May 10th, 2013
Evening, May 11
“Only be thou strong and very courageous.” Joshua 1:7
Our God’s tender love for his servants makes him concerned for the state of their inward feelings. He desires them to be of good courage. Some esteem it a small thing for a believer to be vexed with doubts and fears, but God thinks not so. From this text it is plain that our Master would not have us entangled with fears. He would have us without carefulness, without doubt, without cowardice. Our Master does not think so lightly of our unbelief as we do. When we are desponding we are subject to a grievous malady, not to be trifled with, but to be carried at once to the beloved Physician. Our Lord loveth not to see our countenance sad. It was a law of Ahasuerus that no one should come into the king’s court dressed in mourning: this is not the law of the King of kings, for we may come mourning as we are; but still he would have us put off the spirit of heaviness, and put on the garment of praise, for there is much reason to rejoice. The Christian man ought to be of a courageous spirit, in order that he may glorify the Lord by enduring trials in an heroic manner. If he be fearful and fainthearted, it will dishonour his God. Besides, what a bad example it is. This disease of doubtfulness and discouragement is an epidemic which soon spreads amongst the Lord’s flock. One downcast believer makes twenty souls sad. Moreover, unless your courage is kept up, Satan will be too much for you. Let your spirit be joyful in God your Saviour, the joy of the Lord shall be your strength, and no fiend of hell shall make headway against you; but cowardice throws down the banner. Moreover, labour is light to a man of cheerful spirit; and success waits upon cheerfulness. The man who toils, rejoicing in his God, believing with all his heart, has success guaranteed. He who sows in hope shall reap in joy; therefore, dear reader, “be thou strong, and very courageous.”
May 7th, 2013
by Hans Bluedorn
Read the information below carefully. At the bottom there is a short, fun quiz for you to do.
Some of you may have heard the terms “avoiding the question” and “red herring.” Avoiding the question is quite simple. Someone does not answer the question he has been asked, but he tries to sound like he is answering it. This sort of thing may have happened to you.
Smith: Say, Jones, when are you going to give me back the chainsaw you borrowed the other day?
Jones: That was a pretty nice chainsaw you lent me, which reminds me of the time my grandpa cut down a tree with his chainsaw, and the biggest raccoon. . . .
Jones is obviously avoiding the question. Smith probably won’t lend him any more tools. But sometimes avoiding the question can be more subtle.
Mrs. Jones: I sure hope you aren’t considering homeschooling your kids. Don’t you know homeschooled kids aren’t properly socialized?
Mrs. Smith: How do you know that?
Mrs. Jones: Because they just aren’t. I know some homeschooled kids who don’t know a thing about geography. They couldn’t even tell me what the capital of South Dakota was.
Did you notice how Mrs. Jones only sounded like she was answering the question? She doesn’t think homeschooling gives enough socialization. But she tries to prove it by saying something about homeschoolers who don’t know their geography. What does socialization have to do with geography?
Mrs. Jones avoided the question by introducing a red herring. A red herring is an irrelevant point inserted into an argument – in this case geography instead of socialization. A red herring distracts us from the topic we are supposed to talk about; all of a sudden we are arguing about something else.
Sometimes people will try to use a statistic to support their side, when their statistic doesn’t really support their side. This is also a red herring fallacy.
Mrs. Jones: We need to stop this homeschooling craze. Homeschooled kids don’t get enough socialization. Recent studies have shown that 78 percent of kids who don’t get enough socialization will make less than $7,000 when they grow up, and 15 percent of kids who don’t get enough socialization will end up in prison. We need to do something about homeschooling before we are overrun with poverty and crime.
This woman’s opinion is that homeschooling doesn’t give enough socialization. But her study only shows the dangers of not being socialized. It says nothing about whether homeschoolers get enough socialization or not. This is a red herring.
It is important to realize that someone who introduces a red herring may be saying something which is true. What makes it a red herring is that his argument – whether true or false – does not support his conclusion. Instead, it supports some other conclusion.
Son: My friends are going caving tomorrow. Can I go with them?
Dad: No, it’s too dangerous. I once went caving, and I fell into a stream and got wet. I was miserable the whole time. I don’t think you would enjoy it.
This dad makes a good case that caving can be miserable, but he says nothing about how it is dangerous. This is a red herring – he needs to show how caving is dangerous.
Below, we have collected several statements and short conversations, some of which contain examples of red herrings and some of which do not. For each quote, ask yourself this question: Does what they say support their conclusion? If it doesn’t, shout “RED HERRING!” as loud as you can. We’re warning you, some of these are tricky. You can check your answers and compute your score at the end.
