Intellectual Mixed Martial Arts*

I. Introduction

One night many years ago, my wife couldn’t sleep. So I said, “Let me bring you a glass of warm milk.” She drank the warm milk, but she still couldn’t sleep.

So I said, “Let me give you a massage.” So I gave her a massage, but she still couldn’t sleep.

Finally, I asked her, “Have you tried counting sheep?”

She replied, “Sheep, cows, pigs, but I still can’t sleep.”

I did not know what else to do, so I said, “Can I share with you what I’ve been reading lately? I’m reading this book on logic and it’s very fascinating.”

She said, “Interesting. *Yawn*. What’s logic?”

So I explained to her, “Well, the author of the book defined logic as the science of evaluating arguments and constructing good arguments. So this is a theoretical book that discusses the concepts, principles, and methods of logic…” But before I could finish my sentence, my wife was already fast asleep.

Mister Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and friends, *bow*

Logic bored my wife to sleep, but it is far from boring. And here’s my proof.

In this short speech, I am going to talk about what logic is, why it’s important, and how to do it, using this Jiu Jitsu gi that I am wearing as my visual aid.

II. Body

What Logic Is

First, what is logic? Logic is not simply an academic discipline. It’s more like intellectual mixed martial arts because there’s an intellectual self-defense aspect to it. So it’s not boring.

We are all constantly surrounded by individuals, groups, and institutions that try to influence our beliefs, values, and actions.

For example, when you go to a book shop, you will find books in the religion or philosophy section that try to prove that God is a delusion. Or conversely, that God is real.

When you open the newspaper in the morning, you will read essays and opinion pieces that try to persuade you to support or reject a particular political view.

When you open your television, you will see ads that try to convince you to buy certain products.

Logic enables us to pause and ask, “Wait a minute, should I believe these claims? Are these claims true? Are there good reasons for thinking that God is a delusion or is real, or that this political view is valid, or that this bottle of soft drink contains 1 liter of happiness?”

Logic sensitizes us to the fact that we are always surrounded by all kinds of claims and it helps us assume a more defensive and critical attitude. It equips us to assess the truth or falsity of ideas. And this matters because ideas have consequences.

Why Logic is Important

Second, why is logic important? Logic is important because these individuals, groups, and institutions are of course motivated by their interests and their interests may not necessarily be beneficial for us. In fact, their interests may directly harm us. Through our knowledge of and skill in logic, we can assess the claims of these individuals and groups to see whether they are true and/or harmful.

How to Do Logic

So finally, how do you do logic? How do you practice intellectual mixed martial arts?

There are loads of textbooks on logic that show you how to do that and it normally takes you a semester to study logic in college. I only have a few minutes so I’m going to summarize logic in 3 steps.

But first, it is important for us to understand the concept of an argument

Imagine that these books make up a house. This first book is the roof and these two books are the walls or pillars. An argument is a lot like a house. This roof represents the claim or conclusion of an argument. This first pillar represents the structure or form of the argument and this second pillar represents the content or premises of the argument. A good argument has all of these elements – a claim or conclusion, a valid or strong structure (in other words, the conclusion follows from the premises if the premises are plausibly true), and plausibly true premises or content. If either or all of these are missing, your whole argument will collapse and what you’ll have is either a bad argument or a mere assertion.

Again, a good argument = strong or valid structure or form + plausibly true premises or content.

So with that in mind, here are the 3 steps on how to do logic or intellectual mixed martial arts:

1. Ask yourself, “Is this piece of writing or speech an argument or an assertion? If its claim is backed up by reasons, evidences, and facts, then it is an argument. If not, then it’s a mere assertion.”

2. If it’s an argument, ask, “Is its structure valid or strong? Does the conclusion follow from the premises if the premises are true?”

3. Finally, “Are its contents or premises plausibly true? Are they backed up by evidences and facts?”

For example, you see Richard Dawkins’ book on a shelf in National Bookstore and you decide to buy and read it. You can then ask, is the author making an argument or merely an assertion? Is he giving us, his readers, reasons and evidences to support his claim that God is a delusion? Are those reasons relevant? Or is he merely engaging in bad rhetoric and sophistry?(2) Is the structure of his argument valid or strong? Does his conclusion follow from his premises? (3) Finally, are his premises true? Are they supported by facts? And so on.

Obviously, there’s still a lot to be done when evaluating arguments. For example, further questions you may ask are: Is his argument deductive or inductive? If deductive, is it a categorical, conditional, or disjunctive syllogism? If it’s a categorical syllogism, can the propositions be shown to be true if illustrated using Venn diagrams and the modern square of opposition? And etc. But those three basic questions are a good start.

By simply memorizing and mastering the three questions, we are already equipping ourselves with intellectual self-defense. And we can, and should, use them every time someone — a friend, a group of persons, a political party, an advertising agency, a religious group, an author, a book, a post in social media, a TV personality, a celebrity, an intellectual, an expert, or any kind of “authority” – tries to influence us to believe or do something.

III. Conclusion

In summary then, logic is intellectual mixed martial arts and it’s important because we are constantly surrounded by individuals, groups, or institutions that try to influence our beliefs, values, and actions. Their interests may be harmful to our own interests, so we need to defend ourselves from them. All it takes to do intellectual mixed martial arts is to ask those 3 important questions.

Madame Toastmaster. *Bow*

*Speech delivered at the Queen City Toastmasters Club

Love and Logic*

Good Will Hunting. Dead Poets Society. A Beautiful Mind. I absolutely love these movies! I love these movies because, first, their settings are so beautiful. Second, their dialogues are so profound. And third, their characters are so fascinating because they are so intelligent.

For the longest time, I have had a fantasy. I wished that I were a Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, or a Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, or a Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. I wished that I were a super intelligent professor in a classroom full of students.

