Conclusions and Other Errors

Conclusions. Ends. Termini. What do we know about conclusions and how do they effect us?

If one comes to a conclusion, he should have examined all of the pertinent information and the point at which he ends up is the conclusion he has reached. In some cases it is the only conclusion that is possible, and therefore probably a true cessation of examination. In other cases it is the better of two or more conclusions, though any other conclusions may be just as valid barring more evidence to weight the true conclusion to one or another of the possibilities. Coming to a conclusion is sometimes subjective, but can also be, and in its pure form should always be, objective.

If one jumps to a conclusion, he is likely skipping much of the examination process in order to arrive at a pre-determined or narrowly defined terminus of thought. One sees “A” and one sees “B” and concludes that there is a correlation, connection, or other symbiosis between them. One then concludes that “A” led to “B”, or “B” is the result of “A”. Jumping to a conclusion is always subjective and quite often wrong. Even if subjective conclusions are the terminus of thinking, and even if they are correct in their final conclusion, they are anti-logical and fallaciously arrived at due to the nature of subjective reasoning itself.

In other words, let’s say there is a murder investigation being undertaken by a police agency. Let’s say that the lead detective feels that the spouse of the deceased is the guilty party and subjectively arrives at that conclusion due to prior experience, instinct, body language, or whatever other subjective reasoning might be involved. If the spouse is guilty, but only the subjective evidence is presented, the subjective conclusion will bear no weight in court room testimony and will likely not even lead to an arrest warrant. If, on the other hand, objective evidence, such as forensics, points to a reasoned conclusion, or corroborates subjective reasoning, there will likely be a warrant, and very possibly a conviction. Conclusions need evidence to be valid. They are weakened and made worthless by emotion, supposition, inference, incomplete or unthought out lines of information.

Conclusions are a part of logical consequence, which is itself a fundamental concept in logic. It is the relation that holds between a set of sentences (or propositions) and a sentence (proposition) when the former “entails” the latter. For example, ‘Kermit is green’ is said to be a logical consequence of ‘All frogs are green’ and ‘Kermit is a frog’, because it would be “self-contradictory” to affirm the latter and deny the former. Logical consequence is the relationship between the premises and the conclusion of a valid argument. These explanations and definitions tend to be circular; the provision of a satisfactory account of logical consequence and entailment is an important topic of philosophy of logic.

Therefore, while saying that ‘All frogs are green’, if one were to say that ‘Kermit is green,’ one could not logically conclude that he was a frog, since there are other things that are green, such as grass. But to say that ‘All frogs are green’, and then to say that ‘Kermit is a frog,’ one must conclude that Kermit is green.

So, in other words, the truth of the conclusion depends on both the truth of the antecedents and the relationship of logical consequence between the antecedents and the conclusion. The conclusion might NOT be true if not all frogs were green. Logical consequences or inferences by deductive reasoning are a major aspect of epistemology that communicates to the general public hypotheses about causality of risk factors.

In other words, if one comes to a conclusion because it is the ONLY possibility, logically, evidentiarily, maybe even reasonably, then that conclusion holds some weight and is worth arriving at, and maybe even forwarding to others. If, on the other hand, one comes to a conclusion based on emotion, subjective reasoning, prejudice of any sort, and otherwise unsubstantiated by a preponderance of logic and objective evidence, then that conclusion is likely worthless, and only accidentally and incidentally correct, if it is in, in fact, correct at all.

Conclusions are where the mind usually stops working. We must each be responsible for those conclusions that cause a cessation of thought, particularly as they effect others. It is in this area of subjectivity that prejudice begins and reason dies.

Richard and Linda Thompson – A Heart Needs a Home

Another great Richard Thompson song, here performed along with his then-wife, Linda. While never breaking out in huge commercial ways, Richard, in all the manifestations of his career, has been loved by the critics and discerning popular music aficionados. Songs like this one are a main reason for the near cult following he has, and reason why he deserves much wider fame and popularity. It is a major oversight that he has not yet been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is a superior songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist to many of those who have already been recognized by that organization, and it’s about time that Richard Thompson gets his rightful place there as well.

Why Does the Word "Gay" Refer to Homosexuals?

The word “gay” seems to have its origins around the 12th century in England, derived from the Old French word ‘gai’, which in turn was probably derived from a Germanic word, though that isn’t completely known. The word’s original meaning meant something to the effect of “joyful”, “carefree”, “full of mirth”, or “bright and showy”.

However, around the early parts of the 17th century, the word began to be associated with immorality. By the mid 17th century, according to an Oxford dictionary definition at the time, the meaning of the word had changed to mean “addicted to pleasures and dissipations. Often euphemistically: Of loose and immoral life”. This is an extension of one of the original meanings of “carefree”, meaning more or less uninhibited. Fast-forward to the 19th century and the word gay referred to a woman who was a prostitute and a gay man was someone who slept with a lot of women, often prostitutes. Sort of ironical that today a gay man doesn’t sleep with women. Also at this time, the phrase “gay it” meant to have sex.

