This page contains lists that I consider important, for a variety of
Each relates to moral philosophy in a number of ways.
Initially there will only be a few lists here, but later this page
may be among the most lengthy and useful.
It will be updated very frequently.
Terms and Conditions. Exclusively
written, edited (when that happens), and maintained by Christopher
Matthew Cavanaugh. All Rights Reserved.
Wednesday, October 30th, 2019,
Edited Wednesday, October 31st, 2019,
Edited Saturday, November 16th, 2019,
Words likely to falsify
The first and primary objective of a teacher of logic is to rid the
world of obvious falsities, in order to move forward to find truths.
People are stuck forever in obvious falsities that they can easily be
Well, they can see the extent of the issue nearly instantly.
There is a life-long process of trying to fully rid oneself from
superstitions and errors.
But the most obvious errors can be cancelled from your life very
I can’t pretend to have practiced myself out of this issue
completely, but I am continually improving. The best improvement I ever
made was to stop paying any attention to the superstitions and falsities
that plague humanity.
The goal of the list below is to help others see what may be rejected
without much thought or effort. More importantly, you can reject these
ideas and never give any credit to them ever again as potentially
I can’t list everything I want to include here. The best I can do is
add items as they come to mind. If you know others that can be added to
this list, simply reject them instantly yourself and add to your own
Some readers may disagree with some items listed below. Don’t forget
that the key point in the lists below is to confidently exclude things
from consideration that are almost certainly going to lead you to
If you have solid grounds for retaining some of the items below (very
few), then you can do that and still benefit from the lists.
However, I would suggest you adopt all of the items in each list as
terms that would lead you to falsity.
Take a look at the diagram below I wrote on my whiteboard (I highly
recommend having a whiteboard to sort things out). This might give some
additional clarification of what it is I’m trying to achieve with this
Words and Phrases
Likely to Falsify Sentences
Falsification due to
“that’s the final thought.”
“this is the last word.”
[Aside: “The ThoughtStream unto truth will continue.”
due to non-existence, impossibility, or related issues.
Interestingly, many of these things come from literature or film.
In other words, we once knew they were false and then later came to
believe in them.
Prophet (there wasn’t a prophet of anything, unless it is taken to
mean “teacher”, and in that case, teacher is fine. It is especially
false when it is capitalized).
“Isaac Newton was a Prophet” (We can fix this by saying: “he was a
Alien (at least one that you would expect or have been told
Hell (“Hell contains __________” would always be false).
Heaven (“Heaven contains _________” would always be false).
Conjure, Summon (in a mystical way)
Spell (as in to cast a spell)
Out-of-body experience (believing that one is actually
outside one’s body).
Life flashes (“My entire life flashed before my eyes” versus “I saw
a sequence of memories from my life”)
Animation of inanimate objects (“It was brought to life…”)
Saint (Aside from being a worldly honorific).
Benjamin Franklin (if used for something present).
Equality (of complex things taken in total).
Parity (“equality” hiding. Basically claiming complex things are
equal in a way that is less forthcoming).
Beings from mythology.
Beings from literature and fiction.
Drinks poured for dead people. (They don’t drink it, trust me).
Exaggerated value of
Ginseng (because it is shaped somewhat like a man).
other cure-alls based on single ingredients. (Obviously, illnesses
are prevented by some nutrients found in certain foods. Hunger itself is
“cured” by food. It is not surprising that shortages lead to
issues—vitamin C for example).
(This is not to say they don’t have any value, just that the value
is not the same as what is purported).
Prophesy (unreasonable predictive power about the distant
Possession (demon possession)
Haunting (“I’m haunted by ______.”)
due to superstition, arbitrariness, lack of purported meanings
Friday the 13th
Luck, fortune. (“I’m lucky. I’m fortunate”). [This one is trickier
and requires some explanation that will be provided in an article soon.
