Worldbuilding: Logic! Moar Need!

I’m going to lightly touch on current politics here. Lightly. I talk with people on both sides of the political spectrum, and we try to find common ground and engage in mutual headdesking about extremists on both sides.

But therein lies both happy coincidence and part of the problem: I have people on the other side of the political fence I can talk to. As in, present a view, present reasons, listen to countering arguments, and say “Huh – hadn’t heard that side of it.” And we’re both trying to use logic.

Logic is sadly lacking on the TV news these days. And a bunch of other places.

I have my suspicions on why this is so.

You see, I commiserate with at least one person about the agonies that are current college freshman papers. I wouldn’t have gotten out of 6th grade writing that way. It makes me want to hunt down high school English teachers and ask pointed questions about what the bleep they think they’re teaching. Possibly with bamboo slivers. The tortured sentences, the lack of references, the paragraphs that are supposed to present a reasoned argument when they actually only give opinions….

If you can’t write coherently, when you’ve been given source material and a set range of topics to write on, odds are you can’t think coherently either. And if you can’t apply coherent, logical thought to a college class, what are the odds you can apply it to real life?

Combine that with the TV news going for ratings rather than, you know, investigative reporting, and apparently now at least two generations of people raised to believe someone who disagrees is not just wrong, but Evil – and. Well. Recent riots, anyone?

We need more logic in the world today. A lot more. I’m just not sure how to get it.

About all I can do is desk-check my own writing for logic and plausibility. And try to write characters who use reason, logic, and rational debate where they can; who don’t always agree with each other, for valid reasons; and who take the time to realize that even the most logical person is going to have that one Berserk Button, and there goes the neighborhood.

(I.e., do not send the person with a burning hate of the alien invading monsters to go negotiate with them. Save them for the negotiator’s honor guard, in case this really is a trap!)

And when reason and logic fail – then, indeed, there may be butt-kicking. 😉

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49 thoughts on “Worldbuilding: Logic! Moar Need!

    1. A lot of those commentators seem to take the Clinton years as normal. Bush II was heavily influenced by the Cold War era, and there are significant traces of it in what they count as changes from the Clinton era. Cold War thinking was influenced by the World War II experience in a great many ways.

      ’92 was the first Presidential election I paid any mind too. People had talked about the fall of the Soviet Union and of the Berlin Wall like they were a big deal, but I didn’t get it then.

      When 9/11 happened, I was still very naive, and figured that anyone who could pull it off would be wise enough to finish the job. I remember speculation that those young then would have different attitudes than the older set. I’ve yet to be convinced of that, but it is still early days for that particular cohort to have a really loud political voice.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Being homeschooled K-9th is on my top 5 Things I’m Really Glad My Parents Did list. If mainly just because it meant that I already knew how to teach myself out of a textbook without a teach by the time I did go to Public highschool.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Truth. My mother is an _elementary school_ teacher, and she thinks that No Child Left Behind and standardized testing should be burnt at the stake. Let me reiterate: elementary school. Teaching to the test is a problem _that_ early.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Oh for the love of all things fluffy, do NOT mention standardized tests around my father. Also, don’t talk about the textbooks.

      Dad is a college history professor who teaches an AP course over at the local high school, which means he gets a chance to read their textbooks.. There is nothing that gets his blood pressure up faster than going over the history textbooks. Granted, he has a legitimate cause for pure furry — the most recent edition doesn’t even list George Washington Carver as a //foot note// for cryin’ out loud.

      Dad corrected that oversight with a lecture in class. Along with a lot of other things that were glossed over. A lot of teachers don’t have the luxury to do so because the Test is All. Cue more “Aarg!” (And I say “luxury” because, as its an AP course, dad has more flexibility given the AP tests are //supposed to be harder// than the standardized tests.)

      Its stuff like this that makes me glad I’m not facing the halls of hell called high school. And utterly terrified in new and interesting ways for those poor saps who are.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. *Nod* School’s not like it was when I went. And even that was worlds away from when my parents’ generation went. In the 1900s high school included Latin. But then, most people didn’t go to high school. And that was normal. When people suddenly decided everyone had to go – I suspect that’s when the real dumbing down began.

        I wonder what would happen if we hit every elementary school with a stack of Heinlein juveniles….

