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Announcements > Wednesday, 6 January 2010 09:22:13 EST


My principal activity is to tease those who take themselves and the quality of their knowledge too seriously.
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, "Fooled by Randomness"

Well, it's a new year.  Seems like a good time for me to embark on a new project.

I've been contemplating writing a critical thinking blog for some time now.  It's taken me a little bit to figure out how I want to organize it, and the kinds of things I want to say.  But I've gotten to the point now where I feel comfortable enough to start writing.

Introductions are in order.  I'm your host, Dumbass, and this is The Dumbasses Guide To Knowledge.  You may snicker at my alias, in fact, I encourage it.  I chose this alias for a very specific reason: it reminds me not to take myself too seriously.
It seems to me that being a dumbass is part of the human condition.  None of us are immune to cognitive errors, and nobody can claim to never be wrong.  We're all awash in a sea of uncertainty that we try to ignore as much as possible, until a wave hits us and tries to pull us under, reminding us of how much we don't know and can't predict.

We're all just dumbasses trying to figure it out as we go along, and this is my way of reminding myself of that.  Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who I quoted at the top of this post, recommends cultivating intellectual insecurity, and of course he's right.  If you admit to yourself that you are completely fallible, then you'll put in more of an effort to get the facts right when you can, and correct yourself when you get something wrong.

This blog is a chronicle of my experiences, musings, and explorations of science, critical thinking, and knowledge.

Let me tell you about myself.  I'm a computer scientist working in web programming and design.  I took courses in college in statistics and public disinformation, as these topics have always interested me, but it's only been in the past few years that I've become consumed by the search for understanding and the application of critical thinking.

It's a topic that I've come to feel is extremely important, and extremely undervalued.  And so here I am today, adding my small voice to the many others pushing for an increase in clear thought and rationality.  I hope I have something worthwhile to say.  I'll let you be the judge on that.

* One small note about the name of this blog.  If you're wondering whether it was inspired by the popular podcast "The Skeptic's Guide To The Universe", the answer is no.  Not that I wouldn't do something of this nature in homage to those skeptical rogues, I'm not beyond doing something like that.  Alas, my inspiration for the name came to me before I'd ever heard of them.  I got the idea for the name from the wonderful "Idiot's Guide" series of books, of which I own several.


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