The Death of Reason

Misunderstanding and misuse of The Counter-Example:

Sometimes, while having a discussion with people, either in person, or over the Internet, I am always astounded at the way some people reason, or—more correctly stated—their inability to logically reason, along with their inability to: Form logical connections, realize logical relationships or even to form coherent thoughts.

A good friend of mine and I were recently discussing the ever increasing misuse of, The Counter-Example. I am really amazed, as well as, intrigued by this problem.  I say, “problem”, because it becomes a problem while trying to have intellectual conversations with people and you realize—only when it is too late—that you have just wasted an hour of your time talking to someone who cannot reason…at all. It is very deceptive, at first. Some of these people—one mistakenly assumes—can reason. You assume this because, (to borrow a phrase from Star Trek) “..they have their cloaking device up.” Yes—the College Degree…these have become so ubiquitous, anyhow…*yawn.*

My friend was wondering aloud, “Has it always been like this or is it just increasing, recently?” His question is interesting; I am not sure of the answer… but I have to admit, it has definitely escalated–in recent years. I am talking about degreed individuals who commit these fallacies. You would think somewhere, along the way, they have taken a Logic’s class, maybe they did, not sure.  Perhaps they did, but simply did not understand the premise. Hey, maybe one has to BE logical in-order to understand Logics?? Now, I think we are on to something!  This problem, once again illustrates the point that intelligence cannot be taught. You cannot go to college to, “get smart.” You go to college to become informed, educated, aware, but intelligence you are born with or…not. Most of the greatest ideas, inventions and advances the planet has ever witnessed have been made by NON-degreed individuals. Start back in time and work your way forward and you will quickly understand what I am talking about. To name just a few: The Great Pyramids-Imhotep; Galileo; Bruno; Einstein and in my own profession, Frank Lloyd Wright. Modern education has become about learning how THESE people thought and learning about their thoughts, rather than forming your own thoughts. And modern education is a business. Period. 

The following form of logical fallacy seems to be used more than other forms of logical fallacy—and there are many—It is the misuse of, the counter-example. When talking about concepts that are usually true, or, have a preponderance to be true, or the majority of the time are true-the person who commits this fallacy will say, “No, because_______”  They then, smugly, provide one example where it was not true. They somehow think this negates what is being told to them and that everything the person is telling them, is now false—end of discussion. Wrong.  Counter-examples do not negate generalities only universality. Is this so hard to understand?

Example of the Counter-Example fallacy:

Statement: “There are large numbers of people from sub-Saharan Africa that carry the allele for sickle cell-anemia. When Malaria swept over the continent, people with this malformation of their red blood-cells survived because of the malformation, thus, they went on to pass-on this trait to their children. This is why many people of sub-Saharan African origin, carry the gene for and develop sickle cell anemia.”

Logical Fallacy Response:No, because I know someone from sub-Saharan Africa who does not have Sickle-Cell Anemia.”

Head–Desk–*THUD* Sadly, this is so common and SO tiring. Again, counter-examples DO NOT work with generalities ONLY with universality.

I wonder…what has happened to people who can reason? What has happened to people who can do critical people who understand analogy and irony…to people who understand metaphor and can derive meanings? Where have they gone?! There are some but…ummmmm….wow….frightening.

So, PLEASE, I beg of you, do not respond to this article by saying, “No this is not true because, I went to college and I can reason!! 😉



One Response to “The Death of Reason”

  1. Archiminister Says:

    As an aside: I know this idea upsets people because they have obtained a degree to prove to the world and to themselves that they are intelligent. It proves fortitude and the ability to complete something, but, that is about it. A degree does not certify you as an expert in a field nor does it certify that you are a braniac…sorry ’bout that. A bachelors degree certifies you as an independent learner in said field-Who can now go on to gather more information, on your own, without supervision. Bachelor = To go out on one’s own. I sincerely wish that a degree was a certification that meant everyone who obtained one is intelligent, I wish, I really wish that was the case. Do intelligent people obtain degrees? Of course. Does obtaining a degree make you intelligent? No.

    You can acquire more knowledge but your IQ remains roughly the same throughout your life. If only college was a magical elixir that could make everyone smart-that would be nice! Then everyone in a single profession would graduate from college with the same knowledge, same skill-sets and same intelligence level, clearly, this is not the case. Also, we see education is not an insulation against a global recession. In many cases, the more education you have the harder hit you are. A friend of a friend is a Nuclear Physicist who is out of work and delivering Pizza’s to make ends meet! The people who this recession has affected the least are the young in a career, the protected through various forms of the buddy systems and the low skilled/low paid (e.g..for the guy washing dishes at Chili’s, not much has changed in his world.) If college could make people intelligent and taught them to reason with a rational faculty, then, some of the people that we have all worked with in our past would not be so damn painful to talk to!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: