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Friday, October 12, 2012

Is the World Becoming Less Logical?


      This post is one that's been slow cooking in my mind since the beginning of August.  In fact, the topic of this post is part of the reason I have been drawn back to contemplating items of controversy on Tossing It Out.  I probably should have started writing this post when the passion for the topic was burning inside me, but instead I decided to wait until the last minute after I had presented the foundation posts that will act as guides for the discussion posts yet to come.  And in a sense, this current post, though possibly a matter of controversy to some, is further groundwork that will underlie the posts still to come.

          Here is my conjecture based on my observations and interpretations of some of the social and political issues of recent times:

When it comes to making decisions about governance and legislation, there is a growing inclination in the modern world to reject logic, reason, or rational thinking  in favor of allowing emotions and feelings to establish what is acceptable to society as a whole and what is to be considered the standard of normalcy.

           Let me explain using a general example rather than pointing to anything specific.  Think of any issue that has been in the spotlight of national debate which has been carried into the halls of justice and legislation.   This can be a cause that you believe strongly in or something that you feel has been wrongly passed as law or that appears as though may become law in the future.  Now consider whether there is an objectively practical reason for any particular law or commonly accepted attitude to exist other than to make us feel better or absolve us from any personal responsibility for our own actions.

          To put this in pop terms, our world has been tainted by the "Me Generation" philosophy of living and has further passed into an age of "Hyper Ego" where self and community identity is the most important thing and anyone who cannot integrate into this system is ostracized, condemned, boycotted,  and in some cases even killed.

         As I was mulling over this topic of the feelings-based society, an amazing thing happened that really expanded my view.    There was the incident of the violent actions of radical Muslim mobs who supposedly were incensed about the now infamous anti-Islam film that had appeared on YouTube a few months ago.  The film was used as a diversionary tactic to excuse the rioting, property destruction, protests, and murder.   Several statements were made pardoning these actions as the result of "having hurt the religious feelings" of certain groups.   The hurt "religious feelings" of a group of people justified evil acts?   Where is the logic in that statement or in those actions?

         We have been seeing related type thinking on an ongoing basis for several decades now.   Laws have been passed in consideration of the feelings of certain people.   Language is reconstructed so that we don't make certain groups feel bad.  Morality is abandoned because it rejects some folks and they feel badly about being apart from society.

           Maybe this deference to feelings has been the pervasive force for longer than I realize, but it seems to have become stronger in the last forty years.   I don't want to see anyone downtrodden, shunned, or punished for their beliefs, but I'm not sure to what extent it is practical to think we can include all opinions, belief systems, and desires into a workable society.   Someone always has to bend, but are we caving in the wrong direction much of the time?

           I'm certainly not alone in these observations.   Do a web search of  "feelings" or "emotion" versus "logic" or "reason" and you'll find pages of various topics that culminate in similar conclusions.  And again I encourage you to do your own litmus test.  Pick a cause you believe in and list some reasons why you believe in that cause.  Are those reasons more related to personal feelings or is your defense based empirical data that amounts essentially to an objectivity that would be difficult for someone else to dispute?

           My apologies if this post seems incoherent or incomplete, but for the sake of keeping the post short I'm providing my overview to present a general idea.  In future posts I may refer to this post or expound on the topic presented here.  There will be more examples presented to illustrate my point and some that may amount to absurdity.   I'm going to play around with the topic, hoping at all times to keep things thoughtful and as entertaining as something like this can be.  For now I'll be avoiding the more touchy topics and only enter into the more volatile realms of controversy if I feel like there are those who want to discuss them here.

           My intent is not to incite incendiary comments or alienate any readers from this blog.  I've been getting the sense from some comments in my most recent posts that some of you are thinking I'm trying to enter into provocative religious or political discussions.  I assure you, not yet if ever.   I'll emphasize what I've been alluding to in my previous posts:  I merely want us to think about the roots of controversies and why people make the decisions they do.  We can discuss specifics, but hopefully not fight about them.

            Do you typically make decisions based more on reasoning or emotions?   Would you agree that many political and social agendas tend to appeal more to feelings than practicality?   Is society becoming more based on self love and gratification?  

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  1. I can certainly think of some topics that fall into that category! People voting with their hearts and not their heads.
    And that whole thing about the film and the mobs killing innocents was really sad.

