I follow many bulletin boards and political blogs, and I’m finding it fascinating watch people justify their positions on the Obiden and McPalin teams.

People tend to use inductive reasoning:

I like Obama. Therefore, the “lipstick” comment was harmless and the GOP is just nitpicking.


I support McCain. Therefore, the “lipstick” comment was a not-so-veiled way of calling Sarah Palin a porcine creature.

Problem is, people aren’t aware they are inducing. They think they are deducing.

Deductive reasoning might look like this:

I heard the comment from Candidate A. I imagine Candidate B saying the same comment or its equivalent. I then judge the comment based on the words and meaning rather than on its originator.

In inducing, one moves from the specific to the general: I feel this way about A, so I feel this way about everything A says.

In deducing one moves from the general to the specific: I keep finding evidence in what A says that makes me feel this way about him/her.

Induction masquerading as deduction means that we have a very hard time creating real dialog, because our arguments are supported by opinion rather than by facts. And we don’t realize it. We talk past each other, and we are not open.

I wish I’d taken a logic class so I could explain better what I mean.

Do you see it? Do you do it?

9 thoughts on “Reasoning”

  1. I second the recommendation of Andrew Bacevich. I’m eager to read <>The Limits of Power<>. I read <>The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced By War<>I agree that inducing vs deducing is another example of hidden irrationality. And the key is the unawareness.

  2. I think our feelings colour the way we hear or justify everything. I like it when the Daily Show runs their “eat your words” segments pointing out the discrepancies.

  3. I read your post to Mike–we both though it was very well-written. He asked me to recommend this book to you: The Limits of Power by Andrew Bacevich. It discusses the fundamental assumptions both parties operate under and reasons why the country has becmoe more and more of an empire rather than a republic.

  4. I’m just more than a little intrigued byt he whole election process in the US- it’s so very different from what happens here and much more intense.J

  5. I see it. I took a critical thinking class as part of my nursing education, and I think I am the better for it.

  6. It really annoys me when politicians/advisers, etc. say something like “the American people are smart; they’ll see through X’s comments.” It annoys me because Americans are NOT smart about this kind of thing, and they know it. As for me, I look at I don’t want to be angry all the time, and if they can talk me down, even when it’s to defend the “other” candidate, I’m happy.

  7. One thing my parents taught me is that I need to have a mind of my own. I was taught to seek out my faith and make it my own. If it was in line with their’s great but if it was different then we would have interesting discussions. When it come to politics, I am not one to jump on a band wagon. It wasn’t until Katrina hit that I really started paying close attention. I listen and observe what people say and do. I am a registered independent. I refuse to tow a party line and I think that having a two party system is not in the best interest of the country. I try my hardest not to induce and deduce when it comes to judgement on political, religious and personal beliefs. (this is kinda commenting back to the other one too) I think we should have more than just these two yahoos running for office. Why does it need to be down to two people? Yes, this kinda contradicts what I said in the pp but not really. For the system we have I am not sure a thrid party would really do much good. In a spirit of reformation, I think we should chuck everything we do now and start over. Fire everyone and then stop narrowing it down. Let us chose without others influencing our choice. Unfortunately, too many people rely the opinions of others and do not think for themselves. I vow to keep deducing and not inducing option.

  8. I think it is impossible to separate feelings from logic, the best we can do is try. Or at the very least, recognize we are biased even if we aren’t willing to look at it more objectively.

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