        Liked by 2 people

    3. I think it is quite a bit broader than standardized tests.

      1. The basic subject whose teaching I have the most invested in is math. I am okay at math. I have two major philosophical issues that can be shown with trends in teaching math. a) ‘learning should be fun’ b) ‘start people off with advanced techniques’. A third one might be ‘lead students to discover basic principles’, but that might be a subset of b. Advanced math builds off basic math. Advanced math is easier when basic math is fast and takes little energy. I learned to do math quickly and cheaply by tediously practicing stuff I already understood. Time and effort spent on ‘learning should be fun’ takes away from drilling times tables. The teacher talking in circles around some process I am supposed to discover is confusing. Pushing advanced methods used by practitioners with a solid foundation when I don’t have the basics is confusing. Splitting time across several different techniques that I am supposed to figure can take the place of really studying a single technique that is known to be the best. This is also confusing. I strongly suspect that confusion type methods cost more people lost to innumeracy than tedium type methods.

      Compare a ‘dojo’ that starts ‘teaching’ the secret touch of death right off the bat. How likely is the student to execute it if they don’t even know how to stand or fall?

      2. Technocracy might be described as the belief that society might be improved through the applications of the methods of industrial engineering to humans, or the scientific management of society by experts. I am persuaded that it is magical thinking.

      What does that have to do with the price of Tea in China? At some point the practice of dividing students by age and presenting them with matching curriculum was adopted. Take a bunch of students, and divide the material into chunks, and spend a certain amount of time with each specialized teacher, “it will be more efficient”. Only, it doesn’t work out that way, and maybe a century later we had special ed, remedial education, advanced classes, and so forth. Epicycles.

      On a related topic, we have centralized bureaucracies supposedly for the sake of areas where local government and/or circumstances have screwed up the school systems. I am skeptical of the idea they aren’t instead making even screwed up schools systems worse.

      3. With bureaucracy comes funding, with funding comes politics, and with politics comes political factions. I like history, and I eventually noticed that the official school historical narratives had some differences from what I put together in my wider reading. By purest coincidence, these only happened to flatter the faction who the teachers and schools had the most financial interest in flattering. Okay, there’s a standard talking point that tries to justify that, but I have enough state history to know that it is probably false for my state. Perhaps ‘lying’ and ‘corrupt’ are too strong. There were teachers I thought well of, teachers that did not mean me any personal harm, but I am glad that my welfare no longer depends on primary and secondary educators.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. I, too, find the lack of logic disturbing.

    But as was pointed out, US teachers, especially in public schools, are told that passing the standardized tests is the priority. Because the school’s funding is dependent on them. Because politicians (not slamming either side – both of them are responsible for this mess).

    I’m not saying that tests, even standardized tests, don’t have a use. But I think they are over-emphasized as a metric for how well the students are learning.

    Because as students are aptly demonstrating, you can teach people to pass a test. But if you don’t teach them ANYTHING ELSE you are going to have problems later.

    And that’s if the student even takes the test seriously. In some states, they do because they aren’t allowed to move up unless the pass the standardized test. Even said student had As all year and all their other tests demonstrated that they know the material. Because said student had ONE bad test day.

    But in some, it only affects the school and the teachers. And while that does affect the students, most of the students being kids don’t see that. So to them, the standardized test is wasting their time both on the test days and the time it takes out of the class room. Even the ones that understand the indirect impact on themselves often still see it as a total waste of their time.

    The general consensus of the students I knew in high school was that government was wasting our precious learning time with crap that didn’t do what it was supposed to. Yes, the kids I hung out were complaining about not learning enough. I’m a nerd. I’ve always been a nerd. I hung out with nerds. And nerds usually like learning. We might not like school very much but we like to learn.

    Said nerds were fully aware that their education could be a lot better. That cheesed us all off royally.

    I knew high school graduates here in Florida who can’t pass the entrance exam for a PUBLIC COMMUNITY COLLEGE. They have take to remedial Maths, Reading, and Writing before they are allowed to take actual college classes.

    It sucks for the teachers too. After all, many of them went into teaching because they wanted to see people learn and grow.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah… the worst thing about the Public School System is when the students catch onto what’s really going on in it. At which point, you’re going to get “learning” associated with “regurgitating the right information so that someone make money off it” into a lot of kid’s heads. Which totally tanks the desire to learn for a lot of people. No one likes being used for someone else’s gain.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. No one likes being used for someone else’s gain.

