has always been of interest to me, not because he did any individual magnificent thing himself, but because like Henry Ford he took a lot of things that others had done before him and combined them into what we now think of as plane geometry, which is the basis for Cartesian geometry.

Here’s a very simple example. Let’s begin with a circle C. We have established a convention that a circle is 360 degrees, but it doesn’t have to be; you could divide it into thousandths, or radians, or whatever, but let’s use degrees because that’s what we’re used to.

If we run a line A through the very center of the circle, it divides it into precisely two equal halves, of equal circumference and equal area.

if we run another line “a” not parallel to the original line, and also through the center of the circle, it divides the circle into four parts, C1, C2, C3, and C4.

Because of Euclids work in assembling all the previously understood pieces of the Geometry puzzle, we know certain things to be demonstrably true. For instance: the angle of the intersection of the lines that define C1 and C3 will be precisely the same. The Area of C1 and C3 will be precisely the same. The area of C2 and C4 will be precisely the same. There are mathematical proofs for all of those things, and you can look them up. They are so durable that we never question them, and accept them as facts. Once something has been proven in this matter, until the physical laws of the universe change, there is no need to re-prove these things every time.

Now if we draw a line parallel to A, and call it B, and a line parallel to a and call it b, and a circle at the intersection of B and b, we can prove some things about that circle.

For instance, the angle at C1 and at c1 are precisely equal. The angle at C3 is equal to the angle at c3. And because we know the angle at C1 equals the angle at C3, we know the angle at C1 equals the angle at c3, and the angle at c1 equals the angle at C3. We also can accurately predict the angle at C1 plus the angle at c2 will = 180 degrees. If the diameter of the circle C and the circle c are exactly the same, then the area of, for instance, c2 and C4 are exactly the same.

We know these things because of Euclid, and because he put those proofs together step by step. We had this drummed into us in sixth grade.

it’s one of the things about school that I LOVED. There’s a great little primer on how an actual proof works, I’m not going to do one here, I’m sure 90% of you are unconscious already.

Here was a way for me to look at the world and put it into a framework that really made sense to me.

Once you establish a set of rules, and you understand how those rules work, you can describe and predict a great deal, and this has always been the way I think.

In school we had a teacher draw (basically) the above diagram on the board, and asked us to prove that the angle at C2 equaled the angle at c4. The number of students that came back with “They look the same” was stunning, even for 1972.

It’s pretty easy to look at the diagram and come to that conclusion, but that’s the actual origin of the term “Jumping to conclusions” If you cannot follow the train of logic from the thesis to the conclusion, you are making assumptions that you should not make. For instance, you cannot assume that A is parallel to B just because it looks it, you must either measure it, or you must be given that information as part of the instructions in the exercise (“For purposes of this exercise, assume that A is parallel to B, and that “a” is parallel to “b”,”)

There are plenty of times when this has bitten me, and they are hard learned lessons. Not horribly long ago, i did a lot of work to my truck it didn’t need, because I “Assumed” a new part was a good part. I took it into evidence as a fact, and as Carteach reminds me, “new” does not equal “Good”. I now have that writtten on my toolbox.

Regarding our current situation in this nation right now, I have a lot of questions, and I’m trying to arrive at answers that are meaningful, without jumping to conclusions.

Here are what I consider facts in evidence.

The nation is in an economic mess.
The current administration is not only not attempting to resolve the economic mess, they are trying to make it worse.
The previous administrations were no great shakes either
I love this country, I love the freedoms it means to me and to my offspring, and I want to continue to live here and have my offspring continue to enjoy those freedoms

Based on these facts, I can draw the conclusion that I would like to see the current situation improve.
Based on that conclusion, I have many questions:
Will it fix itself? I can’t establish any theories that will say that this method (Apathy) will work.
Is it possible to fix? I think it is possible to fix, because it was possible to get in this mess to begin with. If you can go somewhere, it seems, you can also go somewhere else.
What steps can be taken to fix the situation?
Well there’s armed revolution. I certainly don’t want to see that.
There’s apathy, see above.
There’s voting, and that is one of the real questions
There are other things which I do to the extent of my ability.

