Epistles of Thomas

December 15, 2009

The rationale of logic

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thomas @ 12:30
Tags: ,

It seems to me that a lot of blogs engage in the the kind of logic demonstrated in the following story:

Three sailors walked into a motel and asked how much it would be for a room. The manager told them that it would be $30 for the three of them to share a room. Each sailor gave the hotel manager $10.

Later the manager realised that he had made a mistake. It was a weekday and therefore the fee should have been $25, not $30 which was the weekend rate. He gave $5 to the bell-boy and told him to return the money to the three men. The bell-boy decided to keep $2 for himself and returned $3 to the sailors, which was a convenient $1 each.

Each sailor paid $10 but was refunded $1, meaning that they had paid $9 each for the room.

$9 times 3 sailors is $27.

$27 plus the $2 that the bell-boy kept equals $29.

Who ended up with the last dollar?

This kind of logic is prevalent in our society, admittedly not just among bloggers, but everywhere you turn. People appear to be working things out in a logical manner when in fact there are serious errors in the procedure. I recently read Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith by Shane Hipps (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009. 9780310293217). He argues that our modern media driven culture has destroyed the ability to reason. I think the problem is deeper than that.

The training of our young is based on teaching facts rather than reasoning skills. High school needs to focus on helping students get through life rather than on memorising the details of higher mathematics, physics, or practical skills like car mechanics, and home ec. Most will not go on to be doctors but all need to learn the basics of logic. We keep giving students facts, e.g. smoking will kill you, and yet most smokers start as teenagers. Do you remember those ads with the frying pan of eggs – “this is your brain on drugs“? Why aren’t we training our young to think and own the facts for themselves?

Why is it that 400 years ago an 18 year old could have a PhD and be teaching at university. Now 18 year olds are lucky to string three coherent sentences together and syllogism. What’s a syllogism? Lest you think I’m an old fogie – it was this way when I graduated from high school. It wasn’t until I was in my second year of college that I learned the laws of logic and that was only because the professor had a particular interest in them.

Why aren’t we training our young to think for themselves? – Because society has an interest in subjugating the masses by keeping them stupid. If everyone had the ability to reason logically the advertising industry would be destroyed overnight. Politicians would live in fear of their informed constituents. The bankers who shook the world with their bad loans would be impoverished or in jail. Third world dictators would have no one to govern. The wisdom of this world depends on clouding the minds of the majority. We don’t have democracy any more, we have an oligarchy or perhaps a plutarchy. We often bemoan the power of special interest groups but we don’t teach our young to think for themselves so what is left?

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