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Formal Reasoning & Truth-Detection: The Basics - Answers to Questions and Exercices PDF Imprimer Envoyer
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Neuropiraterie - Les Bases
Écrit par Spock   
Mardi, 02 Mars 2010 18:47
Index de l'article
Formal Reasoning & Truth-Detection: The Basics
Logic and Rational Thinking
Linguistic and Semantic Issues
Critically Thinking and Reading
Answers to Questions and Exercices
Toutes les pages


Answers to Questions & Exercices


Answer to Tactical Strategy

More than 80% of people answer this question incorrectly. If you concluded that the answer cannot be determined, you’re one of them. (So was I once.) The correct answer is, yes, an armed ship IS aiming at an unarmed ship.

How do we know? Most of us believe that we need to know whether or not the Centauri ship has armed her weapons in order to answer the question. But, using IF/ THEN thinking, consider the possibilities; because there are only two:

IF the Centauri starship has not armed weapons, THEN an armed ship (the Minbari starship) is aiming at an unarmed ship (the Centauri ship).

IF the Centauri starship has armed weapons, THEN an armed ship (the Centauri starship) is aiming at an unarmed ship (the Narn ship). Either way, the answer is yes.


Answers to implicit premises 

1. unstated premise: All creative people like solving problems

stated premise: Alice is a creative person

conclusion: So of course she likes problems to solve 

2. unstated premise: If your landing gear is damaged, your craft cannot take off

stated premise: Your landing gear is damaged

conclusion: So your craft will never get off the ground 

3. unstated premise: All men are mortals

stated premise: Bob is a man

conclusion: So he is mortal 

4. unstated premise: It is beneficial to do things which help to improve your thinking skills

stated premise: Laughing helps to improve your thinking skills

conclusion: So you should laugh frequently 

5. unstated premise: Everything that thinks exists

stated premise: I think

conclusion: Therefore I exist


Answers to Key Ideas


(a) I’m not a robot.

(b) You can’t have any pudding. 


(a) Valid (even though one of the premises and the conclusion are false)

(b) Invalid (even if the two premises were true, they do not lead to the conclusion)

(c) Valid

(d) Valid 


(a) an unstated premise = Implicit assumption

(b) a structure that guarantees a true conclusion if the premises are true = Valid argument

(c) a statement from which an argument’s conclusion is derived = Premise

(d) a statement given without providing any reasons or supporting evidence = Assertion

(e) a belief that is formed without considering evidence for or against it = Prejudice

(f) a statement derived from premises, from which it follows = Conclusion

(g) reasons leading to a conclusion = Argument

(h) a valid argument with true premises = Sound


Answers to Fallacies

  1. Fallacy. From the premise: “All geniuses have been slightly crazy”, it doesn’t follow that anyone who is slightly crazy is a genius.
  2. Valid argument (regardless of whether the premises are true)
  3. Fallacy. Doing something wrong is not the only reason for someone to be questioned by the police. So the conclusion cannot be deduced from the premises.
  4. Fallacy. The first premise doesn’t state that ONLY or ALL creative people have bipolar disorder. So the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises, since you could still have bipolar disorder even though you weren’t very creative, or you could still be creative even though you weren’t bipolar.
  5. Valid argument (despite its false premise: sex in spaghetti is not a religion)


Answers to Deduction & Induction

  1. Deduction
  2. Induction
  3. Induction (provided I haven’t met every person in the universe)
  4. Deduction
  5. Deduction


Answers to Critical Reading Extract 1

  1. Why, according to the author, does creativity arise? Because of genetic influences (“What genetic influences shaped their brains to create”), modulated by environment (How did their environments promote or impede them?”)
  2. What conclusion is stated about the kind of conditions that creativity is assumed to parallel? “Great art and great science are indeed often forged in the smithy of pain -- with the fire fueled by self-doubt, obsessive preoccupation, sorrow, depression, competition, or economic needs”.
  3. Why has the author put quotation marks around the word “nowhere”? There is an unstated premise here that rural areas on the whole are ‘nowhere’ in comparison to urban areas; in other words rural environments are inferior.
  4. What is the unstated premise about creativity itself? That creativity is something only a few gifted or unusual individuals have.
  5. Does the author present a valid argument that there is a link between creativity and mental illness? No. Individual examples are given, but one cannot extrapolate from individual to general. This is a fallacy, even taking into account that the author says ‘often’ rather than ‘always’. Two examples do not prove something happens ‘often’. The author is assuming ‘everyone knows that’.
  6. Does the author present a valid argument that genetics modulated by environment are responsible for creativity? No. No reasons or evidence are given for this assumption; the unstated premise is taken as a given; ‘everyone knows that’.
  7. Does the author present a valid argument that rural locations are in fact inferior? No. No reasons or evidence are given for this assumption either.