  2. A great and thought provoking post Lee. Some people just don't listen to the reasoning of their heads, such a shame.


  3. I love this Lee, it's so thought provoking. I think you're right about the world being less logical too, in a world obsessed with shows like Jersey Shore and reality television we're beginning to swing towards being more impulsive and that's sad because logic and taking time and being careful is the perfect way of going about things. It's a sign of how impulsive the world's becoming that I know logic is the way forward yet I'm impulsive as the lot of them.

  4. I agree - and think your conjecture sums it up perfectly. Sharing this one widely!

  5. The world has always been illogical. We just know more about these days, thanks to Cable news twenty-four hours a day.

  6. I balance emotions with logic...but when media, or even people, try to manipulate how I should think with distortion or partial truths, I get angry. Just give me the facts, let me come to my own conclusion.

  7. I din't find your post incomplete but I get what you're saying. So many topics fall under this. The sad thing is nothing is treated as an individual case or issue.

    When I worked for lawyers, I saw this all the time despite what the constitution says. Judges did what they wanted while their personal beliefs bled into their decisions.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  8. You said it, Lee. Someone else posted today about how we have to be so careful with our words. I think we've gotten too sensitive and too "PC."

  9. Alex -- I think more seems to fall into the heart category than the brain.

    Yvonne -- Thinking takes more work than feeling.

    Yeamie - I agree that popular entertainment is a good measure of the modern intellectual depth.

    Renee -- Thank you so much for the support.

    Caleb -- Yes, there are a lot of illogical things about the world and society, but I do think the increase of leisure time and the bombardment of media and popular culture has brought shallow thinking into the mainstream.

    Em -- It's difficult and perhaps dangerous to separate logic and feelings, but reasoning helps to make better decisions.

    Ernest-- Thank you for the affirmation with the big "Y" and the big "why" is a big question here.

    Shelly -- There is a lot more I wanted to say here but was hesitant to express--yet, at least. Lawyers often appeal to the emotions of the juries and judges I guess because that's what effects us most inside.

    L. Diane -- There is a great deal of over sensitivity in our age as it pertains to our selfish needs. I am so careful about what I say on my blog because often those types of things can be so blown out of proportion and give us a negative mark that is difficult to eradicate.


  10. I think logic takes a back seat to what feels good. Not cool and sometimes dangerous.

    great post.


  11. "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, ..."

    Yeah, you're right.

  12. Your example of the violence that broke out in response to the anti-Muslim YouTube video touches on a couple of things. First, a YouTube video? Really? Okay, back to the point. Rioting over that made no more sense to me than the LA riots back in the day with the Rodney King thing. "Expressing" responsibly is one thing. Causing destruction and having others sweep it under the rug with the excuse of "hurt feelings" is not logical. No, I do not see the logic in that.

    I'd have to agree with your assessment about the "Me" factor happening. And when you add in people being too busy to do anything more than take a six-second-sound bite as gospel, then no wonder people are moving, acting and reacting on feelings. You don't need a lot to react to feelings. Not when the right buzz words are applied.

  13. Teresa -- The "feel good" trend can have some very bad consequences.

    Linda -- You have caught an important part of what I'm saying. We are seeing this happen in a big way in our time.

    Angela -- Great comment. Media plays a big role in our assimilation and assessment of data. The populace is experiencing mind control through a tapping into the emotional conduit.


  14. Thank you so much for this post, Lee. You have "tossed it out" without taking political sides. Emotion does rule and I am afraid that in this era of political correctness, we have lost our ability to think logically, or even engage in decent conversation and listen thoughtfully.

  15. If it doesn't look "logical" to you, look deeper. There's logic in everything even though you can't see it. Take the example you posed of the riots that left an American diplomat dead. The "film" was only an excuse to hide the root cause. This was a terrorist attack. What is the terrorist logic? To mount a war that they cannot win by direct combat. Why use the film to hide the root cause? To keep people from seeing the President's foreign policy failures.

    Now, there are even deeper motivations at work here. Let's accept that terrorists initiated the attacks on the American embassies. What then caused bystanders to join the attacks? It was the effect of the mob. Now, there is a whole new level of logic to consider.

  16. I've actually mentioned this in a few posts. Emerson felt the same way, so it's not exactly a new thing, but there has been a sharp rise in all of this since the beginning of the extrovert movement and the positivity movement basically back around the '20s (although some of it goes back to the foundation of Christian Science and their whole "positive thinking" crap).

