There's a fallacy called "special pleading" where people defend their position by claiming that the opponent lacks the necessary perspective.

It's like your parents asking you not to interfere in religious matters just because.
Stop "begging the question."

It's when you start from a place where what you are trying to prove is already assumed to be true.

"It's true because it's true." (WTF?)

But some assumptions are so deeply ingrained inside our heads that we think they don't need explaining.
Observational selection bias.

Or counting the hits and forgetting the misses.

Like an investor boasting about the winners in his portfolio, and forgetting about the losers.

"Remember that nobody accepts randomness in his own success, only his failure." — @nntaleb
Correlation does not mean causation.

Correlation is a pattern between two events.

Causation means one event caused the other.

So, even if there is a pattern between two events, it doesn't mean that one caused a change in the other.

Check out tylervigen.com/spurious-corre…
Statistics can mislead.

(statistically speaking)

Make sure you understand the true nature of a given statistics before you reach any conclusions with it.

"The default math class in high school should be statistics instead of calculus." — @Austen
Inconsistency.

Making contradictory claims, asserting that the rules are followed for some arguments but not others.

Like a government preparing for a potential war but ignoring scientific warnings about the environment.
Non sequitur.

It's Latin for "it doesn't follow." That is, an idea that bears no relation to what came before it.

Here's a fun example:

Me: "I have a headache."
Internet: "Bitcoin fixes this."
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

Latin for "It happened after, so it was caused by." Or, a mistaken belief that if Y happens after X, then X must have caused Y.

"Roosters don't cause the sunrise." — @Noahpinion
Straw man.

Taking another person’s argument and distorting it to make it easier to attack.

For example, I share a business lesson from Jeff Bezos but someone in the comments goes on about how he should pay his taxes.
Suppressed evidence, or half-truths.

Cherry picking evidence that supports your claim, while hiding other important details.

Like you might have done this in a resume. That's why most employers require interviews/recommendations.
Slippery slope.

Arguing that a certain course of action is undesirable because it will lead to a series of actions that might eventually have an extreme end.

"Let me go out with my friends, otherwise they will stop inviting me, and I will die a loner."
Two related fallacies:

excluded middle: considering only the two extremes among a number of intermediate possibilities.

short-term vs. long-term: "Why explore space when we have poverty and other urgent issues at hand."
Those were some useful critical thinking tools...

Understanding them well can make a big difference in the quality of our arguments.

Follow me @sumitupgarg for similar content, and subscribe to my upcoming newsletter. Thanks!

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More from @sumitupgarg

21 Jul
Steve Jobs sold his car to start Apple.

If you're interested, I've got 3 stories from the founding history of Apple.

A thread on startups, investing and life:
1/3

Jobs & Woz started Apple with $1300.

They had to sell a bunch of their stuff, including Jobs' Volkswagen bus and Wozniak's HP calculator.

Today, a top-in-line iPhone costs $1399.

Even if we adjust for inflation, it'll still be less than a $6,499 Mac Pro.
2/3

Before Jobs proposed the name Apple Computer, they did entertain others like,

• Matrix
• Executek
• Personal Computers Inc.

In 2007, with a wide range of popular products under their belt, Apple dropped the Computer out of its name.
Read 5 tweets
18 Jul
According to @elonmusk,

1. Skills >> college degrees
2. First principles = a solid foundation
3. Be less wrong
4. Read books
5. If there's no more to add, stop talking
6. Be a better version
7. Life ≠ saving ass
8. Hard work beats all

A thread on startups, careers and life:
“You don't need college or even high school to learn stuff. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn't graduate from college, but if you had a chance to hire them, of course that would be a good idea.”

Exceptional abilities >> degrees
“It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

Lay the groundwork.
Read 10 tweets
14 Jul
At 30, Jeff Bezos quit his job to start Amazon.

He did so because he did not want to be 80 and regret not doing what he really wanted to do.

Thread — Lessons on startups, career and life:
In 1994, Amazon took off as an online bookseller. But it didn't just start with books.

It started with books and a long-term vision.
Today online shopping is an obvious alternative to shopping in the physical world. But back in the early 90's, few had heard about the internet.

Think about this:

When Jeff Bezos was trying to raise money for Amazon, most investors would literally ask,

"What's the internet?"
Read 10 tweets
3 Jul
Jeff Bezos' 2017 letter to Amazon shareholders is a masterclass in writing.

Bezos prefers writing over PowerPoint.

Thread — A writing hack to help you succeed in your career: business, startups, marketing, life, and more.
To write good you need two things:

Recognition and scope.

Recognize what good writing looks like.

Set real expectations for 'how much work it will take' to write that good.
Most writers recognize high standard but set a wrong expectation on scope.

They believe that a good piece can be written in 1-2 days. When in reality, it should take at least a week.

Warren Buffett once said:

“You can't produce a baby in one month by getting 9 women pregnant.”
Read 6 tweets
2 Jul
Business school? I don't know.

I'd rather listen to Steve Jobs all day.

A thread on startups, entrepreneurship, marketing, investing, career, and life:
Figure out what your customers are going to want before they do.

Reporter: What market research did you do for the Macintosh?

Steve Jobs: Did Graham Bell did any of that before he invented the telephone?

Think different.
Make progress by elimination.

Jony Ive says, "To be truly simple, you have to go really deep.

You need to understand the product to get rid of the non essentials."

Apple = Clean design, simple taste.
Read 7 tweets
25 Jun
What if Steve Jobs, Bezos, Musk, and the likes got together to teach business?

Even the top MBAs will line up.

A thread on startups, entrepreneurship, investing, career, life, and whatnot:
Make decisions fast / Jeff Bezos

Most decisions should be made with around 70% of the information.

If you wait for 90, you're being slow.

Get good at course correcting and being wrong will be less costly than being slow.
Do a few things well / Steve Jobs

Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.

"We all have a short period of time on this earth. We probably only have the opportunity to do a few things really great and do them well."
Read 8 tweets

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