On Malfunctioning Bus Doors & Arguing Against A False Reality

Posted in Logic, MUNI, Quickies, San Francisco, Thinking Critically on  | 3 minutes | No Comments →

So I worked late the other night and was riding the bus home. It was cold, it was one of those times where there's a mild to severe "flu scare" in the general atmosphere. You know, that stage which usually happens to correlate with what they call "flu season" where the media or some other authority has pumped the idea of a "new and improved more virulent strain" into everyone's minds. It was cold, and it seemed everyone else on the bus had just gotten off work and was tired. They all had that post-work, spent, lifeless kind of stare, that stare where you just sort of gaze non-descriptly ahead while processing the random background noise, that stare too many people have seen and felt before. You ever notice that when a person is experiencing some kind of privation their patience tends to plummet? How many husbands might crack an ovulation-related joke here? Okay maybe that's a little too much, but the point is that if we're not careful, strong desires to remove privation can blind us to an objective view of reality.

The rear set of doors on the particular bus I was on were malfunctioning and sticking open for 5-8 seconds extra at each stop. One woman in particular took a strong disliking to this, expressing an intense and near-tangible negativity about the whole situation that really didn't make it any more fun for the rest of the passengers. The irony is that at one point, the woman had grown so accustomed to complaining about the couple of wasted seconds at each stop that she continued to grovel even while the doors were stuck at a red light, where it would not be able to proceed even had the doors been working flawlessly.

Via poor evaluation of her surroundings, this woman was effectively arguing against a false reality, wasting her energy and displaying an embarrassing and emotionally motivated tendency to overlook the facts of the present. If we are honest, we must admit that we've all done something similar at some point or another. It's easy to miss an important comment in a thread, or mistake an opponent's argument for something it's not, or snap at our significant other because we're hungry and cranky. But especially pertaining to logic and debate, the silver lining is that if we're teachable, we can learn from mistakes and come out of them with an even greater understanding of things than we'd have had if we didn't make the mistakes in the first place.

But this simple real-world example from a bus ride illustrates how easy it is to find oneself unknowingly arguing against a false reality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *