Picking The Author’s Brain

The Science of Deduction

We know Sherlock Holmes is not a real person but what if we were to tell you anyone can become Sherlock Holmes. The key to becoming Sherlock lies not in a deer hunting hat and a classy pipe but in the science of deduction.

This isn’t a science by itself but it’s used in every science there is, and there are formal rules for doing it correctly. For every science, you must observe, take in all evidence, and make a conclusion upon all the evidence given.

Deductions can be used by everyone, in fact, we use it all the time. In everyday life, we all use deduction in order to learn new things. Many detectives use this as a method for exploring the mysteries that arise during the crime cases they solve.
Deduction varies from person to person. Each person has their strengths and weaknesses. So if you find something such as, figuring out what a person did the night before easy, but yet find deducing a person’s current emotion impossible, don’t worry.

Now let’s talk about deductive reasoning. This is the process of reasoning from several general statements and then finally making a conclusion. This type of reasoning is closely related to logic since general rules have to be applied before reaching a final genuine conclusion. Deductive reasoning is based on premises and if the premises are true, then the reasoning will be valid.

An example of deductive argument can be consideredas shown

Next up, there is inductive reasoning. This involves the gathering of specific information and making a broader generalization of what is probably going to happen, allowing for the fact that the conclusion drawn may not be accurate. For example, all cats that you have observed, purr. Therefore, every cat must purr according to what you have observed.

So the difference is summaries below:

Certain deductions can be made based on a person’s behavior and conversations (the body language that is!). In order to form such generalized deductions, read and think more on various different topics and form your own hypothesis for each scenario and try to relate your fresh observations to them.

Abdul Hadi Aamir

Outliers: The Story Continues

[And finally comes to a spectacular end]

Imagine for a moment that you are flying from Medellin, Colombia to the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City. You are sitting in a plane operated by the airline Avianca, and are able to overhear whatever is going on in the cockpit. You realize that the weather is really bad, and you have just circled a nearby airport more than once, waiting for clearance to land at JFK. And now, you have had an aborted landing at JFK and the pilots are trying to figure out with JFK’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) as to when you should try landing again.

Note that your plane is dangerously low on fuel after your aborted landing.

This is the conversation you hear going on between the Captain, and his First Officer:

C: What did he say?

F.O: I already advise him that we are going to attempt again because now we can’t…

[Four seconds of silence]

C: Advise him we are in emergency.

[Four more seconds of silence]

C: Did you tell him?

F.O: Yes, sir. I already advise him.

F.O to ATC: One-five-zero maintaining two thousand Avianca zero-five-two heavy.

[Captain clearly at the edge of panic]

C: Advise him we don’t have fuel.

F.O to ATC: Climb and maintain three thousand and, ah, we’re running out of fuel, sir.

C: Did you already advise that we don’t have fuel.

F.O: Yes, sir. I already advise him…

[A minute passes]

ATC: And Avianca zero-five-two heavy, ah, I’m gonna bring you about fifteen miles northeast and then turn you back onto the approach. Is that okay with you and your fuel?

F.O: I guess so. Thank you very much.

 

Soon enough the two engines, one by one, burn out because they have run out of fuel and the aircraft crashes into an estate, a long way off from the JFK runway where it was supposed to land.

The thing is, ATC at airports like JFK is notoriously straightforward, snappy and even rude at times. Gladwell, in the second part of his book “Outliers: The Story Of Success”, explains that people like the Columbians that were piloting the plane belonged to a nation where in their culture, it was paramount to be polite and to give deference to authority. It was clear that the plane did not have enough fuel to be rerouted and made to wait. They had to make an immediate landing. But the First Officer did not even use the word ‘emergency’. The casual tone of his voice could not alert the ATC to the fact that the aircraft will crash if it was made to wait any more.

Gladwell takes up this issue of cultural legacies in the highly engaging second part of his book. He tries to argue that while he is averse to stereotyping cultures and ethnicities based on their histories, it is important to note that certain cultural heritages, norms and beliefs shape the outcome of certain events, the behavior and perception of people, and lie at the root of many of our problems. As such, by addressing these cultural legacies and by changing and correcting them where problematic, many problems can be solved.

He goes on to mention a similar incident, relating to the Korean Air airline that had a string of around twelve crashes in the space of two to three years. The reason for most of the crashes?

Korea is a high ‘power-distance’ country.

That means that if some elder in your family says that the Earth is flat and that everything that goes wrong with Pakistan is a ‘Yahoodi Sazish’, you are obliged to be polite, deferential and not speak up (maybe even just accept what he/she is saying), you know, cause respect. This kind of behavior in the cockpit where honest and effective communication is necessary potentially led to all of those horrible disasters and loss of lives.
[P.S. Another example of how things other than IQ and soundness of technical knowledge come into play in drawing the line between success and failure]

What Gladwell also wants us to see however, is that Korea Air acknowledged (not the kind of ‘ack’s we’re used to writing on society posts) the effect of these cultural legacies. In the year 2000, it began training its pilots and crew to speak in English, thus allowing them to tap into a different culture, one which was not high power-distance. It trained them to communicate clearly and effectively in the cockpit.

Since then, Korea Air has had a perfect flight record.

The implications of this idea lie in more aspects around us than we perceive. What kind of a power-distance dynamic do you think our culture is rooted in? Have you ever faced a situation in which you corrected an elder over something and get scolded for doing so? Have you been told after that that you should just accept what was being asked of you, rather than questioning authority? It is no mystery that in many parts of our society, this cultural legacy exists, and needs some re-evaluation.

