Saturday, February 14, 2009


Another thing that makes me crazy: when what I say is deemed illogical without any proof.

Well, it drives me crazy when anything is claimed anything without any proof -- but it especially drives me crazy when what I say is deemed illogical without proof.

I am a software engineer. Logic is my trade. Now, that doesn't mean that everything I say is, therefore, logical. I'm just saying that I have a lot of practice forming logical statements/claims, allowing those claims to be tested, finding my errors in logic, and fixing those errors.

I am familiar with logic, I work with logic -- and I'm frankly damn good at it.

Now, I have no problems being called out when I am illogical. However, don't tell me, show me.

And here are a few hints:

Logic has to do with premises and conclusions based on such premises. Logic has nothing to do with premises being true or false but in having the conclusion being fully supported by the premise(s).

That is to say, you can have a false premise but a logical statement. For example, "All cows are green, and Jezabelle is a cow; therefore, Jezabelle is green" is a logical statement. There are two premises: 1) All cows are green; and 2) Jezabelle is a cow. There is one conclusion: 1) Jezabelle is green.

The conclusion is logically supported by the two premises. Whether or not cows are truly green or Jezabelle is truly a cow has no bearing on the logical flow of the statement. In logic, there are implications of conditionals. That is to say, it is implied "[If] all cows are green, and [if] Jezabelle is a cow[, then] Jezabelle is green."

Now, an example of an illogical statement: "Jezabelle gives milk, and Jezabelle is a cow; therefore, cows give milk" (or "[If] Jezabelle gives milk, and [if] Jezabelle is a cow[, then] cows give milk").

This is a completely illogical claim, even though the premises and the conclusion are all true (assuming Jezabelle is a cow). The conclusion is not supported by the premises. Having one cow that gives milk doesn't mean that cows give milk... all it means is that at least one cow gives milk.

To show that someone is illogical, you have to show that his/her conclusions are not fully supported by his/her premises. You cannot claim that someone is illogical because her/his premises are false.

Now, you can claim that someone's premises are false, but you have the burden to prove it logically.

For example, let's go back to the logical statement: "All cows are green, and Jezabelle is a cow; therefore, Jezabelle is green."

If you wanted to logically prove that the premise "all cows are green" is false, you'll need to use your own premises to logically prove the inverse, "not all cows are green," is true.

For example, "Ploppers is a cow, and Ploppers is brown; therefore, not all cows are green" is a logical refutation of the above example (it doesn't mean the above example is illogical; it just means that the premises of the above example are not true).

However, your premises are then subject to proof, themselves. And if I can prove that either Ploppers is not a cow or Ploppers is green, then I can refute your claim -- not your logic, but the truthfulness of your premises -- and then my claims are still true (until they are proven false -- which is simple in the example since it is a factual error to claim that all cows are green).

Again, logic has nothing to do with having true or false premises.

And my premises are always subject to debate and refutation. I welcome and encourage logical criticism of anything I say.

However, I am very careful in making sure my conclusions logically follow my premises. I know I'm not perfect, I know I can fall victim to making illogical claims. And such are also always subject to proof.

But, again, you have to prove it; you have to logically show how what I've said is illogical. Just as much as you have to logically show that my premises are false if you want to refute what I have said (however, and again -- eternally again and again -- refuting the truthfulness of my premise doesn't mean I'm being illogical).

And I'm not saying this because I pride myself in being a logical bloke (although it is true that I do pride myself in my talents in logic, such is not why I am writing this post). I am writing so that those who read what I write are better equipped to logically prove illogicalness [sic] or to logically refute premises.

I encourage logical criticism. I encourage people to ponder and pray about what I say. I have no fear of being wrong, having what I say refuted. It doesn't bother me, in the least bit, when my words are proven false or illogical -- as long as they are proven.

So, prove me wrong -- please. I would be thrilled -- because that means that I have caused you to think and process things logically and critically... which is all I truly want from anyone.

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