A Voter’s Guide to Thinking

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

Scott Adams provides a voter’s guide to thinking:

1. If you are comparing Plan A to Plan B, you might be doing a good job of thinking. But if you are comparing Plan A to an imaginary situation in which there are no tradeoffs in life, you are not thinking.

2. If you see quotes taken out of context, and you form an opinion anyway, that’s probably not thinking. If you believe you need no further context because there is only one imaginable explanation for the meaning of the quotes, you might have a poor imagination. Sometimes a poor imagination feels a lot like knowledge, but it’s closer to the opposite.

3. If a debate lends itself to estimates of cost (in money or human suffering) and you aren’t willing to offer an estimate in support of your opinion, you don’t yet have an opinion.

4. If you are sure you know how a leader performed during his or her tenure, and you don’t know how someone else would have performed in the same situation, you don’t actually know anything. It just feels like you do.

5. If something reminds you of something else (such as Hitler, to pick one example) that doesn’t mean you are thinking. That just means something reminded you of something. A strong association of that type can prevent you from thinking, but it is not itself a component of reason.

6. Analogies are not an element of reason. Analogies are good for explaining things to people who are new to a topic. If I am busy as a beaver, that does not imply that I also build dams by gnawing on wood. It just means I’m busy.

7. If you think your well-informed and reasoned opinions as a voter are bringing up the average, let me introduce you to the 100% of other voters who believe they are bringing up the average as well.

8. If your opinion is based on your innate ability to predict the future, you might be employing more magical thinking than reason. The exceptions would be the people who use data to predict the future, such as Nate Silver. That stuff is credible albeit imperfect by nature. Your imagination is less reliable.


  1. Space Nookie says:

    A Thinkers Guide to Voting would probably just read, “Don’t waste your time”

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