The Power of Inductive Arguments

by Kim Maglinti on June 14, 2010

Sunrise

Ben Lumley is a Motivational Speaker and Trainer from the UK who writes about personal development at 6aliens.com. Why not connect with him on Twitter @6aliens or if you liked this article then why not subscribe to his RSS Feed?

We are the rulers of the results we get in life. Whether it’s in work, in our relationships or in our hobbies, we control the outputs that we get.

Much of this is through the hard work, effort, dedication and the determination that we apply to the tasks at hand.

However a lot of the results we get, or lack of results, are created before we ever put pen to paper, fingers to keys or pick up our tools. The thought processes we go through in life everyday can limit our performance before we ever start to tackle a task.

One of these is known as an inductive argument. It’s a thought process that we all use everyday without thinking about it in response to what we do as well as to the world around us.

An example of an inductive argument would be…

“The sun will rise in the morning.”

Well of course it will you say. Will it? Are you sure? Or are you just basing your answer on the countless mornings when you have woken up to find the sun has risen in the sky?

Just because that has always happened, does that then mean there is a 100% chance it will happen tomorrow or the next day? What if the earth stopped turning tonight and we were forever to spend our days in night?

We use these inductive arguments with ourselves all the time and they greatly affect the results and outcomes we get in life.

“I’m rubbish with money. I’m forever late for meetings. My writing is no good. I’ll never get the audition.” I could go on, but I’m hoping that you see the point by now. Just because something has always been in our lives doesn’t mean it always will be.

We can affect change and exercise control in nearly every aspect of our lives, yet many of us let ourselves listen to our inner critic when it says we can’t because we haven’t before.

Examine your inductive arguments. Find the ones that limit your successes and bring about your failures. Live in today’s world, not in yesterday’s.

Image via bobosh t on Flickr

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Jean Sarauer June 15, 2010 at 4:52 am

I just learned about inductive arguments when I was typing a school paper for my husband but never thought about how I use them all the time in my daily life. Yikes! I like to think I’m pretty aware of my thinking, yet just the other day I said, “I have no sense of direction,” based on a few instances of taking wrong turns. I never questioned that little story I’ve been telling myself for years but rather just stated it to myself and everyone else as fact. I also say, “I’m no good at math,” even though I’ve gotten good grades (with effort) in every class I’ve taken. Time for a little self-talk exam here!
Jean Sarauer´s last [type] ..If You Host It, I Can Digg It

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Kim Maglinti June 15, 2010 at 6:55 am

You’re definitely not alone in this department Jean. Statements like that are like knee-jerk reactions. Being conscious and aware of these ‘arguments’ allow us to make adjustments. Thanks for sharing your examples.

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Ben June 15, 2010 at 10:34 am

Its weird isn’t it Jean when you think about it and you realise you have these little stories. We all have them though.

The trick is to be self aware and realise when you’re telling the truth or spinning the old story

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Jean Sarauer June 15, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I’ve been realizing I sometimes write other people’s stories too . . . ‘they won’t like this post,’ or ‘this is probably more than they can afford for this product.’ It’s interesting how many things you catch yourself thinking when you pay attention!
Jean Sarauer´s last [type] ..If You Host It, I Can Digg It

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Eduard @ People Skills Decoded June 15, 2010 at 7:13 am

Good one! Our mind can have a pretty lousy logic at times, and yet convince us that it’s right. This is why I believe that some critical thinking is good for everyone. Reminds me of my debate activity in College. It helped me learn to spot bad reasoning from a mile away. Especially that of other people :)

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Kim Maglinti June 15, 2010 at 7:24 am

Welcome Eduard. Great point! Spotting poor reasoning in debates in College, friendly conversations, or in coaching clients help zone in on what can be changed for the better.

Thanks for stopping by and contributing :)

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Ben June 15, 2010 at 10:35 am

Thanks Eduard!

Critical thinking is so important as a skills and you’re completely right, we all need to able to do it a bit

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Hulbert Lee June 15, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Hi Ben, it’s nice to see you here on Kim’s blog. :)

This is a pretty cool post. Your explanation of inductive arguments reminds me of bad habits or bad affirmations that we have been use to for a very long time. Just because we have been shy for long time doesn’t mean we can’t be confident for the next day, or at least try to be. Just because we have been poor for a long time doesn’t mean we can’t make money and become wealthy, or at least try. Life is about living in today’s world, and not allow the mistakes of yesterday affect our actions for the future. Thanks for this Ben.
Hulbert Lee´s last [type] ..Ivana Sendecka – Revolutionist, Inspiring Leader, and Blogger of Inspirational Shipments (Interview)

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Ben June 15, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Exactly Hulbert. Exactly!

