Friday, October 2, 2015

Faulty Logic

Shooting for the Moon

At sometime in my life I was introduced to logic. Maybe more than once. Lewis Carroll, under his real name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson supposedly invented the logic puzzle. But Einstein got credit for the famous Zebra Logic puzzle that Dodgson did. His writings under his pen name of Lewis Carroll are laced with logic and illogic, riddles and unanswered riddles like "Why is the Raven like a writing desk?" The mere question assumes it is. And the answer?

"Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is never put with the wrong end in front!" Frankly, always liked it not having an answer. Or Poe wrote on both seemed logical.

Logic is the offspring of the Greek syllogism. All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, Therefore, Socrates is mortal. Syllogisms are the core of deductive reasoning or top down reasoning. The conclusion is valid only if the premises are valid or true. But there are valid arguments and sound arguments. It all swings on the validity or soundness of the premises.

Everyone who eats carrots is a quarterback.
John eats carrots.
Therefore, John is a quarterback.

A current example could be:

Everyone who owns a gun kills people
John owns a gun
Therefore, John will kill people.

Can we solve the problem of John being a quarterback killer by eliminating carrots or guns?

If you took the time to look at the Zebra Logic Puzzle you noted that there are often tons more premises than two. And each premise has to be tested to be proved valid and sound. Another premise we might add to the last syllogism is all mass shooters are white males in their twenties. So will jailing all white males in their twenties end all mass shootings? Will taking all guns away from everyone (even those not white males in their twenties) solve the problem? And another premise to add is the use of psychotropic drugs by young white males in their twenties. And by almost all mass shooters? Or another premise to be considered: Twenties are when young white men first exhibit schizoid signs. Or the premise nobody considers: Gun control does not control guns.

Who is up for the challenge? Get your girds drawn and your premises defined and tested.

I lived in the brainy wing of my college dorm. We played bridge and toyed with philosophical arguments and logic puzzles constantly. And to this day I find myself annoyed with the fast conclusions news anchors and politicians reach. It is a wonder I even watch the news. And even weirder that I stay on Facebook.

Not it is easier to determine if a conclusion is not sound than to find the flaw in the logic.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad you stay on Face Book but also wonder too at the logic of the law enforcers. I saw an article today which informed us that your President is about to use his powers to over rule Congress and enforce weapons control.Because amongst other things, he is tired of standing up in front of people and apologizing for their losses.


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