Some ways of thinking are good and useful. Other ways of thinking are flawed. One factor in flawed thinking is when it’s based on a false foundational premise.

A premise is an assumption upon which an argument or system of thinking is built. An example is the premise that some types of bacteria can cause disease.

A foundational premise is essential to our way of thinking about something. If the premise that the bacteria causes disease is false, the entire structure around our thinking about infectious diseases would crumble.

Here are a couple of examples False Foundational Premises to further clarify what I’m talking about.


The earth is the center of the universe. The sun, planets and stars go around the earth.

This premise was held by man from ancient times to the middle ages. Calculations could be made of the movement of planets; the sun and moon and these calculations were consistent even though the foundational premise was false. This foundational premise was a part of biblical theology of the Catholic church.

Then along comes the astronomer Copernicus in the early 1500’s, who proved otherwise. The earth and planets revolved around the Sun. Did the Church say thanks and shift their theology? No. In the Bible, Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth. Critics claimed “the evidence of the senses, the thousand-year consensus of men of science, and the authority of the Bible” makes it wrong.

In the early 1600’s, Galileo then furthered the work of Copernicus and the Church demanded he

“.. .abandon completely… the opinion that the sun stands still at the center of the world and the earth moves, and henceforth not to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.”

They then tried him for heresy and put him in prison.


The movement and position of the planets has an influence on individual lives and human events.

This premise had been around since 2000 BC. Astrology has been part of a scholarly tradition, and in academic and political circles up until the Twentieth Century. However following the wide-scale adoption of the scientific method, astrology has been challenged successfully on both theoretical and experimental grounds, and has been shown to have no scientific validity or explanatory power. It is a foundational premise that is false.

That being said, surveys show that 25% of Westerners continue to believe that the movement of planets affect their individual lives.

A number of years ago I read Cosmos and Psyche:Intimations of a New World View by Richard Tarnas. Here is my review.

This book is deeply flawed. It foundational premise is utter nonsense. Tarnas has used his vast understanding of the humanities and history and attempted to correlate trends, themes, biographies and events to the movement of planets.

Like all astrologers, he is attempting to merge the scientific and factual using his intuition, seeing correlations and causes and effects when none exist. The intuitive connection between the scientific facts and the “facts” of history simply does not work. The supposed correlations are simply subjective conjecture. And in the final analysis, the overarching question is “so what?”.

I found the book very disappointing in light of his brilliant Passion of the Western Mind.

Now for those who believe in Astrology, the web offers lots of opportunities to get a reading. Try this website. You will get a reading that will tell you a lot of contradictory information about yourself and will be of little value.

So, what is my point? The lesson here is that when you challenge someone’s foundational premise as false, get ready for a fight.  Facts and evidence may not do the trick.

In my next blog I will discuss two more false foundational premises.

Meanwhile, ask yourself. Might I have any false foundational premises in my thinking?

Do you see others basing a whole way of thinking on a false foundational premise?


Screen Shot 2018-07-13 at 3.24.41 PM

There are two ways of thinking. One is objective  logical and facts-based way of thinking and the other is subjective intuitive emotional way of thinking. I’ll call the first a thinker and a second an intuitor feeler. My sense is that each individual defaults primarily to one type or the other, with the other type certainly present but to a lesser degree. One has their rational skills dominant and the other has their intuitive skills dominant. It also depends on the how our opinions have been formed. The book The Righteous Mind states that most of our strong opinions about things are brought about by unconscious cultural processes and that we use facts and logic to then justify them.  And, we can be logical and factual around some things and very emotional and intuitive and anti-factual about others. I realize that it is complicated. And of course, however one gets to one’s “truth” is right for them. But it does not make them actually right, particularly when they ignore facts.

But, as you will find as we go along in this blog, my default is toward an objective fact- based approach to thinking about things. And….I have as much bias as the next guy. I guess. And if you see bias  in my writing, I invite you to challenge me.

