Logic and illogic in education

Logic and illogic in education

by Jon Rappoport

June 8, 2014


In two of my collections, The Matrix Revealed and Power Outside The Matrix, I include training in the art of logic and critical analysis.

The basic fact is: students in schools are rarely taught how to follow a line of reasoning from beginning to end. Nor do they practice analyzing half-formed, specious reasoning.

Who teaches young students, these days, how to distinguish between a polemic and a formal argument?

Teachers spend little or no time discussing hidden premises or assumptions, which color subsequent arguments.

Increasingly, people are “learning” from watching videos. Some videos are well done; many others intentionally omit vital data and make inferences based on “shocking images.”

A focused study of logic can illuminate a range of subjects and disciplines. It can suddenly bring perspective to fields of inquiry that were formerly mysterious and impenetrable.

Logic is the parent of knowledge. It contains the principles and methods common to all investigation.

Being able to spot and understand logical flaws and fallacies embedded in an article, essay, book immediately lifts the intelligence level.

Logic isn’t a prison; one isn’t forced to obey its rules. But the ability to deploy it, versus not understanding what it is, is like the difference between randomly hammering at a keyboard and typing coherent paragraphs. It’s the difference between, “I agree with what he’s writing,” and “I know exactly how he’s making his argument.”

In the West, the tradition of logic was codified by Aristotle. Before him, Plato, in the Socratic Dialogues, employed it to confound Socrates’ opponents.

Reading the Dialogues today, one can see, transparently, where Plato’s Socrates made questionable assumptions, which he then successfully foisted on those opponents. It’s quite instructive to go back and chart Socrates’ clever steps. You see logic and illogic at work.

High schools today don’t teach logic for two reasons. The teachers don’t understand the subject, and logic as a separate discipline has been deleted because students, armed with it, would become authentically independent. The goal of education rejects independent minds, despite assurances to the contrary.

Logic and critical analysis should be taught in phases, with each phase encompassing more complex passages of text offered for scrutiny.

Eventually, students would delve into thorny circumstantial arguments, which make up a great deal of modern investigation and research, and which need to be assessed on the basis of degrees of probable validity and truth.

It’s like a climbing a mountain. The lower paths are relatively easy, if the map is clear. At higher elevation, more elements come into play, and a greater degree of skill and experience is required.

My college logic teacher introduced his subject to the class this way: Once you’ve finished this semester, you’ll know when you know, and you’ll know when you don’t know.

The second part of his statement has great value. It enables real research beyond egotistical concerns, beyond self-serving presumptions, beyond secretly assuming what you’re pretending to prove.

The Matrix Revealed

power outside the matrix

We certainly don’t live in an age of reason; far from it. Therefore, the greater need to learn logic. Among other benefits, it centers the thinking process.

In a landscape of controversy, babble, bluster, public relations, covert propaganda, and outright lying, one has a dependable compass.

For instance, understanding the scientific method (hypothesis-prediction) would go a long way toward untangling some of the outrageous claims of science, and separating them from the political agendas they serve.

Beginning in ancient Greece, coming up through the Middle Ages, and into the 19th century, logic was one aspect of education called the Trivium (“the three”): in sequence, a student learned grammar, then logic, then rhetoric.

Except in scattered places, where people have consciously instituted a revival of the Trivium, that integrated method of teaching is gone now.

Instead, in primary and middle schools, we have superficial coasting through many academic subjects, lacking the necessary exercises and drills to ensure that students absorb material. In other words, we have imposed ADHD.

Logic isn’t the end-all and be-all of life. It doesn’t define what life is. It’s a tool. You either have it or you don’t. You can use it or you can’t. When you can, you have more power, and whole new vistas, previously unseen, open up to you.

Jon Rappoport

The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at www.nomorefakenews.com

14 comments on “Logic and illogic in education

  1. […] Logic is the parent ofRead more… […]

  2. Sherlock says:

    I bet you can spend the summer in the White House if you have group package for politicians.
    I can’t remember the last time John Kerry said something logic. Now, we have Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Capp wanting “common sense” solutions.

    “Our community in Isla Vista has been upended by this horrific act of violence,” Congresswoman Capps said. “We need reasonable, common sense solutions so that we all feel safe in our homes and out in our communities”.

    I’m living in Canada and the only reason why I know what happened in Santa Barbara is because the mainstream media told me. I guess the police in Albuquerque have killed more people than Elliot Rodgers. People in Albuquerque are waiting for common sense solutions.

    Someone should tell Congresswoman Cappse we won’t feel safe in our homes until she finds common sense solutions regarding those drugs approved by the FDA killing an american each fives minutes, each day, each year, year after year.

    It would be different if we had a 24/7 TV channel showing someone dying because of those drugs. every 5 minutes


    – Stay with us. After the break we’ll move to the St-John hospital where someone will die pretty soon. All this in high-definition.

    (If you’re watching this advertising, you’re probably depressed. Ask your doctor about Zoloft. Side effects are: “…, depression, respiratory arrest, and sudden death).

    – Sorry, too late he’s gone. The man died in his bed during the break. Fortunately, someone else is on the verge of dying. The cause? Same cause! He took FDA approved drugs.

    – Stay tuned, after the break another person will die and it will be like this all day long.

  3. Unmutual76 says:

    Reblogged this on Unmutual76.

  4. Greg O. says:

    This is an eye-opening article, Jon. One of your best in awhile. I would love to be in the room for a conversation between you and someone like Charlotte Iserbyte.

