The seven legitimate reservations

11-Mar-2014 11:39AM

I went on a course called Black Belt in Thinking. If you have a few grand to spare and week, I'd say Why Not Go because it's definitely a bit of fun.

The course essentially teaches applied formal logic. Like all successful business courses I've ever heard of, the course invents its own language. This means that its participants can feel like they have learned some new, significant ideas, and when they go throughout the rest of their lives crapping on in their new lingua franca, it serves as free advertising for the company pushing it. This is clever, and not a reprehensible marketing tactic, since the thrust of the course is worth learning.

Even so, I am compelled to rehumanise the cult-language so that I don't sound like a wanker, which gets me to the purpose of this post. To go over some of the terminology from this course and replace it with words that make sense.

One of the key concepts of this course are the "Seven legitimate reservations". These are essentially seven ways that you are safely able to reject any given statement or argument without stumbling over any logical fallacies.

I will go through these, in order, explain them, and then provide an alternative way to express these.

  1. Clarity On The Entity: This is a wanky way of saying, "please could you say that again because it didn't make sense to me". This can be a hostile thing to say to someone who doesn't know why you are saying it.
  2. Clarity On The Connection: Clarity on the connection is a way of saying, "I don't understand why you think X causes Y. Could you please explain?""Why?" is a better and more efficient way of asking for clarity on the connection. If you ask it five times in a row you will either understand the heart of an argument, or work out that the person you are talking to doesn't understand what the hell they are talking about.
  3. Entity Existence Reservation: This is a way of saying that "I think that you are making stuff up again." This is a school-yard reservation that is equivilent to "eh-nerr", and is therefore could be easily expressed in a way that will cause great offense to the person that you are saying this to. I solemly believe if you have the opportuntity to cause this kind of offense then you ought to take it.
  4. Insufficient Causality Reservation: This is a way of saying, "What you have said isn't enough to explain the outcome." That is, that the argument being put forward doesn't have enough proof to justify it. And example of this would be if someone was committinig the strawman fallacy. I am not suggesting a better specific way to say this, since I think that there are many clearer ways to express this idea. I think that this is a blanket statement for saying, "You have committed a logical fallacy" and that it is better to show the specific logical fallacy that is being committed in this case.
  5. Additional Cause Reservation: "Your explanation is ignoring key information or details."
  6. Predicted Effect Reservation: This is a way of saying, "Your statement can't be true because if it was XYZ would have happened and it did not". This is, in my opnion, the most clever of all of the reservations, since it completely nuts an argument so long as your argument is also true.
  7. House On Fire Reservation: This is, frankly, a stupid thing to say to someone. What this really means is that "You have said that X causes Y but I really think Y causes X".