by Harrison Durland | Dec 23, 2017 | Communication/Rhetoric, Technique, thinking Strategically | 0 comments


Everyone that is reading this has, at some point, bring away apart something, check the pieces, then put them together again—sometimes in a various way. For some, it could have been part old computer system or furniture. For many others, the may have been toys such together legos. Yet, also if you somehow have never done this v physical objects, you have inevitably excellent so v abstract ideas such as language.

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The human being is full of identifiable pieces and also patterns, whether they space physical (e.g. Parts, threads, elements) or non-physical (e.g. Ideas, concepts, trends). Thankfully, us don’t have to constantly ponder all of the molecules us eat or what specifies the action of “eating” in order to operate; we usage “shorthand” or “fast thinking,” as Anna newly wrote about, come summarize daily things and processes in the world about us. Yet, the same exercise of shorthand can an extremely often lead us to misunderstand or mischaracterize reality, especially when we start to obtain into the more-complicated, more-controversial object we consistently encounter in debate. In countless areas, some human being do not always try to look at deeply sufficient to examine and also evaluate the “pieces” the underpin our ideas or beliefs. Instead, we have the right to tend come oversimplify, mix increase the pieces, or otherwise conduct faulty analysis; we periodically rely top top heuristics or autumn prey to cognitive biases. Furthermore, countless people’s way of communicating details ideas regularly seem to have similar flaws, in regards to efficiency and also accuracy. In short, the situationally-proper balance between shorthand and also structured/analytical (“slow”) thinking and also communication should be struck, but it isn’t always. The problem is multifaceted, and also I absolutely can’t fully address the in this one article, however I can and will study the concern of inadequate structure in thinking and also communication. More specifically, I will 1) more explain and illustrate the distinction, 2) provide a basic justification and also exhortation for better structure in certain situations, and 3) provide particular examples tools/methods we could use much more often.

Structured vs. Simple: outlining and illustrating the distinction

If i were thoughtlessly adhering come “structure and all that is glory,” ns would shot to come up through some rigorous, complex definition/distinction for what ns mean. However, I acknowledge that wouldn’t really be helpful; it would more than likely be boring and/or needlessly confusing. So instead, I’ll shot to repaint the general idea.

Basically, it is thinking/communicating in a way such the someone (including you) can more plainly identify the “ingredients” to your believed process, so regarding even different them if necessary; it is the idea that not mixing ideas together and judging based off of an “impression” or “instinct.” more broadly, it likewise involves the patterns whereby you interact or think. As just one instance of such patterns, imagine if this post were not created with any kind of sections or also paragraphs. That course, we generally recognize the value in straightforward paragraphs; the issue at hand is wherein we nothing think about possible “next steps” in structured analysis/communication. The following subsections will certainly cover two much more examples to illustrate what i mean.

Communicating (and thinking) in pieces: Kialo

Consider the difference in between Kialo and also IDebate, or Kialo and this Washington short article article. In both cases, the layout of analysis/communication readily available by Kialo is far more structured and allows more depth and breadth. This is specifically the case when one examines the Washington article article: professor Hurwitz is a more-knowledgeable writer, and also he write in a more-familiar essay style. Yet, his depth, breadth, and also visible structure are quite “weak” compared to Kialo; Hurwitz only supplies a single level of headers (the “three main points”), and on many occasions just asserts important ideas without experimenting them. This is no to say the Hurwitz’s evaluation is necessarily “inferior”; one must consider the purpose and also context that the communication: Hurwitz is mainly trying to simplify the issue and give his own opinion/conclusions on the topic, vice versa, the Kialo conversation is trying to unpack the complexity in order to accurately recognize truth, regardless of whether most of the audience care to review the matter in that entirety. Kialo might be even an ext structured, yet as I’ll explain in the next section, the isn’t necessary; the suggest I’m trying come make right here is the Kialo’s argument-block framework is a good example the a means that us could more logically and structurally method questions.

Thinking (and communicating) in pieces: “Pros and Cons” vs. The share Issues

Even countless non-debaters understand the idea that “making a perform of pros and cons” for a decision. Top top the one side, friend list the end the advantages of a decision, and on the various other side girlfriend list the end the cons. Simple, right? Sometimes, yes, however policy debaters (generally) know that this doesn’t always work. Instead, lock go beyond this, by making use of the stock worries to breakdown the idea the a “pro” into smaller pieces, such as inherency, significance, and solvency. Plan debaters additionally (generally) know the simple parts to a “con” (disadvantage): including uniqueness, link, and impact.

