I love logic.
As a form of discussion, accompanied by the Socratic method, it’s unsurpassed. The beauty of logic is that it applies to every discussion and everyone in the discussion. No matter what you’re talking about, logic can be used as a tool to make dramatic points and turn the conversation around.
Dictionary.com defines logic as the principles of reasoning but I prefer to think of it as applying standards (reason) to one’s assertions and determining if they are applied consistently. Oh, you think someone should be able to do whatever he wants? What if he wants to bash you in the nose because he feels like it? You don’t like that? Okay, so maybe people should be able to do whatever they want unless it interferes with the same right of others?
That’s logic and I love it. I even spent several years writing a book extolling the benefits of logic in morality and discussion.
That’s why it’s so hard to stomach seeing someone being illogical. You see, when you abandon logic, you abandon critical thinking. One can even claim that if you lose logic, you lose your mind altogether. Western Civilization as an institution is rooted in logic as its intellectual foundation but In two arenas, specifically social justice and science, it appears that Western Civilization is becoming less logical. To put it bluntly, we are losing our collective mind.
Not everyone appreciates logic as much as I do. The self-proclaimed Social Justice Warriors (SJW), for example, are so fervently hellbent on justice that they will perpetrate injustice to achieve their end; so dedicated to racial and sexual equality that they will treat some races and sexes like subhumans to achieve their goal. And they don’t see the irrationality.
The definition of racism, for instance, is the belief that people of a specific race are superior to people of other races (e.g. white supremacy). The SJ warriors rightly see racism throughout the world, but they erroneously think that racial minorities cannot be racist themselves. In essence, they think that racial minorities are superior to racial majorities (whites) in this regard. In their righteous quest to defeat racism, they are in turn being racist themselves.
Case in point was a discussion I had with SJW acquaintance about an article of mine.
SJW: Your stance is the quintessential straight-white-Christian-republican-male argument which is blindly drenched in its own privilege and its used, tired and generic tactics such as distraction-semantics to try and achieve sympathy for itself. So again, please help me wrap my mind around it by explaining to me why I should be as sympathetic to you and this opinion of yours . . . There is disagreement. And then there’s bigotry. For example, I have never once in my entire life been called a bigot. But, this article and opinion that your brother published is bigotry. And also hypocrisy.
Me: Says the person who discounts my argument because I’m a “straight-white-Christian-republican-male”.
And do people seriously not see the stark irony of the social justice warriors fighting institutional racism by segregating themselves into a ‘safe space’ for blacks only?
Steve Schmidt @_SteveSchmidt_
#ConceredStudent1950 is dividing into seven groups,They’re asking white allies to leave #ConcernedStudent1950
7:37 PM – 11 Nov 2015
This movement is at its illogical zenith on college campuses where it’s turned them into big playpens for babies who will stop at nothing to knock over the blocks of those who disagree with them. These universities, former bastions of free thought and expression, have become testing ground for Orwellian thought-control to protect this irrational behavior. Many campuses have limits on free speech everywhere except for small “free-speech zones” where, presumably, you can speak your mind. And in a poll of college students across the country, a majority favor their school having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty. Today, college students want to stand up and be heard about the fact that they shouldn’t stand up and be heard. This isn’t social justice anything; it’s full on logicide.
The problem is that when you forego logic, you must resort to force. When reason fails, violence can’t be far behind as some #BlackLivesMatters protesters demonstrated at the Dartmouth Library recently. After protesters shouted “F– you, you filthy white f–-” “f– you and your comfort” and “f– you, you racist s–,” they started shoving students for their blatantly horrific crime of studying for exams. “One woman was reportedly pinned to a wall by protesters who shouted ‘filthy white b–-‘ in her face.
It’s come to a point that I can’t imagine sending my children to one of these
psych wards daycares for maladjusted children universities. I don’t want them to lose their minds.
