I’ve just recently returned from a business trip where huge amounts of brain power and logical thinking are required in concentrated doses. I like those … a lot. But this trip taught me something that has been taunting me from the outskirts of my consciousness for a long time, something about myself that I should have seen and (maybe) corrected long ago: I think linearly, but I explain laterally.
Wassup wi’dat? Instead of trying to draw what I mean with words, I’ve drawn a picture.
Lateral logic approaches a linear progression laterally, or from the side.
I love lateral logic. Sometimes it’s called fuzzy logic, but I don’t subscribe to the implications of fuzzy. I would posit that it’s only “fuzzy” to people who aren’t used to making lateral associations to a progressively building argument. And since I live in a Western culture where linear rules, it’s no wonder that people look at me with confused looks or their eyes glaze over when I launch myself into an anecdote to illustrate point of logic.
Fuzzy, though, really refers to inference. You’re given a few dots with other dots missing, and you’re expected to fill in the missing dots to complete the foundation for the conclusion. In logical analysis, it’s thought of as approximative in the sense that .7 + .59 = 2-ish — degrees of truth. Or more precisely, it is “to arrive at a definite conclusion based upon vague, ambiguous, imprecise, noisy, or missing input information.1” In the logic of human philosophy, tho, it’s more like making strings of comparisons of one thing to another in order for a definite super “thing” to emerge as truth. (For those who read the Bible, the Eastern practice of lateral logic is a salient feature of the Psalms.)
Maybe I’m simply illogical operating under the delusion of being logical. I think I’m logical when inside my own head, but when the resulting thoughts get exposed to the air (other people’s ears), how illogical I am becomes apparent.
In any case, when I reflect on past attempts to explain things, my sense is that I’m looking for a short-cut: some way to explain a logical flow by encapsulating it into a story or example without exposing every point of logic that would go into a thorough (or even adequate) exposition. So my anecdotes are comparisons presented with the expectation that people will accurately infer the point I’m trying to make.
They didn’t call me the “mad scientist” for nothing. I’m pretty sure that I appear ‘mad’ to most people. And inference is not one of the three Rs. (Infer from that, why don’t you!)