12. Nov, 2016

Definitely? Probably? Possibly?


Now that Donald Trump is set to become the 48th President of the United States he is attempting to persuade the people that he is Washington, Lincoln and FDR rolled into one…note his increasingly magisterial tone and bearing. However, those of us who analysed both his demeanour and thought processes during the recent campaign, know better…
DEBATE IS DEAD?
More disturbing by far than the outcomes of the Brexit and US Presidential campaigns was the way in which both were decided.
In each case a majority wilfully avoided debate in favour of “We are totally right, you are totally wrong” “No, we are totally right, it is you who are totally wrong,” otherwise known as “The Ignorance of Certainty.”
This is where one side is so sure of their own position that they never debate it with opponents, much less themselves, other than hurl insults and innuendo at them.
Debate is the opposite and runs counter to the methods adopted by Trump….
Politeness?
Donald of that ilk is impatient, touchy and sarcastically critical or mocking and malicious to his opponents. He interrupts, gets personal, and interprets every criticism as a personal slight. He has consistently failed to be polite to people and critical about ideas.
He cannot see the difference between saying “I disagree with Hilary’s idea” . . and “I disagree with Hillary. . .”. There is probably far more he agrees rather than disagrees about with Hillary – it’s the specific point that is at issue, not the person.
Responsiveness
Trump restates claims that are unconnected to the question or previous point, and is driven only by what he wants to talk about, not what others have asked to hear. Such speakers are only sharing a physical space, not a conversation.
The essence of dialogue is that I say what I say because you said what you said.
Clarity
Trump is often difficult to understand, with only the emotional thrust of what he says coming through rather than there being any logical structure or specifics to what he is saying. After a long speech, why is he not asked to clarify what he has just said?
Seriousness
Trump talks about serious subjects, but doesn’t sustain his focus on them in a serious way. His attention is never on the ideas: it is on his audience, or himself.
Self-correction
Trump often changes what he says, sometimes denying what he said before. But he gets corrected by events or expediency, not reflection whereby he would have changed his thinking having heard and thought some more.
Empathy
This entails having enough respect for others that you think it is worth doing. Trump seeks to do exactly the opposite: to root his audience as firmly as possible in their own grievances, and raise hostility rather than empathy for “certain groups.”

COMMON GROUND.
Alas, Donald Trump is not alone with these deficiencies for he has much in common with all political and religious extremists…the possession of a vocabulary lacking the two words that would destroy his feigned air of absolute certainty…“PROBABLY”and “POSSIBLY”
Such a deficiency arises out of the wilful confusion of two forms of reasoning…Deductive and Inductive.
Deductive Reasoning.
This is easy to explain…
Premise 1...A = B
Premise 2...B = C
Conclusion A = C, where factors A, B and Care true.
Thus…
Premise 1...A triangle is a three sided figure whose internal angles total 180o
Premise 2...Figure X has three sides whose internal angles total 180o
Conclusion…Figure X is a triangle.
This is a sound form of reasoning within the physical sciences but is easy to twist when dealing with society…
Premise 1...All Moslems are terrorists
Premise 2...Mohammed is a Moslem
Conclusion…Mohammed is a terrorist.
This is false reasoning, for Premise 1 is clearly untrue and although Premise 2 is correct, the Conclusion must still be wrong as it is based on one false premise. For Moslem, substituting, Democrat, Jew, Christian, Communist, Socialist etc will give an idea of how widespread is this fallacy.
Inductive Reasoning.
This is where,
Premise 1...Some of A = Some of B
Premise 2...Some of B = Some of C
Conclusion……..It is therefore possible/probable that some of A will = some of C, where A, B, and C are valid.
In social terms…
Premise 1...Some Moslems are terrorists,
Premise 2...Mohammed is a Moslem,
Conclusion……. It is possible/probable that Mohammed is a terrorist.
But, “probable” and “possible” are not the words of extremists whose followers crave Certainty.

Instead they are part of the language of the reasoned debate that lays at the very heart of Democracy.
REASONED DEBATE.
Put simply this is where two sides treat each other with mutual respect and argue as follows, not necessarily without passion…
“A” puts forward idea 1 (a thesis),
“B” puts forward idea 2 (an antithesis),
“A” and “B” then discuss the merits and failings of each their ideas,
From that arises an agreement on the best way forward, (a synthesis) and the definition of politics as “the positive reconciliation of opposing points of view.”
So where do you stand on that, Mr. Trump?
CONCLUSION
With every prospect of a society to be dominated by white, anglo-saxon, protestant men, gift wrapped in The Stars and Stripes /Union Flag, it is to be hoped that those who so voted are aware of an old proverb….”
“Oftimes to punish us, the Gods give us that for which we pray.”