It’s not complete nonsense but we are quickly lead to error with these
Lucky __________? (anything)
Symbolic remedies (Dried, powdered, and other supposedly “medicinal”
endangered animal parts).
E.g. Rhino horn will cure you from ____________ (a major incurable
E.g. Dried animal penis or other sexual organs…
Anything else that is an appropriate analogy to these examples.
“Three’s a charm”
“Step on a crack…”
improper placement on a spectrum.
These are the words I like to correct by telling myself
Bigestest, Tallestest, Largestest, etc… to make it sound ridiculous
or to otherwise make the exaggeration clear.
These are directly related to the concepts above, because they
involve failure to properly measure on a spectrum.
Mostly (this one is more tricky to notice, but usually results in
falsehood from what I’ve observed, when numbers are large).
First. “He was the first to do [something many have done, or
something unverifiable or supernatural].”
Last. “He was the last person on the battlefield.” “He was the last
Alternatively, fans of sports will say “He was the last to be able
to do…” because of some change in the sport, to magnify trivial
Statistical or Data Related Factoids, magnified into triumphs.
(We do this when folks have made sacrifices. It is more accurate to
recognize the sacrifices).
False villainy to make someone’s triumph seem more appealing. I.e.
you make your enemy subhuman to glorify your own accomplishments, as in
WWII. Dehumanization, caricature.
“Greatest”, “Greatest in History”, “Greatest in the World”,
“Greatest of All Time”.
without making comparisons or using private criteria, or examining
the world, or knowing history, or covering all time.
Especially offensive when it excludes people who are not in a
position to be considered.
“Smartest person in the world”, as if that person is not
impoverished. That person is probably impoverished, at least if we are
considering native capability. The smartest person in history is someone
who there is no record of, and probably little to no “success”. This is
a viable argument given probabilities.
Also related to inability to place on a spectrum (notice the trend
concerning the spectrum?).
enthusiasm, or estimation of aesthetic quality, or lack of quality
These may feel harsh, but if you look at what you’re saying
carefully, you’ll discover you go straight to these words when the
feeling just doesn’t justify it.
I feel better departing from using the terms below, than the ones
Unity, Oneness, and
This is an error to be watchful for. There are no concepts to
completely reject in this list. Instead, there is a tendency to guard
against, of creating false oneness in collections of things, or a
preference for holistic perspectives such that reductionistic
non-holistic perspectives are ignored.
All of the items below are common when rhetoric and persuasion is
being used. We tend to enjoy the simplicity of these terms, and we react
more emotionally when they are used, versus when we are more specific
Unity, united, indivisible, inseparable.
‘We are united’ when there are detractors, or if it pretends to be
all inclusive based on some smaller sample of members, or when it is
questionable that there could be any discernible unity among people and
objects with many differences to begin with.
“America is United” would always be false, for example for every
E.g. ‘We are one’. Similar to the above. This is an error of
over-generalization and/or oversimplification. It is also used to the
effect that the alternative perspective that items can be taken
individually is ignored.
“One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” creates
a false sense of oneness, and excess unity.
For example, on Earth Day, people might say that “we are one with
the Earth.” This can be used in absurd arguments, that forget that while
we can think of the Earth as one thing, we can also think of the earth
as composed of many individual parts. In philosophy this involves the
old problem of “the one and the many” since composite objects can be
seen as singular things, but also as complexes of smaller parts making
up the whole.
When used, again, to indicate that a collection of things is just a
single thing, that cannot be better understood in terms of parts that
compose “it”. Sometimes it is questionable if the “thing” in question is
one or more things. This is particularly true in psychology, where we
cannot always tell if what we are experienced is really one thing, or a
number of things, even though it might be perceived as one thing. Our
personal identity itself is something that is questionable here, because
we can’t tell really if we are one thing or more than one thing, or if
our perception at any given time is one perception or a number of
perceptions, and so on.
implying unity when there might be diversity, and oneness when there
might be more than one thing falling under one category inappropriately.
