Reasoning Study Guide

(use with pp. 64- 89 of the Course Companion)
***you can skip the IB Genie poem pp.65-7

1. The first 3 paragraphs on page 64 list some ways in which we reason. Think about your day (or yesterday). Using the terms as a guide, try to write down all the specific ways you used reasoning. For example, if you worked on some math problems for an hour or decided which sandwich to buy…perhaps you predicted the surf conditions before you headed out!

We consider abstract ideas
We make decisions, set goals, and control our actions to get there.
We organize, research, plan,
We select
hypotheses and test them
seek evidence and evaluate
analyze the results and seek the conclusion
we judge and argue

I used reasoning when arguing with friend about pot use and driving–my friend asserted that people are safer drivers when stoned, and said that numerous studies supported this claim. I said that was illogical because pot slows the reflexes, relaxes attention…we looked it up, and I was right.
Arguing about % of the population as homosexual–a friend said 1 in 10 people were homosexual, I disagreed, saying it was more like 1-2 percent. The answer is complicated, but 2% is a pretty good estimate.
I did my math homework, trig requires reasoning to get from one step to the next.
I was arguing with Mother about the value of certain majors in college, namely art history and linguistics. We didn’t have the internet (to google jobs) so I only had The Archives (where I store my knowledge). I reasoned things like museum curators would need art history.
What Can Linguists Do?
Build databases to help e-commerce customers navigate the Internet
Build natural language processing systems to improve customer service of Internet businesses
Develop grammar checking functions for software
Improve the quality of automated translation on the Internet
Work for natural language processing firms
Work on search engines, speech recognition, and artificial intelligence
Work with language consultants to document, evaluate, and preserve languages
Develop curricula and materials for education
Work for the F.B.I., police departments, or the foreign service
Work for product-naming companies
Careers for Linguists
Some of the occupations shown below require additional training:
Computational linguists (combines linguistics and computer science and overlaps with the field of artificial intelligence)
Lexicographers (compile, write and edit dictionaries)
Vocabulary resource managers
Speech therapists
Intelligence analysts or code breakers for the U.S. government
Forensic linguistics (analyzing linguistic aspects of evidence, legal texts, voice identification issues, and other topics)
English as a Second Language teachers
College linguistics instructors
Mother and I also had a discussion about the value of non-practical majors, or majors without apparent practical value (like the aforementioned art history). Then we got into history, and I ranted about how in high school and college we are encouraged to love to learn for the sake of learning, and we are taught that knowledge is in itself an end while in society, we are taught that we need to be useful and practical or we are cast aside. I got rather wistful: homesick for a place where knowledge simply for the sake of knowing was valued, Classical Greece. That, of course, led to me talking about what enabled wealthy men to sit around talking about abstract things: slavery and domesticated women.
I needed to, in drama class, critically evaluate the play “Exotic Flowers” and the elements that make a short play appealing and the differences between a short play and a long play etc.
I needed to vote for student council reps.

2. Curate an article or video on cognitive computing or cognition in general that appeals to you.

3. Think of a GENERALIZATION you have made or heard recently (see pg. 68). Can you describe some examples of harmful generalizations?

Here are two generalizations: All Hawaii politicians are idiots (-Dad); All liberals are idiots (-Dad).

Some harmful generalizations:
All Muslims are radicalists
All Christians are judgemental
Pretty people are smarter
Blondes are stupid

5. Make up your own variables (actual words) for P and Q in the DEDUCTIVE REASONING exercise on page 70. (just try this out so it makes more sense) – I tried “Swedes” and “blonde”.

1. All teenagers are liberal. Negation: some teenagers are not liberal
2. All teenagers are liberal. Negation:no teenagers are liberal
3. Some teenagers are liberal. Negation: some teenagers are not liberal
4. No teenagers are liberal. Negation:some teenagers are liberal
5. All teenagers are liberal. Negation:some teenagers are liberal

6. What are the 2 KEY ASSERTIONS of deductive reasoning? What is the MAJOR DISTINCTION between “Validity” and “Truth”?
Validity relies on the form which a line of thought, a chain of reason, takes. It does not care about the content of the argument. Truth is about the content of a statement.
Two assertions of deductive reasoning are:
An argument is valid and all premises are true therefore the conclusion is true.
Given that the conclusion of an argument is false, either the argument is invalid or one or more of the premises is false.

7. Pick up one of your textbooks OR find an article on an online newspaper. Identify its premises and its conclusion. Look for key word hints, such as those located at the top of page 73. Are there any implicit premises (those not stated explicitly but implied)? (***note: premises are sometimes called “assumptions”)

Major Premise: computer software can reveal editing of documents
Minor Premise: All edited documents are forged
Minor Premise: Obama’s birth certificate shows editing
OBAMA’s certificate was forged! GASP!