Answers to Critical Reading Extract 2

Summary: Increased transcendental feelings can follow damage to brain areas controlling body awareness, which might explain why some get these feelings more than others.

What is the author’s main conclusion? That increased transcendental feelings can follow damage to certain brain areas.

What reasons does s/he give in support of this conclusion? A study connected with brain cancer, details of the brain area concerned and what its functions are, and that the region has been linked to prayer and meditation.

How good is the author’s argument? This is a valid argument. IF the premises are true (and the full article does give references for readers to check the study), THEN the conclusion must be true. Even if the study used only two people, the author’s use of the word ‘can’ makes the argument work. There is no claim that this is always the case or that it is the only thing that can cause such feelings (indeed, prayer and meditation are also mentioned). There is good clarity here in that the author distinguishes religion from spirituality. If people themselves claim an increase in feelings of transcendence after damage to this part of the brain, and this change is measurable with technology, then this is also a sound argument. We could argue that the sub-conclusion “the finding may help explain why some people seem more prone to such experiences than others” is unjustified (no evidence is given that implies this conclusion can be drawn and it unclear exactly what is meant here). We are also not told whether the ‘transcendent feelings’ were temporary or permanent, and that’s a very important issue. An LSD trip or watching a sunset can cause ‘transcendent feelings’ but they don’t remain there for the rest of your life.


Hidden Truth Spotting

Here are some possibilities:

CONTAINS NO ADDED SUGAR OR SWEETENERS (but is mainly made from sugar in the first place)

MORE PEOPLE HAVE SEEN THIS MOVIE THAN ANY OTHER (more people have bought tickets to see this movie than any other)

CRIME RATES DOWN (people are reporting fewer crimes, and/or fewer criminals have been caught)

PEOPLE ARE READING LESS (people are reading fewer books and magazines, because they now mainly read the same stuff online)

ACCORDING TO FIGURES, THERE WERE FEWER CASES OF DEPRESSION THIS YEAR (fewer people reported having depression to their doctors this year)

AUTISM IS AT AN ALL TIME HIGH (more people are recognizing autism and more doctors diagnosing it because more people know about it now)

$200,000 WAS ADDED TO THE BUDGET FOR ORGANIC FARMING THIS YEAR (and $200,000,000 was added to the factory farming budget).


Answers to Semantic Problem Spotting

Affect: Often used as ‘effect’ when describing experiments

They bought a house/ car/ supercomputer: Almost always the truth is “They borrowed a house/ car/ supercomputer”, unless the specified item was in fact fully paid for. Watch out for similar twists in the obvious in other everyday discussions that most people take for granted.

Complementary: Often misused to mean ‘complimentary’, and vice versa. Complementary neurotransmitters are transmitters that work together to maintain balance. Complimentary things are things that give you compliments, such as “You’re a really smart dude”, and “Cool hairdo”.

Confidence: Often misused to mean ‘assertiveness’, extroversion or arrogance. You will find big problems with emotion related words; currently neuroscience hasn’t categorized them very effectively (more on this below.)

Controls: Often used in popular science articles to mean ‘modulates’, ‘adjusts’. ‘increases’, ‘decreases, ‘changes’ turns on/off’ ‘is one of a number of factors controlling’, ‘correlates with’, ‘is associated with’, ‘may be associated with’, and even ‘is controlled by’. Make sure you know what the author means by ‘controls’. The prime examples of this usually are: “The gene that controls...” or “The area of the brain that controls...” Statements like this are almost always untrue.

Education: Can mean indoctrination, schooling, instruction, learning, academic qualifications, experience, teaching, literacy,

Fear response: A seriously misused term, associated with problems classifying emotions and sentiments.It is used to describe all sorts of responses and reactions; such as ‘fight or flight’, panic, the release of adrenaline, the release of cortisol, specific behaviors, shock, hysteria, alarm, defense, paranoia, hesitation, learned avoidance, PTSD and too many more to mention. Be careful to understand what the author means when you encounter this term.

