Sep
30

Logical vs. Emotional Thinking

By Steve

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Gay/Lesbian Delusion discussion. Some people expressed logic-based thoughts while others were fueled by emotion. We also witnessed some examples of emotional overwhelm. Separating logic and emotion in decision making is one the most important skills, especially in business. This is something we teach Fortune 500 executives, and even they struggle. Watch this short video and rate yourself on this critical skill.  Steve Siebold  ( 4: 19 )

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Comments

  1. I, oftentimes in the past, used to be so detached from emotion in most of all subjects, that it itself became illogical. Why? Because I wasn’t thinking in contexts (social and otherwise). This leads to knowledgeability, but not to “wisdom” (which is logic applied to context). So while logic is universal and necessiated by ontology, it must be applied not only to narrowly circumscribed subjects, but, in an interdisciplinary fashion, to knowledge in its entirety.

  2. Butch Phelps says:

    Hey Steve, I believe I am a 5 maybe even a 6 in separating my emotions from my logic. Many times in my life I have needed to sit down and think about my life as a whole. Look my belief systems and judge whether they are learned or a natural state. As Americans, we speak of freedoms all the time and about how proud we are to have them. The problem I had was understanding what that meant. When you believe in the freedom of speech, that doesn’t mean for only the people who say what you believe, but the very core of this freedom is listening to someone say anything that makes your blood boil and you still respect their freedom to say what they say. Our politics, religion, and even our lives are based on man-made fear with some lack and limitation mixed in. If I can get you to see another person as something less than human, I can get you to harm them without much guilt.
    I always have a rule of thumb I go by. If you want to pass a law to protect yourself against someone or something, could this law be enforced on you. For example, I spoke to a friend the other day who was upset that President Obama wanted mandated insurance on every citizen. I asked her, if President Obama had said instead, that it would be okay if you did not want healthcare insurance, but when you go to the hospital, even if you are dying, the hospital had the right to turn you away if you could not pay. She said that would be fine with her. I said, what if you had to be the one to tell that dying person you could not help them due to lack of money. She did not want to be that person. You see someone has to be that person based on our emotional decisions. Plus what would the media say about President Obama had he said that. It doesn’t matter what a President says someone will always complain. So stop, take a breath, and think, if I had to be the one to enforce could I do it and not feel guilty.

  3. Okay Steve, fair question on this one.

    As for how to rate myself–that’s tough because it depends on the subject. For this past G/L Delusion topic I’d say I felt myself literally cross a threshold of understanding and went from perhaps a 4 to a 5. I literally felt the change as I reconsidered a substantial aspect.

    You’re absolutely right about how some of us become emotionally overwhelmed and back out. In my business where I service claims, I find it closely related to what you’re talking about with controversy and it crosses all gender boundaries, and gradient education/income levels with people. I’d say it’s like a Bill Gove timeline, in that you only have so many seconds of dialogue with someone before they “max” out and get nuclear and you have to “justify the logic with the emotional timeline.” I think patience with oneself is a crucial operative catalyst in the whole paradigm and many of us don’t recognize that in the process. I know I forget depending on the topic sometimes.

    For example, when I have to deny a claim, I can’t take 28 years of my experience and convince someone I’m right in less than 30 seconds before they max out and the emotions overrun logic and they go ballistic on me. So I have to craft my responses in dialogue that leave incremental steps of my logic for the person to digest so they will be able to take the next invitational step across the spectrum of perspective. Does that make sense? It may sound convoluted, but that’s the best spin I can put on it right now, and that’s what I have to do to survive my job.

    In summary, I’m supposing that logic may have to be balanced with perspective, and taken in increments because too big of a step sets off overwhelm. I think you could metaphorically say that perspective is a small rudder in the waters of emotion–it takes time for a person to digest the new data and turn to a new direction. I know I’m that way and sometimes the tides of pride get in the way and I have to “sleep on it” to reconsider my point of view on something. Or you could compare it to a meal–do you shovel the food in someone’s mouth all at once, or do you allow them to savor small bites at a time to enjoy the meal as a whole? We are emotional creatures indeed and how we digest emotion at levels that don’t overwhelm that palate is a topic worth considering.

