Introduction to Reality-Based Thinking

Page updated 19 December 2021.

DESCRIPTION
This one-semester course, for ages 12 and up, including parents and other family members, promotes honesty, rationality, and responsibility as a sustainable way of life. It’s primary theme is that, since we live in a real world, reality makes the best basis for our thinking–as opposed to unreality. And we define reality thus:

reality–the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to one’s perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, interpretations, and wishes about them.

The main principles behind the course are covered in Jack Pelham’s 3-part introduction to his video podcast at YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC72twnyGsVynxhQSc-yFZOw. And you can find over 700 memes with short thoughts about good thinking on our AuthenticityWorks.org website.

It is an academic course, and students are expected to take notes. There will be quizzes and multiple exercises. Much of the course is aimed at how to avoid thinking errors, which are caused by one or more of the following:

  1. Not thinking. (Assuming, going by hearsay, acting by habit, etc.)
  2. Not knowing how to think through a particular type of problem or scenario. (This is a reference to “mindware”, such as logic, probability, math, language, etc.)
  3. Having corrupted “mindware” in place–such as with cognitive biases, or erroneous logical principles, etc.

We will spend considerable time on the “mindware” section, particularly with logic and probability. And we’ll also make an extensive examination of common cognitive biases so that the student can readily spot biases in play.

ESSAYS
The course will require one or two essays per semester, to be assigned in class. The goal of these is to be sure that the student is giving sustained consideration to the subject matter, such that he or she can narrate it back to the teacher in written form.

WHO WILL DO WELL?
Practically all students benefit from this class, as it stretches their thinking. And for many, it may be their first time doing any extended thinking about thinking (metacognition). The class is largely about ideas, however, and includes lots of discussion. It’s not a worksheet class, where facts are doled out to be committed to memory, and then the memory is tested, with the test being taken as an indicator of whether the student is succeeding in the course. No, this class is presented to promote the mental processing of the material, largely through discussion. The more reflective a student is in his or her cognitive disposition, the more he or she will thrive in this class; the better he or she is at “thinking out loud”, the more the class will be enjoyed. But this is not to suggest that those with less-reflective dispositions ought not take the course, for it’s designed to promote that very thing. It is entitled Introduction to Reality-Based Thinking, the emphasis being on the introduction. The idea is to get them started–to get them thinking about their own thinking (and that of others). And someone having begun this kind of thinking would do well to come back and take the course again in a year or two, where more of the principles could be grasped than he or she really understood the first time. (We all face the same sorts of cognitive hindrances and challenges and tendencies throughout life, and we do well to keep “sharpening the saw” along the way.) So this class is good for just about everybody, but the ones who will enjoy it the most will be those who are already enjoying thinking about thinking (to some extent)—and for those who aren’t, there’s no better time than now to get started! Those who aren’t already active thinkers will benefit from being around peers who demonstrate that they are.

EARLY HOURS
This class often meets early in the day. Students are responsible for showing up on time and alert. (You may bring coffee if you like.) Tardiness and sleepiness are quite disruptive to the class. To be on time is to be sitting in the seat, ready to go at the very moment the class begins.

Our classroom holds 40 in seminar seating.

SPECIAL PROJECTS
Here’s an opportunity for two students to barter for their tuition! We’d love to recruit two students from this course (who are social-media users) to help us keep up with posting daily memes to our two social media pages, one at Facebook, and one at MeWe. These two social media pages (which are Jack Pelham’s work) are being rolled under our nonprofit organization, and we need help keeping them posted regularly. We have over 700 memes already, and need one posted per day. This can be done up to six months in advance. You’ll need your own computers and your own accounts on one or both of these two social media platforms. Contact Jack Pelham to discuss it.

A Code of Conduct agreement is required for this course. This helps to ensure the positive environment in each class. This document is being updated and will be published this summer.

SCHEDULE
Mondays, 8:00 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.
The one-semester class runs Monday 10 January through Monday 4 April. (13 weeks)

AGES
This course is open to students 12 and up, including parents, graduated siblings, and other family members.

MATERIALS/INSTRUMENTS NEEDED
Students will need notebooks, folders, and pens. Various handouts may be provided from time to time.

POLICIES
The following policies must be read and understood to enroll in this class. This is a lot of stuff because it takes a lot of details to run an excellent organization for everybody. Please invest the time to study all this. You will be asked at registration to give your word that you have done it.

House Rules
Communication Policy
Code of Conduct
Performance & Rehearsal Attendance Policy
COVID-19 Policy
Special Needs Policy
Spring 2022 Performance Schedule

CAPACITY
40 students

LOCATION
This course meets, as do all our courses, in the We, Montana! Great Room.

WAITING IN CLASS
We strongly discourage parents and others waiting in the classroom during this seminar, as that’s basically taking the course for free. Please plan to wait elsewhere.

INSTRUCTOR
Jack Pelham

ABOUT THE TEACHER
Jack Pelham is the Executive Director of We, Montana! and teaches most of the courses in our Homeschool Program. He’s a professional writer and teacher, and is the author of the novel, The Extraordinary Visit of Benjamin True (The State of the Union as no one else would tell it). He also authored the nonfiction online book, Character Not Included: What America must fix before she can fix anything else. He also published the primer video podcast, Reality-Based Thinking: Rethinking the World with Jack Pelham and the audio podcast, Rethinking the Bible with Jack Pelham. He has published over 700 memes containing short thoughts on good thinking.

FEE
$70 per student per semester.

STUDENT TESTIMONIALS
Here are a few one-liners from students who have taken this course. These are taken from lengthier discourses, and in some cases, edited slightly for clarity.

“Since I started this class, I’ve noticed more errors in the ways other people talk and think as well as myself. I’ve also seen things are are not quite right said on the news/radio.”

“One thing I learned about myself is that I use absolutes more than I realized. I also jump to conclusions too fast.”

“Personally, I found this class extremely enjoyable and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested.”

“I quite enjoyed the class. Discussion is good.”

“I learned that I am very much (perhaps troublingly so) a procrastinator.”

“It made me think. I’ve started noticing both myself and others making mistakes. From not thinking a thing through before saying it, to making a biased judgment. More and more I stop and think, “Hold on–was whatever I just said or thought correct?”

“I learned I tend not to think a thing through before saying or doing it. Also, I see that I frequently run the halo effect and devil effect biases. I’m not trying to stop.”

“I would like a longer class time. We get into a great discussion then suddenly, class was over.”

Click here to go to the Spring 2022 Registration Form at Google Forms.