This is due to organic and asystematic development of concepts.
Concepts automatically imply a kind of unity and oneness, that is
“Love” would be an example. This is an issue with many concepts
where distinctions would reveal important differences, without which,
would lead to identifying different things as the same. An example of
this is the zoological taxonomy system in biology. This is an ongoing
issue that must be dealt with as we get better and better knowledge
about things, because we begin with few concepts, and later need more to
describe important differences.
The, a, it
as used to indicate that there is only one of a certain thing that
there might be many of.
“The 12 Rules of Life” as might be found in a book title. This would
create the false impression that there is one single set of 12 rules,
and no additional rules are necessary. This conceals arbitrariness.
Singular use when a plural is called for.
E.g. “It all happened for a reason” is my usual example. “It all”
implies complexity, and complexity often implies numerous causes or
reasons for numerous collected and interconnected occurrences. It is
much more accurate to say, “These events happened for many reasons”.
Notice that this is no longer compelling. For some reason, we are
emotionally invested in unities and onenesses that don’t exist. Once we
are more accurate, the statements are less emotionally charged.
Issues that Lead to Error
Not recognizing a metaphor as a metaphor. Metaphors are not as safe
Claiming that someone is like something, will probably make it clear
that they are not actually that thing.
Claiming that someone is something, metaphorically, will be
lost on people oftentimes. Even if it is understood, recollections are
altered. Suddenly they are identified with each other.
This is not to say don’t use metaphors. It is to say you ought to be
aware of dangers of metaphors.
Confusions relating to time
Some might say that any given event is “eternal”, yet there is no
indication that anything is kept, retained, or permanently recorded in
nature. In other words, there is no reason to assume that there is
anything that persists for an unending period of time.
There is no example of anything whatsoever that we can confirm to be
If you care about it, you can almost certainly assume that it will
not exist forever; and not the contrary assumption that it
will exist forever, because you happen to care about it.
Consider how ridiculous the assumption that everything you dislike
will last forever, but that everything you care about will end.
We cannot have reality-similar elaborate truths concerning fictions,
in the same way that we can have them about reality.
Truths about reality expand. The story gets larger. The stories of
fictions tend to be stuck in history. They do not grow, unless the
author expands upon it, using a mind, that itself holds much less
information, than reality itself.
Thus Harry Potter is clearly a fiction, since once the author has
completed the work, it is “locked up” in the books.
A new writer could elect to expand on the story, but it is no longer
the story. In any case, the same issue occurs. It is locked up in the
book after the second author has died, and there are still only two
brains involved, which cannot store more information (nowhere close to
as much) as reality itself.
Science on the other hand grows and grows because it is simply
recording from reality.
We can know that works of fiction are indeed fictional, or that parts
are fictional, because they have characteristics more similar to works
of fiction, than to works about reality.
We can add items to our list of things we can instantly reject on
“Heaven” appears to be fictional.
No person can supply additional details beyond what was written,
implying that no one has experienced it, and that the writing itself is
the source of the invention. This is not the only test but it is a
What heaven is like, and how long it lasts, in detail. Think of the
detail that could be provided about what Canada is like.
It cannot be known that an afterlife would last forever, and no-one
could provide any details to indicate what this would be like.
For example, if there were an afterlife, it could be that you would
die there too. This must be admitted. However, we would also have to
admit, that we made that up. We could provide many alternatives about
the duration of heaven, and all would be inventions. They are attempts
at fleshing out a very short fiction, whose shortness indicates its
nonexistence. Notice how there is little detail about what Heaven is,
even though it would be very important, to be able to confirm that it
is, what supposedly it is. You can provide nearly endless detail about a
photograph of your bedroom you grew up sleeping in, but you can’t
provide nearly any detail about what heaven is supposed to be, and you
could confirm the existence of your bedroom, but you could not confirm
the existence of heaven. The key to this is reality-based detail that is
not dreamt up.