    A good example of this is Romney's supposed win over Obama in the debate. His "win" is based on charisma and that he actually broke the rules of the debate, but people responded well to his rule breaking, so he "wins." (Specifically, I'm talking about his directly addressing Obama, which he did over 35 times. That's not actually accepted in a traditional debate format, which that debate was. Obama only addressed Romney 6 times, which is much more typical.) People have declined to look at the substance of the debate and have only reacted to the fact that Romney was more aggressive and charismatic. It doesn't seem to matter that he lacked actual substance in what he was saying most of the time.

  17. I'll come back for intellectual discussion, Lee. In Canada, we watch the politics enough to know what's going on.

    This is your forum.

  18. LoverofWords-- Artful discussion is a tragic loss. So many of us are afraid of offending that instead of the important issues we stick with trivialities and rarely get deeper than maybe talking about the latest iPhone or some other new technology.

    Jack -- There is no doubt to me about that deeper language of which you speak. The problem is the general unwillingness to engage about the root causes or do very much extensive research. I think many people look at the problem areas and accept that if anyone is to blame, it is the U.S. government and Western Civilization. Then those people shrug it off and go back to their favorite TV show. The logic is indeed there, but it is often easier and more entertaining to accept the illogic fed to us by mainstream media.

    Andrew-- The way I understood the terms of the first debate and I'm pretty sure it was distinctly said in the VP debate was that they were trying to establish a format of directly speaking to the opponent. I may be wrong on this, but I understood several analyses to say that the media outlets were looking for a more confrontational approach to make the debate more interesting and dramatic. My personal thought was that they are trying to steer from the typical ploy of evading moderator questions by merely reciting prepared statements--better to catch the candidates on their feet with actual retained data and not the usual campaign rhetoric. This has always been my problem with the debates in the past.

    DG -- I think a lot of people in the U.S. think they know what's going on because they watch TV news or read the paper or something like that. Sure we get information, but how do we process that information. This is my education forum since I don't know a lot about what's going on either. And beyond that, I'm most interested in how things work. I believe that if we know essentially how things work or how they're supposed to work, we can better understand when things are broken and come up with solutions to fix them.


  19. First, we told repeatedly to reject the vain philosophy of this world.

    Second, II Timothy 3 tells us that logic, morals, behavior will grow worse toward the end of this age.

    Third, to answer your first question, primarily I make decisions based on logic and reasoning. However, being a fallible human being I know some of my decisions were based on emotion. I sadly regret those decisions.

    Almost all political and social agendas are geared to feelings that logic or practicality. Otherwise the majority of platforms would collapse and stupid decisions would be a thing of the past.

    I forge who said it, but someone once said that a democracy cannot work and will fail. As soon as the populace learn that they can vote themselves benefits, it will eventually collapse under the growing weight of debt.

    Society as always been based on self love and self gratification. Ever since Cain killed Abel. We just have more avenues today to satisfy our self love and self gratification and we have more mediums to highlight it than ever before.

  20. No, the first debate was supposed to be a more formal, traditional debate, which is what Obama prepared for. I was listening to a piece about it on NPR the other day. Basically, Romney broke protocol on it, and Obama was caught off guard.

  21. Oh, the VP debate, because it's viewed as mostly unimportant, was geared as an informal "go at 'em" debate, which is what they did. That's not what was supposed to happen with the presidential one, though.

  22. Oh gosh, I wish I could remember where I read it... about how many college campuses are cracking down on certain topics of debate (which means cracking down on free speech) because the powers that be don't want to offend anyone. When did THAT happen? When did we get to the point we can't debate/discuss our differences in a safe environment? When did we get such thin skins? When did we stop becoming responsible for our individual actions/reactions?


  23. Gregg -- All good points. Thank you for presenting them.

    Andrew -- Maybe I understood the format differently based on what I wanted to see and actually I was disappointed that there was not as much direct interchange as I expected and hoped for. I can understand avoiding confrontation in traditional competitive and public showcase debates, but I like the idea of the direct approach for the reasons I've mentioned above. After all, this is a presidential debate to help voters decide on the most influential world leader. If Obama was flustered and caught off guard, it shows a weakness that our president shouldn't have. An ideal president would be strong and ready to respond with quick decisiveness in an exchange of items of policy.

    Bish -- I heard that as well and cannot recall where. Taking out issues of controversy from debate kind of diminishes the whole point of debate. Our coddled offspring of the upcoming generation--we're not going to do much good for them if they can't face the tough stuff. It's kind of like the kids' sports leagues that no longer allow keeping score for fear of making making certain kids feel like losers. I say welcome to the world kids, there are winners and losers and you should always strive to be the best but be a good sport when you don't come out on top.


