Analytical Tools

Help Separating the Chaff from the Grain

Prolife, prochoice, and abortion-neutral links.

**Anecdotal Evidence & Testimonials**
Because the use of anecdotal evidence and testimonials from others is so common, it often goes unrecognized for the problem that it is.

**Avoiding the Question**
It is unfortunately common that many important questions and challenges go unanswered — but why do people do this? A common reason may be a desire to avoid admitting that they might be wrong

**Barnum Effect & Gullibility**
A common reference point as to why people believe the advice of psychics and astrologers – not to mention many other nice things said about them – is the “Barnum Effect.”

**Bias and Vested Interest**
Bias occurs any time that facts are interpreted in a way that unreasonably favors one position over another; vested interest is a cause of bias in which one will personally and specifically benefit if people adopt a particular position.

**Black & White Thinking**
When we fall victim to Black and White Thinking, we have reduced an entire spectrum of possibilities down to the two most extreme options.

**Common Misconceptions About Quackery**
All of these misconceptions apply to the quackery of abortion.

**Confirmation Bias**
This one is a must-read. Confirmation bias is the process by which we selectively pay attention to what we already believe to be true.

**Critically Evaluating the Logic and Validity of Information**
A brief and very readable overview, with hints on how to identify valid and invalid arguments.

**Distinguishing Science and Pseudoscience**
Very reader-friendly, light in tone but providing important information.

**Economy with the Truth**
If our beliefs are to be sound, justified, and rational, then they must fully take into account all available and relevant information.

**Fear, Complexity, & Environmental Management in the 21st Century**
A piece by Michael Crichton about complex systems and the difficulty of making predictions. This would apply, I’d assume, to predictions of eliminating child abuse by making abortion readily available.

**Fetal Tissue Sales Stories**
Examining what has already been documented about the abortion industry gives us a means of judging the credibility of Dean Alberty’s stories.

**Five Rules of Propaganda**
Short and sweet. You probably won’t even need to scroll.

**Five Steps**
A business manager site, but with some good guidelines for critical thinking skills.

**How Gullible Are We?**
A science fair project teaches the importance of thinking before we draw conclusions.

**How Quackery Sells**
Reader-friendly look at how false cures can be sold. The parallels to abortion are striking.

**Influence at Work**
The Psychology of Persuasion.

**Junk Science Judo**
The basics of how to spot junk science.

**Logic & Fallacies**
This guide to basic logic is on an Atheist site. Make what you will of the atheism, but the logic information is good.

**Nizkor Project**
This guide to identifying false arguments is on an anti-Revisionist site. Make what you will of the rest of the site, but the Fallacies page is good overall logic.

**Propaganda and Persuasion**
An excellent article on the differences between the two.

**Propaganda Analysis Home Page**
Excellent guide to developing skills in identifying and analyzing propaganda.

**Propaganda Techniques**
An overview of 11 popular propaganda techniques.

**Propaganda Techniques Related to Enviromental Scares**
If you see them in one context, it might help you to spot them in other contexts. The methods are the same, even if the content differs.

**Reading Between the Numbers**
Five excellent steps you can take to avoid being bamboozled by BS.

**Recognizing Propaganda Techniques**
These techniques are designed to fool us because the appeal to our emotions rather than to our reason.

**Recognizing Propaganda Techniques and Errors of Faulty Logic**
Short and sweet. An excellent basic overview.

**Repetition: Argumentum Ad Nauseam**
The mass media often plays an important role in the spread of invalid ideas, for example by failing to provide any skeptical arguments or even acknowledging that skepticism exists.

How can you fool yourself? Can you fool yourself?

**Subjective Validation**
Subjective validation is also sometimes used to describe how people can become overconfident about their prejudices. Essentially, we talk ourselves into believing that we are right even when the evidence should convince us that we are wrong.

**That’s Hooey!**
Take this quiz to see how well you can spot bad arguments.

**Truth seekers and partisans**
A fascinating look at brain activity and challenges to one’s beliefs.

**Unskilled and Unaware**
Being mistaken about something is not a flaw in a person’s reasoning and neither is being unskilled in constructing or analyzing logical arguments. Where a flaw does occur, the worse a person is at such tasks, the less likely they are to realize it.

Just because a person is being vague doesn’t mean he’s necessarily wrong, but it’s a good idea to find out exactly what’s happening and why.

**What is Critical Thinking?**
An excellent analysis of why we all need to cultivate and develop critical thinking skills.

**What is Propaganda?**
This is a lesson plan which can be used as a group exercise, or just for your own edification.

**Why is Logic Important?**
Is it a waste of time to learn to identify false arguments, or to learn to make sound arguments?

**Wikipedia entry on propaganda.**
An excellent overview, information on the history of propaganda, and specific propaganda techniques.

**Wikipedia entry on public relations.**
Once you read through this, you’ll start recognizing the tricks.