How to Argue if You Actually Care About the Truth

    Well, it has taken the rapidly degrading state of conversation on the internet to pull me out of my self-imposed, unannounced blogging break.

    I don't know about your facebook feed, but mine is filled with lots and lots of people disagreeing with each other, sometimes quite respectfully, but often not.  If you are one of those blessed few who has not noticed this phenomenon, that is wonderful!  Here is a cute picture of a puppy.  You may stop reading now.


    Daawwww. So cute. Found on pixabay

    If you are still here, let us together embark on a crash course in proper ways to engage in productive arguments.

     Please note, this article is not inspired by anyone in particular but is the fruit of dozens of conversations I have participated in, and hundreds more that I have observed.

    1.  Avoid Confirmation Bias

    We are all guilty of it, myself included, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't work to avoid it.  Look at the other side of the argument.  Realize that there is a chance that you might be wrong, or at least that the other side holds a more nuanced position than you previously thought.  Don't keep yourself in an information bubble and only read sources that confirm your views.   Before you post something on facebook, take a minute to fact check it.

    Image result for meme about fact checking

    "I'm the Doctor, and I approve this message."

    Here is a perfect example from a few years back:

    Image result for isis flag in dearborn michigan

    That is terrifying and it seemed plausible so people went ahead and shared it.

    Only trouble is they got it all wrong.  As this Detroit-based news station reported:

    Hundreds of people in Dearborn are taking a stand against ISIS and terrorist attacks

    Image result for isis flag in dearborn michigan

    Image taken from the wkyz.com website

    What was really pictured was a group of Muslims gathering to PROTEST ISIS, not march in support of them.  That kind of changes the story completely.

    2.  Assume that your "opponent" has rational reasons for their views unless they give you concrete reasons to believe otherwise.  

    If they are using poor logic or incorrect data, tactfully point it out to them.  Don't dismiss their views by searching for some non-rational source for their beliefs.

    Here are some gems that I have gotten:

    "You're just hormonal."  Which translates to, "Silly woman, ideas are for men."

    "You just think that because you are a millennial."   I guess they are right, I should go get my sippy cup, and wait till I am over 40 to have any opinions.

    "If you hold that opinion it might be because demons are influencing you."    . . . .um?

    "You think that way because of the Dunning-Krueger effect." In this case, the implication being that I can't appreciate Donald Trump's immigration policies primarily because I am less intelligent.

    These are all examples of ad hominem attacks.

    Image result for ad hominem meme

    Don't criticize your opponent, criticize their ideas.  Even if you strongly disagree with them, don't dismiss their ideas out of hand as having no basis in reality.  Talk with the person, find out WHY they believe what they do.  If you disagree with them address their mistaken assumptions, or logical leaps, not why you believe they as a person have thus far been unable to see the truth.  Maybe you will find their ideas are more rational than you initially thought.

    3.  If you realize your opponent is correct on a point, admit it.  

    The purpose of the discussion should be about TRUTH, not verbally beating the other person to a pulp.  Enough said.

    4.  Be charitable. 

    Finally, and most importantly, assume the person you are conversing with has good intentions.  To this end, it helps not to get into a tribalist "us vs. them" mindset.  Everybody is seeking after the good (either real or perceived), people just have different ideas of how to prioritize goods, or how to go about achieving them.  For example, those on both sides of the gay marriage debate believe that love and marriage are very important things.  The disagreement lies in whether the state should recognize homosexual unions as marriage and confer the same benefits as it does to heterosexual married couples.  Let's not assume that the other person is secretly intending to bring about the collapse of society or hates everyone who disagrees with him.

    I find it very important to avoid cursing and name calling.  Saying, "F#%@ that orange man, and his little wall too" or "those idiot liberals deluded by the Main Stream Media " is not going to convert anyone to your viewpoint.


    May I ask my readers to do me a favor?  If you catch me breaking any of my rules while arguing either online or in person, call me out on it; just do it nicely, pretty please.