    I sometimes regret not having a traditional university education. Not that a formal education makes one smarter, necessarily, but I do believe that it helps to “know what you don’t know”; and then have a formal or codified plan of attack for going about fixing it. The Trivium, for instance. I’ve heard the term, never investigated it. Maybe us self-educated types learn and apply the same principles in a sort of ad-hoc way as we stumble along in life. Maybe the “I didn’t have the benefit of a formal education” chip on the shoulder is just as effective in a motivational sense for bettering oneself. But I sure would have rather learned THIS particular subject in the more traditional way — probably would have saved a lot of time and trouble. Heartache too.

    It is glaringly obvious that logic and reason is not being taught in schools anymore. I rarely, in the course of average, daily life, meet people who don’t seem to be just going through the motions. When you do try to engage them in meaningful conversion, even on a minor level, there is almost a look of panic on their faces, like some middle school teacher had just sprung a ‘pop quiz’ on them (does that still happen in public schools?).

    The really disturbing part of this article? If teachers are not teaching critical thinking, it stands to reason that it’s not being taught to them. It does explain a lot.

  5. Great article. This is why common core is such a dangerous imposition since it is entirely devoid of any critical thinking at all. But then again, I’m not in favour of state education at all preferring the home schooling route.

  6. Dani says:

    What is worse, the public schools around here (probably everywhere) are emphasizing “teaching critical thinking skills” which means pretty much, learning to follow the lesson’s convoluted and confounding illogic to reach the desired “conclusion.” If you learn it correctly, you get an A. If you question it, you are downgraded. What frustrates me is how few adults I mention this to, see the same thing I do. Instead, they applaud, “hooray! They are teaching our children critical thinking skills!”

    Seemingly unrelated but not really: this weekend a random stranger shared our table at a restaurant. He seemed sane and functioning at first, but it soon became clear he was a bit unbalanced. Then he revealed all the doctor-prescribed meds he was on. I was concerned and alarmed, as it hit me how many impaired people like this are driving on the roads. It is hard to be the only non-drinker in a room of drunks. And it is hard to be a pharmaceutical-free person in a world of users and addicts (whether doctor-prescribed or street-obtained). How many of us are taking at least one doctor-prescribed drug? I am shocked to find out that I am one of the only people I know, who doesn’t take anything at all.

    • Elsa says:

      A friend of mine in her 50’s visited the doctor and, as he asked her what prescription drugs she was taking, he got his pen and note pad ready. He looked quite shocked when she informed him she wasn’t taking anything. I treat illnesses myself and have never taken their poisonous drugs.

      • theodorewesson says:

        You got me thinking,… I wonder if/when, some time in the very near future, if someone says that to the allopathic doctor (“no Rxs”), that that will be, in itself, a red flag. Maybe not for the doctor per se, but to an algorithm that will run on the electronic record of that visit by a third party.

        (under obamacare, i believe that ALL allopaths’ practises must be on an “electronic records system connected to The Internets” — if they are to keep their licenses.)

  7. […] read the complete article on the Jon Rappoport blog… […]

  8. andy says:

    arizona is really pushing for sovereignty along with texas,and more and more south and midwest states have had enough of the federal tyranny.

  9. Sharina says:

    “Teachers spend little or no time discussing hidden premises or assumptions, which color subsequent arguments.”

    It goes beyond that. In a philosophy class, a PROFESSOR told a friend of mine that exposing and critiquing hidden premises and assumptions is not allowed.

  10. henry says:

    America is the land of the free and home of the brave where you can’t fight city hall. There is an obvious conflict in this statement. The first part implies that governments are your servant. The second part implies that government is your master. Most people in America hold both ideas in their head at the same time but don’t see a conflict. It’s a conundrum that is used to dis-empower people. “I can’t figure this stuff out — I’ll let the experts work on that”. If you have figure it out, you are told to lie to those who haven’t.

    Imagine you are a small child who has seen Santa at the mall, seen his images with the reindeer , and heard the stories and songs countless times. Then an older kid tells you that Santa is not real. What do you do? You have the option of of using reason — How would Santa know if I’m good or bad? How can reindeer fly? How can Santa have time to visit every house in one night? Or, you could reject reason and go with the stories that every one else has told you is true. How could it be that everyone is lying to me? When you bring this conflict to your parent, they tell you that Santa is a story but you should continue the lie to those who don’t know the truth. You become part of the smart crowd in propagating lies to the not so smart crowd.

    People know that most of what they hear are lies — If I buy this car, I’m probably not going to get the girl. — but they never confront the lies because they don’t want take the energy to determine the truth and they don’t want to be seen as part of the not-so smart crowd.

  11. Melissa Richey Irwin says:

    I am a sophomore at a local community college, and am taking English Comp II. My research essay thesis is that high school curriculums should definitely include logic. I came across your blog when I googled “logic+education+blog,” and was immediately drawn to your article and thought it might be a good forum for sharing some thoughts about my essay. A part of my essay pertained to confirmation bias, and how logic can help in avoidance of the same. Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out and process information that supports a decision or previously held belief. It is my belief that classes in critical thinking and logic would assist children today in all aspects of their life: personally, academically, and professionally. These classes would help them identify errors in thinking so they could steer clear of confirmation bias. It is unfortunate that classical education (the Trivium, specifically) is not part of the American public school curriculum. Some logic is offered to those students that have been determined to be academically gifted, but learning logic would be an incredible asset to all students regardless of their academic abilities.
    Thank you for letting me share my thoughts, I enjoyed your article immensely.
    Melissa R.
    Aurora, CO

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