Mister Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and friends, tonight I will fulfill that fantasy. Tonight, you are no longer in Salt Restaurant. You are now in fact in a lecture hall in Oxford University. Whether you like it or not, you are no longer Toastmasters. You are now in fact university students.

Let me introduce you to a dear friend of mine. His name is Professor Logico L. Logico. Professor Logico is a member of the Philosophy faculty at Oxford University. He is the author of over 30 books on logic and love including Logic: A Concise Introduction; Fun With Fallacies; It’s Not You It’s Your Logic; Love and Other Illogical Things; Adventures in Logic; Further Adventures in Logic; and his latest, Logic, Logic, and More Logic. Please help me welcome, Professor Logico.

Thank you, Dante, for that warm introduction.

Good evening, Freshmen! Welcome to Love and Logic 101, also known as How to Find and Marry Your One True Love Using Logic, or if you’re married, How to Stay Married and Sane at the Same Time Using Logic.

My name is Professor Logico L. Logico, but you may call me Professor L for short.

A man can try to convince a woman to marry him in only two ways: number 1, by appealing to her heart – through music, poetry, gifts, and etc. – and number 2, by appealing to her mind. The former is a non-rational approach and it has a very low rate of success. The latter is a rational approach and it has a very high rate of success. In this course, I will teach you the rational approach. I will show you how to use logic to find and marry your one true love. If you’re married, I will show you how to use logic to stay happily married.

This course is divided into two parts: theory and practice. In the first half of this course, we are going to talk about the theoretical discipline that is logic. And in the second half of this course, we are going to use what we will learn about logic and apply it in our relationships.

Let me see the hands of all the singles here. Okay. Now let me see the hands of all the couples here. Okay, good. For the single guys here, your final requirement is a written exam and a wife by the end of the semester. For the girls, your final requirement is a written exam and a husband by the end of the semester. For the couples, you’re exempted. If you have no plans of getting married, that’s fine, I won’t force you. I will only require you to take the written exam and submit a thousand-page thesis on the history of logic and the philosophy of love.

Okay, so I’m going to give you a brief overview of this course.

For the first half of this course, we are going to talk about the basic concepts and principles of logic. Logic is, of course, the science of evaluating arguments and constructing good arguments.

How do we evaluate arguments? Simple. By asking two questions. Number 1, does the argument satisfy the logic condition? And number 2, does the argument satisfy the truth condition? If the argument satisfies the logic condition and the truth condition, then we can say that the argument is good.

Now, how do we construct good arguments? Well, simply by writing arguments that satisfy the logic condition and the truth condition.

For the second half of this course, we are going to apply our knowledge in logic to find and marry our one true love. We will learn important skills like how to develop a good pick up line.

So for example, you’re in a coffee shop and you see someone you like. You approach that girl, and you say, “Hi, excuse me, sorry to bother you. I just want to thank you for helping me. You see, I was just sitting over there studying language for my logic course and I couldn’t understand the difference between a word and a concept. Until I saw you and thought, ‘Ah! The word “pretty” for example is just a linguistic tool that symbolizes the concept of “prettiness” which in turn applies to a person such as yourself.’ By the way, can I get your name?”

Or if you already have a girlfriend, and you finally decide to propose to her, you can take her to Paris, or Busay if you’re short on cash, and before the Eiffel Tower pretend that your shoelace is untied. You then present the ring and say something like, “Oh, Corazon, my love, will you marry me? But before you say anything, please allow me to present an argument that proves why, among your 20 suitors, I am the best and most qualified candidate. You will see that to refuse me would be a very illogical thing to do.”

Or if you’re a girl and your boyfriend finally decides to propose to you and takes you to Paris, or Busay if he’s short on cash, you can do this: Your boyfriend kneels and presents the ring, “Oh Corazon, my love, will you marry me? Please say yes or I will die.” You may then say, “Oh, Juan Miguel. Oh, my love, a ring. Tell you what, why don’t you go back to our hotel and write a good argumentative essay on why I should marry you? Your argument must satisfy the logic condition and the truth condition. I’m sorry, my love, but your proposal commits the argumentum ad misericordiam fallacy or the appeal to pity fallacy. I love your strong biceps, my love, but I also need a man with strong arguments.”

But if you’re a married guy, don’t, I repeat, don’t ever try to use logic to win an argument with your wife. Because you will lose. Just let her win and you’ll both be happy.

See you all tomorrow, 7PM sharp.

Thank you, Dante.

Thank you, Professor L.

Mister Toastmaster.

*Speech delivered at the Queen City Toastmasters Club, August 13, 2016.

“I Am Not a Fan of Poetry”

I have never been a fan
Of poetry.
I feel for Raymond Carver
Completely when he said
That poems are the last thing
He reaches out for
When he wants something
To read.
Or was it one of his characters
Who said that?
Anyway, once upon a time
I fancied myself a poet,
And I badgered friends and
Acquaintances with my verses.
But when a real poet tells
You that you are not a poet
You better listen
And so I stopped writing
And reading poetry.
I would sooner read the phone
Directory than read poetry.
But tonight
Not even music can touch me.
Not even silence.
Not even films, and sitcoms,
And books can reach me.
While browsing my inbox
I found myself opening
At random
A poem about a girl writing
A poem about her mother
Thanking her for giving her piano lessons.
And I read it out loud
In the kitchen
As my wife worked silently
In a corner.
I read it out loud
And listened to my words
As they rolled down my temples
And into the tip of my tongue.
It’s a rather lengthy poem
But I read it.
I pictured the author in my head
Her hands touching the piano
Her lips praising her mom
Her head bent by the burden
She carried for years in her heart.
And I followed her down the winding path
Of her beautiful poem.