Are You Illogical?

If someone claims you’re not being logical, it’s a slam dunk that the end of the discussion is in sight. 

That’s because if you are not thinking logically, you’re illogical, irrational, not reasonable. Isn’t that so? Actually, it’s possible to think well, but without logic.

Exclusively relying on logical arguments eliminates a powerful line of thought—associations of similar situations that had known results that can be applied to the current situation.

Almost Matches

Associations occur to us because neurons ignore the distinction of minor differences in the inputs. They fire identically when their two sets of inputs are sufficiently alike. The Almost Match is a natural consequence of the neural threshold’s All-or-None response.

Almost Matches range from sensory all the way to prefrontal consciousness. From: he looks different, perhaps he’s combing his hair differently, to: the stock market chart reminds me of 2008, perhaps I should sell.

When you detect an incomplete pattern in events and assume the pattern will hold and base your actions on the pattern, that’s not a logical deduction. It’s irrational, but it’s often the only choice when you have no knowledge or theory to guide you.

That’s the inductive method of thinking, generalizing that incomplete information points to an answer. It is the source of new ideas, used by artists, writers, and, in fact, everybody.

Let me acknowledge this right now. Induction can lead to a false generalization. That’s for sure. Anyone who has not jumped to a conclusion that turned out to be false, raise your hand. Anyone? Anyone?

Logic Limitations

Deductive logic is perfect. If the premises are true, then the conclusion is guaranteed.

However, often there is no logical theory to combine the facts we do have to the conclusion of our question. Consider the stock market example mentioned above. The factual relation to forecast the market does not exist, yet we still often want to make buy-or-sell decisions. With logic deductions unavailable, we inductively make the buy-or-sell decision. And, yes, sometimes the decision doesn’t work out profitably.

Another limitation of the deductive approach is we often have incomplete knowledge of the premises. Because we only see and know a small slice of all reality, incomplete knowledge is a hallmark of human existence. So what do we do? We share our inductive, Almost Match, generalizations to serve as logical premises.

Almost Matches and Logic Together

The hypothetical-deductive scientific method highlights this style of interaction between induction and deduction within our cognitive processing. Scientists consciously test their hypothesis against experimental results. Using deductive logic, they decide—do the results confirm their hypothesis or do they falsify it?

The Encyclopedia Britannica describes hypothesis generation this way. The generation of a hypothesis frequently is described as a creative process and is based on existing scientific knowledge, intuition, or experience.

Just where did the hypothesis come from? Not from logic. The source of the hypothesis is inexplicable through deductive methods. It comes from induction—an Almost Match of a partial pattern foreshadowing a general pattern.

So, if someone says you are not being logical, perhaps you’re approaching the problem by searching for a pattern. That’s a completely legitimate and human way of thinking. 

Associations are just different from logical deductions.

Almost Matches are not illogical in the meaning of nonsensical.


Additional Information

Pattern-Matching, Similarity, and Almost Gate. Because of neural threshold and it’s All-or-None functionality.

Steps from Neurons to Abstraction to Similarity to Associations to Induction

Reference

Scientific Hypothesis definition from Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved Dec 2022.

Citation

Scientific Method image from Wikimedia. By Efbrazil – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,


Mental Aspects Samples Thought Modes

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