Saturday, June 11, 2005

Manure in neat little piles is still manure!

One major difficulty in applying logic principles to either the political or religious worlds, is weeding through the piles of sloppy logic. This particularly occurs with the process of inductive logic, where you argue from particulars to a certain generalization. The particulars could be actual evidence, transcripts and documentation, video, historical records, oral name it. The generalization you form from the particulars is as true, credible and relevant as the truth, credibility and relevancy of the particulars. So, the greater amount of good evidence you have, the higher the probability that your conclusion is true. But as in all induction, you are dealing with probabilities, not with complete certainty.

In deduction, you argue from the general to the specific, where the burden of the truth rests on your general propositions, or universals. It really is a shift of what is sufficiently true, either the particulars in induction, or the universals in deduction. But in the deductive method, the universals are still quite dependant on induction which is vital to identifying universals. So a universal "cows" shows that there are characteristics specific to cows that are univerally true of all "cows". The fact that "eat grass" is characteristic or predicates "cows" comes from induction, we have seen cow after cow eat grass.

So,turning to politics or religion, when you hear the endless diatribe of which ever side is making a case, I immediately look at the particulars and ask the following questions:

1. Is the evidence (particulars) a sufficient foundation for the conclusion?
2. Are the particulars true, accurate, credible, or are they slanted, fixed, etc?
3. Are the particulars relevant or irrelevant to the conclusion?
4. Is there a bias, and if so, how does it affect the conclusion?

The fallacies surround induction are as numerous as the imagination of the Sophists. However, there are a few that are commited more often than others. Here's a brief list.

a. Hasty Generalization: The act of making what is true for one, true for all.
b. Hasty Conclusion: Having insufficient evidence to form a conclusion.
c. False Cause: where the particulars do not illustrate true causality.
d. False criteria: where the particulars are irrelevant
e. Anecdotal Evidence: a form of "hasty conclusion" where one story forms the basis of the conclusion.
f. Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: a form of false cause where one event which occurs to prior to another forms the cause of the latter event.

When dealing with debates, especially heated ones, the tendency to want to win or pursuade your opponent is so strong that the temptation is to resort to these fallacies. Conservatives, like Rush Limbaugh, who state democrats don't work, using as a basis for their conclusion the example of a few democrats, commits "hasty generalization." Liberals who label George Bush as a fascist who fail to show his policies as that of fascism, the complete government control of private property, commit either "hasty conclusion" with a lack of evidence, or "false criteria" where the evidence sited is irrelevant.

As in all rhetoric, the truth of the matter is not the goal so much as the pursuasion of opponents. It is here that sophists place their greatest effort; change public opinion. Logicians, better yet, truth seekers, see the potential for great societal damage of rhetoric without substance and pursue the truth of the matter at all costs, even the loss of pseudo-friendships. This is extremely frustrating to sophists, for it undermines their objectives to manipulate. However, this doesn't deter the logician, it even provides an indicator that he is on the right track!

So fellow truth-seekers, happy shoveling!


At 8:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok...first time to your blog. Honestly, this all sounds like blah, blah, blah. Why does this matter? Where's the practicality in this? Thanks.


At 10:21 PM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

Great question. And, by the way, I appreciate you coming over!

I don't know if you ever have seen the movie "Shadowlands," a story of C.S. Lewis who marries a woman named Joy. She was a remarkable women with keen insight. She comes to where C.S. hangs out with his professor cronies and meets a thoroughly arrogant man who asks her a very condescending question. She looks at him straight in the eye and says, "Excuse me. I'm new to England so I need to know how to better conduct myself in your country. Do you mind if I ask you a question?" He says,"No." She looks him straight in the eye and asked, "Did you just ask me that question because you are trying to insult me, or are you just plain ignorant? And she kept looking at him, waiting for a reply, like it was the most reasonable question to ask him.

This is the wit of a logical person. When you are being told a line of crap from someone who is just trying to get you to emotionally agree to something, you have the mental where-with-all to combat their tactics.

