15 January 2014

The Hobbit (part two)

Pseudo-rationality consists in analysing something in what is (on the face of it) a sensible, rational way, supposedly going beyond simple assumptions, while in reality confining the analysis to a few selected factors. The latter is done either stealthily, by not mentioning the other possibilities, or – if they have been raised – by openly blocking them.
Often the purpose of pseudo-rationality is to reject one particular way of thinking while making some pretence of being balanced and unbiased.
Pseudo-rationality is misleading and potentially dangerous, because it presents itself as unquestionably better than ordinary ways of thinking though it can easily be worse. It seems to be clever but, while it takes some intelligence to do it, it’s inimical to real analysis.
Much of what passes for ‘research’ these days, particularly in the social sciences, seems to fall into the pseudo- rather than the rationality category. Ostensibly thoughtful and comprehensive, it typically has an axe to grind and leaves out vast tracts of possible data or interpretations because they do not fit with the preferred perspectives.