We cannot have as much detail about heaven as we can about the
universe, but heaven is supposedly eternal, while the universe is not.
If this does not convince you because the “universe” is too large,
simply compare the potential information we have about Earth and what we
have about heaven. We have an infinitesimally small amount of
information about heaven, because it was written by an author of
Fictions written from scratch can have details that connect to
reality, such that we can make them seem really detailed. But we can
never read a piece of fiction, and fill it with the same amount of
detail we could provide about a real situation in life, and feel
confident that our fiction is actually true.
This means we can not only give up on the ideas of “Heaven” and
“Hell” as listed above, but we can verify their falsity by the lack of
detail, and our lack of ability to confirm, even if we went to one or
the other, that it is what we said it was. For example, Hell and Heaven
could potentially transform from one into the other after some period of
time, and back again. So you could believe you’ve entered Heaven and
stay there a very long time, then stay in Hell a much longer time. But
this is all fantasy, and that’s the point. We have no details about what
it is, and we can reject it immediately
The Tooth Fairy
Religious Supernatural Figures
Literary fictional figures
And so on… this list is very large.
History creates some issues here since older figures might have so
few details, that real figures may appear much like mythological
figures. At the moment, the solution appears to be to pay less and less
attention, as historical things have less detail, and approach in
appearance works of fiction. For example, the biography of Charlemagne
by Notker the Stammerer can be considered fiction by analogies found in
characteristics to other fictions. The biography of Charlemagne by
Einhard, however, can be trusted as historical. If the story of Einhard
were lost, along with other works about Charlemagne, such that all we
have is the life of Charlemagne by Notker the Stammerer, 10,000 years
from now, then we have lost Charlemagne, in the same way that we lost
Pythagoras. This should not come as a shock. Once all information about
a person is lost, they are forgotten. This has happened to nearly
everyone in history.
The key criteria here is analogy of properties of the story to
fictional accounts versus realistic biographical accounts. Sometimes
this can be complex, but usually even children can notice differences
between real and fictional accounts. Once I recognized that Santa Clause
was not real, the parallels with works of fiction were obvious and there
is no reason to give it any consideration as real ever again.
The author of this book would not want you to believe Harry Potter
is real. The intent of the author has importance too, because some will
try to “sell” false stories, and this intention of the author can lead
to very long false paths, where people have to work hard to finally
determine that the stories are more similar to fictions than they are to
Consider how additional details are dreamt up, and the story is
locked in history by the original thinkers and marketers who invented
Also notice how people try to sell “Santa Clause” as real to
children, thus making it more difficult for people to come to realize
that it is more like fictional accounts than real accounts.
Based on the Santa Clause example, you should be able to come up
with others, since the intent of the author to “sell” a fictionalized or
semi-fictionalized account more seriously than Santa, has resulted in
people being confused their entire lives. People come to believe in
native cosmologies and so forth for their entire lives, so this is not
unfamiliar, and anthropologists can give many examples. Anthropologists
of the future will list out for us what at present we believe that is
totally false, but was confused for truth because people sold it as
true. The most convincing false stories were those designed for sale
from the very beginning.
Example: The life story of L. Ron Hubbard as presented in his video
“An Introduction to Scientology.” There is a pamphlet that comes with
the video describing feats of his that he did not perform. He is the
founder of Scientology, and a writer of fiction. For example,
it is claimed he was the first to be deployed at a battle in WWII, and
there were other “he was the first” claims that were certainly
I am a semi-retired social architect and consultant, with professional/academic experience in the fields of computer science, psychology, philosophy, and more recently, economics.
Articles on this site are eclectic, and draw from content prepared between 1980 and 2022. Topics include ethics, art, fitness, finances, health, psychology, and vegetarianism. The common theme connecting all articles is moral philosophy, even if that is not immediately apparent. Any of my articles that touch on "the good and virtuous life" will be published here. These articles interrelate with my upcoming theory of ethics, two decades in preparation.
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