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Suggested Books

Informal Logic : A Handbook for Critical Argumentation
by Douglas N. Walton

Everyone should know how to make a well-reasoned argument, defend themselves from false poorly formed attacks, and recognize fallacies.

Emotional Intelligence
by Daniel Goleman

A reasonable explanation of how the emotional mind works, who some people do well in life and in social situations and other people do not. It's a broad overview of the current thinking on emotions and gives some solutions to problems (i.e. being a bully, being shy, anxiety, etc.)

I realize these aren't programming books, and the people who would probably benefit from them the most are the ones most likely to reject them (in a puff of illogic and unfocused anger, no doubt). They are, however, life books and could benefit a lot of people. Who doesn't argue (not fight, argue), or have or deal with emotional issues in themselves and others?

Since programming is very logical (if x then y) I imagine the logic stuff will be relatively easy to process, even if this book is a little dry. The fallicies, on the other hand, are more difficult to grasp and remember, but once you get the concepts down, they end up being the most important thing to remember.

Daniel Goleman's view of emotions is based on the brain and brain chemistry, and it's relatively easy for a programmer to understand. (okay, so that's a database, and that controls that. That reacts first, but that controls the other thing.) It's a bit of a tough read because every chapter is on a new topic so it loses flow, but some of the advice is very practical.

Mark W
Monday, March 25, 2002

Well, maybe I have a somewhat jaundiced view on the subject, since "Emotional Intelligence", along with other rubbish such as Edward de Bono, seems to be taking over the New Zealand educational system as a substitute for actually teaching anything, but in my opinion the book is even worse than "Code Complete", which does at least have _some_ content buried under the verbiage.

There's a good article on the book, and how Goleman distorted the original work in this area, at:

Now I think I'll wipe the foam from my mouth and have a nice lie down.

Andrew Simmons
Monday, March 25, 2002

There are two Emotional Intelligence books by Goleman: the first one, and a second about EI in the workplace.

I'm halfway through the 1st, finding it useful (to me), haven't read the 2nd.

The review says "In its upbeat message that it's congeniality and not sheer smarts that wins the day, the book breaks little new ground" ... however that is not the "message" I'm getting from the 1st book (and therefore I don't wholly agree with the review).

IMO, the "EI" book is intelligence (ie some information, as in the phrase 'military intelligence') about emotion.

Christopher Wells
Monday, March 25, 2002

Thanks for the link, I'll read it when I get some free time. I don't take anything as 'gospel.' I take what works and forget the rest. I think too many people think there are absolute rights and wrongs. I read Emotional Intelligence and felt I learned a lot from it, even if it wasn't spot on, I felt I gained benefit from it.

I don't know much about the New Zealand educational system, but I can attest to the fact that the US educational system is failing. As I left high school they were instituting this curriculum where you got one text book for all of your classes. Basically lowering the standards because if you lower the standards, more people will pass and the system will look better.

As far as teaching Emotional Intelligence "as a substitute for actually teaching anything" A course in Emotional Intelligence doesn't preclude learning something else, nor does is it definitively useless. Knowing how to handle anger (yours or someone else's) is a useful skill.

On the other hand, if Emotional Intelligence is being used as a buzzword, and some crap that claims to be Emotional Intelligence is being taught in New Zealand schools instead of real practical stuff, then I'd be pissed too. This is probably one of those areas where anyone can set themselves up in a fly-by-night business and charge money for crap, just like in Internet a few years ago.

It *is* curious that EI sort of summarizes parts of other works, and occasionally he says "In a conversation with so and so, he told me..." and I wonder why he doesn't do that more often or to a greater extent when he does it. If he interviewed these people, why aren't there vast swathes of quoted text? It reminds me of highly derivitive works that have lots of footnotes so as to avoid lawsuits.

I also think the follow up books, I think there are a couple now, are just attempts to make money. EI was a bestseller, so it follows that more books in the same category by the same author will make at least a certain amount of money. Record companies, when negotiating contracts with established bands consider 50% of the sales of the last record gauranteed for the next.

Mark W
Monday, March 25, 2002

Mark - well, perhaps I do get a shade overheated on this topic, and no book you learn from can be all bad, but do read the article - the title "Promotional Intelligence" gives a clue to the content, and ties in with your remarks about the follow-ups coming across as money-making exercises.

Andrew Simmons
Monday, March 25, 2002

I just read the article. Interesting how "Emotional Intelligence" originally meant ways that emotions can enhance intelligence (something I've thought about from time to time, noticing that moods affected my creativity and wondering what I could do to tap in to it more regularly). Now it means having moral character and controlling your anger and anxiety.

I certainly wouldn't have read the book if I read that review - I wouldn't have been able to, knowing that it's a subversion of something else. On the other hand, I did like a lot of what he had to say. Things ranging from being consistent with children, paying attention to them rather than thinking of them as distractions to trying to see someone else's point of view when you're angry at them.

