On Choosing Ideas

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Overview

Recently, I was asked what process I use to conclude that an idea is worth advocating. When first confronted with this question, I reviewed my repertoire of answers such as “I read a lot,” “I have studied the issues.” Nevertheless, the individual who questioned me most recently was not satisfied with my prepared responses. Again, he asked, how do I “really” know which side of an issue to take. After contemplating this question, I was dumbfounded that I did not have a comprehensive answer, especially since I have invoked the right to change my opinion based on sufficient evidence in my first post. But in this instance, I had nothing.

This incident and the state of our post-fact era have compelled me to create a framework to explain which idea I believe is “right” and my justification for it. Furthermore, this framework will assist me in the assessment of future ideas providing me the opportunity to be consistent with the ideas I support.

As with all of my posts, I will update this document and procedure based on the input of new information and welcome criticism. Enjoy

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Definitions

  • Foundational Elements are the essential ideas and societal goals that an idea must at least incorporate, facilitate, foster, and encourage
    • The Foundational Elements are to incorporate, facilitate, foster, and encourage:
      • Logical reasoning and rationality to utilize evidence-based scientific thinking
      • An equitable and socially mobile society
      • Individual self-sufficiency and personal liberty
      • Ethical and productive discourse and commerce between peoples
      • Justice for all individuals by ensuring and securing freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought, freedom of the press, freedom of privacy, and enforcing reasonable rehabilitative punishment for individuals when just laws are broken.
      • Continuously balancing environmental costs with societal costs
      • Recognizes and acknowledges human frailty and the influence of emotions when making decisions balanced against our species’ limited place in the Universe
  • A positive consequence is a known or foreseeable outcome that promotes or facilitates the Foundational Elements (explained below).
  • A negative consequence is a known or foreseeable outcome that inhibits or prevents the Foundational Elements (explained below).
  • Accepted negative consequences is a known consequence that is accepted to pursue the idea because they are out weighted by the positive consequences.
  • A direct cause is a primary agent leading to an event, such that A→B and (not)B→(not)A
  • A proximate cause is an event sufficiently related to a cause
  • A probable cause is an event sufficiently related to a cause, such that A→ (can cause) B

Framework

  • All ideas have consequences and it is inevitable that society will be affected by those consequences. Thus, to support any idea one must first accept all positive and negative consequences of that idea. Additionally, members of the society have the right and obligation to criticize those ideas because of their impact on the larger community.
  • When an idea is supported and enacted, unknown and unforeseeable positive and negative consequences cannot be taken into account.
  • However, sometimes even ideas with significant positive consequences have horrific unforeseen negative consequences. To account for this, the intent and motivation of the individual should be taken into consideration when encountering unforeseen, unknown, and discovered negative consequences and accepted negative consequences when the idea was pursued.
  • Additionally, it must be recognized that there are ideas and issues that are so complex it is not possible to consider all of the options and all of the consequences. Thus, a person’s effort and the amount of time spent researching and listening to arguments from the opposing view must be taken into consideration.
  • The analysis of an ideas positive and negative consequences must include:
    • The asserted action and all direct, proximate, and probable causes that result from the positive and negative consequences.
      • Also, one must consider how understood the consequences of the actions are by the general public as compared to experts.  
    • When choosing an idea to support one must start with the societal end goal(s) you and the idea are trying to achieve by considering all those affected by the belief, including yourself.
    • Society is defined as humanity in general. Often it is not limited just to the society in which you reside.
    • The societal goals of any idea should at least incorporate, facilitate, foster, and encourage the Foundational Elements. No one Foundational Element is outranked by the other. All Elements are looked at in tandem, and any idea must value all of the factors equally.
  • To determine if an idea is worth pursuing and to determine which idea is superior each idea must compare:
    1. The effectiveness, speed, utility, and cost the idea has toward achieving the foundational elements as compared to possible alternative competing ideas.
    2. The effect the negative consequences has on incorporating, facilitating, fostering, and encouraging the foundational elements.
    3. The effect the positive consequences has on incorporating, facilitating, fostering, and encouraging the foundational elements.
  • All research and reasoning when supporting an idea should be documented for future reference to be able to modify your position if needed and to allow your idea to be known publicly.
  • All opportunities should be taken to present accurate and relevant empirical evidence for all ideas and asserted positions. The evidence is used to weigh in on the ideas positive and negative consequences are subject to change based on new scientifically sound and verifiable information.
  • All new ideas and facts should be reevaluated as often as new ideas present themselves according to the process above.

Diagram


Notes

  • Societal goals need to put ahead of personal goals and desires because:
    • The formation of societies from tribes and nomads is the primary condition that led to the domination of our species on this planet as this behavior subsequently led to the agricultural, industrial, and technological revolutions.
    • They ensure personal self-interested motives comes at most second. This encourages the consequences of an idea to be viewed from another person’s point of view when an idea is implemented.