Science and Tech
Logic is Dead, Feels Are the New Fact

Joshua Vanderwall | 16 Apr 2016 00:00
Science and Tech - RSS 2.0


I really enjoyed my Elementary Symbolic Logic course in college, because it simplifies thought processes and puts them in an easy-to-interpret visual format. All cats have legs. We know this. All legs have feet. Probably true, but if we assume it is, we can infer then that All cats have feet. It could be presented in simplified form:

If Cat, then Legs
If Legs, then Feet.
Therefore, If Cat, then Feet.

Simple enough, right? We can make it even easier with one symbol, "->" which means "implies." So, "Cat -> Legs" is identical to the statement above, "If Cat, then Legs."

If you're currently considering contesting the validity of this argument, please close your browser at this point. You're a lost cause.

I try to be cognizant of logical inconsistencies when I hear them. Admittedly, advanced logic is far more complex, but the core is the same. It's just math, and math is immutable. 1+1 does not have any answer except 2. Again, if you're considering contesting, close the browser. You're also a lost cause.

Cat -> Legs
Legs -> Feet
Therefore, Cat -> Feet

If you're still reading, you're either a person that acknowledges the value and importance of logic, or someone that's willing to listen to the argument in its favor, even if you don't believe it yourself at this time. The former may find this entertaining, but will likely learn little. The latter group, however, you deserve an award. You're a rare breed these days. If you have an opinion, but are willing to listen to people make their case for a differing opinion, you're a decent human being, and aren't part of the problem. Thank you.

Here's the thing. Logic is math, and math is law. And not the "don't go over the speed limit" kind of law. The "you can't jump to the moon" kind of law. The kind that reasonable people wouldn't possibly try to argue. Philosophers and Math doctorates may want to wax philosophic about this, but for all intents and purposes, the math we know and use is fixed, permanent, unchanging. It stands to reason, just as above, that Logic is just as fixed a set of rules. (Author's Note: The immutable nature of mathematical law mentioned here is exclusively within the scope of normal human experience. Advanced branches of math can sometimes evolve quickly as researches find inconsistencies in the foundational suppositions.)

Why is it, then, that when logic is presented in a debate of virtually any variety, it's immediately discarded as worthless, biased, or worse? Great example.

Discrimination -> Bad
Affirmative Action -> Good
Affirmative Action -> Discrimination -> Bad
Therefore, Good -> Bad

On your right, you'll see the logical formula leading to our nonsense conclusion, which means that one of the foundational statements is invalid. Either "Affirmative Action -> Good" is wrong or "Discrimination -> Bad" is wrong. You're welcome to pick whichever you want, that's not my point here. My point is that you have to pick one. If you begin with a faulty premise, you can prove that a house is smaller than a grain of sand, and that Napoleon was actually your future self, traveling back in time. Or that fossils are just a divine attempt to distract us from the true nascency of the planet.

Discrimination, like virtually anything, can be used for good or for evil, and ignoring that isn't helping anybody. Affirmative Action is discrimination - in the UK, they call the idea "positive discrimination" - and it is willful ignorance to convince oneself otherwise. This is universal logic, and nobody is exempt.

I support the idea of affirmative action as I understand it. I'm perfectly okay with a company hiring preferentially to suit the needs of the company, either in terms of PR, a principled company decision, or simply for a role particularly suited to whatever category of human they offer preference. I can't talk to people I agree with on this, though, since the negative connotation of "discrimination" makes it impossible to discuss earnestly. Negative connotation is hard to logic around, since it's based primarily on emotions, but that's the thing. It seems that everything these days is moving hard in this emotionally-driven direction.

Once upon a time, liberals had free reign to ridicule the conservatives for ignoring science in terms of evolution in schools, global warming in policy, and countless other often depressing topics. I miss being able to identify as a liberal. I had a lot of fun laughing about climate change deniers and the hardcore creationists. (Author's Note: I can respect the intelligent design philosophy. As a theory, it's willing to incorporate scientific facts to some extent.)

It seems that everything these days is moving hard in this emotionally-driven direction.

These days, liberals and conservatives are in an arms race of idiocy. Every day, both sides find more facts to ignore in favor of appealing to the emotions of the masses. When internet activists started attacking Target for having aisles that were conveniently labeled, so parents would know where to find GI Joe or Barbie at a glance, they were making deliberate efforts to ignore the fact that children of different genders typically have different preferences for toys, as a general rule. There are exceptions, of course, and I've had Hello Kitty paraphernalia since I was a child. You don't need to pretend that boys and girls are identical in order to let your child enjoy whatever toy they want. I never heard anything about integrating the clothes sections, oddly. It's again nothing more than a matter of taste. Just kicking logic while it's down.

That's not even to mention the fact that Target implemented a proven sales technique that is likely driving at least some profit for them, at the expense of parents who no longer know which toy aisle to go to for their son's army men. Now they browse one extra aisle to find it, which puts 50 more products in front of them, boosting the probability that they'll impulse buy something. So, we've just managed to celebrate Target implementing a sales scheme they've likely wanted to for years, but would have sparked outrage had it not collectively been disguised as a great blow for social justice or whatever.

Organization is logical, and there's a clear distinction between what we think of as "boys toys" and "girls toys." Getting rid of organization is not logical. Entropy happens naturally, but why on earth are we aggressively pushing to make things more chaotic? The same reason we want to make it a hate crime to use a racial slur to be deliberately offensive, call a trans person by their non-preferred gender, or even making jokes in incredibly poor taste. Sometimes, it's a deliberate jerk move, absolutely. But it's not always about being a jerk. You'll never even know most peoples prejudices because they're not jerks, but they're just not terribly open minded.

People will judge you for being black, or gay, or smart, or stupid... In my experience, it's inherent to the species.

I had long hair for a long time. Once, an old woman call me ma'am, to which i turned and smiled as I politely corrected her. She clearly didn't approve of a guy having long hair, so she sort of glared while she mumbled an apology and went on her way. She was judging the hell out of me from the moment she saw my face. People will judge you for being black, or gay, or smart, or stupid, or for being a guy with long hair. Some for having an earring and others for not having an earring, or wearing a torn shirt or looking too clean. In my experience, it's inherent to the species.

It's worth reiterating that I am absolutely in favor of equality for everybody, full stop. Equality in opportunity, in pursuing dreams and happiness, equality in individual liberties. Every single human should be able to decide what to do with their lives, but that precludes anybody else from restricting those individuals' freedom as much as the reverse. It's imperative to accept the logical necessity of this applying universally, though. I think every minority deserves access to every social service and function that the richest, whitest, mannest person has. I also think every backwoods bigot that hates anybody of any color but white has exactly the same right to exactly the same freedom. We tried segregating levels of liberty based on a demographic breakdown in the past, and we didn't care for it then, so let's just take it off the table now.

There's a related conversation in video games going on recently, and I think everybody suffers from this to some extent. Some creators are very likely being pressured by peers and higher ups to change their work for fear of a moral panic damaging sales, while some creators are modifying their work to be in line with their vision, which happens to align with an opponent's opinion. Nobody wants to eat mush forever, so everybody needs to stop insisting that we always do this or never do that, lest we doomed to play Flappy Bird clones forever.

Comments on