NOTE: These are the first two sections of my book, 12 Weeks of Reason, a workbook for incorporating more logic and reason into one's life. Like anything else similar to this project, these books were born out of self-determined need, hoping this could help others. 1 REASON My father was a complicated man. The only time we really seemed to click was on Sunday mornings, when the local UHF channel showed reruns of Star Trek with Kirk, Spock and McCoy on adventures that, to my child’s imagination, were remarkable feats of legend. Even as a child in a strange world, I understood Kirk represented command – the best of all worlds – while McCoy was heart and emotion, while Spock represented reason. In a maelstrom of emotional distress and reactive low self-esteem … I worshipped Spock. He didn't bear the burden of emotions. Even as the motion pictures came out, I drew pictures of Spock with Kirk and McCoy in the background. As a sensitive child, Spock’s death in The Wrath of Khan didn’t take much work to capture my imagination and earn tears, but the jettisoned torpedo casing that held his resurrected remains on the glowing, fertile Genesis planet let me know all hope wasn’t lost. I learned to raise one eyebrow – which my peers marveled over and failed to reproduce, scrunching one eye down in attempts to impersonate it – because of Leonard Nimoy’s Spock. I tried to avoid being overtly personal in these books, but this one is different for specific reasons. Since those days of watching Star Trek on a black and white television in a small apartment, and since those school days of drawing pictures of the USS Enterprise crew with Spock in the forefront, I suffered from something I didn’t know I had. I just knew I felt like I was from another planet, and things others found common sent me into emotional tailspins. The world was a mysterious nightmare to me, and while it’s easy to engage in hyperbole due to the deeply personal nature of experience, I didn’t make things easier on myself with my responses to the bullying and deep cuts all around me. I just knew that in the realm of humans and human behavior, I was deemed quite unusual with no respite. Through discipline and thought, I understood interactions with humans from an observational and theoretical viewpoint, and then impersonated what I’d learned to some level of success, and then to greater levels of success. One of the few social activities I had mastered was acting on stage, so the world became a stage. The only problem was the stress of acting like a human all day and all night when it came to interpersonal relationships. Having observed all the wrong ideas throughout childhood, and with those as my only references, the future spelled disaster. When all disasters are exhausted, the dust clears, and vision is unbound and undistorted. Even in my teens, I had known that self-discipline and transcendence were essentials, and though I had not perfected their practice, I longed for them. I knew compassion was a strength, not a weakness, and that mastering skills simply took information, repetition and a clear mind focused only on the objective of learning that skill, not the negatives that keep people away from their own desires. I got to see Tim Russ do an unsurpassable job as Tuvok. I saw Jolene Blalock occupy T’Pol. In 2009, I got teary-eyed when Leonard Nimoy took down the hood and was Spock again. Adam Nimoy made an incredible film about his father – a labor of love that revealed Leonard Nimoy as an artist of deep thought, tremendous range, and of remarkable vision. I also read William Shatner’s book Leonard: My Fifty Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man, and I inhaled it in two days. In the midst of some changes to Vulcans in newer media, I must admit I hung my head a bit, and it deepened my search for something like The Construct of Surak, the book that divided Vulcans and Romulans, saving Vulcan civilization from being ripped apart by such strong emotion, but to no avail. That’s when I thought perhaps it was time to come up with something like The Construct of Surak myself – a guide to taming emotion in favor of logic and reason. Emotion had become burdensome, and in study of transcendence, I discovered how to be open to all the joyful emotion while leaving the negative for analysis and understanding, but it still seemed emotions could catch one off-guard. Social media is chock full of rage and emotional attachment to viewpoints no matter how flawed. The bitterness and vitriol are up to epidemic proportions. People are certain if you don’t agree wholesale without valid argument, you must be insulted into submission, and even those who use phrases like, “Correlation is not causation,” picked that phrase up somewhere in their Internet travels and thought it made them sound brilliant when that’s the only feature of logic they’ve acquired. It’s like watching children bicker over toys when no one knows what the toys are or from whence they came. After so much of this, it dawned on me that – through years of searching for a final link in the puzzle of transcendence, self-discipline, compassion and mastery – reason proved the missing element. I first set out to call this book 12 Weeks of Logic, but seeing instances where valid logic is used with faulty premises to convince people of an argument’s validity, I and the heavy onus on mathematics and equation in logic, consideration brought this book’s title. Reason – which utilizes logic – is the goal. Reason is the utilization of logic to reach more valid conclusions, it is the constant presence when trained for that removes the emotion for rational thought, reason is the master of cognitive analysis, because it relies on something that has philosophical examination: truth. Even when we discover things about self with unpleasant outcomes, relying on reason and examined truth leaves one without alternatives. It shaves off justifications born of emotional attachment. In this book, we will examine reason and logic as they apply to human thought and action. We will incorporate it through practice and automate it through repetition. As I’ve noted in the other qualities books, I have written these first and foremost for myself and hoped they would increase the quality of other people’s lives. In understanding my approach, I will tell two stories that I have put in other books, but this will illuminate my approach. As a child, I wanted to draw for unknown reasons, so feeling like I had all day, I placed a stack of paper next to a book with a picture in it, tries to draw what I saw in the book, felt dissatisfied with the results, went to the next sheet of paper, and tried again, I don’t know how many times I tried, but here we are forty years later, and I’m still trying. Also as a child, I struggled with multiplication tables. My stepfather folded paper several ways and told me to write two times here, three times here, four times here and so on. I did it. He quizzed me, I failed, and back to the dining room table I went to repeat it all over again. I performed this again and again, I’m uncertain how many times each night, but I did this every evening for five days a week for what seemed weeks. I passed the pop quizzes flawlessly, and it ended. Repetition – if there is a quality that perhaps deserves a place among the other qualities described in these books, it is repetition, but that goes into mastery. To condition these teachings, we will be doing the same exercises five days a week for the week we undertake study of incorporating reason. And please bear in mind this is a training manual, not just a trove of information. The bulk of this book comprises the worksheets we’ll use to build a strong foundation of reason as a behavior.
