29 Dec 2010

Inefficient thinking and logical fallacy

People (in general – and yes there are numerous exceptions) know how to use household appliances, iron their clothes, make a sandwich etc – nothing surprising there. Some might know how to use a computer, fix a car, or a bicycle. Others may know how to build computers, programme computers, design circuit boards etc etc.. you get the drift – basically people have various levels of skill.

But here’s the thing – and I see it on and off this blog repeatedly and nauseatingly – people seem unable to use their brains to maximal capacity. First I must ask, “Do people know how to use their own brains (minds if you wish)?”. No – am not talking about lower level of skill in using the ‘head’ as in adding up some figures, remembering a few facts, or being merely creative. I’m talking about the integrity of processes behind all that. I’m talking about the core processes. For those in IT – I’m talking ‘kernel’ as against OS (by analogy of course).

At some point on this blog you may see Jumbie or I taking issue with a certain thing. It’s usually the conclusions formed that cause much debate or dissection. How do people come to conclusions? What reasoning processes exist ‘in the head’? How good are those processes? ‘Good’, of course, meaning how well the mind can sift through competing issues, separate non-issues and battle with unconscious biases that would sway the proper application of logical rules.

Each person holds himself to be ‘good’. You hardly hear anyone saying genuinely “I’m so stupid, that it’s not worth listening to what I say”. But the reality is that each of those people, holding themselves to be good at thinking, actually isn’t as good as they may think. And who am I to stand in judgement you may wonder cynically. It’s not about me – it’s about each person looking at the way the other person’s mind comes to ‘their truth’ and how those ‘truths’ are pressed or passed to others.

What are the rules of logic? What is poor logical reasoning? How many people know about these things. Does Captain Walker know more than others about it? Sure – thing. And I say so not because I wish to boast about it – but because it is a matter of fact that when I refer people to the fallacies of logic – there are usually two kinds of responses:

  1. Self-defence – or rather psychological defence i.e. a response that protects the perceived integrity of ‘self’.
  2. Silence.

By now, if you got this far – you’d be expected to think “What the F* is he on about?” Yep – at least one thing is clear to me – I know myself. And knowing myself – I know that I don’t just teach. I think and I stimulate others to think.

And what about inefficient thinking? Is the above inefficient? I knew you’d get there. It isn’t. The above was only to ensure that some exceptional person would appreciate that on occasion I deal with obstacles first. And the biggest obstacles to efficient thinking are the mind itself and it’s emotions. The mind driven by emotions often does two main things:

  1. Bends the rules of logic (whether known or not).
  2. At the speed of light, turn inferences formed as a result of bent logic into fact.

And what about logic? The mathematical aspects of logical representation are no easy for most people. The easier route to learning about logic is to learn about logical fallacies. No you don’t have to do this. But for those who really want to extract some real truth out of the world and who wish to make their thinking more efficient the following resources may be of some assistance:

Too often in my work (which is always ‘classified’), I see people accepting premises based on fragile evidence and reasoning. A group of premises may stack up to form conclusions. Now, if we accept premises that are not well based in evidence or reasoning, then the conclusions we form are like a ‘house of cards’ – it may look good but would fall if only slightly shaken. [Note the ‘if’ word]. In fact it takes only one bad premise to be shaken and the whole thing could come crashing down. So my policy is sound reasoning, sound logic and sound evidence. It might sound ‘simple’ but really when you get to decision-making, there are so many competing factors that come into the fold. It’s amazing how people start introducing criteria that are of no relevance. They then usually say things like ‘I’m just saying…” – famous words used often by the Jumbie. And I often respond seemingly rudely to them – but very politely: “If it isn’t of relevance to the decision-making criteria then it ought not to be said” – and that’s a fact. But it’s amazing to see the how people feel slighted by facts.

For those wondering why I’ve written the above – I’ve written it for me primarily, with a small degree of hope (because I don’t live on hope) that it may help at least one other person out there. Why primarily for me? Because I need to ensure that I can easily find these thoughts and references in the future.