Archive for April, 2007

An Opinion on Argument and Thinking

April 29, 2007

The other week I met up for a few drinks with my ex who, even after all these years, still retains for me his geeky charm. I value his views of the world which tend to be very well thought through and, among other things, we got on to discussing argument in general and argumentation in the abstract. As I said, his views tend to be very well reasoned, so what does he do that most people, including myself, don’t?

I think that he is very good at following an argument through to where it leads rather than jumping to ill formed and possibly erroneous opinions. He is also very good at picking out what is wrong in his own, and in other people’s arguments, and at spotting the implications of particular steps in the argument. Even having done a philosophy degree I still find this process of “following through” difficult. I believe that it is a certain type of cognitive skill, which can be learned, but that some lucky people are naturally better at it than others and I really envy my ex in this respect. Also I’m ashamed to say that often I can’t be bothered to make the effort (it’s easier to have no opinions rather than to take the time and go through the hard work involved in creating good ones).

Anyone who doesn’t believe this stuff is difficult should try reading “The Logic of Real Arguments” by Alec Fisher (I’ve had this book for a while and I’m ashamed to say that I’ve only got part way through it.)

Also see this by Tim van Gelder who compares critical thinking to learning a second language in that it needs a lot of practice.

Lucene sorting

April 15, 2007

Trying to implement sorting in lucene and want to sort by the field title, e.g., a book title. According to the Lucene in Action book, the field that is to be sorted must be indexed as un-tokenized. Not knowing as much as I should about lucene searching I first thought that the field to be sorted was the same field that had to be searched and indexed by. However, as I understand it now I can have 2 fields in the same Document that represent the title – a ‘title’ field which is indexed as tokenized so that searches can be done on title keyword and a second field ‘titlesort’ field that can be used to sort the results of a search on ‘title’.