The Geek Logical Fallacy

Not to be confused with Geek Social Fallacies.

The Geek Logical Fallacy is basically when a person (generally a geek) says, “I have an opinion. I’m an intelligent person who uses logic and reasoning. Therefore, my opinion is objectively correct because it’s backed by my superior logic and reasoning abilities.”

Like many flaws in arguments or understanding, the Geek Logical Fallacy is derived from positive sources. Intelligence is great and so is the confidence to acknowledge one’s own intelligence. Logic and reasoning? Both important facets of life and especially debate. However, there are many situations where these good qualities can all fall apart and lead to the Geek Logical Fallacy. Here are the big ones.

1) When Emotions are Involved

Whether it’s because the topic involves emotions, e.g. love or religion, or because the person is somehow emotionally involved with the topic at hand, the result can often be a mess when one tries to use their heightened logic abilities to tackle a subject that involves more than simply the rational mind. At best, the person misreads a situation or argument. At worst, the person confuses their own feelings for logic and reasoning, and simply assumes that through this odd Emotional Scientific Method they have arrived at the only right answer.

2) When the Arguer Cannot See Beyond Their Own Experiences

This is the situation where it becomes hard for the Fallacious Logic Geek to fathom and acknowledge opinions other than his own, even if they too have been derived through the power of intelligence and reasoning. This often stems from being unable to see beyond their own experiences in life or to realize that people may have lived a life different from them or even worse, that their limited experience and circumstances in life has somehow imbued upon them a unique, i.e. more correct perspective upon the world. Working on their own past experience, and again believing themselves to be logical beings of reason, they remove the possibility of anyone thinking otherwise.

I’m sure you’ve seen this in action before, and there’s even a very good chance someone else has mentioned this before under a different name. It’s probably even a mixture of existing logical fallacies though I haven’t looked at which ones they are specifically.

The obvious advice of course is “DON’T DO THIS,” but it might not be so easy to correct if you feel you have this tendency. So what to do about it?

I feel like the main ways to prevent the Geek Logical Fallacy are somewhat simple. First, you must be able to empathize with others. Second, is that you have to realize that intelligence and logic do not run the whole world and thus there are situations where they do not quite work out, or at least not alone.

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16 thoughts on “The Geek Logical Fallacy

  1. “I have an opinion. I’m an intelligent person who uses logic and reasoning. Therefore, my opinion is objectively correct because it’s backed by my superior logic and reasoning abilities.”

    I see no fallacy in this as long as it’s me saying it.

    Besides, even if it WERE a fallacy, your plan of prevention, while possible for a “geek,” is not attainable for an “otaku.”

    “Otaku” don’t FEEL empathy. That’s the entire point; if they were capable of truly feeling empathy, they wouldn’t be otaku in the first place.

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  2. I feel like this singled-handedly defines at least half of what you read on anime forums and blogs these days. Seriously.

    The most prominent example of this fallacy I’ve seen is “I express my personal preferences using logic and reason, therefore my personal preferences are logical and reasonable.” You see this *all the time* when people claim that so-and-so show is horrible, and this-and-that other show is the best thing ever. People get into these impassioned defenses and invoke all sorts of important-sounding quasi-literary arguments, but when you boil away all the posturing and pretentiousness, it really comes down to an emotional reaction based on their own personal preferences that is neither right nor wrong. Another reasonable, intelligent person could come to an opposite opinion (as a result of nature, nurture, preferences, habit, prioritization, etc. etc.) and neither would be more correct than the other. It just becomes this giant pissing contest to see who can invoke the best-sounding arguments and/or can get more supporters on their side. Restaurants have menus of food choices realizing that people have different tastes, and yet “geekdom” can’t get over their obsession with proving that their own tastes are more sophisticated, refined, and “correct” (while the rest of the world looks on and thinks that it’s all varying shades of “trivial”).

    So yeah, anyway… as you said, it’s probably harder to fix than just saying so. As you alluded to, it starts with the admission that “my preferences aren’t objective, even though they have an explanation”, and that’s very tough medicine for those who pride themselves on being intelligent voices of reason. But once you accept that your own preferences aren’t objective, you can accept that other people’s preferences aren’t objective either, and discussing opinions becomes more about understanding the other person (their subjectivity/nature/preferences) than it does about trying to convince them you’re right (because you’re not and neither are they). At the end of the day, this is really mostly about swallowing your pride and being humble, and those aren’t your average geek’s strong points (because, as you said, that requires a great deal of empathy). In general, I would also say that it’s something people can get better at as they get older, since life has a way of humbling people. But this is really sort of like asking people to grow up — a self-conscious person might catch themselves before they go at it, but changing someone’s fundamental nature takes time. So much more so when it’s a personality trait that’s practically ingrained in this sub-culture.

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  3. I think that depends on the subject matter, right? In some sense, empathy is just another rational basis to make a decision and is not that different than logic or any other forms of rational thinking. It’s about managing your emotions and understanding how it works in human interactions.

    So empathy certain has a role. If anime and manga has stories where empathy is a major theme or story element (and this is not uncommon) then even in that context empathy is important.

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  4. I think it comes down to the difference between judgment and reason.

    Reason is the application of the rules of logic in a systematic (and sound) way — of reasoning. It’s something that can be readily taught. A series of techniques. Objective.

    Judgment comes in weighing the significance and relevance of the evidence about which you are reasoning — in a sense, it comes in the choice of “axioms”, or facts, if you will. Judgment is less amenable to teaching, it is the product of experience. Some people never get it. Different people, with different experiences, differ in the significance they apply to facts. It’s subjective, but still amenable to reason.

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  5. I personally akin “yomi” to a super-powered form of empathy, plus a bit of classic game theory. But that’s only tangentially related to the topic.

    The problem is that geeks have egos too. Geeks don’t like to admit that they’re wrong, the same case as everyone else.

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  6. Once again I have no idea who is trolling who in this comment thread. GJ all around, I suppose.

    (Also I think this is usually called “Objectivism”.)

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  7. I wouldn’t be so quick as to store it as a logical fallacy. I think it becomes a question of whether art can be objectively appreciated. A question that cannot be solved in purely logical terms.

    If a person can indeed appreciate art objectively in certain circumstances and while possessing certain skills, then you could certainly imagine a claim to objectivity to be necessarily true in light of those aforementioned conditions.

    I’m just nitpicking though, I agree with the essence of your post.

    If you allow me this last point, there could also be a sense that making a truth claim could be interpreted as an objective one when it is in fact our own discredit that we couldn’t acknowledge it as a subjective claim. You could imagine someone saying “This girl is beautiful because of X, Y and Z” before another comes out to claim the geek fallacy on him when he obviously pre-maturely identified it as an objective truth-claim. In this sense, it might be thought that “the geek fallacy” is not that widespread. My example is one of simplest cases but I hope I planted the seed of doubt.

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