How to set up a VPN in 10 minutes for free (and why you urgently need one)

We need stronger privacy protections enshrined in the law. In the meantime, we’ll just have to look out for ourselves, and educate other people to do the same.

Source: How to set up a VPN in 10 minutes for free (and why you urgently need one)

This might be of interest to some of you.

Don’t Work Like an 1899 Factory Worker: 4 Ways to Update Your Day

Overtired, overworked, always busy? There’s a reason for that. Here’s why you’re still working like you’re in Henry Ford’s factory and how to fix it.

Source: Don’t Work Like an 1899 Factory Worker: 4 Ways to Update Your Day

Good advice.

The Principles of Critical Thought

My DayOne journal reminded me that I wrote this entry two years ago today. Given what’s happened in the world this year, it seemed appropriate to make it the first post for this year. I’m quite sure that this is not my original material, unfortunately, I carelessly omitted to note the source in my journal. So apologies to whoever it is I am ripping off and and Happy New Year to everyone.

Critical thinking is:

  • Questioning information rather than merely receiving it (trust but verify),
  • A constant skill applied to all knowledge and belief (not to be compartmentalised).
  • Not an exercise; but a tool for belief testing and filtering (defence against false beliefs).
  • Must be applied to yourself as well as others (self-question, self-test, self-critique).
  • Not radical scepticism (work out when information is enough to settle a conclusion).

Step 1: Check the facts (check multiple sources and evaluate their reliability).
Step 2: Check for biases and fallacies (your own and those of others).
Step 3: Consider alternative explanations of the evidence and test them.

  • Find the best defences of either side of a dispute and compare them.
  • Consider your existing background knowledge and endeavour to acquire more of it.
  • Rely on facts & evidence, not assumptions.
  • Update your beliefs when evidence goes against them.
  • Restate all your beliefs as probabilities; then justify those probabilities (or change them if you can’t).

Hey Siri

How far away is the moon?

Source: Hey Siri

If you’re wondering what to say to your phone…

Don’t Be Hacker Bait: Do This One-Hour Security Drill

Do this one-hour digital security checklist to boost your data privacy and protect all your devices from hackers.

Source: Don’t Be Hacker Bait: Do This One-Hour Security Drill – WSJ

Good advice from the Wall Street Journal.

Karl Popper: What Makes a Theory Scientific


Finally, Popper was careful to say that it is not possible to prove that Freudianism was not true, at least in part. But we can say that we simply don’t know whether it’s true, because it does not make specific testable predictions. It may have many kernels of truth in it, but we can’t tell. The theory would have to be restated.

This is the essential “line of demarcation,“ as Popper called it, between science and pseudoscience.

Source: Karl Popper: What Makes a Theory Scientific

Another succinct article from Farnam Street.

Rationale and Thomas Aquinas III

I’ve continued my exploration of argument mapping with Rationale, the browser-based argument mapping tool, using Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways to prove the existence of God as my subject matter. I reached the point where I have base versions of the argument maps for each way.

In this post, I will be sharing the maps and commenting further on Rationale as a software tool.

Bacon Sarnie

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If Not Rationale, What?

I have written several posts about Rationale argument mapping software. In the last post, I complained about:

Bloody Instant Zooming
This is where the zooming behaviour of Rationale maps became a real PITA. Zooming is activated by a two-finger drag on either my magic Mouse or my trackpad. Normally, in Safari two-fingered dragging scrolls the web page up or down, and zooming is activated using a pinch gesture. It is very, very, very easy to inadvertently zoom in or out when you are trying to navigate a map. The problem is exacerbated because the map very quickly zooms to be either too small or too large.

In a fit of pique, I wondered whether I could apply the same process using different software. I immediately thought of iThoughts from Toketaware. This is a really excellent program available for both OSX and IOS. iThoughts is a mind mapping program. Argument mapping can be considered as a sub-topic within mind mapping, so the choice was pretty obvious.

(NOTE: that in the last day or so, Rationale’s zooming behaviour has been modified. A two-fingered drag now produces vertical scrolling; shift-drag scrolls the map horizontally. This gives a much better user experience.)

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More on Argument Mapping with Rationale

In a previous post, I gave an overview of Rationale, the browser-based argument mapping software. In the diagram below, you can see summaries of the structure. The top half uses the Advanced Reasoning toolbox and, the bottom half is displayed in the standard reasoning toolbox. The significant difference is that the advanced structures allow for multiple premises within a reason; obviously, the premises must be related to each other.

Rat05 adv simp

Argument Map Structure—at the top, Advanced Reasoning layout. At the bottom, standard Reasoning. Click for larger image.

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Argument Mapping with Rationale

One of my current personal projects is to work on improving my critical thinking skills. During the course of my web peregrinations, I stumbled across Rationale. It is a web-based tool for diagramming the structure of an argument: building an argument map. It is aimed largely at education and is intended to help teach critical thinking.

What is Argument Mapping?

Wikipedia defines argument mapping:

In informal logic and philosophy, an argument map is a visual representation of the structure of an argument. It includes the components of an argument such as a main contention, premises, co-premises, objections, rebuttals, and lemmas. Typically an argument map is a “box and arrow” diagram with boxes corresponding to propositions and arrows corresponding to relationships such as evidential support.


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