Mr. Sensitive

April 23, 2010

Logic Predominates

Filed under: Stuff I Just Wanted To Say — lbej @ 17:15

I have been reflecting on the disastrous decisions sometimes taken by otherwise tactically proficient commanders, and upon similar decisions which I have myself taken in the past.  What concerns me is the extent to which powerful logic often proves ineffectual or worse.  I have had practical disagreements with individuals whom I respect as much as it is possible for me to respect anyone, and have come out of it with both parties insisting that one conclusion is logical whereas another is not.  If a person is not being logical, or at the very least is unwilling to reject an argument that is not internally consistent/non-contradictory, it is frustrating, but I am usually content to shrug my shoulders and order summary execution.  But my actual experience has been that I rarely encounter this problem, and most of the summary executions I order are because I have a headache and it seems to help.  If you point out a logical contradiction, usually the offender will attempt to dispute the facts.  Failing that, though, he will concede the argument.  He may do this by slugging you, but the argument is nonetheless over.  Most people understand logic.  The problem is not the operation of logic; the problem is the assumptions.

When I watch a news program on television, a headache invariably results.  This is because ‘news’ on television is little more than blatantly partisan blowhards arguing loudly.  And by arguing I mean repeating talking points in the direction of each other while not refuting or even acknowledging any actual argument that is inadvertently made.  One of the many annoying things about this format is that I always get the sense that the segment started during the previous commercial break.  That is, I’m sure that these people would not try and construct an argument intended to persuade a viewer of anything without laying out their critical assumptions, only I never hear that happening, so they must be doing it off-camera.  This would be acceptable if perfectly average folks did not routinely hold various and sundry beliefs about the world we live in that are not only false, but are in fact impossible.  And of course they do.  A number of these folks form the so-called ‘base’ of one particular American political party, but that’s neither here nor there.  The point is that most people use logic more or less correctly, but many of those same people make completely indefensible assumptions that, if disclosed, would invalidate conclusions based upon them.  If I want to watch a ‘news’ program, I have to know the bias of the commentators beforehand or I will be misled.  It’s as simple as that.

The point of all this is that I think that we could all avoid a lot of frustration if each of us carried with us a list of critical assumptions regarding life and how to live it.  Then when we meet each other, we could exchange our assumptions and know immediately whether we should talk about anything other than the weather.  I think I would keep my list on a papyrus scroll.

There’s only one person I deal with on a regular basis who is legitimately incapable of logical reasoning.  Information goes in, and magic happens, and after that it’s bananas.  There’s always something different in the pot at the end of that rainbow, but it’s never gold.  I’m not sure whether there are leprechauns involved but I would find it oddly comforting if there were.



  1. That one person is me, isn’t it? Just kidding.

    Also, Jenny could make you an ancient scroll for your assumptions.

    Comment by Katie — April 23, 2010 @ 20:39 | Reply

    • You know who it is. I did in fact get the idea for the scroll from Jenny, and mine will also just say “I Love Braydon.”

      Comment by lbej — April 23, 2010 @ 22:19 | Reply

  2. I’d feel a lot better about it if there were leprechauns involved. Or any sort of magical something involved to make it less about mental imbalance.
    I’m about to make my own scroll, only it will be a massive stone tablet. For reals, it would save endless time if everyone just laid out their assumptions. You could exchange them like business cards, hold that information for later and use it as necessary.

    Comment by Justin — April 24, 2010 @ 05:19 | Reply

    • I like the stone tablet. If someone handed me an iPad with their assumptions I would take that as permission to beat him or her to death with said iPad, which would take a long time, but okay.

      Comment by lbej — April 24, 2010 @ 07:32 | Reply

  3. France? Maybe it’s not gold, but it could be those chocolate coins that are wrapped in gold foil.

    Comment by niceowl — April 24, 2010 @ 14:59 | Reply

    • If you don’t know, you’ll never know. Or you could just ask Justin.

      Comment by lbej — April 24, 2010 @ 15:19 | Reply

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