Illogical Logic

What is logic? What is rational thought? We often define these things as the opposite of emotion, and yet, that isn’t really good enough. The two are often intertwined. If I told you that “logic” is not universal, what would you say? You might be inclined to disagree yet even science, the very thing that professes to uphold “logic,” often falls victim to illogical things.

A year ago, I learned that a scientific study suggested that people who valued “logic” and “rational thinking,” were more susceptible to implicit bias. In other words, they were more likely to hold sexist, racist, homophobic and/or transphobic ideologies. “How can this be?” I thought, “How can you love logic and still believe in outdated ideas?” The answer that came to me was very clear: because they believe that the system that they live in is logical, and since that system is sexist, racist, etc., then those ideas become logical in their minds. This is abundantly clear when you look at scientists who proclaimed African people “subhuman” or others who claimed that women were less intelligent or “prone to hysterics.” These were not founded in “pure logic” because we are humans and not capable of “pure logic.” Those were logical assumptions at that point in time which can only show us that “logic” as an idea, changes. Science has gotten better and we have to actually test these hypotheses before we make these claims but there’s still something obvious glaring us in the face.

Women and people of color are excluded from the sciences. No, they are not simply “not present” or “not capable,” they are excluded from entry. This is evidenced by numerous studies that have found that male students are more likely to get mentored than women students and scientists of color are less likely to win awards than their white counterparts. These occurrences have been documented time and time again, so there is no denying it, especially if one professes to love rationality and evidence. How can it be that the people who love logic exclude people illogically, who possess the same capabilities as they do, but simply fall victim to uneven distribution of resources? And why wouldn’t people in the sciences investigate this more and make more of an effort to remedy the situation? If scientists are as logical as they say they are, then they should see the unevenness of the playing field and know that remedying that would benefit the cause of exploration.

In the end though, humans will always fall victim to prejudice. Unless you are actively combating that prejudice each day, then you will continue rationalizing the systems that we have put in place. The fact of the matter is that you will never be separate from society and human emotions enough to truly be objective. Prejudice starts before your love of reason has even taken root in your mind. It starts from the moment you are born and able to observe your world. So now when you proclaim your love of logic, consider for a moment whether you truly love logic, or simply the idea of it. Because the only “logic” that we possess is, in fact, illogical.