Saturday, April 16, 2016

Reductio ad Absurdum

The controversy surrounding open access to any rest room or locker room one feels comfortable in may strike you as ridiculous or it may seem to you to be a matter of basic human rights, but let's set aside for a moment our preconceptions. One test of an idea is to see what happens when it's taken to its logical conclusion. If the implications of an idea can be drawn out without devolving into absurdities then the idea is perhaps sound. If, when taken to its logical endpoint, though, the idea gets us entangled in absurdities which we cannot extricate ourselves from then that's a good indicator that the idea is itself absurd.

So with that short introduction out of the way watch this video, and ask yourself if there's anything wrong with the interviewer's logic. If there is not, ask yourself if there's anything wrong with the starting point of the students being interviewed. After all, something has to be wrong somewhere:
The tactic the interviewer employs in this video is called in logic reductio ad absurdum - a demonstration that the person's initial position, when taken to its logical terminus, reduces to an absurdity. In this case the affirmation that one is whatever one sees oneself as clearly entails that if a 5'9" white male sees himself as a 6'5" Chinese woman then he really is a 6'5" Chinese woman. This is, however, a position one can only hold on pain of being thought delusional.