Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video Speaking logically, part of UX Foundations: Logic and Content.
Great communication, in whatever form it takes, starts with speaking logically. Conveying the message in such a way that the recipient understands its meaning and can verify it to find it to be true or false. So how can you ensure you speak logically? The simple answer is, by following the simple principles of logic. Make true statements, and form valid and sound arguments. But that's too simplistic. What you want to know, is how you can speak logically and become a better communicator.
When we communicate we rely on four main logical components, statements, universality, arguments, and operators. These combined, give us the ability to convey complex ideas to other people and those other people to judge the truth, validity, and soundness of what we're saying. So how does this work in real life? Consider the following argument. All trees have branches. This organism is a maple tree. Therefore, this organism has branches.
This is a classic example of a valid and sound logical argument. The logical structure of the argument is correct or valid and each of the statements is actually true, making it sound. In other words, assuming you trust me, you can say with certainty that the organism I'm referring to has branches even without you ever seeing it. However, this is only because you trust me or you have previous knowledge to tell you that the statements, all trees have branches and this organism is a maple tree, are in fact true.
You see, logic alone doesn't produce truth. It only produces valid statements. That's why I say you need to make true statements, and form valid and sound arguments. Consider this argument. All yellow objects are made of cheese. This cat is yellow. Therefore, this cat is made of cheese. Of course, your immediate reaction is that this is preposterous. I'm sure you can find a cat made of cheese somewhere, but on average cats are not made of cheese.
So what's going on here? The structure of the argument is identical, yet the conclusion is not true. What we have here is a valid argument, meaning the structure is logically correct, that is unsound because one or more of the statements are untrue. And that statement, all yellow objects are made of cheese is untrue because it is in breach of the rule of universality. It applies a property of some objects of a group to all the objects of that group.
Before we can answer the question, how do you speak logically, we have to dive a little deeper into the world of logic and look at each of the components. Statements, universality, arguments and operators.
The core idea of logic is to create a system in which communication is clear, precise, and unambiguous, which is (or at least should be) the goal of any website or other communication.
- How humans communicate
- Comparing human and computer communication
- Speaking logically
- Using logical arguments
- Understanding the limits of computer logic
- Formatting information for humans
- Communicating with logic