Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Lesson In Reasoning

Do you remember learning about inductive and deductive reasoning?

I remember learning these little examples in junior high school or some such.  And it has occurred to me lately, that much of this country's troubles might be solved if folks could remember the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning.

Here's deductive reasoning.

All dogs have ears.
Spot is a dog.
Spot has ears.

Inductive reasoning:

All dogs have ears.
George has ears.
George must be a dog.

Clearly, George might be any number of things, but not necessarily a dog.  This is such a basic lesson that we are taught at a pretty young age; yet it seems that the folks making decisions and giving advice in this country, don't know the difference.

Large scale example:

People who own homes have job stability.
Therefore, if we give people homes, they'll have job stability.
??

Perhaps we should consider that the job stability enabled the acquisition of the home and not the other way around.

The same thing happens with medical studies.  The drawing of conclusions without nearly enough information.

These happen all the time.

For example:  (i'm making this one up for the sake of exaggerated example)

Studies show that women who frequently sniff wild daisies at least 3 times per week are less likely to be overweight.  Therefore, we conclude that keeping wild daisies in your home reduces the risk of obesity.

When perhaps we should consider that these daisy-sniffing beauties were probably taking a walk to get to the daisies.

I'm just sayin'.

Listen to the news today and see if you don't see an example of misplaced conclusions based on inductive reasoning.  You probably will.

1 comment:

What do you think about that?