    If you would have left the topic up to me to introduce to readers, I probably would have brought it in on in perhaps as many as 5 or 6 segments leading into it. I’m not saying how you did it was wrong, although your premise did seem to hit your audience as a big THUD and an all-at-once point of view. Hence, you got some vehement responses that verified they felt the jolt. I know I didn’t connect some dots until after the second blog, and even then there were more viewpoints I got from the newspaper before I had enough data to formulate a logical consideration.

    I can say I grew from the experience and look forward to more. Travel safe.

    Ken

  4. I like what you’re doing, Steve, asking us to evaluate ourselves – get that reflection going on:)

    On both I maxed out at 7 – totally logical and dispassionately detached from an emotional connection to the topics. I was the Mr. Cool of critical thinking. Could I have been otherwise?

    I could have been otherwise but I chose not to be passionate about this.

    You’ve read my passion in the past – I have a fairly unique ability to suspend emotions – or turn them on – to make a point or engage. Sometimes the emotions get carried away.

    When I was in my twenties I would imagine sitting around a round table with half a dozen or more people talking about something all taking different stands on an issue. I realized they were all personas of me.

    In a college lit class we had to analyze novels from different templates – social, symbolic, political themes, etc. After college I spent many years looking at current events from different sides usually taking one or the other passionately.

    So I have that ability fairly well developed.

    Mike

  5. Mike Jacobi says:

    Steve,
    I think we all agree that human beings are emotional creatures. If you have read Doc E Smith’s “Stranger in a Strange Land”, you came across a White Witness, who will testify exactly what happened, without emotions. I don’t think there is a human being on the planet, who is capable of doing this in EVERY single occasion. Anything and everything we are doing in interpersonal relations is clouded to a smaller or larger extend by emotions and thus prejudices and judgments. When you raise the subject of homosexuality and discrimination you cannot be 100% objective (neither can I). Every research in favor and against homosexuality is biased to a certain extend, as is any other research into human behavior. I am sure, when you spoke to homosexuals and they tell you they were born with these feelings, they are convinced that this is true. However, severe emotional experiences can be (but don’t have to be) suppressed and occluded in the subconscious mind. So are their statements facts or truths. They can be both and as we all have our own prejudices and emotions, we cannot really 100% objectively say what is fact and what is truth. Again, this has nothing to do with homosexuality alone, this is true about any interpersonal relationships.
    Here then comes the next questions: Can we, should we or shouldn’t we discriminate against somebody based on truths and emotions and not facts. Honestly, what two people do in the privacy of their bedroom, is none of my (or your or anybody else’s) business. We have to define as society, what constituted discrimination. If a homosexual couple can get all the legal rights a heterosexual couple has, but don’t call it marriage, is that still discrimination? Should a very small, but vocal group force the majority to give them special privileges? Again, as we are all emotional creatures, we cannot come to an objective solution. I can give you arguments for and against discrimination against homosexuals all day long, but I think I will change very few minds. The basis of all interpersonal conflict is the notion that I am right and you are wrong. Both of these must be emotional positions, otherwise we would have agreed on a mutual truth (not necessary a fact). Our personal feelings about what is right or wrong go very deep. When it comes to interpersonal relationships and a judgment what is right or wrong behavior we are dealing overwhelmingly with truths and very few facts. That is the price we have to pay for being emotional creatures, who cannot fully control their subconscious minds.
    As I can make both the argument for and against an emotional subject like this, I could rate myself a 7, however, as I more likely already have a pretty strong opinion about this subject, and my own arguments will not majorly shift my view, I would give myself probably a 5.
    Mike Jacobi

  6. Annie says:

    Well, I can’t really say as I ever thought about separating logic from emotion, at least not until a year or two ago.
    At that time I found myself dealing with a lot of suppresed emotion. Suppressing emotion can be very toxic.
    So now, as I run my home and live my life, I try to separate my feelings from the truth of a situation, and make decisions based on logic.
    It can be very tough to do, and at first I thought I was suppressing my emotions again.
    But there is a big difference between identifying my emotions, and acting on them. As a matter of fact, I find I am much better at logical decision making if I have identified my emotions first.
    Based on all this, I think about 18 months or so ago, I was a 1, now (depending on the topic, I am more passionate about some things than I am about others) I would say that in my everyday life I am leaning toward a 4 or 5.
    I call that progress!