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Besides that, social media – especially facebook – has become a hub of cultural legacies. On any newsfeed-scrolling session we come across a large number of picture-quotes advocating a certain way of life, advocating an ‘absolute truth’ about relationships, politics, society, history etc. It is important for us to recognize that any perspective advanced through these is exactly that – a perspective – and thus it is wiser to weigh one against the other and decide for ourselves which one makes more sense. (Or better, don’t let facebook posts influence your perspectives on life lol)

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In the book, Gladwell talks about how summer vacations could be the real reason for the failure of America’s education system. He proposes that because of its cultural values of ‘work and rest’ and thus the institution of a long summer break, the education system may be putting students from disadvantaged backgrounds without the means to spend a productive summer vacation behind those that do.

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He contrasts this culture of ‘work and rest’ with the culture of hard work and perseverance that is found in China, and suggests that this ingrained set of cultural values may be a reason why students from China are generally better at Mathematics, and why they work so hard.

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We don’t want to spoil all the fun by writing everything out here, do we now?

So, read the book for yourself, and trust us, when you turn the final page and finish the book, you’ll be looking at the world from a brand new [imported] lens.

by Ishaq Ibrahim

Outliers: The Story of Success

How it’s not what you think it is.

In recent times we have come to believe that success, something that every one of us yearns and strives for is a product of individual talent, hard work, and unwavering determination. We look at success stories around us: Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, all these big Silicon Valley giants and we try to imagine the hard work that allowed them to climb to the summits that they currently are on.

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Malcolm Gladwell, however, in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success” suggests that this is an incomplete and inaccurate way of looking at success. Armed with rigorous research and the most eclectic data, he sets out in his book to convince us that success, besides the factors mentioned above, relies heavily on arbitrary advantages, opportunities and cultural legacies.

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In the first part of this book, he expounds on how arbitrary advantages and seized opportunities set up the foundation for success. In the second one, he goes into the role cultural legacies play in our success. This blog-piece will talk about the first part only, since doing both of them would make readers take one look at the size of this article and send their cursors racing away to the back button.

Gladwell begins by referring to a highly interesting research conducted in Canada by Roger Barnesly, a Canadian Psychologist. After studying the months of birth of a large number of players in Canada’s top Hockey League (really, what was he thinking?), he was astounded to discover that a small, seemingly insignificant factor such as a cut-off date for age-class hockey of January 1st  was allowing many players born in and around January – as much as eleven months older and thus more physically developed than those born later – to make it to the higher leagues and thus train under better coaches, eventually going professional. Something as arbitrary as a cut-off date was sidelining and preventing almost half of Canada’s population from getting into professional hockey.

Moving on, Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hour rule. According to this research-substantiated rule, in order to achieve mastery or expertise in a certain field, a person would have to put in at least 10,000 hours of practice.

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Bill Gates is seen as a self-made billionaire and yet, Gladwell writes, it is worth noticing that he went to an expensive private school which in the 1960s was one of the few schools that had a computer club and gave access to a mainframe computer for students to learn and practice coding. There he got hooked to the computer and started accumulating hours and was able to make it to valuable internships so that by the time he decided to begin his company, he already had more than 10,000 hours of practice with coding under his belt.

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What Gladwell wants us to realize is that the opportunity, time and ease of getting in that many practice hours in order to become an expert in a certain field is something not everyone gets. It isn’t likely that Bill Gates would look back on his life and not admit that he was lucky, more than once.

Moving on, let’s ask another question. Does a person’s IQ determine how successful that person will be? Gladwell dives into a famous study conducted by Lewis Terman, a psychology professor at Stanford University, who selected and tracked the lives of 1500 kids [or ‘termites’] from all over the country with exceptionally high IQs. What his data showed however, was that there was no proof that a high IQ guaranteed success. True, there were some kids who went on to make a name for themselves and live ‘successful’ lives, but a lot of the kids lived only middle-class, average lives.

termites

This raises the question – If IQ does not matter, what does?

Gladwell uses two contrasting examples to answer this question. The first is of Christopher Langnan, an American who has one of the highest IQs ever recorded (yes, even more than Einstein). The other is of Robert Oppenheimer, a physicist who famously led the American effort to develop a nuclear bomb in WWII. Gladwell notices that the way these two people were raised in their respective social class created a difference in how they perceived events around them and acted for their interests. Langnan came from a poor family and barely managed to get into a university. From a young age he inculcated in himself a sense of restraint, to make do with what one has.

Oppenheimer on the other hand had wealthy parents who consistently encouraged him and counseled him in his life, giving him a sense of ‘entitlement’ (read: burger). This difference is clearly seen in the way these two reacted in an adverse situation. Upon having his scholarship revoked for writing the incorrect date on a form, Langnan decided to drop out of university. Oppenheimer, on the other hand, upon being put on probation for trying to poison a teacher he did not like, did not waver, and eventually went on to lead a team to develop the atomic bomb (he always had that killer instinct in him).

What Gladwell wants us to see is that the current dynamics of the world and society we live in make it easier for someone with a ‘practical intelligence’, a savvy for getting what one wants, to succeed in life. The absence of that is the reason why Chris Langnan, despite all his IQ, could not carve a successful life for himself. And this, Gladwell argues, is ultimately the result of how children are brought up differently in different social classes (theetas 0 – 1 society people).

There is a catch however. IQ does correlate with success BUT up to a certain threshold only, which is what you would need to get into college. Once there, other things start to matter more for success such as practical intelligence, creativity etc.

Overall, Gladwell sounds like one of those clever but lazy guys who do not want to work hard to achieve something, but realize that it would serve them better if they were to discourage others from working hard as well.

In the next section, we will discuss how cultural legacies also play an important role in determining someone’s success and address the most essential question that could potentially acquit Gladwell of the charges we have just levelled against him: Now that we know all this, what next?

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So, stay tuned to NSS Blog! ^_^

by Ishaq Ibrahim

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