    Together we can make America's arguments more calm and productive, one facebook post, and holiday gathering at a time.

    What are your favorite logical fallacies?  Bonus trivia, who can guess how many times my kids woke me up last night?  I'll give a hint it was more than five.  

    If you liked this post, please share it with your friends.    


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    Goals I am Aiming for This Year

    So remember months ago, back in July, when I mentioned that I wanted to share my goals with you for accountability?  Nope, me either because that was ages ago.  Sometimes I think a better name for this blog would be half baked as in a half baked attempt.

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    Restlessness, Blogging and The Sinner's Guide to NFP, (aka What I Read This Past Month)

    As I reviewed my reading list from this past month, I realized I had only read three books, which is on the low side as of late.

    My first reaction was shame, thinking, "How could I have read so little!  There are so many books on my to-be-read list!"  There was a time ten years ago when I could to polish off a book every day or two.

    Then I realized that during this same period last year I had probably read about 1/3 of one book, and remembered that my reading resolution for this year was to read one book every two months.

    Suddenly, I feel pretty good about my reading habits this past month.  Ah, life with two toddlers.

    But I digress  . . . Here is what I have been reading this month:


    1.  Restless: Because You Were Made for More                                 by Jennie Allen 

    A fantastic book about examining all of the different threads in your life (talents, circumstances, people, places, etc.) to prayerfully determine the unique way you are called to serve God in your life.  I really need to give this book a post of its own to give it the treatment that it deserves.

    This is not a book to read quickly, this is a book to ponder and slowly reflect on its themes.  I LOVE the author's writing style, in many regards it is how I hope to evolve my style over time.  The only critique I would give is that she uses short sentences more frequently for emphasis, and this makes the last few chapters feel a hair staccato.

    Letter Grade: A


    2.  How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul                        by Ruth Soukup

    I feel that I should first clear the air by saying: I have no intention of blogging for profit.  Someday I could see myself offering ad space to businesses that I feel strongly about or joining Amazon's affiliate program to defray my costs, but that would be about it.  I have no illusions of making this a profitable business.

    That being said, this book has lots of helpful suggestions for improving navigation, site design, and networking, which are all goals that I do have for this little blog home of mine.

    The author clearly knows what she is talking about; the book is chock full of information, but is an easy read.

    I read the book for free from Amazon's Lending Library for Prime members, but am considering buying it so that I can have it on hand to refer to.

    Letter Grade: A-


    3.  The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning                           by Simcha Fisher

    Can I just start by saying a big THANK YOU to Simcha for writing an intelligent, balanced, orthodox and even hilarious book on NFP.  (For those who haven't heard of NFP, it is a fertility awareness based method of family planning that uses knowledge of the woman's body and cycles to empower the couple with information that can be used to achieve or avoid pregnancy.)

    My parents are NFP teachers and I focused on modesty, human sexuality, and human dignity during my theology studies in college, so I have had a great deal of exposure to literature and presentations on the topic.  Simcha's is the best book on the topic that I have read yet.  She acknowledges how difficult it can be and doesn't sugar coat things in order to better "sell" it.  This book doesn't teach the method, or delve deeply into sexual morality; what it does do is provide a reminder for those who have chosen this path about the true benefits that it does bring to relationships, and encouragement on how to carry the cross of the sufferings that practicing NFP and periodic abstinence presents.  I highly recommend this book to Catholic married couples.

    Letter Grade: A-

    Well there you have it.  My reading list may have been small, but I enjoyed each of the books on it.  Will be linking up with the lovely Anne of modernmrsdarcy.com for Twitterature tomorrow.  (Side note I found out about the first two books through her blog which has notifications for kindle daily deals, and Prime lending library recommendations.  Go check her blog out!)


    Any of the above books look interesting or relevant to you?  Do you ever longingly remember the days of your youth when there was more time to read?  Tell me about it in the comments!



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    Slugs, Sacraments, and Smoochable Nephews, Oh My!