· Is the major premise of the argument true? How could one find out?
Major premise: Yes, it is true that software can detect signs of editing.
Minor premise 1: This is not true. There are many reasons for editing, or the appearace of editing: scanner optical character recognition (OCR) software attempts to translate characters or words in a photograph into text. :ayers cited by the doubters shows that software at work – and nothing more
Minor premise 2: “The doubters have latched onto the idea that Adobe Illustrator — the premier program for computer graphic artists — “reveals” evidence of document manipulation in the Obama birth certificate. They note Illustrator reveals nine separate layers of the document, and claim it’s “proof” the file has been altered.” (from

· Is the argument valid? How would you know?

· Assuming that the minor premise is true , is the conclusion true? How do you know? (see page 74 for help)
The minor premises are not true and the conclusion is false as well. I know because

8. Construct your OWN deductive argument or “SYLLOGISM” using the template in the middle of page 73. (remember to go from general to particular…)

All humans breathe
Mother is a human
ergo, she breathes.

9. Construct your OWN FALLACY, or invalid deductive argument, similar to the one on page 74-5.
Debaters use logical fallacies
Mother uses logical fallacies
Mother is a debater.

11. In your own words, how does INDUCTIVE reasoning differ from deductive reasoning? Can you provide an example of how you personally have used inductive reasoning recently? (see page 76)

Inductive reasoning begins particular and becomes general. Deductive reasoning starts general and become particular.

Mother doesn’t think that she uses inductive reasoning.
Dad doesn’t think that he uses inductive reasoning.
I don’t think I use inductive reasoning.
Ergo, no one uses inductive reasoning.

(disclaimer: I am aware that I use inductive reasoning, that premise was for the sake of argument).

12. In the last paragraph of page 77, the author states “Much of our knowledge about the natural sciences is based on generalizations backed by repeated observation of phenomena”. Can you provide an example of CLASSICAL induction from your own science courses (group 4)?

Bateria have DNA
Archaea have DNA
Protists have DNA
Animals have DNA
Plants have DNA
Fungi have DNA

Therefore, all life has DNA

13. Try the “random percentage” experiment discussed in the Statistics area of page 78. Type in 3 different random percentages into Google – what do you get? Try to find a statistic with a percentage via Twitter.
602% —

14. Find an INFOGRAPHIC that not only offers statistics, but “tells the story” or offers correlations (see page 79). Look for great infographics on the links on my site:

15. Provide an example of ANALOGICAL REASONING from your own life. How likely are you to trust your own results, on a scale of 0 to 10?

67 of my facebook friends like Starbucks, so facebook continually suggests that I ought to like Starbucks because all of us are friends, so we must like the same things.

17. Curate a TED TALK ( ) that highlights the use of CREATIVE REASONING (pg. 82), post and provide a brief overview. (***you might want to check out TED MED at the top)

18. Look around your bedroom OR your laptop: In what ways do you classify things? What is the method to your madness? Describe some common classifications in the AOKS (Areas of Knowledge, i.e. all your courses). Can you think of an example where technology or advances in science/ newfound “knowledge” has changed the classification system?

My laptop is organized by subject, then project/unit for my classes, by story (I have a lot of background documents) for my short stories (though all the completed works migrate to one folder), and my FUN or SERIOUS for photos.
In biology we classify living beings by kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus species…
In English we classify Shakespeare’s plays as histories, comedies, and tragedies.
In TOK we classify ways of knowing.
In theatre we classify aspects of a production.

20. Pages 86-7 discuss the dangers of classification, i.e. racism, stereotypes, and other prejudices. CURATE a relatively recent ARTICLE or VIDEO that highlights an instance of one of these issues.
Warning: blogger uses foul language and bad arguments. I read the whole thing, but this is such a good example of prejudice that I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time:

21. What stereotypes, generalizations, or prejudices do you think you have?

I am prejudice against people with strong political opinions.
I lose respect for people if they communicate in text speak. A lack of proper speech is a sign of a lack of dedication to education and a sign of a lack of appreciation for language.
I lose respect for people who make blatantly sweeping assumptions–see the assumption listed in the last sentence.

22. TRY IT OUT: Take Harvard’s Race or Gender TEST:
“Your data suggest little to no automatic preference between African American and European American.”

I am very happy with the results. I don’t think I need think more about them. I accepted the tests results, but I’m not sure about the validity simply because I figured out very quickly how the test worked, and I hope that I didn’t subconsciously change my results. Generally, poverty and crime are linked, as are minorities and poverty, so minorities get a bad rap.

We could combat racism by identifying assumptions and logically writing out arguments before proving them invalid or showing one or more of the premises to be incorrect. It is very hard to combat something, generally, without identifying it first. We might want to identify problem assumptions then attempt to correct them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s