Monday, November 14, 2005

Logic, people. Learn it, love it.

Suppose the statement If A, Then B is known to be true. Say: If Johnny is sick, he stays home from work. Let's take that as your base statement: If A, Then B.

You can then make the following statements:

  • A, therefore B. Johnny is sick, therefore he stays home from work.
  • Not B, therefore not A. Johnny did not stay home from work, therefore he was not sick.
The following statements, however, are logical fallacies. They DO NOT follow from your premise.
  • Not A, therefore Not B. Johnny wasn't sick, therefore he didn't stay home from work. You can't say this for sure, because there may be other reasons that Johnny stays home from work. Say, because his kids are sick, or it's a holiday, or he's just a lazy-ass.
  • B, therefore A. Johhny stayed home, therefore he was sick. See above about the many reasons that Johnny keeps his lazy ass at home.
This base statement is basically the same as the Venn diagram - for those of you who like circles - of "All A's are B's" - If it's an A, then it's also a B. Same conclusions flow, and do not flow. If something isn't in the bigger, outside B circle, it can't be in nested little A. Just because something is in big B doesn't automatically make it an A.

So, for example:
"All Republicans are idiots."
"That's not true!"
"Really? Give me an example that disproves my assertion."
"My brother Jerry is a total idiot, and he's a Democrat."
"Jane, you ignorant slut. You could say, 'Dan Evans is a Republican, and he's not an idiot, therefore not all Republicans are idiots.' The fact that you found some idiotic non-Republicans does absolutely nothing to invalidate my argument."
Why am I saying these things? Because the standards for rational, logical reasoning have becoming stunningly, abysmally low in this country. Because I was required to take a semester of formal logic waaaay back in the 7th grade - none of which I really remember - and so I am apparently condemned to a life where just reading the news each day is like FINGERNAILS ON THE FRICKIN' BLACKBOARD, people, what with all the logical fallacies flying around. I'm just trying to do my part to bring a little more rationality to the world. That's all. Thanks for listening.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When you're in power, you don't need logic. Logic helps, especially with the staying in power part, but since W is term-limited out, he's done even if Jesus doesn't come back before January 2009. Plus, think of how dull Shakespeare's (or deVere's or whomevers) kings would be if they had been ruled by logic. When is the Doomsday Alarm set for anyway?