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Aug 27, 2010

That Sounds Logical

I find how the human brain works, or perhaps doesn't work, fascinating. Today I heard the Chinese proverb about getting knocked down seven times and standing up eight. Then I realized that this is mathematically incorrect. If someone were knocked down only once, they couldn't stand back up twice; there is no one-extra time to stand up. Then I read about the rope breaking nine times and mending it ten. Same problem.
I suppose it is the Gestalt process of the brain which tries to understand intent rather than meaning. Also, unexaggerated truth doesn't have the same emphasis. After all, "knocked down seven times, stand up seven" just doesn't mean as much.
Also, our brains often try to apply logic in problem-solving but comes to an incorrect conclusion. A classic story problem demonstrates this: You must take three pills, one every thirty minutes; how much time will be required to take all the pills? Our first impulse is to say 90 minutes because 3 x 30 = 90. However, you take the first pill immediately, the second 30 minutes later, and finally only an hour passes when you take the third pill. But our brains don't go there naturally; it takes pause, ponder and reason to find the answer.
All of that aside, it makes me wonder how often we assimilate information that sounds reasonable but is in fact factually or logically flawed. How often do we see the "obvious logic" which is actually incorrect, but still hold it true. This could range from the products we buy, to the people we befriend, to the decisions of our personal life philosophy.
I suppose we must stop and take inventory of our thoughts and beliefs from time to time. It is not only acceptable, but important, to take time out to question our own beliefs, to test them again, to remember why we hold things true. This mental analysis is not blasphemy, not weakness. Instead, it is an assurance that we haven't lost our way. Perhaps this is why Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living.
Ok, deep enough for today. Take this for what it is. I just found it curious and thought I'd share. That explanation sounds reasonable; right?

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