  7. Hey Steve,

    I do my best to separate my emotions from my logic. One good question to ask yourself is:

    “What if everything I knew was false?”

    This is a really good question and it makes you think deeper. This question forces you to produce your proofs about what you believe in, and actually look deeper into all the other perspectives.

    One thing about me is that I look at things from every perspective I could find. I am always looking for answers, no matter how tough the question might be. Sometimes if I have a discussion with someone about a certain topic, and say I disagree with them, I will think about it on my own to make sure if I am really right or not. I will make sure I am not just fooling myself into believing what I want to. Most people in discussions or debates are not really there to find the truth but are there to win the so called “argument”.

    I do my best to separate my emotions from my logic and make sure I focus on what is RIGHT instead of who is RIGHT.

    Example:

    One common argument that Atheists give to believers in God is that the burden of proof rests on us. Basically meaning they are waiting for believers to prove to them there is a God. If you look deeper into the statement, you would see that they have already made their decision and also it is based on emotion, not logic.

    Here is the problem, everyone is responsible for themselves, no one has to come prove to you anything, it is your job to find out the truth. There is no such thing as “burden of proof”. It is a man made concept. I can just reverse this and say the “burden of proof” is on an Atheist to prove to me that there is no God. But in either case, it doesn’t make sense. Why am I waiting for someone else to prove to me something. I need to figure things out for myself because ultimately it is my life and my responsibility. With responsibility comes accountability.

    So yes, keep asking yourself sincerely…”What if everything I knew was false?”

    Take Care My Friend,

    Mohammad

  8. Something I posted on my face book page today that might somehow fit this discussion.

    Mitch’s DailyOrange: People are slow to understand something old and almost impossible to understand something new. That puts civilization in a constant state of confused improvisation.

    Thoughts?

    Mike

  9. Matt says:

    Mohammad,

    I think your example of Atheists vs Believers has a serious flaw. For one thing, Believers are much more likely to be in a position of trying to convince Atheists that God exists. As an example, Christians have an obligation (according to their religion) to try to convert non-Christians to Christianity. Atheists have no such obligation. But the serious flaw in your example is the assertion that Atheists approach the topic from an emotional point of view. The truth is that Believers are the ones who are emotional on this point. Faith is, by definition, not logical. If it could be proven that God exists, it would be the end of faith.

    By the way, the above is not a judgement.

    Matt

  10. I don’t think it’s necessary to separate emotion from logic; we just need to be able to recognize which is which… while the thought process continues. Emotions we think of as uplifting and “positive” usually indicate a mental state which is aligned with our desired results/goals. Emotions that bring us down and feel “negative” usually take us away.

    Logical critical thinking skills require more than knowledge and practice. With the right kind of motivation and attitude, persistent practice can bring about improvements in critical thinking. The following attitudes are common, but will not help us improve thinking :

    I prefer being given the correct answers rather than figuring them out myself.
    I don’t like to think a lot about my decisions as I rely only on gut feelings.
    I don’t usually review the mistakes I have made.
    I don’t like to be criticized.

    To improve critical thinking, we must recognize the importance of reflecting on the reasons for belief and action. We must also be willing to engage in debate, make mistakes, break old habits, deal with linguistic complexities and handle abstract concepts.

    Be Well,

    Jaroslav

  11. Mohammad Hussain says:

    Hey Matt,

    I don’t see no flaw.

    Did you ever think deeper into why people deny God or desire to deny him?

    There is an emotional reason why many try to deny God, because that is the only way they could satisfy their minds (conscience) and do whatever they want including indulging in forbidden desires, even if they deeply know that is is wrong. Now I will say most of them are. There might be a few that honestly believe God doesn’t exist.

