Fifth Tangent

We are supposed to be talking logic this time. More specifically, I’d like to talk logic and people – how they use and understand logic.

While most people aren’t necessarily logical, they seem to have a decent grasp of what is logic. You and I are capable of everyday reasoning. But we find ourselves making decisions seeing past conventional logic – and it really has more to do with human psychology. Sometimes, nasty people exploit this loophole to win an argument, make a point, or even manipulate us like some theatrical puppet.

Firstly, let’s talk decisions. Decisions are crucial to the economy – you perform trade-offs between any products/services at the margin. Implications? Many. When you compare these product’s at the margin, your brain doesn’t pay much attention (or even process) any of the ruled out criteria. While this marginal trade-off seems like the only logical thing to do, it isn’t. See it this way, when you are no longer processing the ruled out criteria, you no longer continue to weigh it’s potential utility should it change. Sounds gibberish? Wait. Your brain might operate on the presumption than utility is constant and utility at the margin as the only deciding factor. But to perform a well-rounded trade-off, you need to consider the individual contributions of all criteria simultaneously toward total utility. You’ll need to research all criteria equally than rule them out by instinct and research hard at the margin. But you don’t because that’s simply how your brain likes it, streamlined and one at a time.

Purely speaking, a fallacy might arise when people falsely induct or deduct from evidence, intentionally or unintentionally

Second, let’s talk fallacies or false logic. These are employed by nasty people to lead their biased, or potentially false beliefs to a conclusion that works in their favor. They fail to employ the rules of conventional logic, and I hope unintentionally. The psychopath bells ring strong in this one. False logic, like logic, come in all shapes and sizes. They can play around with your emotions – such as inciting fear over a consequence that is improbable i.e., statistically unlikely. Or appeal to your mental faculties – such as citing some tradition, authority or ‘expert’ (expert fallacy) to support their claim. And there is good old manipulation – such as the confirmation bias, which I so often try to avoid while using anecdotal evidence to support something. Direct attacks – like shifting the burden of proof on the defending party can subdue their ability to question further. These so far have been psychological. Remember when I said fallacies appear in all forms? Purely speaking, a fallacy might arise when people falsely induct or deduct from evidence. And sadly, there are countless permutations to achieve this – playing with the cause/effect pair, or just bad induction or deduction, or even deduction from evidence established using psychological fallacies. The possibilities are endless. This is all done in place of an assertion supported by valid reasoning – because they’re either intimidated by the truth or incapable of perceiving it – we’d never know. Be careful!

Third, let’s talk plain (conventional) logic. This probably isn’t the right place to begin with but here we are. I wanted to highlight false logic and people’s susceptibility to it, pushing this trivial discussion towards the end. Mathematically (or purely), logic broadly is performed by deduction or induction. Proving by deduction is what we do pretty much everyday – arriving at conclusions based on the validity of the premises. Induction is done more mathematically in a bottom-top manner, and is essentially reversed deduction with the premise and conclusion reversed in systematic order. By induction, the premises can necessarily be valid if the conclusion is. For both, there are rules that need to be followed. When done mathematically, they are almost always true. However, when we apply the same rules to real-world reasoning, such as involving ethical conundrums, some ambiguity may arise.

So far, we seem to have established logic as the way of truth, logically. But then, the philosophers bring in the concept of rationality and garble everything. Is logic always rational? Not necessarily, but then is rational reasoning always logical? Also, no. The key distinction would be that only a human can perform rational reasoning, not computers. And that’s probably why there’s still some debate over autonomous vehicles and there always will be one unless we can figure out a way for computers to act rationally.

You know, I’ve been wanting to talk drugs. Yeah, drugs! Stay tuned for the sixth tangent. We’ve come a long way since that random post of day 1, cheers to that!


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