1. JC, I enjoyed your presentation on logic, and as a mathematician/scientist/engineer, I appreciate the role of logic in proofs and arguments, however, I do have a problem with people taking scientific tools and trying to apply them to non-science situations and also treating statistical studies as if they were automatically factual and irrefutable.

Many tend to extend the posits of logic, which deal in facts and objective matters, to opinions and subjective matters. One cannot prove using strict logic that one's opinion on foreign policy or gun control or premarital sex is the one RIGHT one, simply because there are a multitude of factors, many subjective, that form one's outlook on complex matters, and everyone has a right to formulate and hold their own opinion on subjective topics. Believing that the world is flat is a silly "opinion" because the round shape of the world is an objective fact. Believing that premarital sex is a positive growth experience is simply one subjective view out of many.

Quoting statistics and studies doesn't necessarily prove a point either and one should be cautious about taking them as fact. Statistics are only as good as the methodology/protocol used to gather the data...bad data will never yield good statistics. Also, the statistical protocols/techniques used to gather and summarize the data are often chosen at the discretion of the person(s) running the study, who uses his/her best judgement in selection (and may have ulterior motives or may just pick the method that tips the conclusion in the preferred direction...not that this happens in all statistical studies, but it is a real phenomenon). There are a myriad of statistical tools available and rarely is there one "correct" tool for the application. Any one study should be taken with a grain of skepticism and until a body of similar evidence/conclusion is available, assume that statistics are either consciously or unconsciously flawed or biased.

In general, statistical investigation is not the same as the scientific method, although they share some similarities. Trying to determine what factors reduce repeat criminal behavior is not the same as trying to isolate the virus that causes a given disease.

2. I believe very few people think logically when they argue. So I would not say this is something inherent to everyone. Perhaps everyone can think logically, but genetically we are all predisposed towards one end of the spectrum or the other. Many people jump to conclusions without thinking. I wouldn't say that the problem most of the time with poor arguments is bad logic, as much as a lack of critical thinking.

Critical thinking I believe is very poorly taught in the current education system, and people are definitely suffering because of it. So many kids are taught in classes, where they just take notes all class, answer questions with textbook answers, and take a test which allows them to regurgitate what they've been told. To me, this is a very poor use of someone's brain. I had a great english teacher in highschool, that really did a good job focusing on the lack of critical thinking. He would consistently utter some form of BS in class, and see who the note takers were, that were righting all the crap he was saying down. He would lose respect for them pretty quick. But he would gain quite a bit of respect for those who would speak out, or disagree, or just flat out tell him he was wrong. People these days, are used to reading articles, and accepting them as fact, without stopping, and thinking where the information was coming from, who it's written for, it's purpose, and the message it is trying to send.

Even on a message board like this, where you actually do have time before you voice your opinion, because you have to physically start a thread, or type out a post, you see a ton of absolutely stupid, and yes I'd say "stupid" is the most appropriate word, replies towards a great many issues. So they won't question, or think about what it is they read, and just jump to conclusions based on false or shady information, or be as cattle, and led to pasture by the authors of such laughable theories that it seems it should be considered tabloid versus journalism.

So I'd say that the ability to critically think for yourself, question what you hear, and not just keep letting yourself get spoonfed your opinions, is more of a problem than logical thought.

My own thought process, I usually try to boil things down into smaller manageable components, and think what would be logical, or "reasonable" for each component, and how it fits in the overall issue.

So since we used the gun control argument as an example, I will take one of my arguments as an example. I boiled things down to 3 parts. First, my lack of faith, in a governing body to precisely ensure that only responsible people get permits, and that no "idiots" get them; secondly, my lack of faith, in responsible people who carry, as no matter how responsible you are, you truly have no clue of how you will act until the moment is upon you, and possessing lethal force so readily available really makes me feel less protected as a citizen, than the alternative; and my final point would be that, empowering more people to deal out death, so easily, is not a safe thing. It in my opinion, would be making each citizen with a carry permit, a ticking time bomb, most will probably not go off, but some probably will, and I'd rather know that if that person is carrying a gun, is in fact a criminal, versus a good samaritan that happened to lose his job and get wasted, and then someone says the wrong thing at the wrong time.

That was just an example to take you through how I think on certain matters. I generally don't go out and seek statistics to back up my arguments, because I am not naive enough to believe in the majority of statistics. Stats are always funded, and are generally funded towards proving a point, so depending on who gathers in the data and forms it into manageable numbers, you can have entirely different looking results. I'm sure I could go to a pro gun carry site, and an anti gun carry site, and find all sorts of stats that contradict one another, so I don't bother as it only takes away from what it all boils down to in my own thought process.

