Friday, July 29, 2011

peeve no. 264 is omniduction

Two thinking processes generally receive attention: deduction and induction. Logical consequences and generalizations. Debaters construct their arguments from these basic blocks. Participants who rely on other tactics are subject to being systematically dismantled by opponents. (There's also abduction, but I'm ignoring it here.)

Au contraire! This is an incomplete account of actual reasoning in human society. Besides deduction and induction, I propose a third process: "omniduction". Omniduction is the creation of many small details from out of unassailable preconceptions. Its rallying cry is, "I don't need the data! I know what the data is already because I know that ___(preconception)___ could never ever be false!" The miracle of omniduction is akin to spinning gold from straw. Reality can be so simple just by producing facts through grandiose assumptions, not vice-versa.

Unfortunately, omniduction tends to be problematic when practitioners try to converse. Unless everyone happens to be applying omniduction identically, the produced universes could be in conflict. When facts follow directly from overall assumptions, discussion of evidence is futile.
  • "My theory is correct. Your information must be wrong." 
  • "The complex specifics of this situation must be irrelevant. My flawless system of beliefs doesn't require such minutiae to render a verdict."
  • "Truths cannot be complicated. If you'd only consider the issue from my perspective, you'd realize that a small set of self-contained opinions can explain anything."
Omniduction is so freeing and economical. Forget the collection and analysis of heaps of data. Acquisition of knowledge is for nerds. Omniductive reasoning provides ample justifications for taking whatever action is most intuitively appealing. Some can't see the forest for the trees. Omniduction is still better; there's no need at all to see trees when you're absolutely sure about the forest.

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