I'm not sure how scientific a measurement IQ is, so claims that EQ is unmeasurable don't really phase me. Being someone in the odd position of knowing his IQ as well as the IQ of several people around him (we were friends with a psychology major as he was going through school), I can kind of get feel for what IQ means and I see where each of these people are in their life, and I can tel you I'd much rather be emotionally intelligent than intellectually intelligent.

I can also tell you what those rorschach tests mean. =) I know all of this is a lot less interesting in the age of the Internet where a Google search will make you a domain expert in 1.3 clicks, but back in the early 90's it was exciting stuff.

Mostly I suggested it because I see a lot of people here getting angry at other people and being unproductive not to mention unhappy. Luckily we seem to be getting beyond that and getting back to 'intelligent' discussion.

Mark W
Monday, March 25, 2002

Military Intelligence

The military uses the word intelligence like the computer industry uses the word data, or maybe information.  It means processed reports.  Considering the amount of information that comes across a radio, compuned with the number of people on the battlefield who's primary mission is information gathering (Scouts, MI Battalion Operatives, etc) it is understandable that they need a term to distinguish between raw data and the attempt to make some distinction between the two.  Anyone who has expereinced the fog of war, even if only during a training mission, can imagine how impossibe it would be to try to get this correct.  An old Bill Mauldin Cartoon has a CO telling his SGT, "S2 reported that michinegun nest taken hours ago.  Stop wigglin' your fingers at me."  The SGT is wiggling' his fingers through bullet holes in his helmet.
After 9/11 what were the Analysts screaming?  It was an intelligence failure. <rhetorical> What kind of intelligence were they talking about? </rhetorical>

Former Infantry Officer.

Monday, March 25, 2002

> Military Intelligence

Right. I use 'data' to mean the raw stuff (e.g. a whole core dump) and 'information' to mean the processed stuff. The book _Emotional Intelligence_ doesn't supply me with raw emotional data, just as the book _Code Complete_ doesn't supply me with (very many) examples of 'raw' source code; instead I get the 'raw' data from my own life/experience. What I found recently with _EI_, as I found with _CC_ long ago, is that they help me to understand the data: for example to know why I 'intuitively' find some of the data 'bad', to understand what's bad about it and why it's bad, to have techniques for improving on it when it is bad, to know what's bad about it, even to admit that badness is common-place and has causes and standard counter-measures (e.g., to have a 20-minute "time-out" when it becomes an argument instead of a discussion ... or to listen to an angry person without automatically trying to contradict what they're saying). Maybe it (contents of _EI_) is all well-known stuff to some people; but for people like me ... I have to start somewhere. It is a popular book. It's also (discounting _Peopleware_, _Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance_, the _Tao Te Ching_ and all that kind of thing) the first psychology book I've ever read. Maybe I'm biased towards it or inaccurate by having only read the 1st half of the 1st book (maybe its quality drops later on, as often happens) ... in the first part at least I enjoyed its tying-in emotional behaviour to neuroscience.

Christopher Wells
Monday, March 25, 2002

I've read tons of pop and more serious psychology books and still enjoyed Emotional Intelligence. Sure the stuff is 'basic' and 'lots of people know it' but if you don't practice it, it does need to be re-enforced and repeated. I find that reading books that put similar information in new light to be helpful.

Also, the Dalai Lama's "The Meaning of Life is to Be Happy" may be simplistic, but it's a message worth repeating in different ways until we 'get it.'

As far as I'm concerned, a book that shows me "noise" or "raw data" is a lot less valuable than one that allows me to interpret that data. Preferrably in an accurate way, though even an incorrect interpretation could be better than no interpretation, such as in situations where *any* decision is better than no decision.

Mark W
Monday, March 25, 2002

I don't know if this is on the subject, but you might check out some of Suzette Haden Elgin's books.  All are centered around her first book called, "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense."

As she say's, the subject of her books would have been taught to every educated person in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries: Rhetoric.  She teaches how to recognize the styles of verbal attack and to choose effective but gentle responses.  It takes some practice.

You might discover that you are an occasional verbal abuser, definitely a career stopper and can be a major cause of "disharmony" in the family.  Here a vicious attack:  If you really cared for your children, you wouldn't even think of working late."

Her books helped me recognize a "serial bully" who was an officer in a school organization.  Within three months this person had poisened what was had once been a very productive group.  I found the appropriate chapter, copied it, and handed it out to the rest of the organizaiton.  We shut the bully down.

Interesting book.

Monday, March 25, 2002

> Here a vicious attack: If you really cared for your
> children, you wouldn't even think of working late.

This kind of argument is used ALL OVER this board lately.

There's a name for this kind of attack, but I forget the name. The real attack is the first part, but you can't defend yourself without making it look like you're guilty of the first part.

I just looked this up in a logic book and it appears to be a Complex Question.

