Reasoning Study Guide

1. The first 3 paragraphs on page 64 list some ways in which we reason. Think about your day (or yesterday). Using the terms as a guide, try to write down all the specific ways you used reasoning.

Now that I think of it, it seems that we use reasoning at every moment of our life. It was hard for me to wake up this morning – but knowing that I would get late to school, reasoning the effect that staying in bed would have, I decided to wake up. First period: History – all about seeking evidence and trying to figure out right from wrong, if you can. Lunch – should I have that extra cookie? It will make me feel sick at practice. Practice – stop thinking, shut down that voice and just keep running. Which in itself is a decision I made.

2.    Curate an article or video on cognitive computing or cognition in general that appeals to you.

I can remember asking myself why music was good. But I never got to research it more in depth. This video makes me curious of how music can actually influence your way of thinking. How can music bring a bigger understanding of human behavior?  As a musician, I find the subject particularly interesting, as I am sure others will.

3.    Think of a GENERALIZATION you have made or heard recently (see pg. 68). Can you describe some examples of harmful generalizations? 

We generalize all the time. The other day for example, we went to an Indian restaurant in town; when my uncle got out of there, he was extremely satisfied: “Indian people, they always have such good food!’ And I mean, don’t they? But of course, with this example we can see the risks of making a general implication of that nature. What if you got in an argument wearing a veil? Could you imply that ‘all Arabs tend to get in arguments?’ Wouldn’t that be a little more controversial?…

5.    Make up your own variables (actual words) for P and Q in the DEDUCTIVE REASONING exercise on page 70.

(1) All fruits are red, is negated by the fact that some fruits are not red.

(2) All assignments are useless is negated by the fact that no assignment is useless.

(3) Some triangles have sides of equal length is not negated by the fact that some triangles have sides of a different length.

(4) No tofu-based meals are tasty is negated by the fact that some tofu-based meals are good.

(5) All cultures are interesting implies that some cultures are interesting.

6.    What are the 2 KEY ASSERTIONS of deductive reasoning? What is the MAJOR DISTINCTION between “Validity” and “Truth”?

– If the argument is valid and all premises are true, then the conclusion must be true.

– If the conclusion of an argument is not true, then either the argument is invalid or at least one of the premises is false.

Validity and true are two distinct notions that it is important to differentiate. Truth is based on the content of an argument whereas validity is based on its form.

7.    Pick up one of your textbooks OR find an article on an online newspaper. Identify its premises and its conclusion. Look for key word hints, such as those located at the top of page 73.  Are there any implicit premises (those not stated explicitly but implied)?  (***note: premises are sometimes called “assumptions”)

This professor, Gregg Hecimovich, argues he has found the author of a manuscript written by a female slave under a pseudonym over 150 years ago. His premises are the following:

– The woman was literate. Hannah Bond, the supposed author of the manuscript, had a master who was passionate about literature in general and had a rich variety of books in his library.

– Often times the manuscript is inspired by contemporary authors of the time such as Charlotte Bronte and Walter Scott. The plantation house where Bond lived was located next to a girls’ school that at the time, also studied these pieces of literature. The woman might have heard part of those lessons and gotten inspired.

– The woman ran away. So did Hannah Bond.

– Therefore, Hecimovich’s conclusion is that the woman is question must be Hannah Bond.

The premises are supposedly true, and the argument is valid. The logical conclusion is that the statement must be true, but of course there is no way to prove it.

8.    Construct your OWN deductive argument or “SYLLOGISM” using the template in the middle of page 73.

All of the people attending the private school I go to are rich. / I go to that school. / Therefore I am rich.

9.    Construct your OWN FALLACY, or invalid deductive argument, similar to the one on page 74-5.

All movie starring Johnny Depp are good. / ‘Into the Wild’ is a good movie. / Therefore ‘Into the Wild’ stars Johnny Depp.

11. In your own words, how does INDUCTIVE reasoning differ from deductive reasoning? Can you provide an example of how you personally have used inductive reasoning recently? (see page 76)

 Inductive reasoning differs from deductive reasoning in the way that we just assume it is true. All cases in the past have proven it and the future will show the same. I just went to drink some water; as a human, I need it. Inductive reasoning.

12.  In the last paragraph of page 77, the author states “Much of our knowledge about the natural sciences is based on generalizations backed by repeated observation of phenomena”. Can you provide an example of CLASSICAL induction from your own science courses (group 4)?

Our group 4 was based on an experiment where each trial was repeated three times. After those three times, we estimated the values obtained accurate enough to support our hypothesis that fats provided more energy to the human body. But in science, is three times ever enough to prove something? Twenty times? Especially in medicine, where lives are at stake, are you going to take the risk of that one time proving you were wrong?

13. Try the “random percentage” experiment discussed in the Statistics area of page 78. Type in 3 different random percentages into Google – what do you get? Try to find a statistic with a percentage via Twitter.

– The Apple Company has fallen 3% this year.

– President Obama left one of his waiters a 52% tip.

– Drinking coffee apparently reduces the risk of men being diagnosed with prostate cancer by 20%.

Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 8.05.57 PM

14.  Find an INFOGRAPHIC that not only offers statistics, but “tells the story” or offers correlations (see page 79).

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 1.20.33 PM

I find these percentages very interesting. The Internet is an invention that nowadays we find so common. And these numbers do tell a story – the story of human evolution.


15. Provide an example of ANALOGICAL REASONING from your own life. How likely are you to trust your own results, on a scale of 0 to 10?

A friend of mine suggested I go see that movie that just came out. Apparently it is greaaaat. The list of movies she enjoys is usually similar to my own list of movies, so I assume that I will find the movie quite entertaining. On a scale of 0 to 10, I would give my assumption a 7. 


 17.  Curate a TED TALK that highlights the use of CREATIVE REASONING (pg. 82), post and provide a brief overview.

Tim Brown – I very much like his talk. He associates creative thinking and playing with risk-taking, ‘thinking outside of the box’; I find the analogy very interesting. While he doesn’t directly mention reasoning, he nevertheless shows that creation is a well-thought process that has a purpose and an origin.


18.  Look around your bedroom OR your laptop: In what ways do you classify things? What is the method to your madness? Describe some common classifications in the AOKS (Areas of Knowledge, i.e. all your courses). Can you think of an example where technology or advances in science/ newfound “knowledge” has changed the classification system?

I my bedroom, in which I am sitting at this moment, I have two main categories in which I classify everything: the stuff that should be where it is right now, and the stuff that is a the wrong place. Second category always wins in number.  It is a quick, easy way to classify everything – plus, I will get to use that classification later on when I actually start to clean everything up.

In class too, we categorize all the time: course material, exercises, unit review, homework, test… Everything falls into a category to keep everything in order, which in the end is much more convenient – as long as it stays respectful of all elements.


20. Pages 86-7 discuss the dangers of classification, i.e. racism, stereotypes, and other prejudices. CURATE a relatively recent ARTICLE or VIDEO  that highlights an instance of one of these issues.

Classification quickly reaches a point where it might be harmful. The fact that we categorize people might seem helpful, giving us a notion of how to address them; but it also hinders our ability to see the other as a complex, unique human being. Stephen Fry quite recently posted an article on racism, which I already curated. Interested? – 


21. What stereotypes, generalizations, or prejudices do you think you have?

We all do – it is ok. I think that Germans in general are very determined and straight forward, and that people from Paris are a little snob. I try not to judge a person by what I think I know, but it is a tough exercise that our society in general is not promoting  – hard to keep the sheep together when they all think in a different manner. 











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