    In reality everything proves there is a God, I haven’t seen a single proof indicating he doesn’t exist. So people who don’t believe in God, either don’t think deeper, or aren’t sincere in finding the truth. They are just following their desires.

    Humans tend to justify their actions. If you look at people who do wrong things, many will try to justify it.

    Now here is an example: If someone wants to commit fornication, and he knows it is wrong, but he desires it, he will have two choices. He will either stay away from it (he knows it is the right thing to do according to the Holy Qur’an), or he could say Holy Qur’an is not true, and just commit the act (which he knows deep down, he is wrong). The latter statement you could see is based on emotions (Forbidden Desires/Temptations).

    In order for a person not to believe in the Holy Qur’an, he needs to be able to prove it is wrong. If he can’t prove it is wrong, therefore he needs to accept EVERYTHING the book says. The Holy Qur’an can’t be proven wrong, it is preserved by God. Try to find an error or contradiction, scientific error or anything. Many people tried, and they all failed miserably. I am talking about finding an error in the Arabic Script (Muslims believe it is divine). Translations obviously there could be few errors due to content being mistranslated, plus content being lost in translation.

    You talked about how Atheists aren’t obligated to have people accept their views, which is true in a sense, but they still argue against believers and mock believers. Why do they care if people accept their views or not? They don’t believe in life after death.

    Even mathematically (probabilities) it is smarter to believe in a God.

    Example: If two people die, one is a believer in God and the other isn’t. Say if there was no God, then our beliefs wouldn’t matter after death. We would be dead, and there is no life after it. They both lived their life and it is over. But what if there was a God, then the person who didn’t believe in him, well he is in trouble.

    Some people don’t believe in God because they felt like God abandoned them (emotional reason to deny God, not logical)

    Now you are mostly talking about the Christian concept. Many Christians do believe in Faith BLINDLY, concepts such as Trinity, the Original Sin etc.

    Well as a Muslim, I don’t believe in anything blindly. God clearly exists. The One True God, I am not talking about Trinity or anything, I believe in the One True Creator. Everything around us proves his existence. If you want proofs, let me know and I will give you proofs.

    You said: “Faith is, by definition, not logical. If it could be proven that God exists, it would be the end of faith.”

    I don’t know where you get your definition from, but i am guessing it is from people who believe in faith blindly. But to me faith has to be logical. If it is not logical or anything like that, then how could it be true. After all it was God that gave us logic/critical reasoning abilities. I can prove my religion logically. Like I said it is not blind belief. It makes complete sense.

    Mohammad

  12. Steve says:

    I’m with you on this one, Matt. If anyone could prove the existence of God, faith would not be required. Thanks for your comment.

  13. Mohammad Hussain says:

    Alright I will prove the existence of God……

    To understand whether God exists, you must define him first.

    I think this is where the problems come that separate believers in God and non-believers. I do believe many Atheists make great valid points, but I have noticed, that it is mostly against the concept that many Christians believe. The concept of God being in a human image. Atheists and many others make very good points against it, because they tend to start giving God all the qualities that we humans have. Since we humans are limited, so God becomes limited, and if human can’t create the Earth and everything, then how come God could? Many weaknesses come, such as if God is in a human image, then he must have a gender, must need to eat, need rest etc. Well… in Islam we don’t believe God has a human image.

    Some people argue that God doesn’t exist, but they are talking about their definition of God. I think the first main thing in understanding the Creator is to define him. Many people have different definitions of God. You have to make sure your looking for the same thing. For one person, God is a Sun, the other a tree, another an idol, another an animal, and another maybe some human. So you have to make sure you are looking for the same God. If we both are looking for different things, then we will never come to the same conclusion. I think the best definition that everyone might agree on is that “God should be a power greater than a human.”

    If you don’t agree with this definition, then I don’t know why would you want to believe in something that is lower than you? Why would you want to worship another human or animal? If you worship another human, then basically you are saying that you are inferior to him or her. You are a human and so is the other person, so no way he or she is better than you and vice versa. If you worship an animal, do I need to explain more? Why would you want to worship some creature lower than you? it is mind boggling.

