Competent people don’t think they are very competent

I’ve learned that the more one knows something it seems the more they know they don’t know much.

Rather than suffer from the the Dunning-Kruger effect, I’d like to assume I don’t know much, that I may have a beginner’s mind, such that I can be open to all the data being presented to discover the truth. Understanding other viewpoints only strengthen my own viewpoint if my viewpoint is valid in the first place.  I see no purpose in a conversation or debate if the object of the discussion is not about finding the truth i.e. what is valid, what is real. I believe it is one aspect of being humble as humility is about what is true – supernaturally, we are all created in the image of God, each of us has something to contribute as we are unique reflections of God, and before God [who is bigger than the universe], we really don’t know much and the learning process never ends.

If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent. […] the skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.

—David Dunning[7]

This is why when I am certain I will use the word “is” while when I use the word “seems” it is my postulation and an invitation for feedback while I am in the process of learning.

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Concepts, Methodology, Principles (revision 7)

Concepts and Methodology:

  • Start with Why
    • Beauty, Vision, Goals
    • Grace
    • Humility to see what God wants you to see; see yourself as God sees you, looking at the bigger picture
  • Focusing on the Human Person – 5 Love Languages
    • Concepts of completeness/Seeing the big picture – I want to give you the best, I want to give you my all
    • Knowing thyself
  • Wisdom – seeing God in everything, looking at the bigger picture and the meaning of real education
    • The Trinity is in everything
    • Since God is Love, the 5 Love Languages are in everything
    • Seeing Truth in everything – the value in cross-discipline principles
    • Deriving meaning from relationships
  • Learn from the experts yet know that since you can’t know everything, they cannot know everything either
  • Wheel of life
  • GTD – a system that allows you to be more in the present, free of “open loops”
    • Review
  • Mindsweeping
  • Mindmapping
  • Atomic transactions

Principles used to create this Manual:

  • Supernatural Ideas:
    • Humility
    • Truth
    • Love
    • Meekness
    • Trust
    • Beauty
    • Gratefulness
    • Joy
    • Faith, Hope, Charity
    • Magnanimity
    • Mary – wisdom is seeing everything in Love, should we not see everything in the eyes of Mary?  Mary, crown of God’s creation, model of whom we should desire to become
    • Time & the present
  • Supernatural and Natural Models:
    • Catholicism:
      • Jesus:
        • The Eucharist
        • The greatest 2 commandments
        • Love and the cross
        • Suffering
      • Dominican Order:
        • Dedication to the Truth
        • you cannot give what you don’t have
        • I assimilate truth though many sources using the principle “find truth where it exists” so while some sources are secular I consider them as an attempt by natural means do discover truth.  I believe the supernatural as described by the Catholic Church trumps systems derived though natural, humanistic means e.g. truths of the Catholic faith trump those attempts to discover truth through psychology.  Psychology can be an imperfect means to describe phenomenons.  There’s more humility in accepting that mysteries exist but it’s ok to attempt describing it and derive meaning.
      • Miles Christi:
        • The greater glory of God
        • Mediations:
      • Cursillo
      • Theology of the Body
    • Philosophy:
      • Logic
      • Socratic Method
      • The intellect, the passions, and the will
    • Leadership:
      • Leaders keep little promises
    • Psychology:
      • Boundaries
      • 12 Steps
      • Cross Generational Disease
      • Completeness
      • HALT
    • Theory vs Practice and the value of experience:
      • Wisdom vs Knowledge
      • My Experiences
    • Mathematics and Computer Science:
      • Agile methodologies
      • Optimization
      • Debugging
    • Martial Arts:
    • History:
      • Contemporary problems
  • Supernatural Means:
    • Prayer & Adoration, Meditations, Novenas, Sacramentals:
      • the importance of mystery
    • The Little Way:
      • My personal affirmations:
        • Let it be done to me according to your word
        • Fiat Voluntas Tua
        • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
        • Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine
        • St Joseph, Light of Patriarchs, Terror of demons, Guardian of the Holy Family, protect me in all dangers
        • Mary, Most Pure, Mother of God, who makes the Love of Jesus real to me, show thyself to be my mother
        • All for Jesus, all through Mary, in imitation of you St Joseph
        • Jesus we adore you, Mary we implore you, Joseph Most Just, in you we place our trust
    • Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Anne


