Monday, March 6, 2017

Circulus In Probando

Last May, I saw a video by a teenager daughter of a martyr soldier. I was all choked up by the predicament of a two year old child who grows up to hate an entire community and an entire country because she believes that they killed her father. However, her mother makes her see the larger perspective and Gurumehar Kaur grew up to be a soldier of peace.

One of the lines, on a poster that Kaur holds in the silent video is now being put out in isolation of her larger cry for peace... of course the twisting of truth is a reaction to her current opposition to the student union politics... but the majority of the trolling is carried forward by those who had not seen that particular video. Some have insisted that she be punished, banished and a few want her brutalised.

The trolls are using a method used in arguments - called ‘Circulus in probando’ (Latin for 'circle in proving) – actually, a logical fallacy in which the reasoner begins with what they are trying to end with. The components of a circular argument appear logically valid because if the premise is true, the conclusion must be true.

For instance in the case of the young girl, the ‘Circulus in probando’ goes like this
She said the enemy country is not guilty of the crime.
We know that the enemy country is guilty of the crime.
Hence, she is guilty of supporting the crime!

It is pertinent to note that the first line is a twisted fact if you check out the video where the teenager blames the leadership of the other country too ... but if you accept the premise as true, the conclusion appears true too...

On social media, the use of ‘Circulus in probando’ is common. In fact, even decent disagreements with the girl’s stand evoked similar methods of trolling. It is hence necessary to examine the primary statement to escape the vicious vice of the logical fallacy of circular reasoning. What seems logical may well be falsehood if the foundation of an argument is an untruth or a misrepresentation.

If premise is faulty, inference may well be tragic
We must not yield blindly to the circle of logic!

- Pravin K. Sabnis

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