Sunday, June 01, 2008

One fair day in winter makes not birds merry

Nor does a single swallow make it summer. Here we are being cautioned not to jump to conclusions on the basis of flimsy evidence.

Birds start singing in spring as that is the time of pairing up and defending a territory; they do not sing to celebrate the weather becoming pleasanter. It is a form of false logic to think so:

Birds sing because the weather is pleasant.
This is a pleasant day
Therefore the birds will sing.

This is false because the premise "birds sing because the weather is pleasant" is incorrect; it is a mistaken assumption that the weather alone is the cause.

This type of muddled thinking is responsible for many human ills and miseries as people act in good faith on wrong ideas. Humans might sing on a pleasant day because it makes them happy but it does not follow that birds will be the same, though the pleasantness of the day might act as a stimulus.

No comments:

Post a Comment