  • Since the average human mind can only clearly hold 7 plus or minus 2 ideas in their mind, it seems to effectively apply the information learned, it needs to fit into 9 ideas
  • if we focus on each idea each with its own 9 ideas, the core of the information is a magic matrix of 81 points; it’s silly to think all the mystery and greatness of the universe can fit into 81 points but I’d like to think the system of how to live and organize your life can be communicated in 81 points
  • to leave room for mystery and engraining in our mind, sub points can be 12 points – a balance of what can be controlled (by cognitively fitting in our mind) and what cannot be controlled (at least in part due to us not being fully able to cognitively fit it in to our mind)
  • I’ll use Dunbar’s number to limit the number of references I’ll list so you can be more effective at practicing what I give you.  Holiness is not about knowing everything in the encyclopedia, on some level it is about practicing core points well
  • Everything should fit on on page that isn’t too long; there can be links but it should not be more than 3 levels deep
  • Everything is a gift from God, I’ll use the format of the Trinity to “re-gift” God’s gift: Piety (Heart, recognizing Mystery and Beauty), Study (Mind, diving deeper into why), Action (Body, infusing both into something practical and can touch people)
  • For the most part, I’ll avoid mentioning too much of the wisdom I’ve learned (I have my own set of principles, collections of my personal experiences, quotes, lessons I’ve learned, etc).  These are very special to me and I don’t want it to take away from my capacity to be intimate with you.  (see 7 levels of intimacy).  Be with me in person and I can share this with you.  These nuggets of wisdom are for you to discover from the foundation I provide.  I don’t want to take away from the grace and God’s plan for you


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Socratic Method

I guess I am blessed [with a cross?!] as somehow in past I learned to think this way naturally.

A good writeup on quora (wikipedia also has a good description of the Socratic Method):

Why the Socratic method you ask? The Socratic method was named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates and introduced in the 4th century BC Socratic dialogue. It has common applications in law school, teaching, psychotherapy, and human management resources and training.  People in those industries and the layman alike can use it to:
•Build stronger beliefs in arguments, and eliminate misshapen or broken ones.
•Point out fallacies or flaws in thinking.
•Clarify feelings or insights about personal actions.
•Plan out the main train of thought in lessons.
•Test the logical foundation of any argument out there.

Here are the basics:

1. Locate the main argument in a statement or a statement that sums up an argument.  In other words, what is the defining argument that sums up a particular statement? Ask your opponent to sum up their argument if you’re stuck on step 1. Socrates asked fellow people questions like: ”What is justice?” or ”What is knowledge?”. He then let or asked them to make declarative statements like: ”Justice is x because of y.”

2. Investigate the implications of their argument. Assume that there argument is false and find an example or scenario to prove that the argument is flawed in some way. Say someone is trying to prove that a particular car is green. It seems like common sense at first, but then, using the Socratic method, you can come up with a counter argument to prove the limits of the argument like: ”Is the car still green to a blind person?”
•If they say no, then proceed to step 3.
•If they say yes, ask: ”Why isn’t it pink, blue, or purple?” or ”If they can’t see, then what makes the car green?”
The most important thing is to back your counter argument up with scenarios and examples when they try to defend their own argument.

3. Change their initial argument and take the exception into account. Once you have came up with a reasonable argument to disprove theirs, change their argument so it takes the new argument into account. So change the original argument ”The car is green” to an agreeable position like: ”It’s green to those who can see.”

4. Attack the new argument with another question. Ask your opponent: ”If you agree that it’s green to those that can see, then is it green to other animals who can see?”  Eventually, you will possibly come to an argument that your opponent agrees with but completely contradicts their initial one. The fun of the Socratic method is you have the potential to generate an infinite amount of questions, and an infinite amount of discussions.

5. Practice. Obviously, you’re probably not going to topple the debate club leader in one go. It should take about 5-10 minutes to learn, but several weeks to months if you want to become a well-versed expert in the field of debate, including the Socratic method.  But as Socrates said, “If you want to be a good saddler, saddle the worst horse; for if you can tame one, you can tame all.”    So start off small like I did by using the Socratic method in daily life discussions  with family and friends, and work your way up to more complex arguments in topics that you’re highly interested in or enjoy.