Hallucinating: Used for ‘imagining things’, also for seeing or hearing things, also for ‘high on drugs’, ‘fantasizing’, ‘demented’, ‘disturbed’ and ‘confused’.

Hysteria: Used for panic, fear, anxiety, melodrama, histrionics, phobia, tantrums and insanity in general.

I couldn’t live without... Usually really means “I’m too insecure to let go of”.

It’s the truth, honest... Could mean “I’m not lying”, “This is a true account of what I believe”, “It is a proven fact”, “It is what I believe to be true”, “Everybody knows that”, and many other possible things. It can be hard to explain to someone that although they are telling the truth, what they are saying may not be true! If you understand this you have a good grasp of rational thinking.

Pride: Could mean pleased at your achievements, or could mean hubris (unjustified bragging beyond actual achievements). Also used to mean ‘arrogance’ and ‘vanity’.

Psycho: Interchanged with ‘schizo’ (see below)

Scared: Emotion words are a nightmare of misunderstanding because they are dependant on the personal scale of experience and intensity of individual experience, but assumed to be mutually understood. A paranoid person, a firefighter, a monk, a racing driver and a soldier will all use the word ‘scared’ to define different intensity levels of feeling as well as completely different emotions or sentiments, when in reality they may mean anything from ‘mildly alarmed’, ‘apprehensive’ or ‘surprised’ to ‘fight & flight’ or ‘crapping my pants and passing out’, so it becomes clear that ‘scared’ is not describing the same experience. Remember this problem with ALL emotion words (and descriptive terms like ‘very’ or ‘enormous’). Such terms are always relative.

Schizo: Could mean schizophrenia but is often used for bipolar disorder, psychopathy, multiple personality disorder, or any general mental condition that causes bizarre behavior. It is also used for mass murderer, serial killer, violent person, and ‘lunatic’ in general.

Starving: Could mean dying of starvation. Could mean restricting food from self or other. Could mean ‘I’m really hungry’. Could also mean ‘I haven’t had my lunch’.

Theory: A theory is an hypothesis that has gained a lot of proof for and none against, for example Newton’s gravitational theory or Evolution theory, but this word is used in the popular press to mean anything from a random guess to fact, including hypothesis, wild imagining, idea, belief, consideration. If the press are quoting you as a scientist, everything you say may be labelled ‘your theory’.


Answers to Memory Accuracy Check

NONE of these words are in the article. The ones you thought you remembered will have revealed to you your own associations with the subject, which your memory has mistaken for the author’s.



Summary of Key Skills in Rational Thinking

  • Understanding and identifying arguments, either explicit or implied, and the goals of critical reading in different types of presentations.
  • Identifying the premises from which conclusions are derived
  • Establishing who made the initial claim in argument (and is thus responsible for providing evidence why his/her position merits acceptance).
  • For the one presenting the argument, the task is to present evidence for his/her position in order to show the reasoning that has led to the conclusion. The method by which this is accomplished is producing valid, sound arguments, devoid of weaknesses.
  • In a debate, fulfilment of the burden of proof creates a burden of rejoinder. Both sides must try to identify faulty reasoning in counter-argument, to investigate the reasons/premises of the arguments, to provide counterexamples if possible, to identify any logical fallacies, and to show if a valid conclusion cannot be derived from the reasons provided for any given argument. Interactional debating is useful because many minds working together can reveal weak arguments quickly.



  1. Andreasen NC (2004) Dissecting the Urge to Create. PLoS Biol 2(2): e47. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020047
  2. Callaway, Ewen, “Damaged brains escape the material world”, New Scientist 11 February 2010 (Journal reference: Neuron, 26/01/2010)
  3. Dr. Herman T. Epstein; “The fourth R or WHY JOHNNY CAN'T REASON” http://www.brainstages.net/4thr.html
  4. Dr. Herman T. Epstein; “The roles of brain in human cognitive development” 2001
  5. Ramonsky, Alex; “Find: key factors of damage...” Chapter 4, pp39-41; “I’ve Changed My Mind”, BCC books, ISBN 0954834402; 2004



Mise à jour le Vendredi, 02 Août 2013 13:40