Here are some important definitions of terms that may be seen on this site:

EXPERIENCE – Something that is only appreciated and understood by those that have it.

EXPERT – Someone who has devoted his life to a particular field. Is able to understand his chosen field and all of its complexities because of learning, study and experience. Often impersonated by “20 Second Scholars”, who can only recite facts that they “heard somewhere” or who parrot catchy slogans or talking points that they heard on TV.

FREE THINKER – Someone who, along with a moral compass, can investigate, analyze and reflect on a subject without being swayed by all of the propaganda. Often impersonated by people whose latest position is based on whoever is in power at the moment or on the results of the latest poll. A Free Thinker is able to make his own decisions based on all of the data available and not worry about what the “mainstream” may be reportedly saying this week.

“DISTRACT AND ATTACK” – A common tactic used by people who either have an insufficient understanding of an issue or a poorly thought out position. Rather than calmly presenting a cogent argument based on logical reasoning and analysis, they immediately 1) expose their lack of preparation by attempting to be offended by something that you have said, 2) get angry, 3) change the subject and then 4) verbally attack either you or some public figure with trite rhetoric. This is the strategy by which an attempted discussion of a topic such as “global warming” will soon devolve into sputterings of “You are just evil and greedy,” or the old stand-by of “Bush lied!”. Distract and Attack invariably leads to unproductive and unstimulating conversation.

20 SECOND SCHOLAR – Someone who has received their entire education in a field solely by reading the cover of USA Today while waiting in line at a deli. In an argument, this oft-well-intentioned person will have on their resume such scholastic achievements as “seeing something” on an entertainment news channel, regularly watching reality TV shows, or “going to web sites” that have all of the “facts”. It is understood how busy we all are today and that we often do not have sufficient time to devote to a particular field of study. The mistake that a 20 Second Scholar makes though, is believing that this kind of knowledge and insight is equal to the knowledge and insight of someone who actually DID have the time to devote to a particular field of study. Unfortunately, this fast-food style of knowledge-gathering type will often resort to “Distract and Attack” (above).

“YEAH BUT-ER” – Someone who is unprepared for an argument against a well-informed person such as a Critical Thinker. The Yeah But-er will vehemently deny and disagree over a particular issue until faced with undeniable facts and/or logic. This person will then realize how silly and uninformed his original position was. He (or she) will quickly agree with your position but then, hoping that you didn’t notice their sudden flip-flop on their position, will add some other non-sensical conditions in an apparent attempt to still appear to be holding some secret insight that you are not smart enough to have processed on your own.

Example: “Bush lied; there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq!” You respond that of course there were – throughout the 1990’s, Clinton sent bombers into Iraq to bomb the WMD factories, Saddam Hussein used them against his own people and then buried the victims in the mass graves that were later found, certain members of the old Iraqi regime were tried, convicted and executed for using them – others gave information to interrogators confirming their existence; WMD’s were photographed being transported out of Iraq before the U.S. invasion,  U.N. weapons inspectors were prevented from having full access to suspected WMD sites during the 90’s, and in fact, invading U.S. troops found WMD’s in hidden Iraqi storage facilities.

The “Yeah But-er” response is to abandon his previously firm position that there were no WMD’s in Iraq and arrogantly – but with the attempt to sound like he is nobly being patient with a ninny such as you – say, “Yeah, but they were old WMD’s that probably were no good or something,” and then change the subject.