1. Mom: “Joey, did you take out the trash yet, like I told you?”
Joey: “Why do I always have to take out the trash? It isn’t fair. Why doesn’t somebody else take out the trash for a change?”
2. Mount Everest is slowly growing taller. Geologists have been measuring the mountain for the past few years and have discovered that it increases in height by about one and a half inches per year.
3. I think homeschooling makes kids smart. A recent study of homeschool graduates found that 80 percent of homeschoolers eat a far healthier diet than the average public school student. A typical homeschooler’s diet was found to be full of fruits, whole-grain cereals, vegetables, and Echinacea, while public schoolers ate lots of hamburgers and Pop-Tarts®. Homeschoolers also were able to jump half a foot higher than public schoolers in trials on the high jump.
4. Mom: “Joey, what is the capital of South Dakota?”
Joey: “I think it’s Pierre. I know it isn’t Oklahoma City.”
5. Homeschooling has experienced much growth in the United States. The National Home Education Research Institute estimates that between 1.6 and 2.0 million students are being homeschooled in the U.S. in every grade level from kindergarten through twelfth grade.
6. Taxes in this country are now at very high levels. The government should lower taxes. It is spending considerable amounts of money on defense when it is unnecessary. Now that the Cold War is over and the threat from the Soviet Union is gone, we shouldn’t have to devote so much of our annual government budget to protection from other nuclear powers.
7. Son: “My friends are going caving tomorrow. Can I go with them?”
Dad: “No, it’s too dangerous. You always get panicky in tight places. I figure you would have about a 50 percent chance of surviving with all your body parts in place.”
Son: “But, Dad, it’s with experienced cavers who know what to do in emergencies.”
8. All crocodiles are reptiles.
The platypus is not a reptile.
Therefore, the platypus is not a crocodile.
9. I think it is morally wrong to put murderers to death. Just look at all the false convictions that happened in Illinois. How do we know if somebody who was convicted by a jury actually committed the crime?
10. Surfer Dude: “Whoa, man! I’ve got like the most wicked board you can like buy man! I can like ride the waves like way man! Totally out of here!”
1.RED HERRING! He didn’t answer the question.
2.Not a red herring.
3.RED HERRING! A healthy diet and the ability to jump high don’t make you smart.
4.Not a red herring.
5.Not a red herring.
6.RED HERRING! This person makes a case that we should lower the defense budget, but that doesn’t necessarily mean taxes are too high.
7.Not a red herring. Both are speaking on topic.
8.Not a red herring.
9.RED HERRING! We all know false convictions are a bad thing. But the question is over whether we should put to death people who we know are murderers.
10.Like, nothing, dude!
How logical are you?
10 correct = Rocket Scientist
5-9 correct = Dental Hygienist
Fewer than 5 correct = Lab Rat
May 7th, 2013
Divine Cordial (also called, All Things for Good)
by Thomas Watson
This is probably my all-time favorite devotional book.
May 2nd, 2013
God Moves in a Mysterious Way
by William Cowper (1731-1800)
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
May 1st, 2013
Free download this month from Downpour. Treasure Island read by Frederick Davidson — our favorite reader. Promo code is “freeisland.”
April 27th, 2013
How to Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff
Written in 1954, this little book is a classic. Its subject is statistics and how they can be used to trick you. It talks about samples with a built-in bias, tricky averages, misleading graphs, manipulative figures, monstrous margins of error, and generally, how you can lie with statistics. What I like most about this book is the way the author uses humor and odd-ball examples to make his point. It keeps my attention and helps me learn what he is teaching.