With these new definitions, the original meanings of “carefree”, “joyful”, and “bright and showy” were still around; so the word was not exclusively used to refer to prostitutes or a promiscuous man. Those were just accepted definitions, along with the other meanings of the word.

Around the 1920s and 1930s however, the word started to have a new meaning. In terms of the sexual meaning of the word, a “gay man” no longer just meant a man who had sex with a lot of women, but now started to refer to men who had sex with other men. There was also another phrase, “gey cat”, at this time which meant a homosexual boy.

By 1955 the word gay now officially acquired the new added definition of meaning homosexual males. Gay men themselves seem to have been behind the driving thrust for this new definition as they felt (and most still do), that “homosexual” is much too clinical sounding and is often thought as offensive among gay people due to sounding like a disorder. As such, it was common amongst themselves to refer to one another as gay decades before this was a commonly known definition (reportedly homosexual men were calling one another gay as early as the 1920s). At this time, homosexual women were referred to as lesbians, not gay. Although women could still be called gay if they were prostitutes as that meaning had not yet 100% disappeared.

Since then, gay, meaning homosexual male, has steadily driven out all the other definitions that have floated about through time and of course also has gradually began supplementing the word ‘lesbian’ as referring to women who were homosexual.

Not satisfied with simply changing its definition once a century, as early as the 1980s a new definition for the word gay started popping up among American youth where now something gay could either mean a homosexual or something that is “lame” or “stupid” or the like. This new definition was originally almost exclusively meant as an insulting term.

This has gradually spread to the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Interestingly, today, according to a report done by the BBC, most children are still using the word to mean “lame”, but now with having nothing to do with sexuality of any sort and also not generally meant as an insulting term against people. Now it is used more to the effect of just saying, for instance, “That movie was gay” as in stupid, but having nothing to do with homosexuality in their minds and not generally directed at people (thus not supposedly meant to be offensive to the gay community). Whereas the origins of this new “lame” or “stupid” definition were most definitely meant to be insulting and were primarily directed at people.

Bonus Facts:

The abstract noun ‘gaiety’ has somehow largely steered clear of having any sort of sexual connotation as with the word “gay”. It still keeps its definition as meaning something to the effect of “festive”.

Male homosexuality was illegal in Britain until the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967. Because even mentioning someone was a homosexual was so offensive at the time in England, people who were thought to be gay were referred to as “sporty” with girls and “artistic” for boys.

Bringing Up Baby in 1938 was the first film to use the word gay to mean homosexual. Cary Grant, in one scene, ended up having to wear a lady’s feathery robe. When another character asks about why he is wearing that, he responds an ad-libbed line “Because I just went gay”. At the time, mainstream audiences didn’t get the reference so the line was thought popularly to have meant something to the effect of “I just decided to be carefree.”

Why Do We Drive on the Right and Others Drive on the Left?

why do some countries drive on the right and some countries drive on the left? The origin of this varies based on the time period and country, but primarily throughout history people used the “keep-left” rule. It has only been very recently that the world has predominately switched to the “keep-right” rule.

The first real archaeological evidence of a keep-left or keep-right type rule for a road, originates in the Roman Empire, which shouldn’t be surprising as they built a lot of massive, well trafficked roads spanning Europe and thus would have needed to establish certain rules governing how people were to interact on the roads. So which side did the Romans use? Archaeological evidence suggests it was common for the Romans to drive on the left side of the road. This was first discovered in 1998 where a Roman quarry in Swindon, England had grooves in the road going away from the quarry on the left side that were significantly deeper than those on the right, due to the added weight of the stone. It is not precisely known why they would have chosen this side, but it is probably similar to one of the main reasons this practice continued into the middle ages.

During the middle ages the roads weren’t always very safe for travelers; meeting people coming the other way on the road was something best done defensively. Historians then believe the keep-left rule was adopted because, on a horse, if you were right handed and you met some unsavory company on the road, you could draw your weapon, typically attached to your left side, with your right hand and bring it to bear quickly against the person who is going the opposite way of you on your right; all the while, controlling the reigns with your left hand. Then of course, if you happened to meet a friend on the road, you could more easily offer your right hand in greeting without needing to reach across your body when on horseback. People on horseback then also typically ruled the road, so everybody else followed suit.

This keep-left rule was so common that, in 1300 AD, Pope Boniface VIII decreed that all pilgrims headed to Rome from wherever they were coming from should abide by the keep-left rule of the road along their journey. This then held across most of the Western World until the late 1700s.

What ended up happening to force the switch in the 18th century were teamsters in the United States, who would drive large wagons with a team of horses, as the name implies. These wagons tended to dominate the road and force everybody else to abide by the rule of the road they were using. Very importantly, in many of those old, large American wagons, they did not include a seat on the wagon for the driver. Rather, the driver would typically sit on the rear left most horse, when the driver was right handed. This allowed them to easily drive a whole team of horses with a lash in their right hand.

