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Using pure logic

Boy doing homework

60 seconds to change the world

Can a simple idea help make the world a better place? Each week we ask a guest to outline an idea to improve all our lives. Here, mathematician Manil Suri suggests that children should be encouraged to find answers purely using logic.

Everyone should think for themselves more, rather than relying on ideology.

Don't ride along with the teachings of your left- or right-wing politics - or even worse, your religion I'd say.

Instead, try to reason out the correct path from common sense and basic humanist principles.


Many of us actually might be already too set in our ways to make this change but we can all train children around us to behave this way.

They have a natural curiosity, which gives rise to a hundred questions for each answer, and it behoves us not to squelch this spirit.

What I mean by that is that rather than getting irritated or invoking God or tradition, we need to patiently show then how to rely on logic to arrive at the best answer.

And thus, trained to not accept notions at face value but to rely on their own reasoning power - they might one day grow up and challenge us to do the same.

Manil Suri is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a novelist.

Below is a selection of your comments.

I think that Philosophy as a whole should be the central core of education. Perhaps if we had a population more formally educated in thinking, ethics and learning, then we might avoid some of the unreasoned beliefs, urban myths and non-thinking behaviour evident in today's society.
Steve Cowie, Llandudno

Common sense and basic humanist principles' are not necessarily 'common' to everyone, nor are they a 'basic' framework we can assume exists naturally in everyone's mind. This sort of abstract universalised idea of what is involved in reasoning conceals ideologies behind a veneer of being common to all. We may end up leading children to believe that they are thinking for themselves when they have only internalised the ideologies we have fed them.
AH, Cambridge

As a mother, my best day was when my daughter learned the word 'Why?'. Many mothers groan but I delighted in it and always answer her questions. As a teacher, I see my role being to replace an empty mind with an open and enquiring one
Megan, Cheshire UK

Simple and spot on, imagine if more people had this clarity of thought.=
Anthony, London

Not all things can be arrived at by logic alone, unless that is you are a machine!
S Warman, Crewe

Logic alone will not always get you the correct answer. We need also to take into account empirical facts. But there are not always enough hard facts to decide the matter.
Ian, Nottingham

This is one of the most profound yet simplest ideas, we should all think for ourselves.
Nick, Brynteg, Angelsey

When children realize that any position can be credibly argued for, they will become cynical and disenchanted with truth. The young need passionate role models, not an introduction to lawyering.
Patrick, Chicago, USA

Nice little ad for humanism. It all sounds very nice, but please define "common sense" for us. And yes, list a few "basic humanist principles", I'll start with a few, self-preservation, dog-eat-dog and survival of the fittest.
Phil J Walton, Panchkula, India

Everyone should question what is taught, especially religion and politics. Blind belief is the supreme ignorance that leads to confrontation and intolerance, while questioning leads to understanding, improvement and tolerance. Good on you. Manil.
Albert E. James, Vancouver, Canada

Logic is always a good idea but I think it also needs to be backed up by long-term thinking, not short-term thinking. What's logical in the short term can be disastrous in the long term. It needs to go hand in hand with responsibility on a bigger scale.
Mick, Groningen, Netherlands

What a terrible idea to only use logic. Obviously, this comes from someone comfortable only using half his mind.
Simone, Miami Beach, Florida

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