Saturday, July 28, 2007

7-28-07: Logical Reasoning

My buddy Dan found a great podcasting series from Princeton Review called "LSAT Logic in Everyday Life." It's a pretty interesting series that breaks down contemporary social issues using the logical reasoning involved in the LSAT. They're not too long (under 10 minutes each) and do a decent job at explaining logical holes in issues such as terrorism funding, Borat, the Daily Show, and others. Things like this really fascinate me, and make me more and more encouraged to study and take the LSAT. Oh, and go to law school. That'd be nice too.

It is amazing at how flawed so many arguments are. The key factors are: emotional involvement in the subject matter, and false assumptions. It is perfectly fine to make an argument for something because that is how you feel about it, but as soon as you say it is a logical argument, emotions can't be involved. It's just like how Spock performs his reasoning; emotions aren't logical. Yet, so many people argue for things and hide behind their emotions. We're all naturally like that. I'm no different, but I try to take a step back to see the logic.

Take universal health-care as an example. So many people think it would be a great idea to have it. Their primary reasons are: a) so many other "first world" countries do it and b) companies who provide health-care nowadays are too greedy. An easy way to see the flawed logic in this argument is to see if the reasoning logically justifies the desired result. As far as "every one else does it" goes, there's the age-old "just because some one else does it doesn't make it right" response, which is inherently based on logic. Sure, European countries do have universal health-care, but they also have significantly higher tax rates. Our economy is based on pure capitalism, which is why it's cheaper to live in the United States than it is in Europe. Universal health-care is not free. People argue that taxes are high as is. Would you want it to be higher? Wouldn't our economy suffer? The second argument, stating that health-care companies are greedy, is also a bit flawed. Yes, they do make a profit, but that's their job. They provide a service, and are paid for it. Do you think the government would run health-care through volunteers? There is a cost to run a business, and if a business turns a profit, it does not automatically make them greedy.

The assumptions are that the U.S. government would provide health-care much better than specialized health-care companies. Where is the evidence that this would happen? Throwing more money at them will not directly lead to better service. Entrusting such an important service as health-care to a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats MIGHT save a little money in the long run, but it may cost lives. Our system simply isn't built for it.

Emotions are always involved in health-care. It's a very, very personal topic. Every one needs it. That is why it is such a hot topic, and people tend to take so much for granted that simply isn't realistic. Companies will lower rates if they feel a significant threat coming their way. It's how they do business. And that's how it should stay: in business.

Want to see an example: the Soviet Union. Privatization of social services led to the eventual collapse. They were a superpower once. If it didn't work for them, why should we assume we are any better?

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