EXPOSING FAKE LOGIC

 

Foreword

 

 

Exposing Fake Logic is composed of essays written after publication in 2013 of my work A Fortiori Logic, the product of major original research work spanning years. The core essays were written in reply to specific claims or counterclaims regarding a fortiori logic put forward by four different writers in response to, or as a consequence of, my said major study.

The essays in the present volume are new material, never previously published in book form (although most were posted online in scattered websites of mine over time). The first chapter (1) is not a polemical essay like the others[1]; but is included here to allow the reader to get a basic acquaintance with a fortiori logic before reading the four core chapters (2-5), which relate mainly to this subject. These core chapters, it should be stressed, should not be approached as mere personal disputations; they contain many valuable lessons in logic – that is really their main point. The last chapter (6) is intended as a defense of self-publishing (in reply to people who view other-publishing as essential to doctrinal credibility[2]).

What is ‘fake logic’? This is more than just erroneous logic, due to ignorance and/or incompetence; it is logical theory or practice involving dishonesty of some sort at some stage. The dishonesty may be (a) the driving force of the logic put forward, a more or less conscious attempt at manipulation; or it may be (b) manifest ex post facto, when the author of it refuses to admit error when it is pointed out and refuses to retract his (or her) claims. In such cases, the logician concerned may be termed a ‘fake logician’, even if some of his work may also contain some valid and even valuable claims. The fake logician is someone who has not fully assimilated the objective, scientific dimension of logic studies; he thinks logic is something malleable at will, which he can put at the service of his personal or ideological purposes.

Fake logic is, simply put, sophistry. Someone who writes stupidly or sloppily on logic can be characterized as a ‘bad logician’; this is something unfortunate, but not inexcusable, since error is human. However, someone who, for whatever personal or ideological motives, consciously or subconsciously, makes claims concerning theoretical or practical logic which he or she knows or suspects to be false – such a person deserves to be hotly reproved and publicly labeled as a fake. For, surely, logic is a sacred intellectual enterprise, on which the cognitive efficacy and improvement of mankind greatly depends. Of course, bad and fake logicians are legion, and each one of them is fake in his or her signature ways.

Many people falsely present themselves as knowledgeable in logical matters. I come across their products often, in print and on the web. Some are dead already; some are still among us. Some have been teaching their falsehoods with impunity for years; some are novices, starting their fake logic careers with hubris. Some are famous or highly placed in academia; some are unknown to the public at large or to specialists. But all of these have in common this: they do not erect Truth as their highest standard of value. They are willing to lie a bit, or a lot, to attain their ends. Their end may be to get an article published in a journal, or to get a job in a university, or to get a higher paid post therein, or to be admired by their colleagues or students, or to become more broadly known. Or their end may be to defend their religious or political prejudices.

Logic is not something of casual interest or a means to crass ends; it is a serious study essential to maximizing cognitive accuracy in whatever field one chooses to visit. Because logic is the science of the rational and empirical means to truth, anyone who does not place Truth as their central intellectual aim is bound to sooner or later arrive at falsehood, instead. The good and honest logician is always careful to focus on being truthful, on getting as close as possible to the truth of the matter at hand. If he is unsure, he is not ashamed to say so. Such an investigator has the ideally scientific spirit, the stainless spirit of a judge who cannot be moved by any considerations other than the facts and the logic of the case under consideration.

As already pointed out, the dividing line between a bad and a fake logician is not always clear. Is a claim made in mere error, or is it agenda-driven in some way? To my mind, for example, David Hume was definitely a fake logician, someone with the mean intent to invalidate human knowledge and incapacitate people. What about his disciple, Immanuel Kant? That he was a bad logician is evident; but did he mean well, or did he have nefarious ends? Not always easy to say. John Stuart Mill’s theory of causation was inaccurate and inadequate in many ways; but there is little doubt in my mind that his intentions were good. Bertrand Russell made important errors in relation to class logic; but these only qualified him as a bad logician. On the other hand, some of his skeptical writings on causation and other subjects qualified him as a fake logician, because they proceeded from self-conceit and herd mentality.