        Indeed.

        Public school didn’t manage to kill my love of learning. And I’m glad it didn’t because I love learning new things.

        Makes me sad and angry to know that not everyone manages to hold onto that love.

        The part of my brain that is deeply cynical and suspicious of everything sometimes wonders if some of this nonsense is purposeful. After all, it might benefit someone for the bulk of publicly educated populace to be disinclined toward learning and curiosity. Because curious people tend to ask a lot of questions.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I was lucky in that there were various historical and scientific books in the house growing up. Love of learning saved by a biography of Patton!

        And yes. Yes indeed. The whole grade school system we currently have was modeled on the Prussian system for turning out factory workers and rank-and-file soldiers who weren’t supposed to think. Guess what part of WWI came out of….

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Admittedly, my view is….skewed a bit on the subject(My grandmother and mother were both teachers, as in both of them were certified in most subjects), and I test !really! well.

    So well I was enough of my high school’s score that they failed me senior year so that they wouldn’t have to explain the score drop to the state(Yep, actually admitted in the lawsuit that the other two top test takers brought. I moved to another school, and finished) And well, no one in my family hates learning, especially at our own speed. But most people don’t have parents that are trained as teachers, and there is a lot of crummy material out there masquerading as both high school and home school text books. But way, way too much focus on the tests right now. And people who teach people reading is something to be hated should be dropped from a high place.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Aussie over here, so the perspective is a little different, but I started out at a really low income rural public school, at around the time they introduced the ‘whole word recognition’ teaching method, which is the worst bullcrap on the planet. I was fine, because I had a lot of books and two literate mums who could read to me, but a lot of my class would basically just say random words at the page until the teacher said they were right. It was utter shit, and a lot of them still probably can’t read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. *points* A lot of the teaching fads are like that.

      The logic isn’t actually that horrible– folks who are really good at reading tend to not actually read the words there, we do a sort of “it starts with X letter, and in context it’s probably X word”, it’s part of how really horrible typos go through– but the problem comes when they jump to “so we’ll just teach people to do it that way!”

      It doesn’t work.

      Same way that observing that people who have well defined goals at 14 tend to be very successful at 25, and thus forcing all the 14 year old kids to “define their goals” (but only acceptable ones…) should make for more successful people in a decade…but no, it didn’t, because the thing that mattered was the thing that caused the goals to be formed, not the having of a formed goal.

      Ironically enough, I actually did achieve the goal I wanted to write down that I wasn’t allowed to. (Becoming ‘a mom, like my mom’– running the household, Samwise to my husband, kids… even went the same route she did, striking out with the expectation that I’d never meet anybody who wanted to marry me, much less raise kids with me.)
      Breaking the irony, the achievement had nothing to do with the dumb exercise, other than maybe in making me willing to refuse to do what the teachers expected me to. (Or I’d have gone college, not military.)

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Jeez . . . I’m glad nobody tried to teach me how to read like that.

      I’m dyslexic – I already have enough trouble keeping the words and letters straight when I go through them methodically in a organized fashion.

      Thank goodness my mom loves to read and read with me all the time. It helped me learn to love reading and help build my reading skills. And that kind of help is critical for dyslexic learners, even when it is mild like mine.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gah, whole word. While I did learn to read before that, it still messed with my brain. Try the fact I have to rote memorize how words are pronounced, because unless I’m concentrating, I have no idea how phonics worked. And silent letters are the devil.

        And math…I found out when I hit college the reason I thought I was bad at geometry was an actual learning disability, not just that the teacher sucked. Give me formula, I’m fine. Numbers and letters, love them. Icons, on the other hand, are just jumbles that I have to struggle to understand, and let’s not even talk about flow charts. Wish I had found it out before I took a class on computer programming.

        If I had to name the classes which were the ones that I still fall back on..Junior High Home Ec, Speech(amazingly helpful! Not only in the actual speech part, but learning the rules of debate, there’s your logic right there), Orchestra, AP History(amazing teacher), and Economics. Guess how many of those are still at our local schools? Though they do now team with the local college to teach college level classes at the high school level, so you can graduate with two years of college credit for the ones willing to do it.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. My mom was a teacher, and would’ve been one of the awesome ones– EVERYTHING was a learning experience when we were kids– but she didn’t realize she had to teach me formal logic, because of course a school would cover that, right?

