Re: virus: Convictions

David McFadzean (
Thu, 23 Oct 1997 17:57:31 -0600

At 04:39 PM 10/23/97 -0700, Marie Foster wrote:

>I contend that people do bad things out of bad reasoning. Reasoning
>leads to emotions which can cause so many electro-chemical cascades that
>people who do reason very well, can be tripped up. It has also been my
>experience that some of the most dangerous people are those who use
>reason alone, and who lack any empathy towards others.

There are two ways that reasoning can go terribly wrong: false
premises and invalid inferences. Consider two examples:

1. Terrible people deserve to die.
2. <ethnic group> are terrible people.
3. Therefore <ethnic group> deserve to die.

This is a perfectly sound argument, but since the
premises are false (obviously, I hope) the conclusion
is false.

1. Christians can be trusted.
2. Bob isn't a Christian.
3. Therefore Bob can't be trusted.

This one has an invalid conclusion even if both premises
are true. The problem is that the form of the argument
is fallacious (denying the antecedent of the conditional
which is implied by the first premise).

The dangerous people you mention above are probably working
from false premises rather than invalid inferences.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus