Boolean Logic Behind Riots

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Researchers have determined that the recent wave of protests and counter-protests in the US and around the world is the result of the work done by a mathematician from the mid-19th century. George Boole (1815 -1864) was an English mathematician, philosopher and logician. While George Boole was not the first to use conditional sentences (IF THEN), he was the first to document and systematize them in an algebraic system. While it is assumed his interests here were strictly academic, his work is playing a decisive role in today’s political situation.

“I realize that Mr. Boole did not intend to put our civilization at risk. However when you combine his work with any one of dozens of possible dogmas and you have a dangerous situation.” according to Dr. Langdon, a specialist in the area of overlap between logical fallacies and aggressive behaviors.

The IF THEN construct is familiar to most people and can be frequently found in everyday conversations. It is when combined with moral imperatives and other absolutes that the combination morphs from everyday into something far more volatile. The simplest way to explain this is through a current example,

  • IF you think the grand jury outcomes in Ferguson and Staten Island were correct THEN you are racist.
  • IF you think the grand jury outcomes in Ferguson and Staten Island were wrong THEN you hate all cops.

It is easy to see how Mr. Boole’s simple structures have caused catastrophic outcomes when unleashed on unsuspecting individuals with pre-existing dogmas. In a recent survey 97.5% of the American people claimed that they were not dogmatic. A slightly smaller percentage (94.3%) were in fact, “absolutely certain” that their beliefs and attitudes were not locked into any fixed positions.

And yet the evidence suggests that many people do fall firmly on one side or the other of almost any topic. Many examples can be found across the internet with a simple search for one of the following:

  • Washington / Congress/Politics
  • PS4 / XBOX One
  • Economic Disparity / Taxes / Minimum Wage
  • Dancing With The Stars / American Idol
  • Tea Party / Progressives
  • Star Wars /Star Trek
  • Palestine / Israel
  • Gamergate
  • terrorists / freedom fighters
  • Geico Geeko / Flo from Progressive
  • Any use of “rights”, as in right to life / right to choose
  • Boxers / Briefs

While some experts continue to argue there should be a place for nuance and there are levels of complexity that can not be described by simple IF-THEN statements. Professor Langdon warned against any movement to move from a purely black and white view of the world. “Adopting any aspect of the shades-of-grey movement will only lead to low-grade literature and second-rate erotica. We have a recent example and I do not think anyone wants to see that happen again.”

For the moment we are seeing a decline in one set of pro and anti demonstrations. Law enforcement officials now fear that there will be further violence ahead as people line up on either side of

IF you’re all ’bout that bass THEN you don’t want no treble.”

Photo by Terry Straubel

 

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