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Monday, February 29, 2016

The ‘logic test’

Photo: Terry Mejdrich
"In the philosophy of science, ‘logical argument’ is not a shouting match between people with emotionally charged opposing views, as the everyday use of the word argument might imply." summarizes Terry Mejdrich, Columnist - Grand Rapids Herald-Review.

Rather it describes a discussion based on a carefully determined set of guiding principles by which one might determine the validity of a proposition, and is especially useful in science and ‘truth telling.’ Political discourse, however, has never been accused of being a rational discussion, and fails the ‘logic test’ miserably. Why? People, in general, are driven mostly by emotion and so ‘logic’ is not the most useful means of political persuasion.

Our ‘base’ emotions come from the deepest, most ancient, part of the human brain, while the ‘logic center’ is a relatively new and still developing adaptation. Therefore, there is a human tendency toward emotion-based decision making. One might decide that this is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but the point is that those who wish to influence opinion will almost always taint their arguments with an appeal to emotion.

The most common errors in human discourse are called ‘fallacies of argument’. There are dozens. Some are quite technical and involve sentence and argument ‘structure’. But others, with a little bit of thought, are easily understandable. A few of these are listed below with a brief explanation. One might, as an experiment, think of the recent political debates and decide which of the following fallacies the candidates employed.

Source: Herald Review