JC.

None of these ideas are unique to me they are part of the "Whole Learning" theory which is increasing in popularity around the world.

The biggest problem I have with your argument JC is the fact that you believe it is irrefutable and that for someone to have a problem with it they must be an idiot. Well I have a problem with your argument because of this view, other than that and the afforementioned points it is a sound argument. It really shows you how you do not practice what you preach, nor is it possible to write something which attains the attention of a human reader but at the same time is completely logical. I am younger than you and was brought up in a different educational environment to you, however It is just this environment which has allowed me to see massive holes in what you consider to be an absolute logical argument. Well my generation believe above all that there is simply NO SUCH THING AS SUBJECTIVITY, and this allows us to attack arguments on an emotive, logical, psychological, metaphorical, hypothetical and many other levels without even knowing that we posess such skills.

Perhaps Logic is a dated mechanism and although it is important we must also understand that it is not the be all and end all of constructive thought.
Westy,

I have never heard of the "Whole Learning" theory. Perhaps this is because I was never an Education major. From what I understand, you explain it as something of a movement. Something of a rejection of one type of criteria for proof. Thus you consider arguments from the "emotive, logical, psychological" and other perspectives. I assume that you have made a mistake when you say proponents of this approach believe that there is "NO SUCH THING AS SUBJECTIVITY" because emotive and psychological arguments are inherently subjective arguments. Perhaps you could make this a little bit more clear for us.

Anyways, while I think such an approach is interesting and deserves inquiry, I see nothing new in it. If we just look at recent history, the "Irrationalists" at the end of the 18th C. and early 19th C., several of the "Romantic" and "Enlightenment" thinkers all adhered to this approach in differing ways. The difference is, most weren't philosophers or epistemologists and if they were they had no significant impact on either of these fields. Within the field of philosophy itself such an approach has never gained much approval. The premier position of Logic has never been seriously challenged and for good reason I believe. For all we know, a deductive argument, is still a better argument than any emotive argument of the type "Well this is what I believe" or "I think this is the truth."

You asked JC why this is the case. It is the case because it is a logical contradiction that an argument could have all true premises and the conclusion not be true, assuming that the premises provide support for the conclusion. It is NOT a logical contradiction for someone to say "This is what I believe," and the conclusion not be true.

Again, I am not saying that there isn't any merit in your approach. What I am saying is that Western, Aristotelian logic has maintained a position of paramount importance within science and philosophy for well over 2000 years for good reason. Conversely, arguments based on emotion have never been granted such approval for the reasons discussed above. If you can show us that an "I believe" argument should be put on par with a deductively sound, valid, or even inductive argument then not only will you defy history but your argument for the "Whole Learning" theory will be much more forceful. Until then, I think that learning how to construct a proper logical argument should be of absolute importance in anyone's education, formal or not.

4. Give me a few years....I am only 6 weeks into my first philosophy class but I have learned a lot so far...

5. Originally posted by IceRgrrl
JC, I enjoyed your presentation on logic, and as a mathematician/scientist/engineer, I appreciate the role of logic in proofs and arguments, however, I do have a problem with people taking scientific tools and trying to apply them to non-science situations and also treating statistical studies as if they were automatically factual and irrefutable.
Yikes! IceR, I never suggested one could "prove" opinion or non-scientific issues with logic. But the rules of logic have been applied to just those sorts of things since Aristotle. How else do you make a point?

I made it perfectly clear (I thought) in my post that reasonable people can view the same set of facts and circumstances and come to very different, but supportable conclusions. That's the nature of non-scientific issues. You can prove what the boiling point of water is, but you cannot prove something like the effect gun registration has on crime rates. However, if you don't try to construct some sort of supporting argument by reasoning up from details to more generalized conclusions, what are you left with?

You're left with what ElPietro has labeled (accurately, I think) stupid posts. "I feel this." "You're a baby killer." You are left with totally unsupported assertions, and those are (sorry to be judgemental here) bad arguments or assertions. You're left with no argument at all, but a simple shouting match. I like the way ElPietro has phrased it--critical thinking skills. Logic is one area of study where you can improve your critical thinking skills. Not the only way, but a good way.

I also understand statistics can be spun (There's lies, damn lies and statistics!) in many different ways, but you need some logical skills or critical thinking skills to be able to discern when the stats are relevant and when they're not. You can't throw them out, though, because they're not perfect! Again, you're left with shouting matches.

