Reasoning is Unnatural

I am persuaded that the ability to reason is not natural. It appears that illogic and irrationality is on the increase but it could be just that the internet delivers more examples of stupidity these days than before when it was not possible for the retarded to gain access to the internet. I cite two examples for your consideration.

An email landed in my inbox exhorting me to not buy petrol on Feb 14th.

“Do not buy Petrol on Feb 14th – we should start thinking about things like this.”

IT HAS BEEN CALCULATED THAT IF EVERYONE DID NOT PURCHASE A DROP OF
PETROL FOR ONE DAY AND ALL AT THE SAME TIME, THE OIL COMPANIES WOULD
CHOKE ON THEIR STOCKPILES.

AT THE SAME TIME IT WOULD HIT THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY WITH A NET LOSS
OVER 4.6 BILLION DOLLARS WHICH AFFECTS THE BOTTOM LINES OF THE OIL
COMPANIES.
THEREFORE ”
Feb.14 th” HAS BEEN FORMALLY DECLARED

“STICK IT UP THEIR BEHIND ” DAY AND THE PEOPLE OF THIS NATION SHOULD
NOT BUY A SINGLE DROP OF PETROL THAT DAY.

THE ONLY WAY THIS CAN BE DONE IS IF YOU FORWARD THIS E-MAIL TO AS
MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN AND AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN TO GET THE WORD
OUT. WAITING ON THE GOVERNMENT TO STEP IN AND CONTROL THE PRICES IS
NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REDUCTION AND CONTROL
IN PRICES THAT THE ARAB NATIONS PROMISED TWO WEEKS AGO?

REMEMBER ONE THING, NOT ONLY IS THE PRICE OF PETROL GOING UP BUT
AT THE SAME TIME AIRLINES ARE FORCED TO RAISE THEIR PRICES,
TRUCKING COMPANIES ARE FORCED TO RAISE THEIR PRICES WHICH AFFECTS
PRICES ON EVERYTHING THAT IS SHIPPED. THINGS LIKE FOOD, CLOTHING,
BUILDING SUPPLIES MEDICAL SUPPLIES ETC. WHO PAYS IN THE END? WE
DO!

WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.IF THEY DON’T GET THE MESSAGE AFTER ONE
DAY, WE WILL DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN. SO DO YOUR PART AND SPREAD THE
WORD. FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW. MARK YOUR
CALENDARS AND MAKE* * *Feb.* 14 th

Even if you don’t read the email, the all CAPS text is a dead give away that the person forwarding the email is a retard. But reading it reveals much more than that. “Waiting for the government to step in and control the prices . . .” The person thinks that controlling prices sets everything alright. It is as if prices can be set at whatever suits one’s fancy. The word retarded is inadequate to describe this mentality.

Does the person know that petrol is a non-perishable consumption good and that in general the average person does not buy gasoline every day, etc. I will not abuse the readers’ intelligence by spelling out the illogic.

OK, moving on, here’s another instance of stupidity. Someone noted on a mailing list that there is an imbalance in the sex ratio in a particular community. One explanation given was that people selectively abort female fetuses. That explanation was countered by another person who wrote that that particular community does not abort fetuses. The alternative explanation was that couples stop having kids once they have a son. Therefore, the person reasoned, the lop-sided sex ratio.

I wrote saying that as long as the chances of having a son or a daughter was even, and no interventions such as selective abortion are involved, then it does not matter what strategy couples follow regarding the decision to continue to have children. It is like a toss of an unbiased coin. The trials are independent and the outcome of a large number of tosses of the coin will show nearly equal number of heads and tails.

If every couple were to have only one child and stop, then in any large population, the number of sons and daughters born will be roughly equal. If every couple stops randomly after one, two, three, . . . , number of children, then too the sex ratio will be equal (given a large number of couples having babies.) It does not matter since the sex of a baby is a random draw with equal probability.

My argument was countered by someone who wrote that statistics and probability does not work.

. . . such calculations have gone awry several times – just look at the financial markets or better ask any experts on fin markets. There are some other cases where probability does not work – e.g. road accidents, spread of endemic diseases etc.

That is when I concede defeat. I can supply the argument but comprehension has to come from within and cannot be supplied from outside.

We are all born with the ability to learn how to reason, just as have an innate ability to learn a language. But having the ability to learn something is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for having the skill. Reasoning has to be learned as much as languages have to be learned. And like with languages, one loses the ability with disuse.

10 thoughts on “Reasoning is Unnatural

  1. While traveling in a cab a few days ago here in Hyderabad, I was chit-chatting with the cab driver. He was of the opinion that children are God’s gift to mankind. That because children are sent by God, it is not proper to refuse them. Therefore, using birth control is Haraam.

    Upon telling him that that way, the children would not be educated etc properly, his reply was that since Allah is sending those children, it was up to him to take care of them as well. To support his argument, he cited the example of a friend of his whose income had increased with every successive child he had.

    I then told him that since it was Allah’s wish to send people here, it was also manifestation of His wish when when people died. Therefore, taking sick people to hospital was also Haraam. To this he replied that Allah is merciful and does not want to cause pain or misery to people and therefore getting treatment is proper.

    It was not the wrong ideas which troubled me. It was the refusal to accept others’ point of view and complete confidence in his baseless conclusions which really made me sick with worry. And this was a man earning decently and living in a city like Hyderabad! Be among people like these for a few minutes, and you really will start believing the title of this post of yours.

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  2. Just regard the typical Indian as stuck at an intellectual and emotional age of around three to five years, and you can explain all sorts of things: the overwhelming id drive, ignoring the interests of all around them, fixated beliefs in Santa Claus, faith that no matter how they mess up, some parental figure will save the day (and world), etc. Of course, when mentally underdeveloped people become physically developed and spawn and rear children, the children’s mental training usually cannot go far past their parents. Another vicious circle.

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  3. “I wrote saying that as long as the chances of having a son or a daughter was even, and no interventions such as selective abortion are involved, then it does not matter what strategy couples follow ….”

    Really? You may want to rethink whether you actually want to call your answer accurate or the other person stupid. Please read the links below. It would help if you read them in the order in which listed.

    http://www.thebigquestions.com/2010/12/22/a-big-answer-2/
    http://www.thebigquestions.com/2011/01/10/a-whole-new-brain-teaser/

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  4. Couldn’t help but chime in that there is even mathematically there is no merit in the argument that if people stop having babies when they have the first boy there will be more boys than girls (Oh, the thrill of solving mathematical puzzles for some geeks!)

    Let us say that the probability of having one boy per birth is p, and having a girl has probability q (which is 1-p). Let us assume that p=0.5 (or 50%). So, q is also 0.5.

    Now, here are the possible sequences of siblings in families that stop having babies as soon as they have a boy (b) after however many consecutive girls (g):
    b
    gb
    ggb
    gggb

    The probabilities of these sequences are (in order):
    p
    qp
    qqp
    qqqp

    respectively.

    Thus, the average number of boys per family will be:
    1*p + 1*qp + 1*qqp + 1*qqqp … = 0.5 + 0.5^2 + 0.5^3 + … = 1

    Whereas, the average number of girls per family will be:

    0*p + 1*qp + 2*qqp … = 0 + 0.25 + 0.25 + 0.1875 + 0.125 + … = 1

    So, the average family size will be 2, and there will be equal number of boys and girls in this society.

    Of course, this assumes that p=0.5, which has been skewed higher, notably due to sex selective abortions.

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