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  • Writer's pictureThe Paladins

Inductive reasoning and the testing of hypotheses

Inductive reasoning is a skill in logic in which the reasoner (let us call him 'A') is faced with a colossal set of facts and evidence, some of which may be right and some of which may be wrong, and they are all partially consistent and partially inconsistent with one-another. A also has the problem that the facts and evidence may be coming from all sorts of sauces and he doesn't know which source is which. Indeed it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between sauces, because they all come from the same unlabelled bottle(s).

One way you can taste the sauce is to drink it down in one and see what happens; and sometimes this is what you have to do. You try bits of the sauce, to try to get the flavour, and then down goes the whole bottle and you wait to see whether you or anyone else has any flatulence. Sometimes this is the only way of proceeding.

However, just like being poisoned, you always have the option of throwing it all back up by sticking two fingers down your mouth. After all, this is messy and you may get some of your vomit on people's shoes but really who cares in an environment where everyone's shoes are permanently covered in bullshit.

In inductive reasoning, you draw the best inferences you think you can based upon the evidence swirling about you, but always including those internal a priori axioms that are just an essential part of the way A sees things. Those a priori axioms - for example philosophical theories of happiness and other branches of aesthetics and life empowerment - those are things you can't change about yourself and you and everybody else needs to face up to them and accept them.

Nevertheless the rest of the science of logical induction is a question of gulping those sauces, waiting for the flatulence, and then deciding which bits to throw up later, knowing there may be some mess somewhere but it's tolerable and people will forgive you whatever you do because let's face it logical induction is only necessary in extreme and uncertain environments where regular vomiting is par for the course.

You need to test your hypotheses by pressing hard, and this is particularly the case where hypotheses have become unfortunately but inevitably intertwined. They need to be unentwined, or you will never get anywhere with either hypothesis.

At some point you stop drinking sauces and vomiting and you just move your chess piece and you don't announce in advance how you are going to move your chess piece - you just move it. And then that is that and you may be in the same inductive calculus after you have made your move or you may be in another one. This is far from ideal but it's the only way you can operate in environments requiring inductive reasoning.

I have already heard some flatulence. How about you? I'm waiting to hear some more. And also some more.

Politics is the art of the U-turn. You have to make decisions with incomplete information, particularly in cases where nobody is giving you the information you need to make the decision although they have it. In these circumstances your best course is to make some decision - any decision - trying to get it right based upon the limited information you have but really using the decision itself as a means of communication of your priorities and intentions. And by the decision you make, you 'poke the pigs'. And you see what you get out of them. With this increased information you are then able to make a better decision, which might be to maintain the earlier decision or it might be to do something totally different. For you can only succeed in politics if you are shameless and you are prepared to execute pragmatic U-turns as you learn more about the matter. Hence in the face of intransigence (well-intentioned as it might be) in giving you the information you need to make a decision, you use the decision itself as a method of extracting the further information you need by watching the reactions to your initial decision and then changing the decision if the further information warrants it. Now that is the art of politics.

Thank you for your help in assisting me with my logical problems.


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