Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

But... why? Why do writers even bother to try to make logic look bad? What do they have against it? I don't understand...
  • Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they hate math.

Has anyone seen an inversion of this?

Leigh Sabio: I'd say Stephen Colbert's character on The Colbert Report, himself a parody of the types of consevatives who strawman media and academics, counts (Straw Romulan?). Also, many Chaotic Stupid characters. I just launched Strawman Emotional for the inversions.

  • Sailor Moon, being way over on the idealism side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, did this with the S season and Sailor Uranus and Neptune. They wanted to find the talismans needed to save the world, even though at the time it was believed that taking the talismans would kill their possessors. But sacrificing others was the only logical way to save the world no matter how much pain it could cause. Sailor Moon fought them, believing there was another way. Of course, the story made Sailor Moon's choice out to be the correct one, but she had no way of knowing that in advance and was right by pure luck.

Oh god. This was the core of so many an Internet Backdraft back in the day. Basically, it's not this simple, and both Uranus/Neptune and Moon behaved in silly, silly ways; this isn't logic vs. emotion so much as the two ends of the Sliding Scale at war, and you can find evidence for either depending on which you like better.

fhqwhgads: I'd disagree with the theory proposed here. The emotional thinker is capable of coming to a logical decision because they are capable of understanding subjectivity and applying it to the problem, while the logical thinker is not. It really should be an argument between subjective emotion and objective logic rather than just emotion and logic. For example, self-sacrifice in the context of any given story can't be adequately analyzed by someone using objective logic, since its merit lies in the value of the characters being sacrificed, which is fundamentally subjective.

Ununnilium: But subjectivity and logic aren't exclusive.

  • Truth In Television: this troper actually knows a person in real life who keeps taking his belief in logic and contempt for emotion to such an extreme.

No, no, no, no, no.

arromdee: I took out the whole syllogism part. I never liked it and it doesn't seem to do more than bulk up what should be a simple explanation. If anyone really wants it back, I won't take it out again but as it is it seems pointless.

alighieri: Considering that this article wasn't very funny to begin with and spent a lot of time talking about what logic is and what it isn't, I've taken the liberty to correct large sections that simply didn't accurately describe what logic is about at all. in fact, a lot of it was almost as bad as the strawman itself and mixed up "reasonable" and "logical" pretty bad. I've taken this all directly from a college textbook on applied logic, so everything is pretty sure to be correct. I had a hard time finding good examples, but, considering that most fiction has no idea what a logician actually does, this is no surprise.

arromdee: While most of the update is good, I don't see the reason for removing most of the Straw Vulcan logic that was removed. There are stories where the Straw Vulcan insists that a "logical" entity has to avoid sacrifices, must assume other parties are logical, can only accept plans with a 100% chance of succeeding, etc.

Ununnilium: And the parts that were pulled out should've been put on here. Now it's hard to tell what was changed.

Also, it's painfully didactic now, IMHO. It's not supposed to be a textbook on applied logic, is the problem; it only needs enough information about logic to show the problems with this trope. In addition, it completely misses the heart of the trope; the false dichotomy between emotion and logic. I'm editing it down some, and putting some of the original bits back in.

Especially, I'm cutting this part out; it's a good lesson in applied syllogisms, but has nothing to do with the trope:
As an example, look at this piece of bad reasoning:

Now, this looks nice and logical on first sight and it is obviously true. It just seems to make sense. However, the form is bad, and the reasoning is only true by coincidence. Look at this:

Now, although this reasoning includes emotion as a true premise, this isn't why it doesn't work. Emotion and logic can certainly be used together like this. The conclusion simply isn't true (luckily), so this demonstrates invalid form and bad logic. So finally a valid example:

Try it. No matter what you put into this form, as long as the premises are correct and fit the pattern, you won't get a wrong answer.

Of course, this is only one way to do logic. This is just the formal way to display chains of reasoning by splitting them into individual statements, also known as syllogisms. However, all logic relies on this basic idea of making sure that you don't get wrong answers by screwing up the validity of your form.

