Effective Reasoning/Need for Reasoning

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I KEEP six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I know);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.

I send them over land and sea,

I send them east and west;

But after they have worked for me,

I give them all a rest.

a quote from The Elephant's Child by Rudyard Kipling, to which one could reasonably add What, Which, How many and so on- the sheer complexity of reasoning using only seven most important questions could be formulated as a sort of equation:


7 Questions: Who and What, When and Where, How and Why, and Which.

To the power of n: Who else, What else, When else, Where else, How else, Why else, Which else.

Multiplied by Meta Questions focused on the answers obtained at the 7Qn stage directing attention to function, structure, process, form, content, context, purpose, design.

Divided by x in terms of a possibility versus probability decision. The possibilities seem endless, So how should we start to find out what is possibly our best option?

Organizing Information (Deduction)[edit | edit source]

Humans are both hunters and gatherers. In fact in order to hunt, one has first to gather information about prey, terrain, available skills and so on then assemble a team, equip them with weapons, produce an overall strategy, and practice som tactical maneuvers.

Inventory[edit | edit source]

This word comes from the past participle of invenire which means 'to find'. An inventory is simply a list of things found in a particular location such as a territory of store. The most famous inventory is the Doomsday Book compiled by William I shortly after conquering England. Useful as inventories may be for accounting purposes (Doomsday was a taxation project) they really need to be broken into sections.

Index[edit | edit source]

One of the great problems of medieval monasteries were that although they were centers of learning and filled with books, they were valuable and had to be chained to the lectern. So some clever monk got round to numbering all the pages as well as the chapters and verses, and then made a list of relevant passages for each topic - God's and Hebrews' actions, speeches and so on, and those were eventually developed into a concordance, which is a matrix rather like a modern worksheet or spreadsheet such as XL or Visicalc. Sophisticated database management systems such as Microsoft Access or Oracle are really multi-directional spreadsheets in which the data is not merely stored processed and organized, it can be also retrieved in part or in whol and in several different ways

Solution of Problems[edit | edit source]

There are no problems, only opportunities to resolve difficulties in an interesting way!

Given or Problem Statement[edit | edit source]

This obvious first step is often ignored, and as a result folk solve problems that do not actually exist, or else re-invent the wheel. As well as stating the problem, a well written problem statement will also outline similar and related problems, and any known solutions.

Wanted or Solution Concept[edit | edit source]

If you want to get to there, I would not start from here, if I were you! Imagine if you are lost in a country lane, perhaps finding a main road, which might lead to an intersection, a signpost, and intermediate point and finally..... A solution concept is just that. You may wish to go to the capital city to see a minister of state, but you will probably need to negotiate several lesser problems first.

Experimentation Development and Implementation[edit | edit source]

Nothing is ever simple - it may sound so, but in practice we encounter the Murphy principle: Things are apt go wrong only when it is vital that they should work perfectly! Practice does tend to make perfect - compare a modern production car to a Ford model "T" The difference is quite minimal - both have four wheels, four seats, an engine.... So which is better, and why?

Resolution of Controversies[edit | edit source]

Wherever three people gather to discuss, there are always at least four different opinions!

Competitive[edit | edit source]

Trial of strength is the only option for most animals, and has remained in use throughout human history, only now it is called 'bullying', 'terrorism' or 'warfare'. Divine intervention, morality or justice may be invoked as a reasonable cause for violence, but to discover the real reason , do as "Deep Throat" suggested "Follow the money. always follow the money."

Contention[edit | edit source]

The parties to a dispute ask an impartial and skilled judge to determine the solution, sometimes with the aid of experts (usually two, hence tribunal) and sometimes with a jury of the litigants' peers. There is an expression in english law, which roughly translated means "the lawyer with the longest wig (experience) is the most expensive, which is why the litigant with the deepest pockets always wins"

Arbitration[edit | edit source]

This is similar to contention, except that there is usually a prior contract, in which the parties have previously selected and agreed on a person or organization to resolve any future difficulties that they may encounter. This has the advantage that the trade or profession is more likely to avoid damage than the people or companies in dispute, so they are much more likely to try to settle by some other means such as private treaty (which is often a supplementary contract) or mediation.

Mediation[edit | edit source]

This is, legally speaking, the new kid on the block, and many jurisdictions insist the parties try it before going for a formal trial. The problem is that it requires both parties to forgive each other and really talk.

The most common form is 'co-mediation' in which two neutral people sit between the contestants around a table, and 're-frame' their statements so that "You blithering idiot" becomes "Your opponent has formed an opinion of you in which your actions may be inappropriate and ineffectual, so I will ask that you choose and describe a specific event"

Engaging in mediation requires maturity - there is no 'father figure' providing guidance, and humility since we all make mistakes, and, perhaps most of all, courage to try unusual, counter-intuitive ideas.

Example: some residents of an apartment block were in dispute - one was accused of being a peeping tom (spying on his neighbors). After some hours and bitter tears, it emerged that he was neither a voyeur nor a thief, but was unemployed and searching through discarded rubbish to find food or things to sell. He was eventually elected as janitor or concierge at minimum wage. A year later, when the police-sponsored mediation service verified its results, he was a respected member of the community who had considerably supplemented his income by performing minor services for the other residents and nearby neighbors (the supervising police officer had merely had the awkward task of persuading him to make a reasonable tax declaration about his 'tips').

