Showing posts from January, 2008

Reasoning, Rationalisation and Truth

When you quiz anyone explicitly about whether they think reasoning and rationalization are two different processes, most would answer that there was some difference, though not many would be able to point it out.

I came to appreciate the vast difference in the meaning of both these terms quite recently. It is so subtle that we don't really appreciate the huge difference it makes to the quality of our thinking and the validity of our convictions. Reasoning is to look at facts to try to reach a conclusion, whereas rationalization involves starting with a conclusion and marshaling facts to work backwards to justify it.

It is essential to be aware of which of these thinking processes one is engaging in. Quite often I see perfectly intelligent people engage in vigorous rationalization of their viewpoint under the false impression that they are reasoning out the issue.

Since this realization, I am trying to make it a point to distinguish people who engage in one or the other. I prefer to a…