    I don’t BLINDLY believe in a God, I believe in logic and critical reasoning, and I realized that “Not even a single proof exists that proves that God doesn’t exist.” Ya i said it, Not a single proof exists that proves otherwise. Everything ends up pointing to a God.

    Now here is something logical for all the Atheists or anyone that doubts there is a God or a Creator. Actually some Atheists do believe in some kind of Universal Spirit, so that is good. There are many surveys done – Google it or Ask me.

    Now here I will give you an example to illustrate my point…

    Example:

    If you see a web, you know a spider has created it. You see a nest, you know a bird has created it. You walk into a room and you see a telephone, a computer, a television, you know that a human made it. You walk outside, and you see the sun, the moon, the clouds, who created that? We know as humans, we didn’t create it, and we know animals and insects didn’t create it. If humans didn’t create it, that must mean a power greater than a human exists. Whether you want to call it God, Nature, the Universal Spirit, Infinite Intelligence, whatever you call it, it is a power greater than a human. And what is the definition of God we are using? “God should be a power greater than a human”.

    Here is another example:

    If you walk into a room, and see such an amazing, beautiful painting, you will most probably say something like this “who is that artist?” ….or…”that must be a great artist” …you are not going to say “Damn, that painting was created itself.” Look at Nature, such amazing designs.

    Now here is another thing…look at the Universal Laws, such as the Law of Gravity. Now the definition we are using, “God is any power greater than a human”…you could say that since humans didn’t create the law of Gravity it is a God, or you can say someone created that. These are the only 2 options left, either that is a God or God created it. This is from a logical point of view. I believe that God created everything. Either way the point was to prove that there is a power greater than a human.

    Now some people will say Science is the answer. When does the Qur’an go against Science. It advances science. There are so many scientific things in the Quran dat no person could have known 1400 years ago, just one of the many indications the book is not written by a human. Here is another thing you can think about…..who created SCIENCE?

    Science to us….. is just an understanding of how things work. And that science is limited to the human mind, that is why many theories end up being proven false. You didn’t create science, science is your understanding of how the things work. You didn’t create knowledge, you learn it. You cannot alter knowledge. You discover it. So who created knowledge? Why are humans on the learning end of knowledge? A big hint why there must be a greater power than a human. A power that most people call God, who created knowledge.

    We humans are so weak, but don’t want to admit it. You don’t know what the next minute will bring, you don’t know if you will live another day, hell you don’t even know how you look like until you look in the mirror.

    Some people say that we can’t see God, well there are many things you can’t see, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. An example: microscopic things. Your eyes could also deceive you, look at a train track, at the end it looks like it will meet, but it never does, it is always parallel.

    The Qu’ran mentions that the Bible was indeed a book of God, but it was changed for monetary gains. That is why it has many contradictions now. That is why Qu’ran has been preserved. Qur’an has a falsification test, it wants you to prove that it is wrong, if you could do that, you can end up proving the whole religion wrong. But if you can’t, then you should accept it as the truth. I want you to find any error or contradiction in it, and if you do, please send it to me, and I will look into it.

    Definiton of God in Holy Qur’an:

    “Say: He is Allah,
    The One and Only.
    “Allah, the Eternal, Absolute.
    “He begets not, nor is He begotten.
    And there is none like unto Him.”
    [Al-Qur’an 112:1-4]

    Conclusion: There is a power greater than human, call it what you want, God, Higher Power, Nature, Universal Spirit etc.

    By the way, the Muslim God, the Christian God, the Jewish God, the Sikh God, and God for every other faith is the one and the same. There is only one God for all of humanity.

    If you still doubt the existence of God for some strange illogical reason, here is a question I dare you to answer…….

    How can an unconscious thing create conscious beings? (Think about it, you can’t answer it, an unconscious thing can’t create nothing because it is not aware of itself nor its environment and has no conscious intent to create anything, it has no life)

    How come we never think that a computer could be made on its own? For a person who doesn’t believe in a God is like a person that believes the computer was made itself, that is how dumb the argument is.