Discovery of Truth[edit | edit source]

The answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is precisely 42 - At least according to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe by Richard Adams, who wrote a story in which civilization collapses trying to discover "Why was the answer 42?"

There is a difference between wisdom and learning, and people who have little formal education are often more reasonable that scholars - which is reflected in the modern academic usage of an idea originating from wise King Solomon's song as living in ivory towers.

Religion[edit | edit source]

Religion probably has survival value, in that it mediates how co-religionists relate to each other and to outsiders. Unfortunately it is also quite effective at warfare since it is used by the great and powerful to manipulate the poor and the weak so that they organize armies and kill each other. For this reason, conservative theologians tend to denigrate liberal ideas like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Religion is a model of society that resembles a family or tribe. Ancestor worship assumes predecessors were more skilled than their pupils or students. Monotheism assumes a supreme entity similar to a remote father or tribal chief, while polytheism personifies skills as various gods and goddesses such as Fortune, who holds a cornucopia or cup of plenty in one hand, and a rudder behind her back, enabling her to alter the course of human life.

According to religious concepts, wisdom is handed down from generation to generation. The advent of writing some eight thousand years ago created permanent records that became unchallengeable 'scripture' from which emerged concepts of ubiquitousness and infallibility and hegemony when texts were interpreted by suitably appointed scholars and ordained priests.

How religion can be used or misused[edit | edit source]

The earliest example of the power of writing is by the Babylonian King Hammurabi dating back almost 4000 years to about 1772 BCE. His code is the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world, and was inscribed on stone stelae (pillars). Putting up a notice known as 'flying a kite' is still a good way of publishing your ideas, but today newspapers and blogs might be rather less expensive. like Hammurabi, be sure to sign your work and quote your authority. Anonymous ranting is fine for 'poison pens' but these are easily dismissed and rarely have any lasting effect.

From that sort of 'secondary scripture' writing down new ideas carrying references to 'divine revelation' (by chapter and verse) emerges the recent but persuasive dogma of 'intelligent creationism' in which all things have meaning and reason, only some of which are divinely revealed 'for the good of humanity' via holy scripture and others (like intelligent creationism) the 'people of God' (religiously inspired folk) have to divine for themselves from authoritative prior work. One of the earliest examples of this genre was by Archbishop James Ussher, who used scripture to establish the time and date of the creation as the night preceding Sunday, 23 October 4004 BCE.

Science[edit | edit source]

Science is also a belief system, but based on the idea of 'falsification'. Unlike Religion, which is divine revelation and so unquestionable, science demands that every assertion IS put into question. There are no facts, only 'best guesses' and techniques that work (technology) and ingenious ideas (engineering) that expand the sum of human wisdom.

Science is based in the concept of society being a chaotic collection of individuals with a variety of skills rather than a close-knit family. It relies on high communication skills and volumes, and emerged from the massive expansion of knowledge made possible by the high volume of written texts printed on Gutenberg presses from the fifteenth century and much increased after the invention of rotary printing in the nineteenth century.

During the twentieth century telephony, radio, television and the Internet have greatly accelerated this 'global view' that all mankind both men and women, master and servant, rich and poor are equal. This 'flexible network' concept is in contrast to the rigid hierarchical structure of religious and commercial entities, and challenges the meritocratic hierarchy of academia, since students can, and routinely do outperform their teachers and publicly challenge their professors (whereas in religious parlance such rebellious acts might be punished as blasphemy against divine revelation).

How science can be used or misused[edit | edit source]

Like religion, science too uses earlier authoritative works to support ideas. But there is a difference: as well as quoting sources of inspiration and references to the work of others, science uses the principle of 'statistical probability' and 'repeatability' (same experiment by other independent researchers).

There can be no absolute truths for science, no divine revelation - although some things are so well established as to seem incontrovertible, scientifically speaking, new understanding may always uproot previously 'proved' notions. The controversy about global warming is an example of human scientists falling prey to vested interests and clouding the reality with convenient opinions (environmentalists and oil magnates) dressed up to look like both good science and scientific fraud (by misuse of statistics and propaganda by both sides).

Science, like religion, also has a theory of creation called 'evolution' in which simple things become more complicated. At the core is a belief that matter and energy are essentially the same (so burning wood releases energy previously stored from the sun using photosynthesis). The start of the universe was a singularity that broke down (all creation was energy free dark matter that exploded in the big-bang, and living organisms are accidental chemical reactions, so life has no divine meaning, and reason is merely a consequence of biological complexity.

Apologists[edit | edit source]

Many scientists hold religious or unscientific beliefs. Issac Newton was an alchemist who was really trying to turn base metal into gold - a feat that was finally made possible by nuclear science based on the theories of Albert Einstein, an agnostic who nevertheless believed in something marvelous approaching Buddhism.

In reality, we humans tend to evolve fictional stories for and about ourselves which reconcile our various irreconcilable beliefs. Religion addresses our emotional feelings, science our rationality. We have both: quick and dirty short term love and hatred, long term rational planning and dogged implementation. We need both!

One might reasonably believe that a merciful god would see a poor naked farmer sowing seed and bless his harvest. In fact, one is unlikely to remain entirely unclothed and unshod for very long if the ground is baked hard, or soaking wet or mostly stony, nor if the sun is hot, or if it is raining wind nor during strong winds. Now guess what science thinks might be the ideal conditions for seed germination? We can, therefor benefit from both emotional and rational stories.

Mostly our balance of emotion and reason has us make the right decisions, sometimes for the wrong reasons - and sometimes vice versa!