    This weeks post is made possible by the letter "S" which starts such words as Slugs, Sacraments and Smoochable.

    OK the last one isn't a real word.  It should be. This is my attempt at lobbying for its inclusion in the English language.  Because it perfectly describes:

    1. My smoochable new nephew!  He is a week old today.  And has red hair!  He is pretty much the cutest little thing.

    2.  Said nephew will be receiving the Sacrament of baptism this Sunday!  We will be hosting the baptismal party.  The church is getting a new little member, time to paaaartaaay.  Anybody have any cool baptismal party tips to add to my growing repertoire?

    3. This dovetails nicely with our School lesson for the week: B is for Baptism.  We just started doing a little bit of pre-school with Sammy.  I think he was bored and needing more intellectual stimulation.  Now he looks forward to doing the lessons everyday.  We are primarily using Catholic Icings curriculum, adding in a few things and dividing up the activities for throughout the week.  photo (7)

    For this week: Monday we introduced the letter of the week and went through a grab bag of items that started with it.  Tuesday we read about the Saint of the week, Bernadette, talked about the healing waters of Lourdes, and compared this to Baptism waters which heal us from sin.  We were supposed to use some Lourdes water I had, but the kids were whacking each other with books so the lesson got cut short.  Wednesday, we were supposed to talk about creation which is the current unit study he is working on and color a page from a creation coloring book.  He wasn't interested so we skipped it this week.  He did do a little music lesson and learned about the key of C; he was super into the music lesson.  Thursday we read the Bible Verse for the week and were going to read the passage about the Baptism of Jesus, but he wasn't interested so we skipped it and instead did the lesson I scheduled for today.  That lesson involved looking at pictures of the baptism, holding baptismal candles, looking at the baptismal garments, etc.  They both loved looking at the pictures, and Sammy asked many good questions about his baptism.

    In addition we use an online program called Reading Eggs for phonics.  For all aspects of the schooling we do as much or as little as Sammy wants.

    4.  Instead of today's lesson we took a social outing and went to the Children's Museum in the town north of us.  Most of it was geared to kids older than Sammy, but he found plenty of things to hold his interest.  Ana had fun just wandering around taking in everything.

    5.  Sunsets are food for my soul.  I caught one while popping outside to catch a little more vitamin D.  I need to do that more often.

    6. Slugs.  

    photo (9)

    Ignore the really poorly done stenciling, this one falls behind the dryer.


    They are mocking me, spreading their slime all over the laundry room wall I finished stenciling.  But I will have my revenge.  I found how they are getting in and responded by covering the opening in salt.  St. Francis does not approve this message.

    7.  Surprises.  In addition to being sponsored by the letter "S," this post is brought to you by my husband, who has sent me to the office so that he may cook dinner for me.  I have no idea what he has planned, but I know it is going to be sooo good.  Seriously, when we got married, he taught me how to cook, not the other way around.  I am very blessed.

    Linking up with Jen from Conversion Diary for Seven Quick Takes!


    What are you all up to this weekend?  Are you homeschooling any toddlers?  Being tormented by slugs?  Do you agree that smoochable should be a word?  Tell me about it in the comments!


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    "Stayin Alive" A Soundtrack for the Late Work Nights

    . . . or in my case, the husband's late work nights.  Nathan expects to have put in sixteen hours at work today.

    Sammy decided to celebrate this by making it his mission to dump out anything he could get his hands on in the kitchen while he was "helping" me make dinner.  Among other things, throughout the course of our meal prep he dumped out the container of popcorn kernels, the box of tea bags, the large shaker of garlic powder and for his grand finale, half a gallon of kefir water . . . all over his sister's head.  Each time I was within a few feet of him.  This kid is talented.  In addition while cleaning up one of his messes, he decided to, in his words "practice potty training" in the kitchen . . . yeah.

    In an effort to distract him and maintain my sanity I created the following playlist.  There was much dancing and singing, and less dumping out of foodstuffs.  We're calling it a win.

