“I was in the store,“ our friend said, “when someone came up to me and said ‘you’re wearing a mask so you must be a Democrat’. Isn’t that ridiculous.”

MaskedmeIt’s not only ridiculous, it’s also a false syllogism. Even if you know nothing about flu and masks and Democrats and Republicans, you can spot the bad logic. Even if all Democrats wore masks, everyone who wears a mask doesn’t have to be a Democrat. My avatar is an example since I’m not a Democrat and my avatar as drawn by grandson Jack is masked.

Long before misinformation was spread wholesale on the web, even before the printing press, Aristotle studied logic including syllogisms, presumably so he could judge the conclusions he heard at the forum when he did not have enough facts of his own.

A syllogism can be a very good way to reach a conclusion from observations (or to make logic puzzles). Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, gives this intentionally trivial example.

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