Seasoned participants in intellectual discussions have encountered them at least once. We're all familiar with the people who cannot help but disrupt the conversation by digressing it into irrelevant topics, vehemently attacking a certain point of view without understanding it or making effete attempts to substantiate their position with fallacious arguments. Fortunately, it is possible to identify them at a very early point in the interaction by recognizing their key characteristics. The document below contains a list of several cognitive tendencies that most intellectual novitiates tend to display consistently.
1. The Rationalist's fallacy. Lack of openness to examination of the
core ideas of their worldview, tendency to presume that they can
comprehensively and indisputably establish their theoretical framework
on a small number of premises that can be used to critique all rival
theses. In general, people who are experienced with intellectual or even
plainly academic endeavors tend to be more mindful of how easily even
the most apparently solid of premises can be undermined.
2. Sloppy generalizations. Tendency to be glib by working with sloppy
generalizations as opposed to specific ideas and referencing apparently
difficult concepts without making a clear point. Clarity and
thoroughness of thought is the hallmark of an experienced thinker, we
all start out with vague notions and amorphous intuitions about the
concepts we're studying and only later gain the ability to think in more
precise or comprehensive terms. The sloppy generalizations also
manifest in the composition fallacy (this candidate voted against the pro-labor laws, so all other members of his party will always do likewise).
3. The bifurcation fallacy. This trait is generally displayed in
dichotomous or black and white thinking; inability to evaluate concepts
on the basis of a continuum rather than categorical bifurcations or
absolutes. Experienced thinkers tend to understand that most dichotomies
are false as they've grown out of that phase years ago.
4. General intellectual insecurity. Evident displays of personal
insecurities in intellectual discussions that manifests in vehement
opposition to a particular concept, eminent thinker or another
interlocutor in the group. Experienced discussion participants enjoy
challenging their own worldview and aren't easily threatened or
unsettled by challenges.
5. Poor pattern recognition. This trait manifests in narrowness of
perspective and repeated inability to grasp the main idea behind the
discussion and the subsequent tendency to excessively focus on a rather
trivial or a tangential point at the expense of the general pattern or
the overarching theme. Pattern recognition constitutes a vital elements of most intellectual undertakings. If someone struggles with that, chances are
that their skill-level is rudimentary at best.
6. General arrogance. A haughty, supercilious attitude that stems from
the person's inflated opinion of their intellectual abilities.
Experience tends to humble us and that's true in virtually every walk of
life, not just philosophy. If someone is a fundamentally conceited
person, but they have studied philosophy to the point where they've
become proficient at intellectual inquiry of some kind, they shouldn't
be arrogant about philosophical matters. It is much easier to shelter
illusions of one's own stupendous competence in many other activities in
life than it is in philosophy. In my experience, even the very
egotistical people tend to become humble about their intellectual
abilities once they start becoming proficient in philosophy or any other
similarly intellectually demanding discipline.
7. Failure to emotionally disengage from the discussion. People who
display this quality tend to become embroiled in polemical
confrontations and have a tendency to strongly identify with one side of the discussion by taking umbrage at criticisms of
their preferred position. In general, emotional detachment is one of the
core competencies of intellectual inquiry.
8. Failure to demonstrate autonomy of judgment. This manifests in the person's
intransigent or partisan support for a particular authority-concept that
could be intellectual, religious, political or even personal. I.E, "
the Bible says so that's what I am sticking to, I looked it up on the
internet so this stuff must be right! Atheism is the way to go as our
secular humanism is the antidote to religious bigotry, my grandfather
told me this before he died! I've read this in a philosophy book or a
real scientific study, so bow to me!"
9. Excessive image consciousness. Tendency to excessively rely on
recherché vocabulary, technical or neo-logistic words and unwillingness
or inability to clarify and simplify their position once requested to.
Such people tend to be far more interested in merely appearing
intelligent as opposed to increasing their intellectual competence. In
stark contrast with the experienced thinkers, these people generally
have little interest in learning or helping others do so.
To conclude that an individual displays any of the above symptoms, the
above described behaviors must be part of their general repertoire as
opposed to isolated incidents. A member of the discussion group can be
classified as a neophyte if he or she repeatedly displays at least five
of the aforementioned symptoms.