    For your listening pleasure I present my late work night desperation playlist:

    1.  Eye of the Tiger- Survivor

    Because its awesome.

    2.  Livin on a Prayer- Bon Jovi

    We were totally "livin on a prayer" tonight, begging God for the grace to keep my cool.  Also Ana looked at me in awe as I belted out this song.  Sammy looked at me like I was insane.

    3.  I will Survive- Gloria Gaynor

    So hypothetically, my young little college freshman self ran around in circles belting out this song during my first finals week hyped up on waaaaay too much sugar and caffeine.  That is only hypothetically mind you.

    4.  Stayin' Alive- Bee Gees

    The title says it all.

    5.  I Need a Hero- Bonnie Tyler

    Fortunately I found my hero in my husband.  I don't know how he finds the strength to work these insane hours for our family.

    6. The Final Countdown- Europe

    With any luck we are in the home stretch now . . .

    7.  We Are the Champions- Queen

    Because "Weeee'll keep on fighting till the end . . ."

    Quick disclaimer: I did not watch every second of the footage in the videos.  From what I skimmed I didn't see anything terribly inappropriate, other than lots of men impersonating women with long hair and very skinny jeans.

    Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary for her Seven Quick Takes linkup.

    Do you have a playlist that helps you get through the crazy long days?  Are any of your favorites on this list?

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    7 Quick Takes- Colds, Whole 30, and Camping, Oh My!

    7_quick_takes_sm1I am officially joining up with Jen at Conversion Diary for my first ever Seven Quick Takes Posts.  To any first time visitors, I apologize.  You aren't catching me at my best because:

    1.  My whole family has had a nasty head cold for over 11 days now.  This cold is a ninja.  You think you have it under control and you are on the mend, and then it rebounds and you find yourself walking around with a roll of toilet paper.  And you foolishly take the toilet paper to Mass, where your toddlers attempt to tp the pew with it while you pray.

    2.  After returning from vacation, Nathan decided to join me in a Whole 30.  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept you basically only eat whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and meat for a whole 30 days.  The list of banned foods includes: anything with gluten; anything with dairy; all grains (rice, oats, quinoa, etc); chocolate; alcohol; potatoes; beans; peanuts; honey; stevia; any baked good, even if it isn't made with any of the aforementioned ingredients.  Its like Lent, but only for 30 days.

    We were doing it primarily because we felt we needed a nutritional "reset" and that our bodies were craving super nourishing foods.  As an added bonus, he has lost 15 lbs.  I lost 3, because that's how my body rolls when breastfeeding.

    3. To compensate I have been binging on books.  I have read about 2,000 pages in the past two weeks . . . and the vast majority of it has been Harry Potter.  I never read it as a kid, so I thought I would give it a try.  Thus far I have mixed feelings, but will withhold final judgement till I am finished with the series.

    4.  My son is obsessed with the piano guys CD.  Fortunately I approve of it, and find it enjoyable to listen to.  My favorite track is this one:

    Sam's favorite track is of course this one:

    In order to listen to the entire CD and not just track 6 on repeat, I told him all of the songs were about Darth Vader.  Now as we listen to the CD, he will narrate the life of Darth Vader to Ana: "This is where Dark Vader fell in love.  He had two babies, Luke and Leia. Oh, now R2D2 is falling in love!"

    5.  I am remodeling the laundry room!  So excited!  No more will that room be the domain of spiders and the occasional banana slug.  I started painting last night and met my goal of finishing one wall.  Nathan was not thrilled when he walked in, at 10:00 P.M. to find me gleefully dancing on my step ladder with a loaded paint brush.  Nevertheless, he lovingly offered to help me.  After we had finished, I offered to play video games with him.  We both went to bed happy.

    6.  Nathan and I are on a Stargate Atlantis kick right now.  At least once a week, one of us sneaks up on the other and pretends to suck the life out of the other like a wraith.  We may or may not have done this in the basement of the library before we were dating.  It was one of the first times he thought he loved me, haha.