But, Social Justice Warriors are are just fervent ideologues, not self-proclaimed philosophers. You can always hope, but you can’t expect them to be logical. You should, however, expect someone touting himself as a critical thinker to be logical. That’s what I expected when I tried to engage whoever’s behind the Facebook page Science, Critical Thinking, and Skepticism.
After reading a fascinating explanation of science—his manifesto, I suppose—I questioned one of his basic axioms: that we can’t know anything for certain. But, I asked, isn’t saying that we can’t know anything for certain, itself saying that we do know something for certain? Wouldn’t that be a contradiction—wouldn’t that be illogical? The discussion came down to a basic question: does anything exist? After some interesting dialogue, he used his fingers to type on a keyboard to express his inability to conclude certainly that anything existed, not the least of which his idea that nothing existed. He was so entrenched in skepticism that he was unwilling to admit that existence exists!
This came to me as a surprise; after all, science and reason are synonymous, right? They arose in social prominence together in the Age of Enlightenment and share a special sort of reverence in today’s society. But science has taken on an almost cult-like status in modern America. People look to characters like Neil Degrasse Tyson and Bill Nye as demigods and the words “scientifically proven” have taken on the aura of an indisputable celestial dictate.
I shouldn’t have been surprised at the lack of reason by a victim of scientism, however, because, while science and reason are often linked, they are actually opposites. Science uses inductive reasoning, which derives general principles from specific observations (e.g. “every swan that we’ve seen is white, therefore all swans are white”). But inductive reasoning is actually a fallacy in logical circles—it’s the part to whole fallacy that everyone in the whole must have the same characteristics of the parts. In fact, it’s the same fallacy that makes racism illogical and detestable.
Open-minded people will defend the institution though—it’s not a logical fallacy if you accept that science isn’t intended to uncover absolute truth. The results of science show the probability—the likelihood—of something happening, not something that will definitely happen. And that’s absolutely true and when that’s recognized science can be an amazing tool to gain insight into the nature of the universe.
But many people in Western Civilization skim over this fact and claim that science proves this or that; that the case is closed in certain scientific fields of study; or that people who don’t believe the so-called “scientific consensus” are deniers on par with Holocaust deniers.
They think that one should only believe that which is proven scientifically and that if something isn’t scientifically verifiable, then it is meaningless. But you can’t scientifically prove that one should only believe that which is proven scientifically and you can’t scientifically verify the statement “if something isn’t scientifically verifiable, then it is meaningless.”
These victims of scientism aren’t being scientific about science. Like their social justice compatriots, they’re fighting a perceived evil with a comparable evil. They’ve lost their damned minds.
Logic to the Rescue
When I present someone with a logical inconsistency in their argument, they often don’t think to change their mind and correct the illogical behavior, the tragic result is to just discount logic itself. “It’s a contradiction? Well, that’s just how I feel. I don’t care. To hell with your logic.” Some people even celebrate their lack of logic, bragging “I’m a walking contradiction” and others have just reconciled themselves to the fact that we humans are just irrational and to beg our government overlords to correct the problems our illogic creates for us.
With all due respect to Gary Vaynerchuk (I think he’s awesome), he’s not a walking contradiction, he’s just complex, and with all due respect to Dan Ariely (I think his work is fascinating), there really are reasons why we do the seemingly unreasonable actions.
The reason that people don’t address the incongruities in their ideology is because they have identified primarily with that ideology and to abandon it for a more logical framework would necessitate decomposing their self-identity. This cognitive dissonance is painful and most people prefer to retreat to their neatly-packaged framework they’ve always held.
With regard to social justice warfare and scientism, however, these frameworks are decidedly illogical. They use injustice to achieve justice and are unscientific about science. Social justice and science are pillars upon which Western Civilization rests, but without a logical foundation, these pillars will collapse into rubble and take the entire culture with it.
The solution is obvious. Instead of identifying as a social justice warrior or a skeptic first, we should all strive to identify primarily with logic. An argument or ideology should be at the very least self-consistent and unless we can all agree on that, we’re going to be faced with endless wasted arguments and risk losing our collective mind.
[Originally posted on BeingLibertarian.com]