Mapping Arguments and Evidence in Support of Risk Assessments
Many organisations use arguments and evidence to help them assess levels of risk. In some cases those assessments are made public in reports which are subject to intense scrutiny by potentially aggrieved stakeholders. For example, the Department of Agriculture in Canberra, and the Ministry of Primary Industries in New Zealand, produce reports on the threats associated with importing products such as table grapes from India. van Gelder & Monk have been assisting analysts and managers in these organisations to present their arguments and evidence more transparently, consistently and rigorously. A brief article, scheduled to appear in Decision Point, explains more about this argument mapping-based training.
New Argument Mapping "App" for Microsoft Word
A perennial challenge in argument mapping is having a suitable software. What's needed is a tool which provides good support for mapping, is pleasing to use, and fits well into a working or training context. It is very difficult to square this triangle. Our latest attempt is an add-in for Microsoft Word, the CASE Word App. The style of argument mapping supported by the app is based on the CASE (Contention-Argument-Evidence-Source) schema, which is a simple but very useful template for structuring arguments. The app freely downloadable, though using it effectively would require familiarity with the CASE schema and argument mapping more generally.
On Detecting Bullshit
Here at van Gelder & Monk we're always scanning for interesting new insights of relevance to critical thinking. So we were naturally drawn to a new psychology paper, On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit which investigated how likely people were to regard claims like â€œWholeness quiets infinite phenomenaâ€ as profound. Their findings were not surprising: some people are more receptive to bullshit than others, according to the scientists' "Bullshit receptivity scale," and these people are "less reflective, lower in cognitive ability (i.e., verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy), are more prone to ontological confusions and conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine." However, we're also reluctant to draw strong conclusions from any one new scientific paper, even if it seems to confirm our prejudices.