​What Is Rational Is Not Always Logical

[ 0 ] December 16, 2014 |

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It is often said that a skilled statistician can manipulate statistics to appear to support one conclusion rather than another. One way of reducing the potential of this happening is through what is known as “Bayesian inference.” This is a process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true. Yet it can also be used as the non-logical, but rational means, through observation of patterns of facts, to indirectly see new meanings and contexts for understanding.

Don’t let this confuse you. Many people assume that the words “rational” and “logical” are synonymous but this is not the case. The definition of logic is very specific. It is a factual idea presented in a sequential form that is independent of any type of instinct, emotion, or personal feeling(s). This is not the case with something that seems to be rational. A rational idea may be true or false, and is often driven by emotions and personal feelings. The tricky thing is that an idea that can be rational and at the same time illogical. The skilled individual can present such an idea in a sequential form that makes it appear as if it is logical. This is often done by conspiracy theorists and those who accept ideas of truth and reality that differ from the majority view.

Ultimately, rationality is a much broader term than logic, as it includes “uncertain but sensible” arguments based on personal experience, expectation, probability, and other variables. Logic, on the other hand, is concerned with provable facts and demonstrably valid relations between them.

This distinction is important for the more intellectually developed a person is the more likely they are to make choices that they believe are guided by rational, reasonable, logical, and sensible thinking. Unfortunately, many of us believe that what is rational to us is also logical in the strictest sense of the word. This is a misnomer. What is rational may not necessarily be logical. This distinction, when ignored, can be the source of much chaos and unnecessary struggle.

I am sure in your own life that you have been are presented with situations that seem totally rational yet on closer observation seem totally illogical?

Many ideologues can articulate a position that is so rational on first hearing that it is only when one is presented with an opposing view, presented equally well and seemingly rational as well, that one comes to understand the distinction between rational and logical.

There are great thinkers who believe that any ideology, whether political or religious, is basically flawed because any ideological position is likely to be more concerned with what seems rational than what can be shown to be logically so.

It is just this issue that is the source for so many different perspectives concerning politics in the Middle East, Russia’s foray into the Ukraine, and the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Those who worship at the altar of logic and science clearly do not understand why anyone would do anything if it is illogical? The fullness of life cannot be experienced through a purely logically driven perspective. Love, passion, friendship, and community all seem rational, sensible, and reasonable on the surface but are more often than not emotionally and intuitively driven This does not make them invalid, they are just not necessarily logical.

Again, many ideas may seem logical when viewed in relation to a specific goal, but when viewed from afar they may appear less so. Yet, many people make many choices that seem illogical but which, in the end, work out in their best interest. These choices may be illogical still be in some way considered rational when they are based on the emotional needs, spiritual intentions, and desired results of the person making that choice.

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About Lewis Harrison: Lewis Harrison is a speaker, bestselling author, and radio talk show host on NPR affiliated WIOX 91.3 FM. As an “inspired data machine” and expert on futurism, personal development, gamification, leadership and conspiracy theory Lewis [...]
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