Posts tagged ‘fallacy’

September 8, 2017

What is There to Know?

by lisa st john

There is no other system that responds to aerodynamics and fluid dynamics quite like shifting sand.

Physicists have formulae for the behavior of solids, liquids, and gases but do not have an adequate scientific description of granular motion. Granular behavior doesn’t fit neatly into a single physical theory.

 

Long Beach Island

Why do you like games so much?

Because when I’m playing Bocce or Canasta or Scrabble I know there are rules, and if I play by these rules, with a little luck there is a chance I can win. Unlike real life, where you can do everything right and still get screwed.

 

Scrabble tile lost to the bushes

Games have a science behind them. They are analytical and organized, unlike shifting sand. But the beauty of science is that just because something doesn’t fit into a neat little theory is not to say that we know nothing about it. Knowing is not the same as universal truth. Science is based on change. Did the Sun and planets all revolve around the Earth back in Ptolemy’s time? Of course not. But was it “true” (scientifically) back then? Sure.

As artist Tim Minchin says, “Science adjusts it’s views based on what’s observed/Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved./If you show me/ That, say, homeopathy works, Then I will change my mind” (Storm).

I do not mean to discount belief. We must believe that sand moves in mysterious ways in order for us to know it as a fact. We can’t know something and not believe it. Aside from Gettier, knowledge must be justified, true AND believable. This is the logical analysis of knowledge.

Logic is important to me because without it, all we have is guesswork and belief. Logic isn’t always easy though. Take the Gambler’s Fallacy. If I throw two dice ten times and I don’t get a 7 then I am “due” to get a 7 soon, right? Wrong. The dice do not know (or remember) what the previous throws were. Every time you throw it will still be  6/36 chance that you will roll a 7. We tend to believe that we are “due” to get a 7 because it’s instinctual; it’s intuitive. Why do we believe weird things? Watch this 14 minute fun video:

Why am I going on about all of this? Because of fake news and social media and a HUGE lack of scientific, logical thought in our world today. We need sites like Snopes (no, we are not putting Robert E. Lee on the $20 bill) and Politifact (no, Katy Perry did not convince ISIS to lay down their guns) because we aren’t taught to think critically, and it’s a critical time to start.

We need knowledge.

We also need belief.

Crash Davis does not, “believe in Quantum Physics when it comes to matters of the heart,” nor should he. What does he believe in, you ask?

“Well, I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman’s back, the hangin’ curveball, high fiber, good Scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, over-rated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there oughta be a constitutional amendment outlawing AstroTurf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve. And I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days” (Bull Durham).

It’s a great writing/mindfulness exercise. Rewrite Crash’s speech for yourself. I tried it. Here it is:

http://bovano.com/

I believe in double rainbows, the cock, the cunt, the wonder of the universe, the buzz of hummingbirds, real ice cream, red wine, that the poetry of my teenage years was angst-ridden garbage. I believe that Trump did “grab pussy.” I believe there should be a constitutional amendment making rape a high crime like treason and punishable by death. I believe in true love, soulmates, fuck-buddies and that only christians should celebrate Christmas. And I believe in the power of art.

What if we balanced every minute of mainstream media watching with an equal amount of poetry reading?

What if we didn’t comment on social media as much as we danced in our kitchens?

I would like to know.

 

Buy my poetry chapbook, Ponderings, HERE.

September 20, 2015

Either, Or…Or What?

by lisa st john

I don’t want bears in my neighborhood. I love bears, but I would not feed them in order to see them in my yard. It would endanger the neighbors. It is not healthy for them to eat what we humans toss at them. I would much rather have bear than deer (who carry the ticks who carry the Lyme), but I don’t feed them.Black_bear_with_salmon

So when the local police department posted a picture of a bear (big giant black bear) and reminded people to keep their garbage covered, I shared the post and reminded people not to feed the birds yet either. They have plenty to eat right now. Well, I got slammed by a psychic who had dreams last night of starving bears. Yeah. Whatever. This person hopes that some kind people will bring fish to the forest for the bears (‘cause that’s where fish live—in…trees.) So either I feed the bears or I hate the bears? Why has the either/or fallacy become so pervasive? Either I vote for Hillary or I hate women. Either I recycle or I don’t believe in global warming. When did we learn to think so shallowly?

Have we forgotten the subtleties of thought? Have we abandoned the dialectic because we cannot fathom more than one choice at a time? Or is it because we have become too quick to decide things? Apparently it is easier to decide than to investigate.

Soon I will start The Handmaid’s Tale with my students. I hope they see the relevance, the relationships, between then and now. Maybe even glean something about why good literature is timeless. Tammy Faye Bakker is Serena Joy who is (fill in the blank with your favorite anti-feminist religious right fanatic of 2015).

It’s the 21st century and Planned Parenthood is under attack; the anti-feminist movement is underway and the Equal Rights Amendment still hasn’t been passed. So, yeah. I think teaching Atwood’s most famous dystopian novel is important right now. I think more critical thinking is important right now. I hope that my students think so. I hope they realize that I don’t feed bears because I hate them.

False Dilemma-thumb-300x254-153811[1]You can still buy Ponderings HERE!

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