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Butterfly Logic


Disciplines Argument > Types of reasoning > Butterfly Logic

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



A makes me think of B, so B causes A. Or vice versa.

What seems to be connected is connected. Connection implies causality, with the earlier event being the sole cause.

Thought is truth. Because I thought it and it seems reasonable to me, then it must be true.

There may also be a significant degree of broad generalization or diving into detail as the person chunks up and down at will.


A person suggests that early pregnancy is caused by smoking, both of which can be problems in teenage years.

In an argument about climate change, a person goes off on a muse about global things and comes around to saying that it is all because of China.


Of course this is not real logic, but it is the logic that many people use when making arguments.

The real reason that people use butterfly logic is that the brain is made up of connected neurons and the mind is, by consequence, made of connected thoughts. When we think of one thing, we are quickly reminded of a number of other things and it can be a small step to assume they are connected, even to the point where one causes another.

Things associate in various ways, the most common of which are similarity and time. Similar things get linked because it helps to understand things through other things, so we can say A is like B or A is a B (eg. that box is like a chair, or a stool is a sort of chair). This helps also with categorizing things when we first encounter them. As our memory also has a strong time element, when we think of something we may also think of a time when we encountered that thing, and hence also recall the other items around at the time.

Associative memory and thinking also does quick hops from A to B to C to D and so on, for example when I think of houses I also think of fires, police, hospital, my visits there, people I was with and so on. This 'butterfly thinking' has a particular effect in the way we can link seemly distant things. While this is useful creatively, it falls down when we try to use it in hard reasoning.

When challenged, butterfly logicians have no real reasoning behind their thoughts and so respond with messages that effectively say 'please do not argue because I have no answer'. Responses include:

  • Anger and ad hominem personal attacks.
  • Empty statements, such as 'It stands to reason'.
  • Various appeals that are not based on reason.
  • Ignoring the challenge.

See also

Association principle, Cause-and-Effect Reasoning, Slippery Slope, Generalization

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