09 Apr 2010
07 Oct 2015

About This Website
Fourth R: Practical Philosophy for Practical People


Fourth R is a personal philanthropic effort to advance civilization by enabling the civilized to advance themselves.
Fourth R Practical Philosophy is not an accredited educational institution,
and its owner, while formally schooled in logic, is not formally trained as an educator.

All users of this website should read this page in its entirety,
and should agree to the terms expressed in the disclaimer below before proceeding.
(No signature is necessary.  Use of this website signifies such agreement.)


It is the primary goal of this website to advocate the cultivation and propagation of critical thinking as a general-purpose skill through secondary-level public and private schools.  In the meantime, it is intended as a public-interest effort to help adults improve their own reasoning skills.  The ultimate objective is to foster competent reasoning among both private citizens and public servants, to improve the quality and effectiveness of problem-solving and decision-making generally, thereby to increase creativity and productivity, to reduce conflict and waste, and thus to enhance the overall well-being of individuals and society.

Along with many fictitious and abstract examples, the lesson material also includes some examples from real life, to help retain focus on developing skills for practical use in the real world.  It is also hoped that this will encourage people to exercise their own curiosity and to question ideas of all sorts—including those they may suppose to be beyond question—with the view that any idea truly worth believing ought to be able to withstand earnest scrutiny in light of relevant evidence.  However, it is not our intent to teach what to think, but how to think well.  The expectation is that, having learned how to think, most people should, with practice, experience, and the earnest curiosity to subject their own assumptions to critical scrutiny, be able to figure out what to think for themselves.

Note: There is no mobile version of this course! 

It is offered only in a format suitable for desktop and laptop screens.  This is not an oversight or a shortcoming, but a deliberate decision, for two reasons:

[1] Some of the concepts dealt with in this course require considering a whole paragraph or graphic, or even an entire page, at a time.  Having to scroll back and forth to study the relationships among several interconnected ideas is a distraction and bother you don't need.  That's why the "big screen only" format, so your eyes and brain can "connect the dots," in most cases without your having to lift a finger—except maybe to scratch your head.

[2] Overhauling your very method of thinking will demand your undivided attention.  It must not be interrupted by calls, texts, tweets, news, music, games, other distractions, or even the temptation to indulge them.  With concentration, you'll learn to organize your own thinking, analyze it, connect it into a coherent whole; and you'll learn to critique others' thinking, to expose any errors in it.  Anyone who is adult enough to benefit from this course should also be adult enough to focus exclusive attention on the subject matter for half an hour or more at a time.  That's why the "no distractions" medium, so a learning project that should take, at most, a few weeks doesn't drag out into several months.

Besides peace, quiet, an Internet connection, and your focused attention, the only additional things you'll need in conjunction with this course are a means of taking intelligible and searchable notes to which you can refer later, a pencil and some scratch paper for charts and diagrams, and perhaps a collegiate dictionary.  Anything else would just get in the way of your progress.

Does requiring you to focus and to avoid distraction mean you're being brainwashed?  Not necessarily, but it's a good question.  Keeping someone isolated from competing ideas is a standard tool of brainwashing.  What you learn here is designed, not to isolate you from other ideas, but to enable you to confront and evaluate all ideas rationally, and also to help you guard against common fallacies that routinely trip up the gullible and unwary.  Whenever you're finished studying for the day (whether you've spent one hour or ten on it), you're encouraged to apply what you've learned here to whatever you do in normal life.  What you learn here, plus practical application, should eventually help you make clearer and more unified sense of the real world.  In the unlikely event that it doesn't, perhaps that's a clue that your existing worldview could benefit from some thoughtful adjustment—because of your own disciplined thinking, not enforced mind control.

Copyright Provisions

Except as noted, all material on this website is copyright by the author, and is subject to the following provisions:

  • The user may make a single copy of any or all material on this site for his or her own personal use.

  • The user may freely cite brief quotations or paraphrases of material from this website, provided that the citation's meaning is not distorted with respect to the original material and context, and provided that appropriate accreditation is given.  (In informal messaging, such as memos and blogs, accreditation should include the URL of this website.  In works to be submitted for publication or academic credit, accreditation must be in the form of a standard bibliographic entry, including the author's name, the source webpage URL, and the publication date.  If the individual source page does not display a "modified" date, then the copyright date on the home page may be used.)

Except for these limited provisions, republication or redistribution of material on this website without the author's explicit consent is strictly forbidden.  Failure to comply with copyright restrictions constitutes plagiarism.

Disclaimer and Terms of Use

The material on this website is made available in good faith and on an as-is basis.  It is intended for the betterment of the user, with respect to his or her ability to make sound decisions that enhance the well-being of himself or herself and others, and that do not encroach in any way upon the well-being or legitimate rights of other individuals, groups, or society as a whole.  It is the responsibility of the user to interpret this material rationally and without extraneous harmful or destructive inferences.

Fourth R exercises no control over those who use this website.  Our host, Startlogic, gathers basic headcount information, but does not identify individual visitors.  This website does not gather any information about specific users, except what they knowingly and willingly choose to submit.  It is solely the responsibility of the user to draw whatever benefit he or she can from the use of the material presented here.  Regardless of any inferences the user may choose to draw from this material, Fourth R makes no guarantees explicit or implicit, either of the material's suitability or benefit to the user, or against potential or actual harm resulting from the material's use or misuse.

accessing any material on this website signifies AGREEMENT BY the user and his or her agents to hold FOURTH R and its owner and assignees absolutely blameless for any harm or risk that may result from any direct or indirect effects of the the material's use or misuse by the user.

If the user agrees to these terms, he or she is welcome to view any portion of this website accessible to the public, and to use and copy materials contained herein under the copyright provisions stated above.

If, either now or later, the user decides that he or she does not agree to these terms, he or she should immediately cease accessing any of the site's study materials, leave the website, and destroy any and all copies which he or she has made of the website's content.