There are two trip-ups to avoid as you traipse through the thinking life. Wisdom lies somewhere along the path. Context is important.

First is explicitly trusting someone who couldn’t produce an ounce of evidence at gunpoint.  Who says, “You’re overthinking. You only need this! Really, I’m telling you. I’ll even give you a week’s worth for free! But if you’ll drink this shake for lunch this week, you’ll see what I mean. I don’t care if it’s about health or diet, or heck, even your relationships, drinking this down once a day will cure your ills.”

Stop and think for a moment. Consider: the complexity and interrelationships of things are mind boggling. Or mind numbingly simple. And while you’re at it, avoid cheap Chinese non-stick cooking pans.

Second, and in the same way, distrust anyone who claims whatever they are selling is so complex that you need fourteen PhDs to understand it. Was it Albert E. who said that if you can’t explain something to a child, you probably don’t understand it? Remember this: complexity often masks a sales pitch.

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For more about hucksterism, see my post about ignoring the Hype here.

And here’s a post at Mind Pickings about Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit. Learn to ask these question and you’ll be much better off.

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