The Simplicity of Logic (And Why We Avoid It)

Being logical isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, unless you can’t find North Korea on a map or think dogs stare at eclipses.

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If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.” Lewis Carroll

President Trump announced recently on Twitter that immigrants should be “sent packing” with no judicial process whatsoever. When told “dreamers” add $450 bn to the economy, Trump shrugged, saying that was pretty much what America would lose putting tariffs on Chinese goods.

Strange economics are driving the economy these days. Trump scotched NAFTA, saying both Canada and Mexica have treated American farmers terribly. “These are very, very bad deals,” he said. “Very bad. Terrible.”

Voters like Trump’s simplicity of logic, but we’re generally not a logical bunch at the best of times. Saying America can “cut better deals” suits Americans just fine, especially in states with little to lose. Why not upset Canada and Mexico, or the European Union, for that matter? If you’re a coal town, seeing Trump lift his nose at all these countries sort of makes your day.

At least Trump’s doing something, and Americans like action. We were brought up on action movies. You don’t get to be The Terminator playing nice, and Dirty Harry would have shot those immigrants coming in illegally, saying, “Dying ain’t much of a living, punk.”

We like a little carnage, as long as it doesn’t end up in our schools. Since it has, we like to blame immigrants and terrorists. It couldn’t be a fucked up American (which most of them are), since America is the least fucked up place on the planet. All our crazies are on the big screen where they belong, not shooting real people, or at least not on a daily basis (which they are).

We can placate ourselves, knowing even the greatest country on earth has its aberrations. The trick is to keep our heads clear, going on with our lives as if nothing’s happened. Ignorance is bliss, and we’re a blissful bunch.

America is so blissful, 70 percent claim they haven’t picked up a book since university. When asked what was the last book they read, most people couldn’t name one. “I’m reading something at school,” one student said. “I forget what it is. I guess I should know. I got a book report due on Friday.”

Bliss like this seems to come from the top, but like anything that flows downwards, eventually it pools. We end up with lakes of illogical silliness.

Just last week, I saw a sandwich board warning owners to keep their pets inside during the eclipse. “They could easily be blinded,” it explained. Someone posted it on Facebook, thinking it was sensible advice.

“Are you kidding?” a reader wrote back. “Do you honestly think your dog is even remotely interested in an eclipse? If you’re worried, give it a bone. In a contest between a bone and an eclipse, guess which one wins?”

She took one more crack at it, pointing to Buenos Aires. “I still think it’s the wrong map,” she said.

One person responded, saying her dog was practically blinded by the last full eclipse. “That was in 1991,” the reader shot back. “Your dog’s just bloody old.”

A television show asked people if they could point out North Korea on a map. One girl pointed to Alaska; another asked if the interviewer had the right map. “It’s a map of the world,” he replied. She took one more crack at it, pointing to Buenos Aires. “I still think it’s the wrong map,” she insisted.

Silliness requires a certain amount of innocence. It’s one thing to say you’re not great at geography, another to think there’s more than one world. Since the woman above wasn’t sure of either, it’s hard to know whether to give her four more years of university, or a brain enema.

Brain enemas don’t exist at this present date, since brains are complex things. While they’re capable of deductive reasoning, most people use them for brain farts. Brain farts are just a nice way of saying most people would be better off never speaking again on any subject other than olives.

Senator Chappelle-Nadal, for instance, had a brain fart saying she hoped Trump would be assassinated. “He says outrageous things,” she remarked, which is true. Presidents have been shot for less. Besides, as she pointed out, it was just a suggestion.

As much as we think they’re keeping the economic engine alive, executives make more aberrational conclusions than Trump on a good day.

In the corporate theatre, things aren’t any better. As much as we think they’re keeping the economic engine alive, executives make come to more illogical conclusions than Trump on a good day.

Years ago, one of the biggest banks asked our agency to develop an employee moral campaign. Over in Europe, a number of financial institutions were using town meetings. Employees from each branch were brought together and asked what could be done to improve customer service.

Many of these suggestions were instrumental in bringing in new accounts and growing existing ones. Profits soared, employees got benefits, CEOs smoked cigars.

When we brought a similar idea to the bank, the Director of Marketing piped up, saying, “We’re not trying to sweetheart our staff. Why can’t we give’m toasters?”

“I’ve got a great idea for a fantasy novel about a warlord turned wizard turned reincarnated punk rocker. Anyone want to write this for me?”

A lot of people laughed at that. Even the Director of Marketing thought it was pretty funny. He wasn’t kidding, though. Right after we left, he was on the phone to another agency, probably with the same idea.

Yet if we weren’t so illogical or silly, what would we do with ourselves? Who would fill Facebook which such nuggets as “I’ve got a great idea for a fantasy novel about a warlord turned wizard turned reincarnated punk rocker. Anyone want to write this for me?”

Then there was the woman who asked “Does anybody know a good proofreader who’ll work for free?” A guy wrote back, “Did you write your novel for free?” “Yes, I did,” she replied. “Okay, I’ll do it,” he said.

When Trump says he thinks he can “do business with Kim Jong-un,” it throws a lot of Americans into a state of confusion.

My favourite was the woman on a dating site who listed all the wonderful things she had, including a loving family, a great house and a spanking new car. “I await you to join my incredible life,” she wrote.

I’m sure she has a wonderful family, and who doesn’t love a spanking new car? But it’s hard to imagine her life being that incredible, given she probably doesn’t know where North Korea is on a map, either, and doesn’t care, since it’s North Korea, and there’s nothing she needs from North Korea.

When Trump says he thinks he can “do business with Kim Jong-un,” it throws a lot of Americans into a state of confusion. If we’ve never needed North Korea for anything before, why now? And what’s all this shit about stability and global security?

“Being nice to Kim Jong-un means he won’t dump a nuclear bomb in our back yards,” Trump could say, which makes sense, even to a woman who has an “incredible life.” That incredible life could end pretty damn quick if a nuclear nuclear bomb fell on Chicago, so sure, make nice with Jong-un, and tell him to get a decent haircut and maybe lose a few pounds.

Everyone loves a pep talk, especially in these troubled times, when nobody’s sure if dogs look at eclipses or not.

“It’s a troublesome world,” Dr. Seuss once said, in “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?” He believed in brain enemas, too, but more of the spiritual kind. Rather than go fishing around our craniums, he figured we just need a little pep talk.

Everyone loves a pep talk, especially in these troubled times, when North Korea could be confused with Alaska, and nobody’s sure if dogs look at eclipses or not.

So let’s learn a bit from the Good Doctor. It’s not like we’re going to read the whole book, and a few words of inspiration might go nice with our coffees, wonderful families, and shiny new cars:

Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky! Some people are much more, oh, ever so much more, oh, muchly much-much more unlucky than you!

Robert Cormack is a novelist, children’s author and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores (now in paperback). Check out Yucca Publishing or Skyhorse Press for more details.

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I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.

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