Blog # 59 REDUCTIO AD NAUSEUM

Some of us may be in a select bubble; still avid readers of great literature, avoiders of celebrity magazines, maintainers of home-based land phones and critics of television’s eccentricities (reality shows, low information discussion groups, dumbed-down history and market- based propaganda).

With the exponential increase in transmission of information, by way of the internet and smart phones, albeit limited in content, one expends much less cognitive effort than in independent review and study. With all the warehoused facts in such electrical device and  all the available “App” choices, our innate capabilities of reason and aesthetic discrimination are atrophying by disuse and becoming vestigial.

Often, the users of such mechanical devices will remonstrate, “It saves time and effort”. It may well be inquired as to what positive use has such savings been applied? Apparently, it would seem, not to activities leading to personal growth, life enhancement or self- knowledge. Such people have apparently become the dependent servants of their own electronic robots and not the intended reverse.

“Keep it short and sweet,” “Just give me the skinny,” “Keep it simple” (as if one always has the choice), and “I’m in a rush,” are often heard in inquiries as to questionable events or disputed facts.

The Latin phrase, reductio ad absurdum, refers to the oversimplification of events, issues and personalities (by the elimination of relevant facts) as leading to erroneous and distorted conclusions.  For example, the unfounded conclusion, by reductive reasoning, of a causative relationship between events that follow each other, based upon the sole fact that one event merely preceded the other.

We can never uncover truth by lazy oversimplification. As stated above, the inclination to make such easy and quick judgments seems unfortunately, to be the style du jour.

Personal knowledge, by its intrinsic nature, is subjective; but is of no use unless it is consistent with objective reality. To avoid the required effort to take into consideration the attendant and relevant facts, for any reason, is to court disaster. Events normally have multiple, often interactive, causes and to seek easy, quick conclusions usually leads to unfortunate (and avoidable) results.

Judgment as to the quality of people by their physical or ethnic characteristics, or the acceptance of ostensibly negative events, without reasonable efforts to learn further ambient facts is ungenerous and irresponsible. Some reductive reporting can be observed even in some of our television media. We have the clear duty to ourselves and society, to make necessary inquiry as to related facts and the context of the reported event and personally reach a mature rational and fair judgment.

Fair independent inquiry and thought s especially valuable at election time.

-p

Published by

plinyblogcom

Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Literature Student and enthusiast.

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