Arab mathematician, astronomer and physicist of the Islamic Golden Age, Ibn al-Haytham (965-1040 CE), said, ‘The duty of man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads and… attack it from every side.
‘He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency.’
If only critical and disciplinary thinking underpinned political and mainstream media discourse – like it does within the scientific community.
In 1620 – 400 years ago – Francis Bacon first formalised the scientific method. The English philosopher and scientist argued against relying on syllogistic logic alone for scientific synthesis.
A syllogism is not the latest awkward twerk-like craze – it’s one of the most used ways to establish reason and fact and still pretty useful.
Aristotle, or the Stoics before him, were thought to have come up with the syllogism, which is a conclusion drawn from two given, or assumed propositions (premises). A syllogism has a major and minor premise followed by the conclusion.
The all-time famous syllogism is: All men are mortal (major premise), Socrates is a man (minor premise), therefore Socrates is mortal (conclusion).
Here’s one that is not a syllogism: God is Love. Love is blind. Steve Wonder is blind. Conclusion: Steve Wonder is God!
Or this – Elephants live in Africa. Africa is hot. Carmen Electra is hot. Therefore, Carmen Electra is an elephant.
Syllogisms are deductive reasoning, as distinct from inductive reasoning. Induction concludes with probability, while deduction concludes with necessity. So while deduction can be a basis of a scientific method, induction can also be – the theory of evolution being the most famous example.
Apart from expanding and refining deductive reasoning, Bacon also tackled the babble that passes in modern day political rhetoric and analysis – cognitive bias!
Subjective reality has been normalised to the point where politicians argue with confidence on anything. It allows them to support positions they once railed against. Cognitive bias includes believing it is appropriate to influence elections by using taxpayer money to boost marginal seats with sports and infrastructure bribes.
Likewise, US Republican senators last week have effectively provided the 45th president with dictator status by supporting his brazen bribery and not allowing witnesses in his impeachment trial.
So, in these perilous times, it’s up to an informed public. There is little hope of being adequately informed by mainstream media – they are part of the elite cabal. Viva la revolution 2020!
- This article was amended to reflect that induction reasoning can be used in science – the theory of evolution being the most famous example.