Logic vs Reasoning – And a few common reasoning mistakes

These two are very commonly confused. Somebody once said succinctly that logic was the study of the principles of reasoning, while reasoning is the finding of a basis or motive for an action/consequece/decision. It’s more complicated than that. Fortunately for J., these two articles on Wikipedia (yay, wikipedia!) state everything far better than he can.

Wikipedia: Logic
Wikipedia: Reasoning

J. suggests a compulsory course in critical thinking in all major Singaporean universities.

What frightens J. is not the conclusions people come to, but their extremely flawed thought processes.

These are a couple of examples, that actually convince a fair number of people (shocking!). Try the following reasoning – Two true premises, with a false conclusion.

  1. A has muscle aches.
  2. A ate meat yesterday.
  3. Eating meat caused A’s muscle aches.

Perhaps the flu that A has, the excessive muscles aches or the autoimmune A has might have caused the muscle aches? Let’s try the next one. The second premise is arguable, and again, the conclusion shows a jump to conclusion.

  1. Men and women have different roles in a marriage.
  2. The lack of one of these roles in a family will influence child adversely, including causing the child to become homosexual.
  3. Therefore, legalising homosexual marriages will destroy society.

Ah… the slippery slope. Very armageddon-ish. How about the next one? Circular reasoning by two statements, unproven and unbacked, to a fallacious conclusion.

  1. God is responsible for making things/morals absolutely true.
  2. Absolute truths exist.
  3. God exists.

Substitute Allah or Yahweh and the reasoning still makes [cow] sense to people who don’t know recognise its inherent problem. The next one is one that’s very commonly used in indoctrination – by using a flawed, unsupported major premise.

  1. Our cause is holy.
  2. Blowing up yourself while killing innocents will further our cause.
  3. Therefore, you will be a martyr and be rewarded richly in heaven.

Moderate Muslims too are wondering why suicide bombers blindly followed orders instead of questioning flawed reasoning.

Anyway, if you find that the above things make perfect sense, you’ll probably want to say to us, “Stop being so close-minded!”
If you don’t find that the above things make perfect sense, that’s probably a good thing.

To end off, let’s have one from Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

“I refuse to prove I exist,” says God, “For proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
“But,” says man, “the Babel Fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It proves you exist…therefore, you don’t. QED.”
“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Casey Zalewski, PHD, CTM on January 17, 2011 at 3:50 am

    As long as you brought God into the picture; the ten commandments must be relevant. All mans laws should be based on the ten commandments. If the laws and commandments are followed; everyone will be happy. Whomever chooses to break the laws will be miserable, either on earth or in the afterlife, assuming there is an afterlife. Ergo, if a man takes his neighbors wife many will suffer missery but who should be punished and who should be the punishing authority? Should the man and woman be punished beyond their guilt or is the proprieter of an establishent who provides a place for them to meet be designated the responsible party; or should the distiller that provides the alcohol that weakens their resolve for goodness, share in the punishment? Who will be the punishing authority? The husband, the courts, God; who?


  2. Posted by M.Khan on October 14, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Hi, I would like to correct something, there is no such thing as “moderate” muslims. There is only, PRACTICING Muslims, NON-PRACTICING Muslims, and MISGUIDED Muslims. Suicide bombers are MISGUIDED Muslims. Their actions have no basis from the Quran and Sunnah.


  3. Posted by Kyle on April 15, 2012 at 5:53 am

    I agree. Reasoning is manipulation. Logic is inconclusive; therefore, reasoning is bad practice.


  4. Posted by Kyle on April 15, 2012 at 5:56 am

    Anyway, reasoning gets you where need to go, helping the direction of thought when logic is not getting the answer you need.


  5. Posted by Kyle on April 15, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Life is a contradiction, this is why: while in theory, computers can perform the most accurate logic, sometimes logic is not taking you where you need your mind to go. This is why nothing is possible until proving possible.


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