The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something like the Socratic method, is to know when you’re wrong in a debate, admit it, and constantly keep challenging the logic in your beliefs so that they become stronger standing and longer-lasting.  After all, you don’t go from proving that bananas aren’t the tastiest fruit to successfully refuting a famous politicians argument on the war on terror without a little practice, you know?

Here’s a handy example:

Teacher: ”Student, what is goodness?”

Student: ”Teacher, goodness is when you give something to some one else.”

Teacher: ”Is it good to give someone a gun so they can murder someone else?”

”Is it  good if you give someones password to someone else without their  knowledge?”

”Is it good if you give someone a package containing a  wrapped up bomb?”

Student: ”Obviously not.”

Teacher: ”So it’s good to give something to some one else, provided that what they give will not harm themselves, or other people.”

Student: ”Certainly.”

Teacher: ”If you agree that giving someone something to harm themselves or others is not good, then what about giving a poor farmer a tool to harm a chicken for a short time and kill it, in order to benefit his starving family? ?

Student: ”I agree that it’s good for the family but not the chicken.”

Teacher: ”Yes, but you contradicted yourself when you said giving  someone something to harm someone else is not good, because you clearly agreed that it’s good in some applications.”

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The philosophy logic class I took was one of my favorite classes at the university. In this blog post I’ll just capture some fallacies. Wikipedia has an extensive list of fallacies if you want more.

I’m clipping this list of fallacies as it is so cool (again, saving it here because I don’t want to lose it if their site disappears); [see original link]:


    I asked my Image & Color Theory students to design a conceptually-driven poster that creatively conveys the basic essence of a logical fallacy in a way that is handsome, clear and memorable.
    A logical fallacy is simply an error in reasoning. Although logical fallacies are often considered the domain of philosophers and attorneys (those who are experts at argumentation), it is important for everyone to have at least some level of awareness with the basic rules of reason. Communication designers should also be aware of such principles so that we can make strong arguments for the clients, products and services we represent and so that we don’t drift toward the same unethical tactics so common within our industry.
    While searching for real-world examples of logical fallacies committed by those on both sides of the liberal/conservative divide, I came across this little gem on
    Can you spot all the fallacies?
    Glenn Beck has a problem. No, it’s not that he’s a recovering alcoholic or that he’s been packing on the pounds ever since he started with FOX News last year. We all have our demons. Beck’s problem is that he doesn’t know how to argue with integrity.
  • Kristi Ho – Poisoning the Well
    (Copy Reads): A preemptive attempt to discredit what a person might later claim by presenting unfavorable information, true or false, about the person.
    Example: John takes his friend Frank, who is visiting from Australia, out for a nice dinner. When the waitress walks up to the table where they are sitting, Frank is stunned by her beauty. John notices this and says outloud to his friend, “Bro, don’t even try to impress this girl with your fake Australian accent.” Frank defends himself (in his Australian accent), “But I really am from Australia, mate!” The waitress smirks, “Yeah, right.”
  • Jeffrey Wolverton – Gambler’s Fallacy
    When someone assumes that the history of outcomes will affect future outcomes. Gambler’s often succumb to the fallacy in two ways, 1). When they think they’re on a “roll” and their hot streak will continue. and 2). When a certain result has been repeated several times that they are “due” for a change. Ex: “It’s landed on black six times in row, so it’s got to fall on red this time. Hey Mr. Roulette dealer, I’m all in on red!”
  • Joanna Tang – Appeal to Authority
    (Copy Reads): Appealing to status or authority to lend credence to a claim rather than the merits of the argument itself. For example: Albert Einstein says that eating a pound of bacon every day is good for your health. Do you think you know more than Albert Einstein?
  • Christian Dodson – Loaded Question
    A question with a presumption built into it so that it can’t be answered without appearing guilty.
    Attorney: I think the jury would just like to get a simple answer – yes or no, do you still have a drug problem?
    Defendant: That’s not fair. I’ve never had a…
    Attorney: Yes or no, Mr. Smith!? (dramatic gasp from courtroom)
  • Nicholas Begley – Circular Reasoning
    (Copy Reads): When an argument presupposes the truth of the conclusion. Example: Why do you think I am an idiot. Because you you are stupid. Why do you think I am stupid. Because you are an idiot.
  • Ryan Shivers – Hypocrite’s Fallacy
    (Copy Reads): The intent to discredit an opponent’s position by revealing their failure to follow their own advice. For example: This personal trainer came up to me at the gym and tried to give me some advice. But why should I listen to him? He had a huge beer belly!
  • Jessica Zint – Ad Hominem
    (Copy Reads): An attempt to disprove a claim with irrelevant personal attacks (true or false) against the one making the argument, instead of dealing with the merits of the argument itself. For example: We shouldn’t believe Bob’s testimony, after all, he failed fourth grade.
  • Sarah Congdon – Bald Man Fallacy / Fallacy of the Beard
    When this poster is turned upside-down, the Bald Man Fallacy becomes the Fallacy of the Beard (see type in whiskers). Both fallacies illustrate the same concept. You can see the name of each fallacy in the beard and in the whiskers.
    (Copy Reads):
    Fred will never go bald.
    If Fred loses one hair, that won’t make him go from hairy to bald. If he loses one more hair, he still won’t be bald. Since it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly how many hairs he has to lose to become bald, he will never go bald.Fred will never grow a beard.
    If Fred lets his stubble grow for a day, it’s still not a beard. Another day without shaving and it’s just longer stubble. Since it is impossible to pinpoint how long it takes for stubble to become a beard, Fred will never grow one.

