I do not worship at the altar of logic. I refuse to bring it frankincense and goats. I’ve employed deductive reasoning in my work for years, and I’ve read its instruction manual. So when I tell people that logic isn’t always the best way to know the world around us, they look at me as if I’ve been replaced by a dancing pixie from the Land of Dreams and Candy Corn.
A friend taught me a crackerjack quote from our buddy, Albert Einstein: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Don’t misunderstand me—I love logic in its proper place. In the world of things that can be measured, logic rules with a mighty fist. Will my car not start? Logic is my ally. Do I want to build a helicopter? Logic stands ready as my sword and shield. Do I want to tie a Windsor knot? Logic throws me a party in Monte Carlo with dancing girls and baccarat.
But if my wife asks me how much I love her, logic is a tiger shark eating my damned leg off. If I fire up my spreadsheet to answer her question, I will be dragged below the surface and never seen again. To illustrate my point, try to assess these statements logically:
- When your 16 year old son wants to borrow the Jaguar and you deny him, he will calmly understand this if you provide him a matrix showing the probability of him slaughtering half the city, including the dogs and cats.
- When two groups of people massacre each other because their common ancestors moved to different neighborhoods 2,000 years ago, giving them a Venn diagram that shows they’re one big family will solve the problem right away.
Please hand in your answers at the end of class, and be sure to show your work.
Years ago my job included helping people jointly make decisions when they hated each other. I had a nifty, logical tool for the job. Everybody loved it. It involved giving ratings and assessments to various factors. It used actual math, and the option that got the highest score at the end was the logical one to choose. Not once—ever—did a group select the option with the highest score. Yet they always agreed unanimously on a different choice. They all walked away happy. They all stuck by their decision, although otherwise they remained bile-spitting enemies.
When people aren’t building pyramids and fixing faucets, they are not logical. They live by intuition, and applying logic to people problems leads to misery and death. Or at least, to unpleasantness and failure.
But people should be logical, right? Isn’t that the problem? I agree that it is. People should be logical in the same way that tanning should be a fat burning activity and trees should be covered in lollipops. People just are not logical when it comes to people-related stuff. If you spend time trying to make people logical, you should also spend time trying to make a toaster cry when it hears La Traviata.
So what is the answer? We can’t abandon logic. It’s too darn useful, like that TV remote that does nothing except activate slow motion, but you keep it because none of your 7 other remotes does that. I suggest that we just embrace intuition when we’re dealing with the illogical dominant species on our planet. And when our wives ask how much we love them, we’ll all know that the correct answer is, “I cleaned the litter box before you got home.”