In search of the capacity for even the simplest logic: To what extent are we the humans gifted with the capacity for even the most basic logic?
To answer your question, let's consider a lengthy report from yesterday's New York Times.
The report in question dominated the front page of yesterday's Thursday Styles section. It appeared beneath these headlines:
The Business of Unconscious BiasThe lengthy report concerns companies which work within the growing "diversity, equity and inclusion industry (D.E.I.)." That said, we aren't concerned with the quality of any particular company's work. We're concerned with the peculiar logic, or lack of same, at the start of the front-page report.
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The report received a very high profile in yesterday's Times. That said, for whatever reason, it started out like this:
ZELEVANSKY (11/21/19): Recently, a story circulated within the diversity, equity and inclusion industry (D.E.I.), one that somehow didn’t go viral on social media: At an unnamed company, co-workers were taking their seats before a sensitivity training workshop began, when some white male employees entered as a group with targets pinned to their shirts—a sartorial statement about their anticipated persecution.Does that make any sense at all? No, really—does that make sense?
Apocryphal or not, “the story is powerful for two reasons,” said Laura Bowser, the board chair and former C.E.O. of TMI Consulting Inc., a D.E.I. strategy company in Richmond, Va., named for its two founders, but also the abbreviation meaning “too much information.” “One, it shows that there is still an utter lack of empathy and understanding about privilege and power dynamics. Second, it demonstrates how many diversity and inclusion trainings in the past have failed.”
As you can see, the report began with one of those "perfect stories." In this case, the story didn't exactly have a perfect hero or villain.
Instead, it featured what might be called a group of "perfect oafs." The moral of the story might be, There go those white males again!
As we've noted again and again, large chunks of modern "liberal" discourse are built around such perfect stories. In this case, though, we seem to learn, in the second paragraph, that the writer of the Times report doesn't know if the story is true.
The writer doesn't seem to know if the events in question actually happened. It isn't clear whether Laura Bowser knows either.
That said, so what? The writer seems to quote Bowser saying that the story "is powerful," and "shows" us several things, whether it's true or not. But how could the story "show" or "demonstrate" various things if it never happened?
As noted, this was the opening passage of a lengthy New York Times report. We're told that a story which has been making the rounds can show and demonstrate several things, but we seem to be told that no one knows if the story actually happened.
What kind of editor thinks it makes sense to start a long report this way? And on what basis did such a person get hired at the Times?
As a matter of basic logic, this passage doesn't seem to make any sense. But such material appears in the Times on a daily basis. In this case, the material forms the start of a lengthy report which sits atop one section's front page.
To what extent are we the humans gifted with the capacity for even the simplest logic? We ask that question every day as we peruse the Times.
And now for the rest of the logic: For advanced logicians only, how much could this story demonstrate or show if we knew the events in question really didhappen?
Such a story would be an "anecdote." It would concern a single event which happened in just one place involving a handful of men.
What can we learn from such an event? Discuss. Compare and contrast!
Tomorrow: Good God! Also in yesterday's Times, this instructive book review...