What’s Logic Got to Do, Got to Do With It?

What’s logic but a second-hand consideration? In this post, Bridget Welch explains that understanding logic should be central to forming opinions, theories, and research methods.

My adorable son, whom I’ve introduced before, is now in the stage where he is fascinated by cause and effect. He turns the light switch off, then flicks it on, smiling like he invented the world when there is light. He plays peek-a-boo over and over and over again just to see the faux-surprise look on my face. Slowly he is learning that causes have consequences.

This is the basis of theorizing. We are interested in creating a set of ideas that explain how, when, and/or why a particular outcome occurs. Generally, what this will consist of is a statement of relationships that take the form of something you may be familiar with … the transitive property.

Remember this from high school? If A = B, and B = C, then A = C? In theory, it is frequently: If A -> B, and B -> C, then A -> C. Take for example this mini theory about Fast & Furious presented by Colbert:

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Let’s bust out some of our critiquing skills to analyze the logic of these politicians and media pundits:…

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That Can’t Be True!

Ever heard a fact from a sociological study that made you say, “That just can’t be true”? Many of us have a fundamental misunderstanding of sociology and how to interpret sociological research findings. In this article Nathan Palmer talks about how these misunderstandings have affected his students and asks us to reconsider the role of sociology in our lives.

She sat third row, second from the end in my sociology 101 class head cocked to the side with her brow scrunched up. She listened to me go on for a while about divorce and then she turned to the students beside her and began talking to them; she appeared to be rallying them because as she talked their heads nodded with increasing speed.

We were talking about the sociological research that suggests that people who’ve been divorced before, are the children of divorced parents, get married as the result of an unplanned pregnancy, and those with out financial resources are, on average, more likely to get divorced.[1. All of these findings are discussed in Society: The Basics by John J. Macionis. Full disclosure: This book is published by Pearson who also sponsors SociologyInFocus.com]

After a beat, she launched her hand into the sky, turned her head toward me, and narrowed her eyes like a predator with it’s pray in sight. “Yes?” I said pointing to her. “Um, professor Palmer, what you said about divorce can’t be true because both my parents are still married and they got married because they got pregnant with me. Also, they are the children of divorced parents and both had been married before they married each other. So I hate to tell you this, but your sociological study got it wrong.”[2. To protect my students anonymity, this student is an amalgam of multiple students I’ve had in the past. She is not representative of any single student.]…

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