In short, theories like the stock worries are beneficial in break down ideas like “benefits” into its logical components. Together probably countless policy debaters will certainly attest to, this procedure is critical for complicated questions of government policy, for reasons discussed in the following section.

When and also Why: structure vs. Freedom


Both the Bible and also a famed tree professor agree: there is a time and place because that everything. However, I perform not recommend that human being emphasize framework to the point of man or inefficiency. Ultimately, one’s goal must not it is in to accomplish structure for structure’s sake; the purpose of using structure in thinking/communication is come think/communicate an ext effectively—to be more accurate and also understood. Thus, I usually would just imply “nudging the boundaries” when appropriate: you can go past outlines, and also use thought process diagrams; ask yourself probing concerns to pick apart an presumption or question; use more section—and sub-section—headers rather than conforming come repetitive-paragraph-formats in papers/essays (if her teacher is okay through it!); etc.


I’ve currently mentioned several of the reasons for this, but I’ll an ext directly state lock here. Several of the main justifications include:

Better catch/avoid mistake in her reasoning. breaking a question right into its materials can periodically be an ext time consuming, however it can also reveal important problems or gaps in ones’ reasoning. Additionally, if you to be wrong on something, the can assist you diagnose her errors and adjust for the future.More successfully analyze issues. Breaking a question into its components can sometimes be less time consuming, if you understand what type of pattern to follow. For example, we currently do this somewhat with the 5-paragraph essay structure.Clearer and/or more-efficient communication. Earlier, I stated a relatively clear example of this: using charts and graphs to existing data instead of utilizing sentences/paragraphs to carry out so. Also less-familiar discussion structures such as Kialo or thesis diagrams for long and complex academic articles can also be helpful to this end.Etc.

Ultimately, structure and intuition/free-thinking need to balance, and the balance counts on the situation. However, to address complicated problems or questions, us shouldn’t count on dubious, unclear structures of thought, and we shouldn’t use amorphous or pass out communication.

Tools/Methods for Structure: Historically

Imagine never discovering to flow in an organized way. Imagine never learning the stock concerns in policy debate, or value theory in value debate. Much more broadly speaking, imagine never learning the 5-paragraph framework for essays. Imagine if nobody ever used timelines. Imagine if nobody ever thought to use graphs or charts. In fact, imagine if nobody ever thought to use grammar in composed communication. Without these tools, teachings, etc. It would certainly be rather complicated to interact or critically examine information. Yet, these points haven’t exist for all of civilization. In fact, just centuries ago, some of them (e.g. Graphs/charts) were not even invented. Probably some the these ideas might have actually been rejected as being “too complicated” or “not useful.” In the 21st century, we could look ago with upturned noses, however perhaps we have to look in the mirror. Imagine someone living in the year 2400 AD: what provides us think that they i will not ~ look earlier much in the same method we currently look earlier on a human being without bar charts, timelines, the regular table, and also the stock issues in policy debate? What might we be missing now?

A few available—but under-appreciated—tools because that structure

We space moving right into an era wherein there are vast quantities of information available, and also the devices at our handle are likewise rapidly expanding in line v the expansion of the computer and internet. Yet, it doesn’t seem prefer many human being are really getting to out to also explore the potential. Simply a few examples of together tools and also methods include:

Section and also sub-section headers;

And more! If you are trying to recognize or define something complicated, don’t be fear to ask “might there be something the end there the can assist with this?” or “is over there a basic pattern ns can use to these questions?” (e.g. The share issues).

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It’s not simply that over there is a civilization of tools/methods the end there to improve or support our analysis abilities and also the communication of our thoughts; we seem to be shying away from or flatly skipping structured reasoning tools/etc. Simply since they it seems ~ “unimportant” or “too complicated.” We must remember that not too long ago, civilization were doing the exact same thing come basic critical thinking methods and information presentation tools. No doubt, not every single tool/etc. Will be beneficial for every human being in everything they do. However, human being should strive to win the appropriate balance, since without heavy foundations, it’s difficult to attend to bigger problems. There space a plethora of tools out there, yet it seems people too frequently get grounding on simplistic viewpoints like the 5-paragraph essay. Whether it is in interaction or thinking, take into consideration looking past the simplifications the shorthand/fast thinking has created: it might not it is in “easy,” yet it deserve to be an important in being more clear and less wrong.