2 WEEK ONE: REASON
Reason is the ability to use logic to make determinations. It’s that simple. But as we explore logic, we find it’s actually more complex. Most people use a form of reasoning to reach conclusions in their lives, in their beliefs, but many of the premises they use are irrational or based on emotion, and a lot of them are inferences or based on intuitive reasoning. The distinction between logic and reason is that logic is part of reasoning, where logic is a more formal system of strict rules.
Of all the forms of reasoning, we’ll start with the more formal form of reason, deductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning is associated with mathematical logic or philosophical logic, and it operates on a few easy-to-remember rules: if the premises are true, and the rules of deductive logic are followed with clear terms, then the conclusion reached must necessarily be true. To the uninitiated, just the explanation implies the possibility of fault. Put simply, deductive reasoning takes premises (the statements of proof in an argument) that naturally lead to a conclusion, and this is where people can fall into the logic trap, believing false or hazy premises to be true in formulating a deductive argument.
Inductive reasoning is most associated with the scientific process, which relies on reproduction of a premise. If one can observe a premise and make it a rule, then combining these rules should resolve in this outcome. Formulation of a question is the first stage of scientific method, wherein one takes observable phenomena and develops a question, e.g.: If I mix X and Y, will Z be the result? Hypothesis is the stage where one posits an outcome based on observable criteria, in the simplest terms: Because of the physical properties of X and Y, if I mix X and Y, Z will be the consistent result. Prediction is the stage in which a definitive outcome is forecast. Testing is the stage in which X and Y are mixed repeatedly, with the outcome analyzed for possessing a checklist of properties of Z.. Analysis shows any agreements with and deviations from Z in the outcome. Replication is providing the exact standards by which X and Y were mixed in the experiment and shows the ability to consistently replicate the X + Y = Z experiment, and this is a latter, external stage of scientific method. External review requires data sharing, and this is the final external step in the scientific process. Many times, we can also use an inductive form of reasoning in that inductive reasoning relies upon generalization, experiences and observations. You don’t know that an outcome will be true with inductive reasoning, but the outcome represents an estimate based on trends and observations. To give you an example divorced from rigorous scientific method: if a store counts customers, this can provide a forecast of how many customers the store can expect on a given day of the week. A two week sample is taken to show a trend of Saturdays and Sundays having 100 more customers on each of those days. The forecasts are not accurate, as they don’t account for unusual variables, but they are reasonable conclusions based on the data provided.
The last of our more formal types of reasoning is abductive reasoning. Abductive reasoning takes incomplete observations and arrives at the most likely outcome. If person A has a gap in their timeline specifically when forensics puts person B’s time of death under suspicious circumstances, the most likely outcome is that person A had some type of involvement. The danger of this has been observed time after time, where the easiest prosecution is the most doggedly pursued to the exclusion of truth. But this form of reasoning, on the whole, is the most engaged in. It is subject to racial prejudices, personal predilections and shortcomings in determinations.
The best breakdown of the different types of formalized reasoning is this: deductive reasoning is general rules supplying a specific outcome. Inductive reasoning is a set of specific observations promoting a general outcome. Abductive reasoning is incomplete observations moving to a best prediction.
More informal reasoning methods are verbal and intuitive reasoning. Verbal reasoning is more and more being utilized in corporate recruiting but also plays a large part in the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) owing to the large dependence on semantics and verbal reasoning in law. Intuitive reasoning can best be compared to an Aha! Moment. Intuition accesses subconscious information without conscious interference to arrive at a conclusion, and while I have, in these books, advocated for notions of wu-hsin, I can’t in this instance promote Taoist No Mind in this process of adopting reason and logic until the process is fairly automated.
What we will do in this section is acclimate to the weekly process, first, and use our methods here while doing so. These workbooks usually consist of a twice a day questioning process with a day planner inserted, but we will not use the day planner for this first week. When presented with the day planner, that’s a chance to block out the time we’ll spend on acquiring these new skills. This week will deal with types of reasoning and how we may have used it, but also how we can neutralize effects of observed behaviors from the past. As an example: if you observed as a child, powerless to reason these things out with more thought and maturity, a key figure in your youth who hated thinking things through, possessed impatience about weighting things out, or was subject to being guided by emotion, we need to weed out the influence. After other sections of this program, you will reorganize the type of questioning employed to neutralize the influences we’re seeking to work.
from 12 Weeks of Reason, by Ilya Kralinsky.