English by Elimination

Conversation between me and my boss 5 minutes ago:
Boss: Mr. Justin, what is deductive reasoning?
Me: [Heh] Well, let us start with what it isn’t. It isn’t a fish. It isn’t a guitar. It isn’t a beverage conveyance….
Boss: [blank look] Uh.
Me: …nor is it the ozone layer, a rotary engine, or a tasty octopus…
Boss: [annoyed] Ah…
Me: …ain’t the Pope, the Queen, or anything in between…
Boss: NONONO MR. JUSTIN. I ask you, what is “deductive reasoning?”
Me: I was in the middle of telling you.
Boss: Oh. Sorry. Continue, please.
(30 seconds later)
Me: …not with a fox, nor in a box…
Boss: STOP! I look up in dictionary! I hate the fucking English! (storms off)
I am only here to serve.

6 thoughts on “English by Elimination

  1. HA! I read this out loud to my mom–she wants to know what the opposite of deductive reasoning is (if one exists). Let’s start with what the opposite of deductive reasoning isn’t…

  2. I guess those early childhood courses on deductive logic and reasoning skills helped make you a very naughty salaryman, eh? It was supposed to help you with academic studies, not in torture methods!

  3. Andi,
    I’ve thought about the opposite of deductive reasoning for a few days now, and I still can’t figure out the best answer. I’m gonna enlist Kevin’s help.

  4. I don’t know if it’s an opposite, exactly, but deductive reasoning is often matched against INductive reasoning.
    My mnemonic for remembering which is which is:
    DOGS > DGS
    Deductive = General to Specific
    If you remember that, then you’ll remember that inductive reasoning goes from specific to general.
    Example of deductive reasoning:
    I’ve just arrived on a planet where, according to the most trustworthy locals, it always rains at 5PM on Wednesday afternoon. Like clockwork. Right now it’s 4:30PM on Wednesday. I reason that, in 30 minutes, it’ll be rainy.
    GENERAL: rains at 5PM on Weds.
    SPECIFIC: *TODAY*, Wednesday, it’ll rain at 5PM.
    Example of inductive reasoning:
    I’m living on a planet where it rains. I get the wacky idea of testing the rain’s frequency. After careful experimentation over time, I see that the rain arrives on the dot every Wednesday at 5PM. I establish the principle: “It rains every Wednesday at 5PM.” Further experimentation shows that the rain never violates this rule. At this point, I’ve become one of the trustworthy locals who can pass this information along to new arrivals to the planet.
    Scientific method usually involves a combination of inductive and deductive methods. Language teaching does as well, but sometimes there’s debate about which is better.
    For example, the old-school way of teaching language was more deductive: students of French would receive verb charts showing how verbs are conjugated. Memorize the chart, then apply the rules you’ve learned to the new verbs you encounter. The new communicative approaches, however, are less rule-oriented and more about being “in” the language. After you hear “je parle, tu parles, il parle, nous parlons, vous parlez, ils parlent” a few dozen times, it dawns on you that other verbs follow this pattern as well. You induce the rule. Some say this is a better way to learn because you’ve “earned” the knowledge as opposed to having it handed to you cut and dried.
    So there we go. Deductive and inductive.

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