NuclearMessiah I removed this because of its self-admitted flamebait potential and before the bullets really started flying.
  • Real Life Flame Bait example: Inevitably used in any poorly done Evolution Vs. Creationism debate. The latter will seek to paint the former as cold, unfeeling logicians, with no faith or sense of wonder in anything, unable to see the world outside their narrow scientific viewpoint. The former will seek to paint the latter as baseless charlatans, their frequent appeals to emotion merely a smokescreen for their lack of evidence. This never ends well.
    • This troper once debated a Fundamentalist who declared that, since the existence of God was illogical, logic itself must have been invented by Satan to trick mankind into abandoning faith.
      • We may call this Straw Fideism. Regular fideism, as The Other Wiki explains, is merely the belief that one's religions cannot be logically proven true, and must be taken on faith.
    • Also, being religious and accepting scientific fact (much like logic and emotion) are not mutually

incompatible, hence the existence of Theistic Evolution.


The entry says

"Logic exists to make sure you can never arrive at a wrong answer from true premises. If the premises you start with are false, like "the sun is green" or "Superman isn't a dick," then logic won't give you a true answer. Logic is supposed to make sure that you don't make errors in your reasoning, and that you don't contradict yourself; it doesn't make up for incorrect or incomplete information. "

This is in fact not quite right. The first sentence is correct: the only thing logic can guarantee is that you cannot derive a false conclusion by valid logic from true premises. The next sentence is incorrect, however: You can get a true conclusion by valid logic from false premises:

"All Emperors of Rome are Presidents of the USA" "George Bush is Emperor of Rome" therefore "George Bush is President of the USA"

I propose a rephrasing of this sentence: " If your premises are false, you cannot *reliably* reach a true conclusion.".

alighieri: Thanks for the feedback. Since this was my first major edit, I was worried that I was taking out too much of the old content. So, I'm sorry, I guess you're right that most people won't care about a lot of the stuff I posted. I'll try to do better next time.
Removed the following from the Star Trek Movies example:
  • This Troper thinks the former misunderstood the films. Spock's sacrifice is supposed to be logical - he says that outright to Kirk, telling him not to mourn his death. "The needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many" is not supposed to be Straw Vulcan doctrine but rather Kirk's Take That! to Spock's "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one." What the crew does is illogical. What Spock does is not.
The troper previous to the removed section explained that both actions were, in fact, logical. Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. However sometimes the needs of the many ARE the needs of the few, which is the case when the crew feel they need Spock back. The removed section completely misinterpreted the prior section. I suppose realistically the entire section should be removed, as no one's actions in that example were illogical, but I'm sure someone would just stick Spock's actions or Kirk's actions in there again and attempt to decry them as illogical.

legendarylugi: The page is starting to lose sight of the point. Everyone's acting as if the very inclusion of this trope in a work is erroneous, when it may just be the misguided views of an individual character to show THEIR flaws rather than the work's. Tropes Are Not Bad. There ARE plenty of people out there who insist that they are "logical" or "rational" because they think rigidly and believe that they keep their emotions out of things. Simply because a show includes such a character does not mean the show itself is "against" logic, merely showing that an empathic, intuitive character is often more effective than one who buries emotions behind rigid thinking. There's nothing wrong with a work portraying that. There are entire disorders based on the phenomenon of dissociating with your emotions, detaching from them and believing that your actions are completely "rational."

I noticed this in the "Stargate Atlantis" bit: "On the other hand, Teyla's behavior comes after the man is shot with an unsilenced weapon in the middle of a wraith ship. She'd likely have to carry him, which is suicide, and then there's a good chance he'll die of the gunshot wounds anyway. What was once a risky course of action was severly complicated by those gunshots. " But the way this is written seems to suggest that it merely being suicidal is enough to justify not doing it (note how the second part, about him likely dying from the wounds, is separated with a comma and "and then", as though the first reason is enough), and that would seem incredibly selfish and "me before others" type of thing. What do you think? Are they supposed to be that self-centered or what?

—- K Koro: I've got to say, while most of the examples on the page are correct about the example being erroneous, the "Can't choose between two equal options" is not only a perfect example of the optimization problem (i.e., where perfect logic falls short and an additional approach must be employed), but it is also Truth in Television. According to optimization theory - you know, that thing the article is trying to say that logic consists of - if there are multiple, equal, optimal points, then there is no solution. For example, if you're trying to calculate the best day to launch a rocket, and got multiple optimal points, there would be no solution. There's certainly options, but not a solution. What's needed is to then say "Okay, I got the math out of the way", and choose one at random so that you can go ahead and launch the rocket. And this necessity is perfectly supported by medical science - the emotional part of your brain is necessary to choose one of these options at random.

I've tried to rewrite the lead to explain this and remove the false example that it had been claiming, but its become self-referential, and in my opinion, unwieldy. Could someone who has more experience writing trope-y articles remake the lead?