"...asking a question in such a way as to presuppose the truth of some conclusion buried in the question. The question itself is likely to be rhetorical, no answer being genuinly sought. But putting the question seriously, thereby introducing its presupposition serriptitiously, often acheives the questioner's purpose - fallaciously.

"This an executive of a utility company may as, "Why is the private development of resources so much more efficient than any government owned enterprise?" - assuming the greater fallacy of the private sector...."
- Introduction to Logic 10th edition pps 183-184 by Copi & Cohen

Of course, none of this helps you defend yourself from this kind of attack.

Another good book on the same subject as The Gentle Art of Self Defense is Tongue Fu. I don't recall the author, but my girlfriend read it and quoted from it quite a bit... Not to mention won quite a few arguments at the time. ;)

Mark W
Monday, March 25, 2002

The problem I find with any sort of logical arguments is that half-way through me making them, people start saying "so what?"

"You can't make people work 10 hour days, their quality will fall apart."


"So you need the quality."


"What do you mean `so?' ?"

Apart from killing them, is there anything you can do about the people who actually aren't able to follow or reason about rational arguments?

Katie Lucas
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Katie, That isn't a very logical argument, and you have to get the other person to agree with your logic and your premises. If they agree with your reasoning then they'll have to agree with you if they accept your premises.

"Would you agree that overworking employees makes their work sloppy?" (if over worked, then poor quality)

"And do you think 10 hours a day is excessive?" (over worked)

"Then you would also agree with me when I said making people work 10 hours a day will have a negative impact on quality." (therefore poor quality)

Mark W
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Seems to me Mark that Katie's conversation is a perfectly logical argument wrapped up in everyday language, and that the person she is talking with is just being verbally obstructive.

I'm assuming that "So?" can be understood to mean "Yes that is true, but how is it relevant?".

The person with whom Katie is arguing accepts both that quality cannot be allowed to fall and that making people work more than 10 hours per day will cause quality to fall. He or she therefore ought to accept that they cannot make people work more than 10 hours per day.

Their repeating "So?" in this conversation probably indicates that they are either not paying attention or that they are using aggressive language postures to resist the logical conclusion. So, I don't see how Katie making her argument more logical will resolve the situation. She's still better off with her default solution (killing them).


"If you really cared for your children, you wouldn't even think of working late."

... is not a complex question. It's not a question at all, it's a statement containing an argument like this:

People who really care for their children don't even think of working late.
You are thinking of working late.
Therefore: you don't really care for your children.

There is no logical fallacy there, that I can see. The  premise sucks, but the argument flows OK. Even conversationally, it is easy to reply by addressing the premise. "That's not true. I care for my children but I am thinking of working late because..."

A complex question would be something more like:

"Are you thinking of working late because you hate your children?"

See how it neatly wraps up two or three issues of contention into a single question which makes the meaning of the answer unclear. Are you actually thinking of working late? Do you hate your children? If "yes" and "yes", then is there a causal relationship between the two?

Charles Monk
Wednesday, March 27, 2002


I agree Katie's argument was logical. I apologize for saying it wasn't. What I was addressing with Katie was more along the lines of 'getting to yes.'

Sort of like talking to a 5 year old. By putting fewer premises together in one sentance, and outlining your logic fairly obviously you can point out their inconsistancies more easily. Your tone of voice as you say it can do wonders here as well. Katie's version followed by my version is a sure recipe for disaster. People *hate* being talked down to.

On the other hand, salespeople use my version (albeit in a twisted fallacy filled way) all the time "do you like fun?" "do you think cars are fun?" "then you have to buy this car..." "you don't want to buy the car? I thought you said you liked fun."

Regarding the complex question, you're right. A complex question, now that you've jogged my memory states "if you answer the question at all, you're agreeing to the premise." (did I get that right?) On the other hand, "If you really cared for your children, you wouldn't even think of working late," is very similar to "Are you thinking of working late because you hate your children?"

In both cases you have to refute the logic, so the reponse to both is simply "whether or not I work late has nothing to do with whether or not I love my children." Again, to answer either in the context in which it was mean to be answered is to accept the premise. The first ersion is more insidious because it isn't framed as a question but is meant to be answered as a question.

The trick is in uncoupling the two unrelated premises, and even deeper, in recognizing the fallacy to begin with, which in the heat of the moment, even the most learned logician may forget.

Perhaps yours is a purposefully blatent example, but I feel that the former is more 'hidden' than the latter. You're tempted to agree on some level with the statement "a good parent spends time with their children and working late takes away form that time," which isn't really part of the logical flow, but is implied.

What's most important is to make the distinction between the shades you agree with and the shades you disagree with.

There's probably a term (and a chapter in my one of my books) for this particular combination, but I have not the energy nor motivation to go look. =)

Basically, you're right, I'm wrong, but you still need to recognize that you're being screwed by what the other person is saying.

Mark W
Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Fair dos.

I'm going to have a look at the books you mentioned anyway, so thanks for the tips.

Charles Monk
Wednesday, March 27, 2002

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