Thursday, April 1, 2010

Speculation and Inferential logic

What is mere speculation and what is inferential logic?

Besides being a chess fan, the other game I am passionate about is Bridge. A card game based on inferential logic that also teaches strategy, concentration etc. The obvious difference between chess and bridge is that in bridge all is hidden except for the declared contracts. I won't go into too much detail here or we will miss the point.

So briefly, what we do in bridge is to note the declared intentions (contracts), elicit the strategy applied, observe and memorise the details (cards being played and the count) and form assumptions. We then test these assumptions throughout the game. A skilled Bridge player will be able, when needed, to tell you what is the last card you are holding. All these without seeing your hidden hand. Many top businessmen and thinkers play this game.

This is of course an oversimplification for there are elements of each in chess and bridge although in different proportions and "apparentness".

In China, chess players are also required to play bridge.

So what is my point?

I have seen many good people fall into the same traps again and again because they lack this understanding. They say mere speculation. Without proof ie the accounts, a conviction in the law courts etc. we cannot make a determination, we need proof.

So it is now very easy to remain a con man. Just hide the accounts, the solid evidence, and they can still stand tall in civil society. Mere speculation they say, I must be given the benefit of the doubt.

True, to an extent. But if we note your declared intentions and we observe and remember the details of your actions. And we test our assumptions over time and in many scenarios then we can say with equal certainty that you are a crook.

In law, this is called circumstantial evidence and this alone can also lead to convictions. In law sufficient circumstantial evidence is proof.(Maybe not widely practiced in Malaysia).

In ordinary life, we cannot always get access to the accounts, cannot open up the brain of our opposite to "see what they think". But nevertheless if we are skilled in the application of inferential logic, we can still mark a crook a crook. This is important if we are not to fall into the same con traps by the same con men again and again. When enough circumstantial evidence is gathered we no longer need to give them the benefit of the doubt but we must be careful or it becomes mere speculation. But there is a solid line dividing both.

The greatest feat of Einstein is his application of inferential logic. He never did a single experiment, never "proofed" a thing. He just tested current assumptions in his mind, reordered the information and came up with the theory of relativity. And his theories are predictive.

Do think on this. It may be important.

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