Here commenceth ye thirde poast of ye flockebinkere blogge. Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote.
As the Good Reader has doubtless discovered in reading the first two posts, this blog is not really the Usual Sort of Thing. (The Usual Sort of Thing does not begin with a sad attempt at Middle English followed immediately by an unattributed line from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.) The first post in this blog introduced the kinds of topics that we can expect to be addressing, while the second post went off on a bizarre tangent and inexplicably discussed jokes featuring three Scotsmen sitting on a fence. Don’t worry. The person responsible for developing that second post has been sacked. If the same sort of thing happens again, the person responsible for the sacking of the first person will in turn be sacked.
This blog is sort of a foray into the unconventional, and deals with such topics as truth, and logic, and nonsense, and meaning, and a number of other things all beginning, interestingly enough, with the letter ‘w’.
Wabsurdity, for instance. And wamwams. And wepistemology. And, um, www.flockbinkers.com.
Don’t try to click on that. I just now made it up.
Wet’s begin, then, with some basics.
The Basic Syllogism
All flockbinkers are treadknicious. No, seriously. They really are.
Now, as we learned from the first post, the expression “all flockbinkers are treadknicious” traces its origin back to a logic lesson i developed for my students about 15 years ago. As you may recall, our friend the flockbinker made his first appearance in the following syllogism:
- All flockbinkers are treadknicious.
- All wamwams are flockbinkers.
- Therefore, all wamwams are treadknicious.
This paragon of inferential virtue shall be known hereafter as ‘the classic flockbinker syllogism.’
And right off the bat, i’m afraid we may have just run into a problem.
The timid reader may be unwilling to speak up for fear of embarrassing himself in front of his fellows, but from the look on his face i suspect that he may be unfamiliar with the term ‘syllogism.’
The Timid Reader: I don’t appreciate you exposing my ignorance in front of all these people.
The Blogger: Dude. You were turning five shades of red. It’s not like we couldn’t all tell. Anyway, it’s no big deal.
The Timid Reader: What do you mean, “It’s no big deal”…? That word you used—
The Blogger: Syllogism.
The Timid Reader: —right, is apparently like at the very center of what this blog post is supposed to be about, and i feel like the kid who had to be held back a grade.
The Blogger: It’s fine. Lots of people don’t know what a syllogism is. It’s really okay. We’re about to talk about it.
The Timid Reader: I bet all of these people know what a sillyjetsam is.
The Blogger: No, i doubt it. Look. You see her? She’s hiding it well, but i don’t think she knows, either.
The Timid Reader: She looks cool as a cucumber. I bet she knows.
The Blogger: One way to find out. Excuse me? Miss?
Miss Cool as a Cucumber: I was so hoping you wouldn’t do that.
The Blogger: You’re kidding. You can tell us what a syllogism is, right?
Miss Cool as a Cucumber: Okay. Okay. I have no particular opinions about the second amendment, but all i’m saying is, i wish i were packing heat right now. Seriously. There was no need to call me out like that.
The Blogger: I didn’t mean to embarrass you! I just wanted to demonstrate to The Timid Reader here, that ‘syllogism’ isn’t necessarily a household word.
The Timid Reader: Point made. Why don’t you go ahead and explain it, while Cucumber and i go out to the parking lot and find your car. [fingering keys]
The Blogger: Right. So a syllogism is the simplest form of an argument. The basic form has come down to us from Aristotle—who pioneered the systematic study of logic in the 300’s BC—and is usually arranged as a series of three statements. The first two are the premises, and the third one is the conclusion. If the argument is set up right, the premises should lead to the conclusion.
Let’s take our classic flockbinker syllogism. It’s got three statements: two premises, and then the conclusion.
First premise: All flockbinkers are treadknicious.
Second premise: All wamwams are flockbinkers.
Conclusion: Therefore, all wamwams are treadknicious.
Note that if the first two premises are true, then the conclusion has to be true as well. If it really is the case that all flockbinkers are treadknicious, and if it also turns out to be the case that all wamwams are flockbinkers, then there’s no way you can escape the conclusion that all wamwams are treadknicious.
The Return of the Timid Reader
The Timid Reader: I can easily escape that conclusion, Mr. Know-it-all.
The Blogger: What, back already from keying my paint job?
The Timid Reader: We decided to wait and let the air out of your tires later on.
The Blogger: Ah. Good plan. So what seems to be the trouble?
The Timid Reader: There’s no trouble. And on top of that, there are no flockbinkers, which is really kind of my main point. How can your little logical still-a-jasmine be true, if the things you’re talking about aren’t even real?
The Blogger: Believe it or not, in an upcoming post we’re going to take the flockbinker by the horns and talk about what it means for something to be real, including flockbinkers.
The Timid Reader: They have horns?
The Blogger: I didn’t say that.
The Timid Reader: You said that we’re going to take the flockbinker by the horns.
The Blogger: But i did not assert that flockbinkers are, in fact, existent entities, nor did i claim that they do, in fact, have horns.
The Timid Reader: I think you’re just making fun of us.
The Blogger: Au contraire, Timid Reader! I’m challenging you. It’s not the same thing. Although they’re both equally entertaining.
The Timid Reader: You said that flockbinkers are real. You said it. We all heard you.
The Blogger: I did not. I said no such thing.
The Timid Reader: So now you’re saying they’re not real?
The Blogger: Nope. I am saying nothing like that.
The Timid Reader: So they are real.
The Blogger: Is that what you’re saying?
The Timid Reader: Arrrgh! No! I’m trying to figure out what you’re saying.
The Blogger: I’m saying that if all flockbinkers are treadknicious, and if all wamwams are flockbinkers, then all wamwams are treadknicious.
The Timid Reader: So you are saying that they really exist.
The Blogger: Nope.
The Timid Reader: So they don’t?
The Blogger: I dunno. Do you have information about flockbinkers that i don’t have?
The Timid Reader: Arrgh! I don’t know anything about flockbinkers!
The Blogger: I Don’t Know is actually on third.
The Timid Reader: What?
The Blogger: Just horsin’ around wid ya. Hey, i think we’re out of time. Maybe we can continue this discussion in the next post?
Miss Cool as a Cucumber: I’ll make sure and bring a can of spray paint next time–to really do a number on your paint job.
The Blogger: That sounds terrific!
The Timid Reader: So Cucumber, for now, let’s go find some shoe polish to decorate his car with.
The Blogger: I like the way you people think!
“And thus we bring to a close this installment in an increasingly unintelligible series of posts. Will the next one make any more sense? Not if i’ve got anything to do with it! Wait… what… what’s going…”
Editor’s note: The person responsible for making sure that this turned out to be a sensible post, has been sacked.