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The Difference between Intellectual Honesty and Dishonesty

The issue of intellectual honesty and dishonesty has come up frequently in discussions over at least the last few months. Perhaps it is time to understand and define what is meant by the terms.

We all do not have to agree on most things. But we do have to accept that we do not have to agree in order for the other to be acceptable. When we can allow the same liberties and courtesies and the right to be whom and what they are to the opposition as we demand for ourselves, we will have repaired the divisions between us and will again have become one people as Americans.

The key to restore civility and honorable discourse in America is for the people to understand what intellectual honesty is and to do their best to embrace it.

(The following list is inspired by and adapted from a critical thinking discussion by the Design Matrix)

1. Power of argument

--Intellectual Honesty does not overstate the power of the argument and is based in proportion to the level of verifiable evidence assessable by most.

--Intellectual Dishonesty assumes evidence in play that is not verifiable or demonstrable and infers that those with different perspectives are stupid or dishonest or prejudiced or brainwashed or choose another derogatory adjective.

2. Alternative viewpoints

--Intellectual Honesty acknowledges that reasonable alternative viewpoints exist. They do not have to be treated as equally valid but are respectfully allowed to be included in the discussion.

--Intellectual Dishonesty berates those with different points of view, refuses to consider any other argument than the one they want to be the correct argument, and in the extreme seeks to silence or destroy any who stray from the assigned narrative.

3. Personal assumptions and biases

--Intellectual Honesty both acknowledges and questions one’s own assumptions and biases and realizes that our life experiences and certain anecdotal evidence can affect both our perspectives and our beliefs that might not hold up in all circumstances.

--Intellectual Dishonesty insists that anecdotal evidence and individual life experience is all that matters and the other person is the only one motivated by bias, prejudice, or flawed reasoning.

4. Weaknesses in the argument

--Intellectual Honesty understands and concedes the holes or weaknesses in an argument and that additional information or extenuating circumstances or context could change conclusions drawn.

--Intellectual Dishonesty ignores any possible weakness or omissions and demands that the conclusion they want to be the case be the only possible conclusion. (This is especially true when negative consequences and outcomes are ignored or dismissed in an effort is to sell a sociopolitical concept or ideology.

5. When the argument is proved wrong

--Intellectual Honesty acknowledges when the argument or fact has been discredited and no longer promotes it.

--Intellectual Dishonesty strains at gnats to defend the flawed argument or erroneous statement and uses all manner of techniques to change the subject, build straw men, throws in red herrings, or ignores or disputes or dismisses any evidence that interferes with the ‘truth’ it wants.

6. Demonstrable consistency

--Intellectual Honesty demonstrates consistency in the principles and concepts it promotes and gives a reason for changing its point of view on something when it receives new information.

--Intellectual Dishonesty relies on double standards and easily shifts sides of an argument for social or political expediency or out of prejudice, bias, partisanship. It applies a much higher standard for its opponent’s argument than it requires of its own so hypocrisy is a strong factor here.

7. Ad Hominem

--Intellectual Honesty addresses the argument instead of the person making it.

--Intellectual Dishonesty sometimes accuses the person instead of addressing his/her argument. Or a token effort is made to debunk an argument but while applying stereotyping, guilt-by-association, and/or utilizing ‘gotcha’ questions, etc.

8. Misrepresenting the Argument

--Intellectual Honesty addresses the argument as presented.

--Intellectual Dishonesty spins it into straw man terms such as dishonestly paraphrasing, omitting context or pertinent qualifiers, or expressing that the opponent said something not said, hoping for something not expressed, wanting something not wanted, intending something not intended. Accuracy is irrelevant to one-upmanship or putting down the opponent.

9. Critical Thinking

--Intellectual Honest utilizes critical thinking.

--Intellectual Dishonesty does not.

10. Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

--Intellectual Honesty acknowledges a good point or criticism.

--Intellectual Dishonesty will not acknowledge any strength in the other’s argument and generally refuses to engage in any kind of give and take that characterizes an honest exchange of ideas, opinions, concepts.
This blog post brought to you by one of the most intellectually dishonest people on the board.
Jetboogieman;bt4853 said:
This blog post brought to you by one of the most intellectually dishonest people on the board.
This quoted comment post demonstrates wherefore opinions in the old saw are likened unto assholes.
Intellectual dishonesty is rampant in internet chat.
This blog could not be more on point.
Brava, AlbqOwl. ;)
Good blog post. Heed the words. At least try.
I notice at least one member didn't make it past #2 :)
As for plagiarism, you can read 100 different articles on logical fallacies, the economy, lists of facts, state of the economy, or pick pretty much any topic from cars to abortion to tiddlywinks, etc. etc. etc. and you will find many presenting the same opinions and/or facts. I know because I used to teach this stuff.

And pretty much anything we read or use for reference is likely to influence our store of knowledge or perception on any given topic.

So will my list comparing intellectual honesty with intellectual dishonesty be similar to many others? Of course it will. Because many of us agree on the points expressed.

Is the material my own? Yes it is. I did not copy and paste from anybody else.
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