    We humans are proof that there needs to be a conscious in order to create something. It takes a human (conscious being) to create a computer or television. There is no such thing as randomness. Even a random generator is made by intelligent design (human being = consciousness), and that is not even really random.

    Everything proves there is a God. Just because you believe doesn’t mean it is true. If you truly believe he doesn’t exist, then produce all your proofs, if you really have any.

    Mohammad

  14. RONALD ELLIS says:

    First, in this discussion, we should have a need to set the ground rules for critical thinking. The following from wikipedia will give us a format that we could use. Each word could and must be defined in a manner that is understood so that we are blogging from the same understanding of the words. If we do not codify, we would have the same results which we may have learned from the story of the Tower of Babble.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_thinking

    We need to apply logical and critical thinking to a question such as: Is there a God? Some belief is logical and some are based on emotions. I believe that most us would like to think that there is a god for many purposes. It is logical that we may obtain some direction, happiness or rationalization, etc., to have a god.

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to understand that there is a God, only in spirit. Many religious readings call God a spirit. If that is the case would it not be more logical and less emotional to understand there is a God or Gods, but only in spirit.

    That’s why we can logically believe that there is a spirit of God and nothing more than that. I can have the spirit of God withing me. I cannot have God himself in me or anyplace else, logically. But, I sure can have the spirit of God anyplace I wish his spirit to be. (a virtual god)

    The spirit of God within humans have caused them to feel moved to give us writings and preach. We may get direction for better understanding of human relations.

    I understand that many of you, through religious education, find that you must believe emotionally without logic. That’s just fine. You do that. It’s OK.

    I believe when I go to church that I am there to obtain then enjoy the spirit of God within me and a spirit of God for my congregation and the people of the world.

  15. Analogy: I have coffee cans of nuts & bolts & assorted nails and a tool box of tools all jumbled up and disorganized – hundreds of tools and cans of metal. My job is to organize and label them.

    That’s how I look at ideas. I am able to put my faith – my religious beliefs – my social, cultural, etc. into separate containers. I can blend them and integrate them as we all do day by day.

    When people talk to me about their beliefs, etc. I do the same. It’s not always perfect and unblended because life goes by quickly in fleeting moments strung together as bring all past experience into the improvisational moment.

    That’s how I look at critical thinking and critical judgments – that’s my idea of how to keep emotions out of the picture and I am as capable as anyone in blending all of it into one passionate, irrational, emotion driven experience – even with the logic of critical thinking blended in – for the sake of the moment.

    Thoughts?

    Mike

  16. Remember Burma Shave signs out West. Post after post after post.

    Question all your premises, your conclusions. That’s critical thinking. Not everyone can do it.

    Imagine two Tribes – one Western one Eastern – each living in cave dwellings and literate only in one book – call it Book of Life.

    The members of these Tribes know nothing outside their Book of Life – their Lense – their filter. Everything is filtered through the Lense.

    Being more literate is no guarantee the kind of critical thinking I’m talking about will happen.

    Thoughts?

    Mike

  17. Lawyers and debaters do it – disassemble and construct, reconstruct – use critical thinking. Being mentally tough non emotionally is doing that. An electrician and plumber do critical thinking to solve problems.

    The same can be done with ideas.

    Thoughts?

    Mike

  18. Here is my only question… Is complete unemotional thinking the correct way of thinking? Does it do the best good to our society?

    I agree that it creates the most logical way of thinking, but the most logical in my point of view is not always the right view, nor the most effective. It can be yes, but it is not a solve all principle. Star trek did a fantastic job of illustrating this :) . Look at Spock for example. Sure, emotions at time hinder progress, but at the same time if it wasn’t for emotions, there would be a lot of things that wouldn’t happen in the world.

    So even though it may be a good exercise to do so, I don’t believe that it is the correct way to think or approach life. So to rate myself, I would put myself at average. A 3 or so, but I wanted it that way. It was by choice that I functioned at a 3, and not incapability.

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