This then forced the issue of having oncoming traffic on your left as the drivers would want to make sure any part of their team or wagon didn’t collide with oncoming traffic. When sitting on the rear left most horse, this was much easier to do when using a keep-right rule of the road. Just as important, if you wanted to pass a wagon in front of you, or at least see further down the road when you are sitting on the left side, it is much easier done if you are using the keep-right rule; this would give you much greater visibility of oncoming traffic when sitting on the left of your wagon. Gradually, this system spread so that by the late 18th century, the first laws in the United States were passed, starting in 1792 in Pennsylvania, where the rule of the road was now officially a keep-right rule. This quickly spread throughout the United States and Canada.

So how did this spread through Europe? It started with France. The reasons why the French switched to a keep-right rule instead of the traditional keep-left rule aren’t completely clear. Some say it is because the French Revolutionists didn’t want anything to do with anything that had ever been Pope decreed. Others say it was because they didn’t want to use the same rule of the road the English used. Still others say it was entirely Napoleon’s doing. The reasons why he may have done this, if that is the case, are even murkier ground. Whatever the case, France switched to the keep-right system. Napoleon then spread this system throughout the countries he conquered. Even after he was defeated, most of the countries he had conquered chose to continue with the keep-right system. The most important of these countries, as far as eventually further spreading the keep right system, was Germany. Fast forward to the 20th century and, as Germany conquered countries in Europe, they forced their keep-right system onto those countries.

England never adopted this method primarily because massive wagons, as became common in the United States, didn’t work well on narrow streets which were common in London and other English cities. England was also never conquered by Napoleon or later Germany. Thus, they kept the classical keep-left rule of the road that had endured for hundreds of years before. By 1756, this was actually made an official law in Britain. As the British Empire expanded, this keep-left rule, as a law, spread throughout the world. This hasn’t endured in most of the former British ruled countries, primarily thanks to Germany and the growing popularity of the keep-right system. There are still a few though, probably the largest of which is India.

Bonus Facts:

Many early cars had the driver’s seat in the center of the car rather than on one side or the other. Gradually, car manufactures began putting the seat on one side or the other. Some chose to put it on the side closest to the curb so that people could more easily avoid scraping buildings, curbs, etc. Other car manufactures would put it on the opposing traffic side to help reduce car to car collisions, which would tend to be more deadly.

Many early American motorized vehicles actually placed the steering wheel on the right hand side of the car, even though America used the keep-right rule. This practiced finally was put to an end largely due to Henry Ford; he preferred the left side steering wheel. Ford cars thus adopt the left hand side steering wheel. Due to their popularity, this effectively squashed the right hand steering wheel cars in America.

According to research done in 1969 by J.J. Leeming, keep-left countries have a much lower collision rate than keep-right countries. It is thought the reason behind this is that most people’s right eye is their dominate eye. Thus, the right eye in keep-left traffic is the one closest to oncoming traffic and so should reduce collisions. Another theory as to why this might be is that most people are right handed, so when driving a manual transmission car in a keep-left country, most people’s dominate hand is on the steering wheel; this could help in a person’s ability to maneuver accurately.

The people of Timor drive on the right in East Timor and the left in West Timor… Ambidextrous drivers.

Some Popular Misconceptions

Napoleon Bonaparte was not especially short. After his death in 1821, the French emperor’s height was recorded as 5 feet 2 inches in French feet. This corresponds to 5 feet 6.5 inches in modern international feet, or 1.686 metres. His nickname was le petit caporal (The Little Corporal). There are competing explanations for why he was called this, but few modern scholars believe it referred to his stature.

Sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children. Double blind trials have shown no difference in behavior between children given sugar full or sugar-free diets, even in studies specifically looking at children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or those considered “sensitive” to sugar. In fact, it was found that the difference in the children’s behavior was all in the parents’ minds.

Christopher Columbus’s efforts to obtain support for his voyages were not hampered by a European belief in a flat Earth. In fact, sailors and navigators of the time knew that the Earth is spherical, but (correctly) disagreed with Columbus’ estimates of the distance to India. If the Americas did not exist, and had Columbus continued to India (even putting aside the threat of mutiny he was under), he would have run out of supplies before reaching it at the rate he was traveling. The problem here was mainly a navigational one, the impossibility of determining longitude without an accurate clock. This problem remained until inventor John Harrison designed his first marine chronometers. The intellectual class had known that the earth was spherical since the works of the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. Eratosthenes made a very good estimate of the Earth’s diameter in the third century BC.

Dogs and cats are often thought to be completely colour-blind and see the world in scales of grey. That is wrong. They do have colour vision, dichromate, but not nearly as good as that of humans, trichromate i.e. red, green and blue light.

Lemmings do not engage in mass suicidal dives off cliffs when migrating. They will, however, occasionally, and unintentionally fall off cliffs when venturing into unknown territory, with no knowledge of the boundaries of the environment. The misconception is due largely to the Disney film White Wilderness, which shot many of the migration scenes (also staged by using multiple shots of different groups of lemmings) on a large, snow-covered turntable in a studio. Photographers later pushed the lemmings off a cliff.