    7.  We are going on our first family camping trip this weekend.  I have visions of Sam trying to re-enact Curious George Goes Camping by running away into the woods and getting sprayed by a skunk. Fun fact: Nathan wanted to go camping for our honeymoon.  I refused.

    Have a great holiday weekend everyone! Any big plans for how you are going to spend it?



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    Sci-Fi for the Non-Nerdy

    In honor of my first ever blog link-up with Heather for the Five Favorites Wednesday, we are going to shake things up a little.  Just in case you thought things were going to be serious here all the time, may I present the following:

    Consider this my declaration to the internet:  "I am a NERD!"  (For those of you who do not share this same enthusiasm for all things nerdy, bear with me; the end of the article will hopefully be more relevant to you. )

    As soon as I saw this video I called my husband over, "Nathan!!! You have to see this, it has all our favorite things!"

    As we watched it our conversation included, but was not limited to the following: keeping track of the various nerdy costumes we have donned over the years, fondly recalling the RPG game we played together in college before we were dating (he was a paladin, I was three parts beguiler to one part rogue), reminding ourselves that going to a comic-con is on our bucket list, and noticing the Shepperton Design Studios' Stormtrooper suits paired with the cheapo $5 Wallys World lightsaber.

    It amuses my mother to no end that I, such an intellectual girl, have so strong an  attraction to all things sci-fi/fantasy.  I maintain, however, that it is my intellectual inclination that fosters my love of sci-fi/fantasy.

    The reason I enjoy it so much is because it brings me a new appreciation for various aspects of the "real world," while simultaneously offering me an escape from said world.

    All too often we focus so hard on the everyday events of life, that we become blind to many of the more profound realities and ideas that surround us.  Sci-fi/fantasy casts such a different light on life that it forces us to view it differently and to discover new aspects that we hadn't appreciated before.

    In addition, it offers us an escape from the boredom that is so often present in this state that we call "real life."

    One of my favorite sci-fi shows is Star Trek.  While I will grant you that a ton of the episodes are ridiculous and corny, there are many that are genuinely good television (and that is coming from someone who said they would never be a Trekkie).

    For those of a thoughtful bend who are curious to give Star Trek a try, here are five of my favorite  Star Trek episodes for non-Trekkies:

    5. City on the Edge of Forever (Original Series) This episode is consistently the highest rated from the Original Series(TOS).  For those put off by the cheesy vibe of TOS, the majority of the episode takes place in the 1930s Great Depression Era.  It deals with themes of love and loss.

    4.  Its Only a Paper Moon (Deep Space 9)  In this episode a young soldier struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after loosing his leg in battle.  He turns to an elaborate holographic computer program of a casino in the 1960s to hide from the trauma in his life.  This episode features a fantastic selection of great jazz songs sung by a fantastic cabaret singer.

    3.  Counterpoint (Voyager)  Another episode that utilizes music to great effect.  This one explores the idea of romance through the musical idea of counterpoint.

    2.  Family (The Next Generation) After his traumatic captivity with the Borg, Captain Picard returns home to France to re-examine his life and visit his estranged brother.  As the title would suggest, this episode explores the idea of the importance of family in our lives.

    1.  Inner Light (The Next Generation)  If you only watch one episode from this list, please make it this one.  In this episode Captain Picard experiences another person's lifetime in the expanse of half an hour.  This episode explores themes of what makes a life meaningful and what would you do if you could take a different path in life.  The orchestral suite to this episode is excellent.  

    Please note: I don't think these are the best episodes, however, each is ranked among the top for its series.  I included a representative from each series, except for Enterprise because I haven't seen any of them yet. Episodes are available to stream for free with Netflix or Amazon Prime.  Also these episodes are of a rather melancholic bend, but that is not necessarily representative of Star Trek, just my personality ;)  


    Have you ever watched Star Trek?  Have you seen any of these episodes?  What do you think of Sci-Fi or Fantasy?  I'd Love to hear your thoughts and nerdy shout outs in the com box!

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