  24. Possibly, except the the analysis I was listening to was saying that he wasn't caught off guard by the style as much as by Romney's direct denial of true things. Several times during the debate, Romney said things like "I don't know what you're talking about," which was clearly not true, and Obama didn't know how to react to such a blatant sidestepping of the truth. Basically, Romney was putting his hands over his ears and saying "la la la" whenever Obama said something he didn't want to deal with. How do you deal with that?

  25. Another very thought-provoking post Lee. I for one have foregone the debates so far this campaign.

    I was thinking the other day about the changes from the mid-70's. I was remarking to a coworker that I had recently looked in my old high school year book and ran across several picture that would make national headlines today. Can you imagine for a "senior prank" 3 students standing around a tied up principal, brandishing rifles, and then herding the office personnel at gunpoint into the school safe. I stared at these pictures in silence for a full 5 minutes to let it all sink in. Wow.

  26. I think people have always based opinions and votes on a mixture of logic, knowledge, and emotion. Perhaps these days it's harder to get to the truth because of a decline in journalistic and leadership integrity. It's not that easy to get to the truth/facts in any issue.

    There's nothing wrong with searching for happiness and gratification...that's part of the pursuit for happiness we all believe in. The part that's missing these days is personal responsibility, which includes knowing what the heck we're talking about.

  27. A six year old boy kisses a six year old girl on the cheek at recess and gets suspended for sexual harrassment. A man falls and injures himself while breaking into a home then sues the homeowner for damages, and wins.

    I'm not sure if we've lost our logic or our sanity.

  28. Andrew -- I think a leader needs to be able to deal with the unexpected. President Obama admitted himself that he didn't do well in the debate. We'll see what happens at the next ones.

    Chuck -- Where in the world did you go to school? That sounds like a very controversial photo. I will admit things have changed a lot. I graduated from High School in 1969 and while I attended we had prayer and Bible reading over the intercom during home room every day. We also were offered a Bible class as one of our electives. Big taboos now.

    Patricia -- Lack of responsibility and accountability are big issues that are problematic. Pursuit of happiness and self-gratification is okay within certain limits, but much of our society has become almost hedonistic by nature and uses the excuse of the pursuit to do things that are irresponsible.

    LD -- Two good examples that really leads one to wonder. These will probably be future blog posts in my controversy series.


  29. I make decisions based on reasoning. However, initially in my search for an answer the prompt might come from emotion.

    I do believe that political and social agendas tend to appeal more to feelings.

    I think society is suffering from what I like to term a rapid change syndrome. This is where feelings and emotions, if they are soothed, appear to be a solution, which isn't necessarily the case.

  30. I'm looking forward to discussing this topic more. In my opinion, it's not logic that's been abandoned, per se, but the idea of an absolute truth, a plumb line that is like a line in the sand (to completely jumble all metaphors) that we all can argue from. Instead, each person now has the right to define their own right and wrong, and that's basically based on "I get to do what I "feel" is right and then they justify it by saying, "And so can you". It doesn't work, though. A society cannot function if we're not approaching decision making based on the same underlying principles.
    Tina @ Life is Good

  31. Forgot to subscribe to comments...

  32. The basis of my decisions depend on what type of decisions I'm making. If it's a matter of recreation or self-gratification, I'm probably more likely to make decisions based on emotion rather than logic, but, if it's a matter of huge life chances or huge life decisions, then I've put some effort into leaning more toward logic and choosing that over emotion.

    For examples of these statements....if I want to go to the movies, then I'll find a way to do it, even if going means that I may not be able to afford groceries for the day or I may not be able to visit a friend or family member, etc. etc. etc. -- "Looper" starring Bruce Willis came out a week ago and I was tired as hell but still managed to find a way to stay awake to see it, even if that meant I would be up until like 3:00am in the morning.

    Yes, I would agree that many political and social agendas tend to appeal more to feelings than practicality. I don't know, however, if society is becoming more based on self love and gratification, so I am not in a position to answer your last question. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I have no idea.


  33. i am puzzled at times with whether something is the heart, the emotions, or spirit of discernment----

  34. You couldn't have found a more perfect video for this post! I do agree that our emotions run over into many decisions that we make. Right now I think a huge problem is indecision. Julie


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