The scientific method and evidence-based thinking has brought mankind into the modern world and expanded knowledge and ability to improve the quality of our lives beyond measure.

Anti-science thinking generated by other underlying motivations which are not factual or logical are bad. Examples are:

Climate Change
Denying climate change because of an unwillingness to address the economic costs of  to address its issues.

Denying evolutionary theory and a geological record with the adoption of an anti-evolution regime because it contradicts  the creation story in the Bible. Here is Biblical case for the Earth being 6000 years old. Pretty weird. You can decide whether the Earth is 6000 years old or 4.5 billion years old.

Being anti-vaccination because of a totally discredited article was submitted (and now withdrawn) to a medical journal whose author lost his medical license. Said article tied vaccinations with autism.  The consequences are that there are now unnecessary outbreaks of measles.

Genetically Modified Foods
Being anti-GMO even though there is absolutely no evidence that consuming GMO foods has a negative impact on health. The position of anti GMO advocates is that the evidence has not yet been proven GMO’s to be safe, even though humans have been consuming genetically modified foods for hundreds of years. In fact, over 2000 studies have found GM food to be perfectly safe.

These are just a few examples of where evidence, facts and the scientific method are not considered when positions are taken. Opinions treated as facts are still just opinions. And if facts are ignored while only opinions and feelings are used to make decisions, then I have an issue.

How about you? Do you have an issue?


Why am I here? Does the universe have a purpose and does the purpose include us?  “I’m not sure,” says Neil DeGrasse Tyson. “But anyone who expresses a more definitive response to the question is claiming access to knowledge not based in empirical foundations. This remarkably persistent way of thinking, common to most religions and some branches of philosophy, has failed badly in past efforts to understand and thereby predict the operations of the universe and our place within in.” So, we simply don’t know.

“We live in an uncaring universe. Any idea that it was created for our felicity must be nonsense, for each wonder to which we may point is countered by a monstrosity. To believe in the anthropic principle, that the world was created to serve us, in the face of so much suffering, is absurd, indeed it is narcissistic, even infantile.” – Peter Sellick

So how about the purpose of the human race. Does a fish or a giraffe have a purpose, other than to propagate their species? Do humans have a special place among animals and therefore have a purpose?

Well I asked my friend David King about this.  

“That’s easy.  In my humble opinion, the human race (species) has no purpose, nor does any other species.  We alone fret about “purpose” just as we fret about life after death because our development of a complex system of symbols (language) gave us the ability to contemplate things and events beyond the immediate here and now. Another question:  Why is there a universe? I haven’t a clue. Nor do I have a clue about the possibility that there is some creative force or being that’s responsible for the whole thing. Of this I am pretty sure: We are the only species that contemplates these questions.  Does that make us special? I doubt it. Without language, we’d just be another great ape.”

There is more than to this of course. How about meaning?  All of us are searching for meaning. Perhaps we are providing meaning to the universe rather than the universe providing meaning to us. When we see a beautiful galaxy, we are giving it meaning. Without humans it would not be beautiful. Plato might disagree in that he thought that beauty existed “apriori”; that it could be deduced without observation. I tend to believe that prior to humans, there was no beauty. We provide the meaning to the Universe.

And of course, it is a great mystery and as Joseph Campbell says the “mystery of being is beyond all categories of thought.”

In looking at these big questions about my place in the universe, my place in time, and the purpose of human race, I realize that, while providing context, it does little else. While the universe may be impersonal, we are not. As Victor Frankl says. “it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.”  We each need to provide meaning and purpose to our own lives based on our personal circumstances. It is not necessary for meaning or purpose to come from outside of us.

So, do you provide purpose for your life, or is purpose beyond you?
Do you provide meaning for your life, or does meaning come from beyond you?

The picture below is a photograph of earth and moon from the rings of Saturn. Saturn is 890 million miles from earth. Multiply that by 100,000 and you still wouldn’t even get out of the Milky Way galaxy.