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Friday
Feb072014

squeezing the excluded middle

A basic rule of logic is that what isn't true is false and what isn't false is true. There is no in-between land. There is no 'middle'. Hence the 'law of the excluded middle' which states that things that aren't black are white and vice versa. Of course lots of people have opposed this and come up with various fuzzy and grey ways of having a 'not quite black or white' middle. The problem is these methods aren't as versatile or powerful, the 'middle' absorbs all the difficult to solve problems and there they sink as if in a marsh.

When you go with a system of black/white you create lots of nice paradoxes- one of the most common being the Cretan: All Cretans are liars, I am a Cretan (so I must be a liar, which means I'm not a Cretan etc).

But away from rigorous B+W systems there are varying degrees of 'middle' out there being used in explanations. The more you squeeze the middle, the more you emphasise contrast rather than varying shades, the more 'surprising' the results (ie. paradoxical) you can achieve. The more surprising the results the more attention you get.

It's been shown that 'experts' who are asked for their over view give more extreme answers than similar experts asked to provide varying scenarios and explanations of features. When you set a 'grey agenda' you tend to educate people in greyness. Which is a good thing. People start looking for subtle differences rather than gross and surprising ones. You evolve from an attention culture to a connoisseur culture.

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