About the voting, I have a lot of questions, and because I have arrived at the conclusion that
a: things are broken, and
b: I’d like to see them fixed, and
c: I think they can be fixed, otherwise why not just blow your head off now, and
d: I have a responsibility to my offspring to leave them some kind of a world to live in, I ask questions.

One of the questions I have asked is “How will not voting fix anything?”

Almost invariably it is taken as a challenge or an insult to be responded to with derision and insult. So instead of answers I get derision and insult.

I can only draw the conclusion, for this, that the people who chose to deride and insult me instead of answering the question have not thought it through. The classic examples are:

“Romney is JUST LIKE OBAMA” Well,of course this is a lie. You can say it a million times, but it is still just a lie. I dislike lies a great deal. And I consider something portrayed as fact, which is merely an unsubstantiatable opinion, to be a lie. You can make the case that there are similarities, but to say that A follows B just because it looks the same to you, without showing your work, is not the answer I’m looking for, I want to see well thought out and researched answers to the qestions i have, so that I may research them myself and draw my own conclusions- and anyone who doesn’t, is a fool. If you base what you think and “Believe” on things other people tell you and things that make you happy to believe, I’d prefer you not involve yourself in the political process at all. I just want the facts, I want them in context, and I want them without rancor or editorial. Almost every answer I got was either ‘Romney is “Just like Obama” or “Well, you’ve made up your mind, you fucking idiot, there’s no sense me talking to you anymore” or “Go ahead and bail out your cabin in the titanic”. All because I wanted an honest answer to a very simple question. I never asked but one simple question, I got a few- very few- legitimate well thought out answers, and a lot of ad hominem. I don’t mind, I have a thick skin about that sort of thing, and I understand that people rankle when you challenge their assumptions no matter how stupid those assumptoions are- otherwise there would be no democrats. Among my friends, I expect reasoned discourse, and I am frankly disapointed how little I got. I know not to try to have a reasonable discussion with a Democrat, but I place a lot more value on the opinions of my friends.

So while I just wanted that simple answer as part of a greater “proof” so to speak, I got almost nothing but people who jumped to conclusions about what would happen in another Obama term. Sorry, you’re wrong; you don’t know what he will do; you can theorize, but you cannot bring your theory to a discussion as a fact. I got people who jumped to conclusions about what Romney would do. Sorry, you’re wrong; you don’t know what he will do; you can theorize, but you cannot bring your theory to a discussion as a fact. And in any event those theorizations had zero to do with the question, which so few people resonded to that it seems like the reading comprehension out there approaches zero.

I also got “I know you’re going to do X, so that makes you a fool” that is of course a lie, and it makes anyone who says it a liar, and i hope you don’t kiss your mom with that mouth. You don’t know what I’m going to do, except ask you a question; when I’m in the voting booth, I’ll be there by myself, so making assumptions about what I am going to do and how it will turn out is the merest conjecture- again, presented as a fact in a discussion which has no relevance to what i will do in the voting booth at all, except that it might help me- and someone else who reads here- formulate a decision. Incidentally, I am a fool despite the best efforts of everyone I know, so don’t think you can insult me; I’m far beyond your reach.

Anyway, that’s the sunday diatribe. I’m sure it will engender more of the same, including more “Ron Paul!!!!”, but it won’t make any difference. Thanks to Dave, and Joe, and JN, and Guardduck for reading the question, and attempting to answer it reasonably. It has helped a good deal to know someone can think critically. I never asked anyone to agree with me, just to tell me your opinion. I wish I had gotten more meaningful ones.

Update: An email reminds me that this line of reasoning is similar to syllogism, which I guess it sort of is.