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Self-teaching: Humorous and easy to understand
Suggested Ages: 13-adult
Thoroughness: Covers different types of statistics and their flaws
Best Features: Clear explanations and humorous examples
Worst Features: None
Review by Hans Bluedorn
April 27th, 2013
Over the past two years we’ve received about 30 letters from prisoners (two different prisons) asking for books. One prison offers some kind of seminary degree and the other prison has classes for the prisoners. Below are excerpts from various letters:
“In nine months I have been asked to have curriculum ready for introduction to logic, introduction to rhetoric, and Bible doctrine classes. Currently I am studying: Logic by Issac Watts, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by Craig and Moreland, Critical Reasoning by Cederblom and Paulsen, Workbook for Arguments by Morrow and Weston, An Introduction to Policy Debate by Shipe, Jeub’s Guide to Speech and Debate by Jeub, The Fallacy Detective, The Thinking Toolbox, and A Greek Alphabetarion. If you have any curriculum materials it would be very helpful. I do not know how to develop a curriculum. Perhaps it would be best if I learn that by experience, maybe not.” Eric
“Thank you for sending me the great books The Fallacy Detective and The Thinking Toolbox, along with all the other pamphlets. I really enjoy reading great theologians of the past, especially reformed, at least to some degree. I have passed the pamphlets on to the hungry multitude that is forced to feed upon the tons of charismatic material that floods the Texas prison system. Your help is greatly received and I pray that the Lord will continue to use you to be a blessing to many others. I’ve even had to promise an older gentleman that if I get rid of my Fallacy Detective, he is the first to get it. Even in his old age he is hungry to learn. Sometimes we never know what a blessing we are to people. You may never see the men you bless, but just know that it is very appreciated.” Jason
“I wanted to write to say thank you very much for the materials that you sent. I’ve been studying and meditating hard on this Reformed Theology. The more I come to grips with the sovereignty of God the less I can get away from it….” JL
“I’ve already thanked the Lord for blessing me with all those books,but I’m writing in order to thank the vessels He used as well. It is strange just how much more you learn when you have your own books to write in and interact with the author. You can check out the program you are indirectly supporting at www.heartoftexasfoundation.org.” Jeff
If you have any books we can send the prisoners, please send them to us and we’ll forward them on (Harvey Bluedorn, 525 120th Ave, New Boston, IL 61272). Our email address is email@example.com.
They need any kind of educational materials (5th grade and up) or devotional materials. The devotional materials need to be from a doctrines of grace/reformed perspective. The materials can be used or new. No CDs or DVDs or anything made of glass or metal.
April 16th, 2013
On our Trivium Pursuit web site we talk about what classical education is and how we can implement it in our homeschool. One question people ask is, “What do we hope to accomplish by giving our children a classical education — what educational results will we see when they are grown?”
Here are four desirable outcomes which can be accomplished with a classical method of education:
1. Enable our children to think for themselves (not be ruled by peer pressure or tied to educational systems, such as the government schools);
2. Enable our children to logically think through arguments and to speak and to write with clarity and force;
3. Enable our children to read and to understand the great and worthy literature of past years (the definition of worthy is another topic for discussion).
4. Enable our children to master a new subject on their own.
Gary North has developed a course on preparing for high school and college by learning how to study — Academic Basics Course (ABC). This course is now available on the Ron Paul Curriculum web site and is the first of many courses to come starting in September. ABC is recommended for any student age twelve and up, adults included. Even if you are already in high school, college, or are a graduate and working, you need this course. If you do everything he says, you are on track to do well in high school, college, and life. Mastering these lessons will help you develop the four outcomes listed above.
Each of the fifteen short lessons consists of:
The brilliance of this schedule of lessons lies in the way Dr. North writes. Lessons consist of short paragraphs and sentences which are easy to understand, but not childish or boring. They are also highly motivating, especially for the young person who is intent upon being unmotivated.
Lesson #1: The #1 Technique for Mastering New Information
The Charlotte Mason concept of oral narration is introduced. It gives a great explanation of exactly how to do it. Oral narration is not just for little kids, but is a great tool for adults. It tells us WHY this technique is the foundation stone for learning. Don’t skip this.
Lesson #2: Long-Term Goal-Setting Is Crucial
How do you set goals and count the cost for any endeavor? This is crucial if you want to accomplish educational goals. This lessons speaks especially to the young person who is having a hard time being motivated toward academics.
Lesson #3: Your Home Office
All I can say about this lesson is, WOW. It sounds like it’s going to be dumb and unnecessary, but it’s all-important for the young person.
Setting up your “office,” organizing your notebooks, learning how to organize your time, how to focus and concentrate even when it’s noisy around you, and what to do when you get sleepy. I LOVE what he says about music.
Lesson #4: Follow Instructions
For some, this is a no-brainer, but many people have a problem following instructions. This lesson explains why it is necessary to follow instructions and how to do it.
Lesson #5: Budget Your Time
This lesson explains how to keep a scheduling book and desktop calendar and how to estimate an assignment’s time-cost. If you learn this, it will prepare you for business and for life. Here is a quote from the lesson: “Do you want to know the three keys to success in business? Here they are: Do what you said you would do. Do it on or before the deadline. Do it for the price you agreed to.”
Lesson #6: Identify Your Less Important Time
Why should you quit wasting time and how can you stop? Use your scheduling book to schedule in your fun times instead of letting “fun” control you. Dr. North speaks mostly about how TV is the biggest time waster. I would like to see him address the Facebook issue.
Lesson #7: How to Read a Textbook
What are the best strategies for reading through a textbook and how do you prepare for a classroom lecture? There really is a best way to read through a textbook to get the most out of it in the least amount of time.
Lesson #8. Lecturing to the Wall, Part 2
The oral narration technique is explained in more detail.
