I hope that most of you recall the structure of logic that you should have learned in school: Do you remember the Syllogism—the thought formula that leads us from truth, through the available data to sound conclusions?
Given a major premise (truth), and considering a minor premise (fact), we can conclude that…
- All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
- Lawbreakers try to escape the police. OJ Simpson ran from the police. Therefore, OJ broke the law.
- Men have wider shoulders than women. Michele has wide shoulders. Michele is really a man.
- Normal trading patterns reflect human psychology and news events. Gold charts are erratic. Therefore, human agency is unduly influencing the price of gold.
It is the “givens” that cause problems, not the logic. Our certitude of the major premise determines the likelihood the conclusion is true.