Improve Capacity for Reasoning

Gathering Facts

The right approach is thinking about facts in a detached, almost mathematical manner. Then, you formulate a proposition and try to find sufficient evidence to examine its validity:

  • Proposition: This is a profitable investment.
  • Evidence: A’s opinion on this is that…
  • B’s opinion on this is that…

Make sure you consider all opinions meriting your attention before reaching any conclusion.

Key Concepts

  • Inductive reasoning entails finding the reasons for a known conclusion, while deductive reasoning entails finding a conclusion for which the reasons are already known.
  • In inductive reasoning, facts are regarded as propositions that need supportive evidence; facts and hypotheses are essentially treated in the same way; any proposition can be fall into any of these two categories, depending on the circumstances.
  • A hypothesis can be described as a supposition about the relationship among a number of propositions for which there is substantial evidence. If the supposition is found to be acceptable, it becomes a proposition for which there is adequate evidence.

Useful Guidelines

The basic guidelines for dealing with hypotheses are:

  • If there is a hypothesis, test it out.
  • Don’t gather evidence ad infinitum.
  • After testing, stop thinking about the problem for some time.

Evaluation of Evidence

When the facts appear not to be helpful for reaching a conclusion, you may be tempted to search for more facts; but in this way, you may end up hiding the problem and procrastinating instead of working out a solution with the evidence you already have. So try to process the problem with as little as possible. Then, as already mentioned, forget about your problem. Sleep on it to let your unconscious mind take over and work out a solution, which will eventually emerge in your conscious mind!

Deductive Reasoning: Syllogism

The basic form of deductive reasoning is the syllogism, which comprises a primary premise, a secondary premise, and a conclusion drawn from the two premises. What follows is a deviation from the classic example employed for deductive reasoning, in which the word ‘man’ is used instead of woman:

  • Primary premise: All women are mortal.
  • Secondary premise: X is a woman.
  • Conclusion: X is mortal.