So, we must admit the issue is not always cut and dried. As regards the four writers examined in the present volume, let me say this. I classify them as fake logicians because I view their formal or doctrinal errors as due to moral failures.

·       This one (Luis Duarte D’Almeida) takes credit for work he has not done and has not fully mastered; and then spins logical fantasies to give the impression that he knows what he is doing.

·       Another (Mahmoud Zeraatpishe) engages in deceitful claims and apologetics in a vain attempt to give credence to his primitive religion.

·       Yet another (Michael Avraham) is skeptical of objective logic; and so, imagines that any arbitrary argument can be tailored to look valid.

·       That one (the Anonymous reviewer of Bar Ilan’s BDD journal) thinks that his blind religious faith is credibly defended if he obstructs publication of material that puts any of its dogmas in doubt; if he cannot rebut criticism, he simply censors it.

These four pseudo-logicians engage in very different fake ways, but all have in common that they do not really understand logic, and when they are reproved for their factual or technical errors, or for their moral deficiencies, they do not acknowledge them. They do not publicly admit their mistakes, no matter how glaring they are shown up to be. This shows that they are not fundamentally scientific-minded researchers; but charlatans driven by personal ambition or by some dogma or other.

The four fake logicians here challenged are by far not the most important contemporary fake logicians. The first two are apparently university professors; but I wonder how they got to be that. The other two are presumably academics; but I do not know at what level. All four are admittedly minor characters in the field of logic research. So, it can be argued that I have chosen easy prey and did not have the guts to take on bigger fish. However, the simple truth is this: I did not choose them; they chose me!

These are people who were foolish enough make some negative comment or comments about my work, so as to make their ideas seem superior to mine. So, I was duty bound to take the time to show up their ignorance, incompetence and dishonesty. They attacked me; so, I defended myself and hit back. However, the purpose of this book is not to settle scores, but (as with all my books) to teach aspects of logic. I can better teach something new and interesting, if I know the mistakes people are making. Even if the people here dealt with are marginal, they are very much – as I show in my critiques – illustrative of the spirit of the times in the field of logic.

As already mentioned, erroneous and dishonest logicians are legion, and their errors and dishonesties are very varied. It is therefore impossible for one man to rebut them all, in detail or even just with passing comments. Pseudo-logicians are, unfortunately, a cultural phenomenon of the present day, the post-modern era of Western culture. Logic, like philosophy, is a field that attracts second-rate talent in droves. Because many of the people in academe are themselves ignorant and incompetent, they do not weed out newcomers who are just as bad or worse, either because they are simply intellectually unequipped for the task, or because they fear to reveal their own manifold shortcomings.

Similarly, publishers of journals or books, or rather their gatekeepers – the reviewers who effectively decide which of the papers or books submitted to them are fit for publication – publish the work of many fake logicians, simply because they do not know any better. If it looks more or less coherent, and nothing seemingly untoward (by their standards) is said in them, they let it pass. They cannot spot bad work if they do not know the subject that well. Indeed, they might refuse good work, if it looks too unfamiliar to them. This is especially true in the fields of logic and philosophy, where “conventional wisdom” reigns supreme.

The four fake logicians dealt with in the present volume should be looked upon as examples; they are certainly not intended as an exhaustive listing or even as special cases. Moreover, note, the present volume is not a ‘thematic compilation’ from my past works. I have written many essays exposing sophistry and sophists in the past, notably in my A Fortiori Logic. See for instances my essays there on Alexander Samely, Andrew Schumann, and Hubert Marraud, to name only three. Here, I only include essays written by me after publication of that large-scale study.

Looking at the polemical essays in the present volume (viz. chapters 2-6), as I prepare it for publication, I must admit that there is quite a bit of tension in parts of them. But, to repeat, conflict is not their essence, not their raison d’être. What the reader should especially focus on is the valuable lessons in logic that the controversies give occasion to. I personally take no pleasure in criticism; but if I have to do it, I do it. Someone has to do such dirty work, occasionally; one cannot let all pretentious people get away with their faking and misleading.

 



[1]             Although, chapter 1 is the center of attention in chapter 5.

[2]             Chapter 6 was originally intended as an appendix to chapter 2.

2021-03-05T13:11:04+02:00