Monday, June 2, 2014

"The Illogical Flaw In Logical Thinking"

This one’s going viral.  I can feel the groundswell of excitement already.

reason (re’zan) v. to think or argue in a logical manner.  

logic (loj’ic) n. a particular method of reasoning or argumentation.

Great.  The research portion this operation is over.  Two things I had to look up, and I am already exhausted. 

I shall probably use “reason” and “logic” interchangeably, because they pertain fundamentally to the same concern:  Reasoning to conclusions in a logical manner.

I believe in reason.  I have to.  I have hardly any muscles, and the alternative to reason is physical force, where I am virtually guaranteed to lose.  Maybe someone who’s been bedridden since birth – they get up, we disagree about something – it is possible I could take them.  Otherwise, I’m the guy they say “Lie still” to while they summon the paramedics.

I put my faith in logical resolutions because I have no other choice.  Also true, however, is that as an enthusiastic Homo Sapienist, I am proud of my species’ ability to reason.  It is that Homo Sapianic boosterism the compels the inclusion of this braggadocious comparison:

MONKEY NUMBER ONE:  “I would ask you why you just threw your feces in my face, were I not certain I would receive the same answer I always get.”

MONKEY NUMBER TWO:  “I’m a monkey!  Chee-chee-chee-chee…”

MONKEY NUMBER ONE:  “…‘chee-chee-chee.’  I know.”

Logic is wonderful.  As an aspiring if not always successful “independent thinker”, I employ it all the time.  I am encouraged in this regard by a quote I found by cultural anthropologist Barbara Ehrenreich that says, “I believe in nothing.  Belief is intellectual surrender.”  (An inspiring assertion, even though, judging by her writing, it’s from the mouth of a confirmed “Lefty.”)  

I like to think my way logically through an issue, as logical thinking leads to a reasonable and satisfying conclusion.  (Of course, that could be self-determining.  Where else would logical thinking lead than to a logical conclusion?  But anyway.) 

If I were to stake my claim as partisan of any kind, I would root unreservedly for “Team Logic.”  Consequently, I am as distraught as I am when the Dodgers lose – I often avoid that section in the newspaper on those mornings – whenever logical reasoning ignominiously takes it on the chin. 

When a person (or group) believes something that does not make reasonable sense, I perceive that as palpable defeat for “Team Logic”, and I do not traditionally handle such setbacks with the charm and grace I am otherwise known to display.  (I like to think.)

Some Random Examples (Not All Of Them Hostile To Conservatives):

The “Old Chestnut” comes first:

Why do people who oppose abortion also oppose birth control when, with the exception of abstinence – and good luck with that one – birth control is the most reliable method of reducing abortions?

And then there’s…

What is the relationship between reducing “Voter Fraud” and eliminating voting on Sundays?

And also, demonstrating that I am not entirely partisan,

How am I to regard the complaint that the death penalty is becoming increasingly expensive due to the extended appeals process when the people voicing that complaint are the same people fighting desperately to extend the death penalty appeals process?

Then, demonstrating more that I pretty much am

How can you lower the deficit and lower taxes when it is the taxes that are required to lower the deficit?

Then, jumping once again to the other side,

How do you advocate for “diversity” in the universities with simultaneously advocating for self-segregating dormitories?

And again, because the examples on the conservative side are easier to come by…

How do you say you believe in the “Free Market” and then hire lobbyists and contribute lavishly to candidates in order to tilt the economic “playing field” inexorably in your direction?

And finally, for something entirely non-partisan,

Why would Highway Patrol personnel hide in the bushes to inhibit drivers from rolling through stop signs when visibly showing themselves would more successfully inhibit drivers from rolling through stop signs?

Okay, just one more.

How do you justify legalizing for the purpose of hunting and personal safety guns that are neither necessary nor appropriate for either hunting or personal safety?

Inherent in each of these questions, it seems to me, is a perceivable logical contradiction.  Like Star Trek’s “Spock” used to say, it “does not compute.”  Still, for the people maintaining such contradictory beliefs, this does not appear to be any kind of a problem. 

Why, my view, is that the case?

Because, when push comes to shove – itself an illuminating descriptive – emotion obliterates logic the way “rock crushes scissors.”

Logical reasoning is a joy.  But the illogical flaw about logical thinking is that, going “head-to-head” with raw emotion…

"Team Logic" takes it annihilatingly on the chin





Wendy M. Grossman said...

It might be emotion trumping logic might be that the basis for the reasoning is not what you think it is.

Example: the cops awaiting hidden at stop signs. You think their goal is to stop people from rolling through stop signs. Their *actual* goal is to collect fines from people rolling through stop signs to benefit their jurisdiction in the interests of continued employment.

Example: opposing both abortion *and* birth control (and, back in the early 1970s also favoring sending kids to Vietnam). You think their goal is to prevent abortions. The *actual* goals include preventing abortions but also include stopping kids from having sex, requiring today's kids to live the way they did, and - and this may be the most important - wanting to be able to believe that *their* kids are not having sex because *they* were properly brought up.

In the tax case, I think the opponents of tax rises believe that lowering taxes ensures rich people will be less inclined to avoid paying taxes, and will put whatever money they do save because of the lowered rates into investing in jobs that will ultimately raise more money. What's that you say? That doesn't *work*? That's a different issue.


Canda said...

Speaking for the other side, the State of California has the highest personal income tax on the wealthy in the nation, which they sold to the public by saying with it they wouldn't cut the education budget. Even with the very high education budget, they have one of the worst high school graduation rates in the nation. Could this have anything to do with the steadfast opposition to school reforms from the Unions who provide the financial backing for many of the politicians in California?

Frankly, the inability of the State to reform the costs of running the State government, which has incredible featherbedding, and refuses to even follow the reforms independent commissions have recommended, is more responsible for cuts in social programs than anything else.

As for the abortion argument, the liberal benefits for having children out-of-wedlock, has led to such a high number of dysfunctional households, it has made it almost impossible to have schools with functional school populations, no matter what it is spent on education. Accountability in having children would go much further in creating a social fabric that works. But no one wants to touch that.

Many blame Prop.13, but property taxes in California are higher than in many places where the schools are graduating students at a much higher rate.

Large amounts of money spent on education will work only if the school population is motivated to learn and the Unions back the reforms necessary to guarantee that rules that foster excellence in education are the main objects of the school.

JED said...

Centuries after Copernicus showed that the Earth rotates on its axis and the Earth moves around the Sun, even scientific journals refer to Sunrise and Sunset. The Sun doesn't come up or go down but we're just too lazy to make new words for the phenomenon.

Pete medina said...

Hey Spock doesn't say "It does not compute." That's the line from the Robot on "Lost in Space."