Originally posted by ElPietro
That was just an example to take you through how I think on certain matters. I generally don't go out and seek statistics to back up my arguments, because I am not naive enough to believe in the majority of statistics. Stats are always funded, and are generally funded towards proving a point, so depending on who gathers in the data and forms it into manageable numbers, you can have entirely different looking results. I'm sure I could go to a pro gun carry site, and an anti gun carry site, and find all sorts of stats that contradict one another, so I don't bother as it only takes away from what it all boils down to in my own thought process.

That's a pretty darned good assessment of statistical studies. Instead of throwing all studies out, however, if we had better critical thinking skills, we'd be better able to tell good studies from bad studies. The fact that the NRA funds a study doesn't make it wrong, and the fact that HCI funds one doesn't make it wrong--you have to be able to evaluate the studies to see how good they might be, not evaluate the motives of the group doing the study. Logic and critical thinking help one do this evaluation. Peer reviewed social science studies go through this all the time.

ElPietro hit the nail on the head, I think, in that most people today simply don't think about much of what they are taught or see on TV or read in the papers. I believe because they are not equipped to. My hope was in this post we raise people's ability to think critically, not argue any particular positions.

If we all learn logic and how to lie with statistics, we're still going to have differing views on things and that's great! Logic and stats are not going magically make controversy go away. But we'd be better off if we all tried to reason our way to conclusions instead of yelling "Your opinion is no good because you're a dirty, rotten poo-poo head." Or "Well, if you're not for my position on this matter you must be for running over little old ladies with steam rollers." There's simply way too much of that around.

Know what the limitations of logic and statistics are, but IceR, please don't ban logic from non-scientific discussions. And ElPietro, please don't ban all empirical studies. It would be pretty hard to argue anything without these tools.

6. I am a marketing database analyst. Statistics are my friend.

7. I think you were somewhat misunderstanding what I was trying to get across, JC. I wasn't saying to ban all logic from non-scientific arguments, but to be cautious about confusing the purely objective with the subjective. I have no problem with an intelligent exchange of viewpoint and supporting arguments and I am one who loathes points that are purely emotion and avoid them like the plague myself. However, "logic" in the global sense is often used interchangeably with "critical thinking skills" while pure "logic" as used in math and a course in logic is something more specific.

I don't think I said anything about throwing out all statistical studies, just being critical in accepting their conclusions, for many of the same reasons that ElP mentioned. It seems to me that you concluded that what I said was wrong but when ElP said it, it was sensible.

Anyways, I don't participate in many arguments/debates here or anywhere online simply because of what you mentioned...shouting matches, emotional arguments, poor thought process, lack of introspection and basis for viewpoint...and because I enjoy having those conversations in real life with my colleagues, friends, and family.

8. I think chairs would look funny if our knees bent the other direction.

9. What are you talking about? Logic format is not exclusive to math. Logic is a way of thinking.
Like say for gun control.
Your arguement is basically an implication.
Let P be a gun owner.
Let G be a criminal.
Let say I was to say that "every criminal owns a gun"
(for any)x(G(x)->P(x))
while not totally true it is reasonable

On the other hand
(for any)x (P(x)->G(x))
is just wrong (or is it??? *disclaimer* example used to inflame JC)
This is "every gun owner is a criminal"

See logic can be a very effective way to state conclusively your opinion or position. There is no if buts or ands about it. Though this is very cumbersome and very unintuitive from a normal person's standpoint. Therefore many people choose to express logic format in words to the best of their abilities.
As with any implication it is only as good as its assumption.
(for any)x (P(x)->G(x))
this logic assumes that P(x) is true. If it is not then the logic statement is trivial because of the truth table of an implication. This is where, if I believe I read his post right, his arguement lies. If you do not prove your initial assumption what ever that maybe the rest of what you say is trivial at best. Then you must prove that there is even an implication and that is a whole nother mess....
x y x->y
0 0 1
0 1 1
1 1 1
0 1 0

Lastly as to JC's statement Inductive logic does not prove anything, is wrong. Well in logic anyways, psudeologic is different. Induction is just another way to prove something. You can prove it directly or you can prove it inductively. Both ways are a valid proof.

10. Originally posted by IceRgrrl
It seems to me that you concluded that what I said was wrong but when ElP said it, it was sensible.
Now that makes sense!

11. Originally posted by PowerManDL
I think chairs would look funny if our knees bent the other direction.
Does that mean we'd have to run backwards, ass first? Chairs would then be U-shaped, kinda funny looking I guess.

12. Gone Postal made my hair hurt! Ouch!

13. *sigh* Nevermind, you missed the point. I never said it was exclusive to math, I said that pure logic in its most specific form, as used in math (AS ONE EXAMPLE) is not the same thing as what we refer to as the global "logic" in formulating a well-thought out opinion or supported argument. The two are often confused and misused.