When you watch the news, listen to the radio, hear someone give an emotional presentation, listen to a teenager! give some emotional, fallacious appeal, you can counter it. Have them come clean. They will soon realize that they are no match for your reasoning, and may either treat you with respect, or just leave you alone.

That being true for relationships, the question I ask you is, "What is more practical than knowing the truth about something?"

Do you always swallow what other people say to you because they make you feel good? Do you rely on your feelings or your reason to steer you through life?

Any means to help you understand the truth of things, or to pursue the Truth to get to the real meaning of life is hard core practical; for, it will guide you through the tough murky decision in life.

Enough now. I'd like to hear your response, so I can see if I've been clear to you or not.

By the way, thanks for dropping by!

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind and thoughtful answer.

I think it's a bit clearer, but how about some real life examples? School scenario? Politics? Whatever.

You said something like "what could be more practical than knowing truth"?

May I point out a thought? Just knowing truth, or claiming to, is not practical AT ALL.

Also, in decision making I don't believe healthy people (you and I) choose "between" emotions or reason, but use both. That is wisdom, is it not? Applied knowledge. That is much more important than "just" knowing. I'll bet you think so too. Do you?

I have seen Shadowlands, by the way. Makes you think about what matters. "The joy now is part of the sorrow then". I liked Ms Davidson, too.

No need to write back. Just thought I should respond since posing the question.


At 5:58 PM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

Yes, I agree with you that just knowing truth is not practical, nor is telling others that you know it! It really matters what you do with what you know.

This is critical which is the main reason why I put this blog up. My concern is that people who don't have good reasoning skills get themselves in a lot of hot water, or make decision with negative consequences for the rest of their lives, simply because they didn't use their common sense, which is basically what logic does, it let's loose the common sense within all of us.

Let's see, some practical examples would be in areas of moral issues. The abortion issue is a huge philosophical issue, but it is reported more as a religious issue, since religious leaders have jumped in to influence public opinion, as those who are in favor of abortion. However, the key issue is whether or not the fetus is a human being, though not fully developed, or just tissue, that is only from a human. Logic is key to know if the pro-abortionists have a valid argument and true conclusion, or a fallacious argument and a false conclusion. The answer to these questions are CRITICALLY important to the fetus.

Another example is in politics. Sometimes if you listen long to a politician enough, you'll hear a contradiction, and can be from either Democrats or Republicans. In logic, there is a law, or even stronger, an axiom that states that a statement and it's contradiction cannot be both true. So if someone contradicts himself, he's pulling a fast one. Logic requires either one or the other, not both.

As to the role of emotions, being logical does not rule out emotions. We tend to think of "Spock" as the logical one with no emotion. In terms of decision making, emotions cannot rule our thinking. It is a poor guide to let us know what is right or wrong. However, emotions fill our reasoned decisions with energy and power; it's how we humans are. So I never rule out emotions in the life of a truth-seeker, just don't be ruled by them.

Last example could be in dating. How girls and guys pick their mates is scary. What they call love is often infatuation. When all the telltale signs of abuse, selfishness, immorality, vice are apparent, the boy or girl still make an emotional decision to stick with them. Their lack of reasoning skills now leads to huge problems later.

I'm done for now. Thanks for letting me vent!

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...


The only down-side to reading your blogs is that I don't have to write anything, because you say it as well or better than how I would choose to say it.

To say "I agree with you and also enjoy your comments" sounds trite, but I do!

I adore Lewis, by the way: A Protestant who was very good friends with certain Catholics.

At 2:59 PM, Blogger Underground Logician said...


Feel free to say it, whether you agree or disagree. I think most of how we learn and grow is articulating what we have synthesized. I'm patient; and besides, I get bored with all the decorating inside my brain. I want to know what others think! It may open the door for synergy!

So, feel free to comment!

And, thank you, by the way. Your compliments are encouraging to this neophyte blogger.


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