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An inference is not an education

April 25, 2013

You can teach inference. It’s a logical framework of rational thought. But like any logic, it requires the accuracy of the steps in order to be correct. Example…

*If* all A’s are Letters.
*And* all letters make words.
*Then* all A’s make words.

This is a logical inference. But this is only logical based on the accuracy of the assumed premise(s). When the premise(s) comes into question, the follow-up inferences cannot be logically sound. This is how you can teach inference. It’s kind of like teaching science. You’re teaching people the process, not the conclusion. You teach people how to reach their own conclusions.

But when someone begins teaching the conclusion, the premise immediately comes into question. It’s the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning.

Now there is nothing wrong with inductive and/or deductive reasoning… at least insomuch that those who utilize said logical processes are willing to change their conclusion when new information is brought to their attention. And that’s the problem quite a few people have.

There’s a particular “theory” going around a few circles regarding a cultural paradigm that just makes me scratch my head. Rape Culture (cue dramatic music, “bum ba buuuum”!).

The inference, or premise if you will, is that our culture teaches men that it is acceptable to rape; therefore the solution is to teach men not to rape. On the surface, it’s a sound argument. If we teach something a certain way, and we do not like the outcome of teaching said “something”, the obvious solution would be to stop teaching it.

Does anyone see the rather sizable issue with the premise? Where and how does our society (the modern western society I live in currently) teach men to rape? There are no ‘Rape 101’ courses I can take. There are no “sexual assault, a beginner’s guide” I can pick up at my local library. My parents did not include instruction in violence during my birds and the bees talk. My friends, my neighbors, my schools, my community and my society *universally* condemn rape.

Point of fact, the proposed solution is already being used in practice. We have anti-harassment seminars, sexual-harassment workshops, classes that welcome people exploring their inner sexual desires and feminine sides, etc. From a scientific standpoint, we have evidence that the proposed solution is not working. Would it then not be logically sound to change course?

I took some time to research the various ways in which society aids me in going around raping people and I came up empty. Actually, I did find some examples of various people supporting the notions through colorful commentary usually refered to as “trolling” in the likes of YouTube and twitter and other social media outlet. Key word there being “outlets”.

The pro arguments surrounding the likes of Rape Culture are inferences on questionable premise(s). The argument that a “joke” about Rape proves Rape culture exists is so intellectually dishonest I have trouble even uttering the words. As if any joke actually contributes to the problem. I’m not aware of a growing issues of people running down chickens with their cars, nor does it change the reality of human atrocities such as the Holocaust. Humor is one of the most powerful tools humanity uses to command and overcome the problems of the word. Hate politics? Make fun of it.

Denying Rape Culture does not prove Rape Culture any more than denying Russell’s Teapot prove it exists. Lacking evidence does not support evidence. You can’t fill a hole with dirt if you don’t have any dirt.

Now I can understand how someone can infer that Rape Culture is a thing. You see an outcome, you create a conclusion based on a convenient premise. But not only is it lazy, it’s harmful from a social and psychological aspect. Which I shouldn’t have to explain have potentially serious ramifications in the real world. Scapegoating leads to the like of internment camps, large-scale social violence and demographic specific genocide. And why? Because someone came up with an easy answer and people, who sadly want easy answers, lack onto with a compounding destructive force of self-righteous condemnation.

The problem behind the likes of Rape Culture, and many inferences, is the lack of critical thinking when it comes to the validity of the statements. There’s an odd psychology behind people’s acceptance of accuracy in written form (for another day). So while inference is taught, critical thinking is not. And while we teach people how things work, we rarely teach them why. And when you learn the why, you can begin to explore the possibilities of how to make something better.

When it comes to inference; asking ‘why’ begs the accuracy of statements…

*If* all A’s are Letters.
*And* all letters make words.
*Then* all A’s make words.

Are all A’s letters? When are they? When are they not? Do all letters make words? Do letters make anything else? Are there any other explanations for words?

If I suggested that A + B = C, would that not confuse the above statement? Are A, B & C words? Surely A’s are letters, and letters make words, therefore A is a word yes? What about B? And C? Do they represent words here?

I am a proponent of Occam’s Razor. BUT, only when the information fits and is verifiable. Otherwise statements along the lines of “god did it” would be fit under Occam’s Razor. ‘Magic’ is a simple answer, and it works based on the rules (or the lack thereof) that magic works under; anything is possible. Which is hogwash.

So when someone infers a basic assumption on complex problems, such as; Men can Stop Rape. I wonder to myself, but not all men rape… and not all rapists are men. Based on this, I must reject the assumed premise underlining the inference behind the statement that men can stop Rape. From a simplistic perspective, Women can Stop Rape. It maintains the simple perspective while adjusting the premise, or not. Women can still stop Rape, just in different ways.

The inference is that men commit rape. Is such a simple statement logical accurate? Yes, but it’s incomplete. Similarly, the statement that women commit rape is also logically sound; but equally incomplete. Maintaining simplicity in explanation can create its own problems. So Occam’s Razor is used fallaciously.

If we really want a simple solution, stop drinking. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, 47% of the rapes involve alcohol consumption by *both* parties. A simple solution to potentially cut nearly half the rates in half right? (Could have als prevent 32% of traffic fatalities) Well… how did prohibition work for us last time? Even simple and obvious solutions have complex problems. And they don’t really address the primary issues; was alcohol even really a factor? Considering that the remaining 53% didn’t use alcohol.

Rape Culture is merely a colloquialism that describes a society that has a problem with Rape. And we undeniably do. As a society we admit that, and we take steps to correct it. We make Rape a crime, we educate our youth to treat others with respect and we joke about it to show we are not afraid of the issue. So when someone comes along and screams; “We live in a Rape Culture! Teach Men not to Rape!” I wonder how they can reach “gargamel” as an answer for what does 2 + 3 =?

Luckily, I’m happy to report that the crime rates have been steadily declining for quite some time. Certainly long before the likes of “Rape Culture” and correlating rhetoric gained any meaningful circulation. Being roughly 4% in 1990 and down to 3.67% (Care of FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program). That’s a little over 21,000 women per year less (sorry guys, statistics regarding men are still hard to come by, but we’re getting there).

Now the reasons for that can be, and are, quite complex. Potentially a mix of progressive policies coupled with expanded education and a side of women’s liberation sprinkled with social and sexual revolutions. Sadly we’ll never know for sure what all the factors are. Some will infer that there specific political cause is the source of change. But correlations are not causations. I could equally cite the advent of internet porn as a cause for the drop of sexual crime rates. Because, and here’s a quote mining gem for the easily offended… less women are raped the more women are willingly have sex. Can’t wait to see that get twisted.

Here’s the point; an education needs to go beyond convenient methods to get from premise A to conclusion B. Professors can be, and often are, wrong about many things. Someone who claims authority behind intellectually sound political positions needs to be able to provide evidence for peer review. If your positions cannot withstand critical deconstruction, then they are not accurate and will be rejected as unsound. And of course, if someone provides an equally, if not more accurate, explanation regarding your premise and conclusion, you must be willing to accommodate that possibility into your position. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon your work (unless it’s absolute shit), but that you need to accept that it isn’t the only one.

I get it, I really do. A’s are letters, and letters make words. It makes sense and it’s sound. But it’s incomplete. And until you accept that, your understanding will always fall short and you’ll never be able to fully articulate your position, nor create accurate repairs to the broken system. Otherwise you’re just talking magic, in which, ironically, anything is possible.

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