And using truth tables is great for certain applications, but it requires that you need to start with a very simple statement, the kind that big volatile issues like abortion or gun control or foreign policy can't be summarized with...great for programming and proofs, but not so hot for social debate.

My original point was mostly aimed at those who mistakenly believe that their personal logic should convince everyone to think like them, or that quoting one study is enough to "prove" a theory.

I think we're all violently agreeing here anyways.

14. Originally posted by IceRgrrl
*sigh* Nevermind, you missed the point. I never said it was exclusive to math, I said that pure logic in its most specific form, as used in math
Like no matter what 2+2 will =4

2+2 will never =7 or anythign else but 4.... that what you mean?

15. Not really...but here are some examples that I think will clear things up a little bit:

This site gives a good into to what logic is in the context of argument and reason as well as what it is applicable to/not applicable to:
http://www.intrepidsoftware.com/fallacy/howto.htm

AND a good overview of common logical fallacies commonly used in poor arguments (THIS is what I believe JC was getting at):
http://www.intrepidsoftware.com/fallacy/toc.htm

Here is an example of symbolic logic as used in a mathematical proof:
http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/proje...ml/node13.html

16. Two quick comments first one, does anyone really beleive you are going to be able to change someones opinion by posting here when it deals with anything that each poster feels passionate about, wether religion, emotional or national?

Second is to JC and a statement he made"If people just post "opinions" then it becomes a shouting match, and nobody likes having another's opinions shouted in their face at high volume"......since we are dealing with posting as to actual verbal communication, I find this statment not be logical at all...

17. Originally posted by Sledgehammer
Two quick comments first one, does anyone really beleive you are going to be able to change someones opinion by posting here when it deals with anything that each poster feels passionate about, wether religion, emotional or national?

Second is to JC and a statement he made"If people just post "opinions" then it becomes a shouting match, and nobody likes having another's opinions shouted in their face at high volume"......since we are dealing with posting as to actual verbal communication, I find this statment not be logical at all...
Actually yes. Since I started studying philosophy I have learned so much. I realized how I spoke was wrong, how I thought was wrong etc. I have learned to articulate myself better and it truly helps a lot. I am by no means an expert etc. I think it helps in so many ways.

18. Originally posted by Sledgehammer
Two quick comments first one, does anyone really beleive you are going to be able to change someones opinion by posting here when it deals with anything that each poster feels passionate about, wether religion, emotional or national?

Second is to JC and a statement he made"If people just post "opinions" then it becomes a shouting match, and nobody likes having another's opinions shouted in their face at high volume"......since we are dealing with posting as to actual verbal communication, I find this statment not be logical at all...

This thread has nothing to do with changing someone's opinion. It's about realizing that some arguments are not valid, or not logical, or some feel that their arguments are logical when if fact they aren't. To me this thread says, "Stop and think, before you speak." I think too many people don't do this, and that's why you get so many emotional replies.

As for your second statement, sure volume isn't a factor on the net, but a shouting match is akin to people just repeating their stance over and over again, without any rhyme or reason behind it, and when others attempt to disprove, they still will only respond with the same emotional foolishness. This isn't debating, this is what he is terming a "shouting match," which is probably a pretty appropriate term to use.

19. i agree with powerman.

20. As a Vulcan the terms shouting match and volumes are not logical for a discussion on web postings...

21. Originally posted by IceRgrrl

AND a good overview of common logical fallacies commonly used in poor arguments (THIS is what I believe JC was getting at):
http://www.intrepidsoftware.com/fallacy/toc.htm

You're right! Because that's another mirror site to the same link I posted! LOL.

Thanks for the other two though. I'm gonna grab a glass of wine and go check them out.

I'm a sick puppy, I actually like this stuff.

22. Originally posted by Sledgehammer
Two quick comments first one, does anyone really beleive you are going to be able to change someones opinion by posting here when it deals with anything that each poster feels passionate about, wether religion, emotional or national?

ElPietro dealt with this perfectly (thanks! ), but I want to make one other point. I've had my mind changed by well constructed arguments. I think the more "logical" folks here on the site are also more open-minded as a general rule than those who don't have those critical thinking skills. IceR is right, you don't "prove" positions on complex issues with logic, but often people are moved to change their thinking on such topics, and again, reasonable people can come to differing conclusions drawn from the same fact patterns. Discussions are just more "useful" (there's gotta be a better word, but I'm too tired to come up with it) when one stops and thinks and organizes before jumping into one. Oh, and reflects on the other person's last comments.

23. like manipulation.......

24. Here's my logic:

Nobody is perfect. I'm a nobody. Therefore, I am perfect.

25. That would make you a perfect nobody, therefore, insignificant.

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