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How To LieThis is the first installment of a Special Project we titled How To Lie. However, before we embark on this venture, we need to clarify how Philosophy and Science operate.

ARGUMENTS

Group of statements which contain information (evidence or suggestions) called the "premise" which makes it reasonable to believe a different statement called a "conclusion". In other words, an argument is simply a method to convince people about something (a conclusion).

SCIENCE

The Good

Science is a method which attempts to create models of the universe by observation first and experimentation second. Because in science we can experiment, we can use the results of experiments as "true" premises. Because of this, science uses a type of argumentation called Deductive. In this type of argument the premises (which are known to be true) necessarily guarantee that the conclusion is also true.

Within a Deductive Argument:

  • It is impossible for the premises to be true and its conclusion false.
  • If its premises are true then its conclusion is also true.

Because this type of argument is so powerful, we call it by a different name: Proof.

If we use Deductive reasoning properly then the conclusion which follows from true premises is also true.

We use deductive arguments in sciences such as Mathematics (logical science) and Chemistry (an experimental science).

The Bad

Deductive arguments are very powerful, but they are also extremely strict and as such limited. They accept no deviations whatsoever. They operate based on fixed and unmovable rules and they require "true" premises. As such, they are limited to what we can experiment with (in the real world or in an artificial construct such as a logical world). Things that cannot be subjected to experimentation cannot use deductive arguments. For example, mainstream Economics is not a science because it cannot run experiments (as an experimental science can) or use strict logic (as a logical science can). Therefore mainstream Economics cannot use deductive arguments.

Note: as an aside, please note that Austrian Economics is the only exception to the rule since it was built from the ground up on strict logic and as such it can use deductive arguments.

Deductive arguments lock us into a world where either something is true or we cannot know anything about it. Because of this, deductive arguments cannot deal with speculations or assumptions, even though it is probable that we can get to know a great deal about the universe simply by speculating or assuming.

PHILOSOPHY

The Good

Philosophy is the art of making arguments about things we don't know for sure being true, thus reaching a conditional (albeit compelling) conclusion. Philosophy cannot experiment and as such it cannot determine the "truth" of an argument and therefore cannot use Deductive Arguments. But this does not mean that we cannot advocate persuasively for something. This type of argumentation is called Inductive and it cannot offer a guarantee that its conclusions are true. It only states that a conclusion is likely to be true. Inductive Arguments attempt to present good enough reasons that may be sufficient to accept the conclusion. Inductive arguments can also be thought as probabilistic in nature in the sense that they offer conclusions that are probably (but not certainly) true.

For example, mainstream Economics is a philosophy (not a science) and as such it can only use Inductive Arguments as opposed to Austrian Economics that can use either one of them but it prefers to use Deductive Arguments because they guarantee that the conclusions are true.

What Inductive reasoning gives us is the ability to speculate in such a manner that we are likely to reach sound conclusions. Through this process we can estimate and assume many things that seem to be true but we have no way of knowing. Inductive reasoning is the art of the "good-enough" argument. As such, Inductive reasoning is very powerful in its reach, but offers no guarantee.

The Bad

The problem with Inductive Arguments is that (in opposition to Deductive ones), they are loose. There are no fast and simple rules as to what an Inductive Argument may or may not be. They can take many, many forms and as such they are subject to intentional (or unintentional) manipulation. Basically, it is easy to screw-up with them and it is easy to lie with them. These lies are called "Fallacies" in Philosophy and students of this art are trained to recognize them from the very beginning. This is so because fallacies lead to unsound and improbable conclusions which are unlikely to be true. The problem is that recognizing fallacies is not easy and requires a trained (or aware) mind.

It is for this very reason that politicians use them all the time. Politics is an art, not a science. As such it can only use Inductive Arguments (which is good) but it also abuses them (routinely) to twist any point of view to the advantage of politicians.

HOW NOT TO LIE

In general terms, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to lie in Science when using Deductive Arguments.

It is also quite difficult to lie in arts using Inductive Arguments if, and only if, the audience is a trained one.

We can use both, a Deductive Argument (which keeps us honest) and an Inductive Argument (which will be scrutinized) to know a great deal from the universe we live in.

HOW TO LIE

On the other hand it is almost impossible to lie using Deductive Arguments to the point that most techniques to lie use Inductive Arguments. Furthermore, these lies are mascaraed to look like Deductive Arguments because of its guarantee of "truthfulness" when in reality they are Fallacies.

EXPLANATIONS

We have taken the time to explain the difference between a Science and Politics in several previous articles. If you are interested (and you have the stamina) you may want to check:

What Is Science And How It Works

Definition of Science

Science is Internally-Consistent

Science is Self-Correcting

The Scientific Method

Scientific Truth or Fact

Political Theories and Systems - What They Are And How They Work

Political Systems Lifecycle

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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