January 2, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

People Have an Innate Preference for Logical Truth

Experiments show that logical conclusions reached by abstract reasoning make people feel better than illogical conclusions do.

For what it’s worth, a study by two Japanese psychologists shows that logic creates good vibes in human brains. The study was quite limited: 29 Japanese undergraduate students (18 male, 11 female) at Nagoya University. The researchers claim that the “Participants were novices at using formal logic and they attended the experiment individually” in exchange for course credit. The experiments involved “abstract propositions” using syllogistic reasoning, where letters substituted for words (e.g., “If p, then q“). Participants were only asked to rate how they felt about the reasoned conclusions.

We hypothesized that a logically true case is semantically coherent with the premise and might be fluently processed and evoke positive affect without conscious awareness. The present results supported this hypothesis. Experiment 1 showed that participants liked true cases more than false cases in four types of propositions (conditional, biconditional, conjunctive, and material implication), and Experiment 2 revealed that the liking ratings of conditionals were affected by not only a matching bias but also by logical principles. Furthermore, the Bayesian mixed meta-analysis regarding the conditional statements revealed that there were differences in the liking ratings for true, false, and void cases. People liked true cases more as compared to false cases, and the liking ratings for void cases fell between those for the true and false cases. These results fit better with the basic notion of logical intuition theories, in that people have implicit knowledge about basic logic and this intuitive logic is automatically activated during reasoning.

Interested readers can investigate the experimental methods and results in PLoS One, an open-access journal. The title is “People Like Logical Truth: Testing the Intuitive Detection of Logical Value in Basic Propositions.” Some may question whether the results can be generalized to all people, genders, ages and cultures. The authors did not mention whether similar experiments have been done on animals, including other primates.

One recent study reported on Phys.org showed that chimpanzees are indifferent when it comes to altruism. They couldn’t care less if another individual needed help. It’s not like they showed spite; they just didn’t seem capable of caring. “The results of these two experiments combined demonstrate that the chimpanzees did not act in a manner that would produce benefits for others in a task where there was no perceived benefit to themselves.” It was a study on altruism, but it overlaps with logic. If chimp A knows a trick that could help chimp B obtain food, it would seem logical to make friends by showing the other chimp the trick. Instead, “Even after they demonstrated a clear understanding of the consequences of their actions, they remained indifferent to any effects these actions may have on others.” According to Live Science, by contrast, humans seem “hard-wired for generosity.”

It wouldn’t be appropriate to extrapolate from one paper to generalizations, but if this study on human logic holds up (and they cite previous work for support), it would seem to support creation much better than evolution. Creation says that only humans bear the image of God, which would include innate sense of truth vs falsehood and a conscience. These attributes bear no necessary relationship to survival and bearing offspring. Evolution might even favor irrationality (8/13/10, #3) and superstition (12/30/16) according to evolutionists themselves. Abstract reasoning is gratuitous; it is superfluous to Darwinian “fitness” (which could include anything—including irrationality—that results in reproductive success).

Even if this study has holes, think about the fact that two scientists undertook such a study in the first place. If the psychologists are products of natural selection themselves, their only significance involves passing on genes. What survival value did they exemplify by studying whether or not students feel good thinking logically? How does any human even apprehend the realm of abstract logical concepts, if the brain is merely physical?

We appreciate logic because we bear God’s image. That image can be corrupted (and often is) such that many people rush to embrace lies rather than the truth. But abstract logic, to the extent it bears no relationship with preferred passions, still tickles the warm fuzzies. That response seems to be uniquely human. We’d like to see if the findings hold up with other cultures, age ranges and educational levels.


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