What would you call logical action with an illogical premise?
September 26, 2006 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Well, there's Asperger's Syndrome. It's not an adjective, but they do behave that way.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:58 PM on September 26, 2006

Best answer: Marrage?

HA, I kid.

How about Obsessive Compulsive Irrationality?
posted by quin at 3:04 PM on September 26, 2006

Illogical but internally consistent.
posted by lunchbox at 3:07 PM on September 26, 2006

If you're looking for a psychological label, I can't help you, but in philosophical terms, I might say that the person is employing merely instrumental rationality (reason is used to determine means, but not ends).

However, I would not describe the action as illogical, but rather as irrational (see here). From the link:

violating the rules of formal logic is sometimes, but not always, the same as irrationality. Deductive logic requires a conclusion to be compelled by given premises (irrespective of the premises’ rationality). Rationality requires a conclusion to be consistent with rational premises. A conclusion that is inconsistent with rational premises is both illogical and irrational. A conclusion that is induced from (and therefore consistent with) rational premises is rational, but illogical. A conclusion that is compelled by irrational premises is logical, but irrational.
posted by Urban Hermit at 3:07 PM on September 26, 2006

I don't think that there's a single word that expresses that entire sentiment. I would probably describe the action as "misguided."
posted by ludwig_van at 3:08 PM on September 26, 2006

False premise? I know that's two, but do you really need one word when this is so well established as a type of faulty logic.
posted by shownomercy at 3:09 PM on September 26, 2006

Writing fiction.

I'm sort of kidding, but stories are based on false premises (people that don't exist, etc.) However, if they are well crafted, they build on their these initial "lies" in a consistant, logical way.
posted by grumblebee at 3:47 PM on September 26, 2006

Cognitive dissonance?
posted by duende at 3:47 PM on September 26, 2006

I don't know about a word - but I recently heard the term rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and I think it captures the essence of what you're getting at.
posted by quadog at 4:07 PM on September 26, 2006

Delusional? According to this site's Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders:
Delusions are irrational beliefs, held with a high level of conviction, that are highly resistant to change even when the delusional person is exposed to forms of proof that contradict the belief. Non-bizarre delusions are considered to be plausible; that is, there is a possibility that what the person believes to be true could actually occur a small proportion of the time.
posted by rob511 at 4:10 PM on September 26, 2006

Doublethink, perhaps.
posted by MetaMonkey at 4:38 PM on September 26, 2006

A number of people in this thread don't know what they're talking about. I mean, really, cognitive dissonance?

Like Urban Hermit, I would go with "irrational" (or "crazy," depending on the context). However, if you wanted the most philosophically precise term, I'd say "unsound" would be best. Technically, this sort of situation, if it was in the form an argument, would be deductively valid but unsound.
posted by smorange at 5:00 PM on September 26, 2006

A number of people in this thread don't know what they're talking about. I mean, really, cognitive dissonance?

Yeah, it's definitely not that.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:24 PM on September 26, 2006

Instrumental rationality. heh, that's the funniest thing I've heard in a while. I bet those kooky Brits came up with that one.

But yes, there's no such thing as an 'illogical premise.' You can take anything you want as your premise and use logic to reach all sorts of crazy conclusions. In fact, there are a certain class of people who do this all the time. Some call them "children" but really they're just expensive pets. You may sometimes hear people speak of a "child's logic" and this is what they mean. It's interesting to note crazy people do this also and hence the connection with delusions.
posted by nixerman at 5:41 PM on September 26, 2006

Related, but not the answer: "fanaticism is redoubling your efforts while losing sight of your original goal" (G Santayana).

I know lots of people like that.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:38 PM on September 26, 2006

Cargo Cultism
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:51 PM on September 26, 2006

Best answer: A former Apple DTS engineer once described to me a phrase that they used: "grazing off the cliff." It means you start with an incorrect premise and then follow the logic to an utterly ludicrous conclusion, sort of like an animal who follows a trail of food to the edge of a cliff and falls off. Usually this was in the context of a developer incorrectly assuming how the operating system was doing something internally and extrapolating it to a conclusion that made their application crash. It could be more widely applied, however, in fact I would encourage it.
posted by kindall at 7:11 PM on September 26, 2006 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I've heard the phrase "not earth logic," in cases where the person who did X can explain his actions step-by-step, and they seem to make some bizarre sense to him, but none whatsoever to you.
posted by booksandlibretti at 7:58 PM on September 26, 2006

I've always just thought it was a simple form of rationalizing.
posted by smallerdemon at 10:20 PM on September 26, 2006

Is there a word for when somebody does something completely illogical but does it in a perfectly logical manner?

How about "humanity"? Do we really do that many things that have a perfect internally consistent logic?

Also, that's the second-most incomprehensible web comic I've ever seen.
posted by mmoncur at 12:54 AM on September 27, 2006

(1) George W. Bush.

(2) It's a standard form of comedy. Gracie Allen was probably the greatest practitioner.
posted by KRS at 11:03 AM on September 27, 2006

Response by poster: mmoncur I have to ask, what's the first?
posted by Skorgu at 9:06 AM on September 28, 2006

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