Lesson 9. How to Take Lecture Notes
Listening to lectures is not the best way to learn, but you will need to learn this if you attend college. This lesson has practical advice for note taking and for preparing for that day’s lecture. It lists signal words to listen for and explains how to review notes and compare notes with the textbook. There is more here on making a notebook.
Lesson #10: How to Take Exams
This lesson explains how to take true-false tests, essay exams, and multiple-choice tests, how to keep calm, and how to manage your time while test-taking. This skill is necessary while in school, but will almost never be used afterwards. It will be the most useful in taking tests to save money by opting out of college classes.
Lesson #11: The Book Review
Here is a short but thorough lesson on writing a book review. This is part of the process of learning how to think and how to write, so don’t skip it. “If you don’t learn how to think, you are wasting your time in school.”
Lesson #12: Start a Blog Site
Who would have thought that having a twelve-year-old keep a blog would be helpful in the learning process? I found this to be the most exciting lesson of the series. This lesson explains why you need to start a blog and how to set one up.
Lesson #13: The Term Paper
How many nightmares have centered around writing term papers? Writing a term paper doesn’t have to be the monumental task we remember from high school. The proper forms for footnotes and bibliography don’t have to be the focus for your term paper. Dr. North gives us a different perspective. “Tell a story. Share a piece of your mind. Offer your opinion. But let it come from inside you. If it doesn’t, it won’t be worth reading.”
Lesson #14: Review
Dr. North reviews the various techniques learned in the course.
Lesson #15 Job vs. Calling
Dr. North lectures on the topic of Job vs. Calling — a one-hour video.
April 15th, 2013
1. Petals around the Rose
Clue: The title of this is not arbitrary.
2. Which letter comes next?
3. Three children want to go out side and play in the rain but their mother will not let them unless they can solve a puzzle.
She brings out a box with 2 red hats and 3 white hats and shows the children. She then blindfolds them and places a hat on each of their heads. She says that she will allow each child in turn to look at the other two hats and try to determine what their own colour is. “But,” she warns, “if any one of you guesses wrong, you are all staying in.”
The 1st child looks but cannot tell what his hat is.
The 2nd child looks and the same thing happens.
The third child immediately says her hat colour correctly without the removal of the blindfold.
How did she know?
4. There is a mute person who wants to buy a toothbrush. By imitating the action of brushing ones teeth, he successfully expresses himself to the shopkeeper and the purchase is done. Now, if there is a blind man who wishes to buy a pair of sunglasses, how should he express himself?
5. This puzzle is taken from Richard Smullyan’s Forever Undecided – A Puzzle Guide to Gödel.
On a Monday morning, a professor said to his class, “I will give you a surprise examination someday this week. It may be today, tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday at the latest. On the morning of the day of examination, when you come to class, you will not know that this is the day of the examination.”
Well, a logic student reasoned as follows: “Obviously I can’t get the exam on the last day, Friday, because if I haven’t gotten the exam by the end of Thursday’s class, then on Friday morning I’ll know that this is the day, and the exam won’t be a surprise. This rules out Friday, so I now know that Thursday is the last possible day. And, if I don’t get the exam by the end of Wednesday, then I’ll know on Thursday morning that this must be the day (because I have already ruled out Friday), hence it won’t be a surprise. So Thursday is also ruled out.”
The student then ruled out Wednesday by the same argument, then Tuesday, and finally Monday, the day on which the professor was speaking. He concluded: “Therefore I can’t get the exam at all; the professor cannot possibly fulfill his statement.” Just then, the professor said: “Now I will give you the exam.” The student was most surprised!
What was wrong with the student’s reasoning? (There are some very interesting philosophical issues at play regarding epistemology.)
6. Two fathers and two sons go fishing, they each catch a fish. When they get home, there are only three fish. How can that be if nothing happened to the fish on the way home, or at the lake?
7. How did this man die? A man is dead in a cabin in the middle of the woods in a remote area quite far from any town or city. He was not murdered, did not commit suicide, and did not die of an illness. How did he die?
Go here to find the answers.
April 12th, 2013
by J.R. Miller
“As your days, so shall your strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25
God’s storehouses of grace are never opened to us until we really need their blessing. God places them, so to speak, along our life-path — the right supply, at the right point. By the plan of God for His children . . .
in every desert–there are oases;
at the foot of each sharp, steep hill there are staffs for climbing;
in every dark gorge there are lighted lamps;
at every river of difficult there is a bridge.
But we find none of these until we come to the place where we need them. And why should we?
Will it not be soon enough to see the bridge when we stand by the river?
Will it not be soon enough, when it grows dark for the lamps to shine out?
Will it not be soon enough, when the cupboard is empty for God to send bread?
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28