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Kim Maglinti June 15, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Hi Hulbert,

Ben does get around :)

This is a great reminder to stay present and if necessary, reprogram negatively held beliefs. Outcomes are the result of our thoughts.
As always, I appreciate your contribution.

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Steve Youngs June 15, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Hey Ben!

Yeah, I get what you are trying to say, but I think you miss the mark slightly.

Leaving the sun argument out for a moment (I’ll deal with this too further down). On the outside, the example arguments you’ve given look to be inductive. But that isn’t the problem. The problem is that the authors of these arguments believe them to be deductive. The difference between inductive and deductive is pretty small, but in the right (wrong?) circumstances that difference can have devastating affects.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines these two types of arguments as…

A deductive argument is an argument in which it is thought that the premises provide a guarantee of the truth of the conclusion. In a deductive argument, the premises are intended to provide support for the conclusion that is so strong that, if the premises are true, it would be impossible for the conclusion to be false.

An inductive argument is an argument in which it is thought that the premises provide reasons supporting the probable truth of the conclusion. In an inductive argument, the premises are intended only to be so strong that, if they are true, then it is unlikely that the conclusion is false.

Now, lets talk about that silly sun example. On a purely philosophical level, yes it is an inductive argument… there is a chance that the conclusion will be false (the sun doesn’t rise tomorrow). However, because there would be nobody left to say “I told you so” and nobody to hear it, as all life on the planet would die, I’m happy to go out on a limb and say that this is indeed a completely deductive argument. Not because you can’t prove me wrong, but because it wouldn’t matter. :-)

Kind regards,
Steve
Steve Youngs´s last [type] ..MyLikes — The Latest Player In Social Media Advertising

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Ben June 15, 2010 at 11:47 pm

I think really its ok how you view an inductive argument.

I would say that the sun rising in the more is a probable truth rather than a guarantee. Just because something has happened every morning since the dawn of time doesn’t mean it will happen again.

As I said in the post Steve, many of us tell ourselves that we can’t do things, aren’t very good at x y or z, or that we have to do a certain way. We use these arguments all the time. They stop us moving forward and taking action.

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Faizal Nisar June 15, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Hey Ben & Kim! Good post here. It fits right in line with a quote I just read from Deepak Chopra, “My inner dialogue reflects the power I project”…and another quote is, “How I present myself to the world and move about in it is a mirror of my self-talk.”
Faizal Nisar´s last [type] ..After making a plan…

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Kim Maglinti June 15, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Great quotes, Faizal. Our lives are indeed a reflection of what we hold to be true. I’ll be sending an email soon :)

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Ben June 15, 2010 at 11:47 pm

I agree with Kim Faizal. Great quotes!

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Baker June 15, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Awesome post! A lot of times we get into those states, especially as writers as we like to think over and again what to put out there. But, what I have found particularly useful for me, is to just write from what I know and not overthink it too much. This process of going with my gut, has brought continued success to me. The trick really like you mention here is to recognize when that lower self as I call it, begins to creep up and tune down that voice, and raise the voice of that higher all knowing self. Nicely done article with good insights!

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Kim Maglinti June 15, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Hey Baker,

Great point. I’ve ‘argued’ that we often regurgitate material in personal development and that ‘it’s all been said before.’ I’ve since re-framed this — as a bird regurgitates to feed her young, we put our unique stamp on things and resonate with those who are open to learn from us.
Always good to have your stamp here ;)

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Ben June 15, 2010 at 11:52 pm

That little voice is a tricky SOB isn’t it Baker?

Going with your gut is a sure fire way to produce consistent results. Its so important to shut out your little voice and write from your soul

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Kim Maglinti June 16, 2010 at 12:16 am

A bit belated Ben, but I’m happy you’ve contributed a bit of your heart and soul here. Thank you!

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rob white June 17, 2010 at 9:27 am

This is a big one. In any endeavor and especially a creative one, it is imperative to express from within. When we express from within we reach an eternal audience. When we listen to these ‘inductive arguments’ our creativity is strangled. It is wise to write, paint, open a business, tap-dance or whatever the case may be for nothing except our own pleasure. Do you think Picasso ever made anything thinking, “Gee, I hope the critics like it…” Great discussion as usual here. :)

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Ben June 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Thanks for the great input Rob

You’re bang on here – we should do things we love and let the rest of the world align to us rather than trying to force align in order to find something we love

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Kim Maglinti June 17, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Hi Rob,

I remember hearing an interview with the musician Prince. After giving credit to those who have inspired him, he was quick to acknowledge the importance of going within to create — paying no mind to outside opinions. Like Picasso, he knows this is important to artistry.

You add dimension to our discussion here. Thank you!

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