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Old 24th September 2006, 06:59 PM   #3
Your friendly local necromancer
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Te Awamutu, New Zealand
Posts: 100
I'm back

First of all, I suppose I interpreted the writer's logic a little differently, i.e.:

Premiss #1: The Russians were ahead of the Americans for most of the space race.
Premiss #2: The Russians pulled out of the space race without explanation.
Conclusion: Landing on the Moon is impossible.

I think I'm correct in saying that this is logically unsound. However my challenge was to show any logical process which would support what the writer was saying, and I accept that you have indeed provided a valid logical argument which does so.

I don't think it's fair to say that I dismissed the logic simply because I don't like it's conclusion. I think I had genuine cause to dispute the logic as I interpreted it. When the logic is re-written as you have done, I cannot dismiss it and I accept that (without any apology).

I guess if I wish to refute your logical conclusion, my only option is to refute your premiss "If it were possible to put a man on the moon, the Russians would have done so." Do you agree?

In regard to your extensions of the argument, I do not dispute any of what you said.

Regarding the Holmes rule, my point was that it is not actually valid to use this as a tool of logic in the first place. It irks me that people use the Holmes rule as if it was the foundation of all logic. To quote myself, "The underlying problem is actually the use of the Holmes Rule at all. Although it sounds very logical, this maxim is only useful in a limited number of situations...".

Regarding the "burden of proof", what I wrote in that section stemmed from a discussion with a group of lawyers. I followed up with some (very casual) research and found that this principle is generally accepted in legal and scientific circles. Perhaps I was wrong to include this in the page about logic but it just seemed the best page to dump it (you will note that I never claimed it was a principle of logic, just a principle). Again, I will reconsider the way I have worded this section.

In fact I will reconsider the whole page in light of what you've said. I can't do it right now but I will make every effort to revise it as soon as I can. Naturally I will remove my logic challenge now that it has been met.

I would like to thank you again for your detailed message. It certainly is a breath of fresh air to see someone embracing critical thinking. In this day and age it's easy to become disillusioned with the amount of dribble that passes for arguments on the Internet.

Finally, I have a question. Some time ago I had an idea for a website which would serve to independently examine the logic of various arguments, writings, claims, etc. I envisaged it as a public service to counter the rampant lack of critical thinking in our society. It would work something like this:
- Members of the public submit material to be judged, for example, a politician's speech justifying a war or a church leader's reasons why Intelligent Design should be taught in science.
- A moderator approves worthwhile submissions and rejects frivolous rubbish at their discretion.
- A panel of logicians rate the material on it's logic, providing comments and perhaps an overall score (tacky but scoring has appeal).

I have the resources to set the site up and I have some good ideas about how it could be run and promoted, but I lack the expertise to do the actual logic testing. What the site would need is one or more people such as yourself who are well-versed in the application of logic. Do you think that you, or anyone with your skills, would be willing to participate in such a project? It's possible that there could be a modest income for panelists but we'd need to proceed on the assumption that it is voluntary.

Thanks again.
Dave is offline