I grew up in a dynamic, creative environment, surrounded by wild and exotic minds. It was the kind of bohemian groove that most people dream of, yet I was always strangely drawn to more meticulous, rational types. I read everything I could about the principles and history of Science and Reason. I admired Sherlock Holmes and (secretly) preferred Spock over Kirk, Scully over Mulder.
I was fascinated by the notion that, beyond my familiar, magical world of creativity, intuition and passion there was a completely different way of understanding the world. It could take two pieces of information (A=B, B=C) and create a third piece (A=C) that had to be true if the first two statements were true.
This was a revelation to me: that thinking… had rules.
These rules allowed a scientist to predict the exact location of an unknown planet or the precise depth of an unknown fossil and be right, more often than not. If you were prepared to ignore your gut intuition and surrender to logic, you could be as right as anyone could be about anything… and if you weren’t, logic would show you (and everyone else) where you went off the rails.
As soon as I’d read about a certain type of fallacy I instantly saw it everywhere. Of course, I was also learning to suspect that this kind of effect might itself be some form of cognitive flaw, perhaps confirmation bias, attribution error or even pareidolia, but I came to believe that logic was critical to mental hygiene and therefore, something I must try to develop within myself, and wherever possible, others.
But as I soon discovered, there’s at least one thing that logic won’t do: it won’t make you popular. Introduce a little logic at your next dinner party and you’ll quickly discover that a ‘tolerant’ society like ours will tolerate just about anything – feelings, superstitions, opinions, beliefs, cultures, traditions, instincts – anything that is, except a rational argument. And the more logic you learn, the more social gatherings become uncomfortable, popular culture unwatchable and talkback radio, unbearable.
Now I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who thinks this way, so until I find some kind of ‘Rationalists Anonymous’ support group, I’m sending this message of solidarity to any other frustrated logical minds out there: let’s come out of the closet, join in conversation and debate with our brothers and sisters and share strategies and tools for keeping our minds sharp and clear amidst the madness.
We’ll be posting articles on key fallacies and reasoning errors (while no doubt committing a few howlers of our own) and offering an open, friendly forum to encourage a more rational approach to life. If you’ve been always wanted to develop a more logical mind, but been too intimidated to try, then this might be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.
Join us. It’s the logical thing to do.