  • Also known as the Continuum Fallacy, this is an effort to unfairly reject a vague claim because it is not as precise as one might like. But being vague is not the same as being hopelessly vague. This fallacy disregards differences at opposite ends of a spectrum by asserting that they are the same because there is no specific point at which one becomes the other. The name comes from the question: “How many hairs must a man have on his chin before he has a beard?” It’s not exactly clear when whiskers become a beard, but it is clear that there is a real difference between a man with whiskers and a man with a beard.
    Liz: I don’t think this painting should be in a museum – it’s not art, it’s just porn.
    Nancy: Artists have been painting nudes for thousands of years. Is the Sistine Chapel porn?
    Liz: Well, no. The human figure can be quite beautiful. Maybe art becomes porn when the nudity is sexual.
    Nancy: Well then, I guess we just need to ban Picasso, Manet, Klimt…?
    Liz: I woudn’t go that far.
    Nancy: Then what makes it porn?
    Liz: I don’t know, I just know it when I see it.
    Nancy: See, there is no real difference – it’s all art. Don’t be so close-minded
    (See detail images below)
  • Anna Price – Chronological Snobbery
    (Copy Reads): The mindset that sees an idea, way of thinking, culture, art, or science of an earlier time as inferior, based solely on the assumption that whatever is newer is better. For example: “It is really hard for me to enjoy Medieval art – after all, these are people who didn’t even have indoor plumbing.”
  • Bianca Beltran – Middle Ground Fallacy
    (German): Ein halber Hitler, ist immer noch Hitler.
    (English): Half Hitler is still Hitler.
    (Definition): The Middle Ground Fallacy assumes that the middle position between two extremes must be correct simply because it’s the middle position.
  • Joshua Norvelle – Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
    (Copy Reads): When random results are selectively emphasized to appear as if they have meaning when they really don’t because the results are contrived. This fallacy gets its name from haphazardly shooting at the side of a barn, then drawing a bulls-eye around certain bullet holes. For example: A palm reader predicted ten different things about my future. Granted, most of them didn’t come true-one offended, therefore, she must be the real deal.
  • Daniel Alvarez – Hot Dog Fallacy
    (Copy Reads): When evidence presented in an argument is simply ignored and it is mistakenly thought that such a dismissal constitutes an adequate refutation of the argument. Similar to the old adage, “Ignorance is bliss.”
    Ex: Deep down grandma knew something was wrong, but she told herself that as long as she didn’t go to the doctor, she would never get diagnosed with cancer.
  • Eric Cuellar – Line Drawing Fallacy
    (Copy Reads): Arguing that no real difference exists whenever a clear distinction cannot be drawn between two extremes. For example: Chimpanzees should be given the same legal rights as humans since we gradually evolved from apes along and uninterrupted continuum.


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