    I was so pissed when I took a logic 101 class after I got out of the Navy and realized it would have made the few chunks of math that never made sense be perfectly understandable.

    I learned the words for the stuff I’d been taught how to do, and how it worked outside of stuff I already knew.

    It also finally gave me a way to identify who I can reason with, and who I can’t– mostly in the “alright, we have X, Y and Z facts that we disagree on.” Also helps to identify the “doesn’t seem to know WHY they think what they do, or even exactly what they do think, it’s all ‘if by whiskey’ but without the humor.” (Awesome old speech– basically a politician did a long speech where he pointed out that the two sides of an issue were talking past each other, because one was focused on whiskey being evil, and the other on the good, when it’s really both.)

    ***********

    Part of the dumbing down is because we’re mainstreaming people who cannot, or choose not to, learn. It prevents abuse of those who can’t, but protects those who won’t– and are willing to stop anybody else from learning, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Does anyone else think that an engaging narrative that intelligently explores logic/the lack thereof in society sounds like a good read? Is there a book out there like that already?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Try “Crimes Against Logic” by Jamie Whyte. He does one particular logical fallacy a chapter with examples. It’s fun and interesting. It is not, however, a logical primer. I would love to find a good primer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Statistics is also pretty important. Back in the day, I learned from Denbeste about ‘How To Lie With Statistics’. It is by Darrell Huff and Irving Geis, it only needs very basic math, and everyone should read it. It covers statistics and their misuse to a level sufficient for the education of the complete adult, and should not be beyond the abilities of very many adults.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah given how prevalent statistics is in the media we /really/ need to make an introductory statistics course part of mandatory schooling, because I wouldn’t realize just how much crap all the statistics the news shows like to throw around really are if I hadn’t taken a statistics course in college for a major I never finished.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. My mom started us out with “The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Six Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning.” (Homeschool FTW!) It’s written by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m one of the fortunate few who had parents that sent me to a private school. At the time I was clueless about just how bad the public school system had become. The actions of one of my classmates helped clue me in. She had attended public school in grade school and junior high. Her parents didn’t have the money to send her to a private school, and the school did not give her a full ride scholarship. She worked a part-time job after school to pay her own way through high school. She was chronically tired and had times when she didn’t have her homework done or fell asleep in class the days she chose homework over sleep, but she was still convinced that working to pay for the high school education of her choice instead if the education public school foisted onto her was her best option.

    Think about this. The public school system has gotten so bad that a high school *freshman* realized that if she wanted a good education, she had to get a job so she could pay for one.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. She graduated with the rest of us and had an employer she wanted to work for who worked closely enough with the school to get a good look at her work ethic. I know where she ended up after school, and I’m pretty sure it’s exactly where she wanted to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I hated high school. Thankfully, we had a very resistant to change teaching staff who almost all had tenure, so they could do what they liked. But it was structured so if you wanted to learn, you could. If you wanted to do grades but generally faff around you could, and you could totally cheat yourself out of an education and still pass. I still remember my photography teacher in high school who honestly Did Not Care. Multiple choice for his midterms and finals, and he read the questions and choices to the class out loud and shamelessly emphasized the right answer. It would be honestly more work to fail his class then to pass.

    Compare my art teacher, who shamelessly admitted she had never given anything 100% her entire career on the first day of class because with art there is always room for improvement. I was lucky in that her class was split up by lunch so I could spend the lunch break in her classroom working on projects, and I am still, *still* elated by the final project I turned in. I got an A+ out of her, probably because I worked on it during class, borrowed markers and worked at on it at home, and came in during finals week when I didn’t have to just to turn it in because it wasn’t finished before that. And to this day, she is still one of my favorite teachers because she pushed, she pulled no punches.

    Both were during my senior year. And then there was my math teacher in, gosh, had to have had him in sophomore year. I deliberately selected my math class junior year to be sure I got him again because he is the teacher that enabled me to get the highest grades I have ever gotten in a math class. He wrote the class notes on the board and spoke them out loud, did examples on the board, had students come up and do examples on the board, and always left the last half hour of class for students to do their homework and ask questions about it. I wish more teachers had been like that…

    Liked by 1 person

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