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sociology - the structure of analysing belief systems

logicians, 'logic' and madness

New translation, the Magna Carta

herds and the individual - sociology, the ephemeral nature of groups
counting beliefs - irrational associations
logicians, 'logic' and madness
intelligence and madness
language for manipulation, exaggeration and hypocrisy
irrational actions - analysis of behaviour
co-operation and being nice
the problem of moderation
covid and nuclear explosions -
expanding and dying chains

the individual or the common good
productivity and production
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Logicians, 'logic' and madness is one of a number of documents analysing dysfunctional social, or group, behaviour in modern society.
Several famous logicians, mathematicians and philosophers are said to have been, or become mad.
Here, abelard looks at what is madness, and how it relates to academic logic.
Supplement: writing down stats - using the standard normal distribution table
on sociology on socialism 'social' economics supporting resources
and background documents
For more on sociology and socialism:

Introdution - socialism & sociology
sociology - the structure of analysing belief systems

Labour Party pamphlets:

"Great wits are sure to madness near alli'd;
And thin partitions do their bounds divide"

Absalom and Achitophel by John Dryden, 1681

classes of madness
some important logicians- frege, gödel, cantor, turing
wittgenstein and russell
use and misuse of logic in communication
abelard's view
mind reading—mad, bad or sad
deliberately dishonest communications - examples from the socialist cult
the ways socialists lie - destroying the given order
bibliography          end notes
related reading about sociology and socialism


  1. This page is going to drive around a bit. I planned it in February 2001, when I first expressed my intention to write on logic and the irrational. It is only now that I am finding the time to organise it.

  2. Many people have written around/about this topic for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
    I am writing this because of dissatisfaction with the fuzziness and sloppiness of everything I have seen.

  3. Among many psychologists, I tend to regard the generality of humans to be mad in varying degrees, but the idea of madness is remarkably complex and difficult to define.
    (I shall be using the term 'mad' in a cavalier fashion throughout this page as a crude synonym for a wide range of behaviours between irrational and institutionalised!)

  4. A central point is to indicate that thinking irrationally leads to poor outcomes and worse.
    If you believe that you can fly off a high building by flapping your ears, you are likely to end up as strawberry jam on the pavement.
    If you believe the irrational tenets of socialism and Islamism, you are very likely to end up with copious corpses.

  5. Of course the strain of enthusiastic over-work can lead to lack of sleep, and thereby to the let-down of depression, or the malfunction of hallucination (dreaming while awake). Similar effects can occur through the use of drugs and other trauma and assaults. To label these experiences as 'mental disease', I regard as an over-simplification and even as magical thinking.

  6. I assert that madness is not primarily due to the 'genius' of the logician, but that the very dubious structures of academic logic can encourage and aggravate mental mal-functioning. However, anyone who challenges a current culture is likely to run foul of the local satraps. (See social madness.)

  7. If you believe in a false model of reality and act accordingly, you will not achieve the outcomes you desire. Thus, if you internalise Aristotelian logic, which is emperically unsound; then you are liable to act irrationally in sensitive interactional situations.

  8. classes of madness 
    As a first step, I break madness into to two general classes:
    • reality madness, and
    • social madness.

  9. It is quite possible to be very sane in one class and completely crazy in the other.
    • Type 1:
      You may believe something ridiculous, say that you have been abducted by aliens (reality mad),
      but it is not very sane to go on about it to your psychologist (he may want to stick you in a loony bin), or to a policeman, or in a job interview. Spilling the beans may be saintly and honest, but not very cautious (socially mad).

    • Type 2:
      It may be very prudent to have a few gold coins in your attic (reality sane),
      but you are better to not discussing this down the pub or with a tax man. Again spilling the beans may be saintly and honest, but not very cautious (socially mad).

    • Type 3:
      You may believe in socialism or jihadism (reality mad),
      and you may wax lyrical on your enthusiasm at party meetings, even become Prime Minister and get rich - a sort of sanity, but I cannot see you getting into heaven (socially sane).
      You may sell pet rocks (reality mad),
      make a million, buy a big house, and have enough over to buy a good education for your children (socially sane).

    • Type 4: You may invent a better rat trap (reality sane),
      and tell other people about it (socially sane).

  10. See the review below of Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are by Sebastian Seung. The central message to be taken is that we have no evidence whatsoever that IQ (or 'intelligence') has any strong connection with DNA-driven performance within the normal population, outside of trauma-driven brain damage.

  11. Science progresses by consensus and democracy, not by certainties.
    Ptolemaic cosmology is displaced by Copernican cosmology when more people vote for Copper-nickers than voted for Ptolemy.

  12. Theories are just descriptions of what is widely believed.

  13. Science is what you can demonstrate in public, as for instance dropping stones from the Tower of Pisa.

some important logicians and madness

  1. In this section, I will concentrate on the most innovative and important logicians.
    A list, including lesser names, may be found at the page linked here.

  2. Gottlob Frege (Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege), an all round hater and screwball:
    From his diaries it can be seen that he opposed the parliamentary system, democrats, liberals, Catholics, the French and Jews, and was in favour of Hitler.

  3. Thinking in the fashion of Kurt Gödel requires the person to think irrationally.

  4. Both Kurt Gödel and Georg Cantor were regarded as mad towards the end of their lives.
    Gödel starved himself under the illusion that people were trying to poison him.
    Cantor was in and out of the nut house, and had other irrational theories.

  5. Alan Turing could be regarded as socially mad.
    He was asked by the police about his relationship with a young scrote that was staying with him. Despite a nod and a wink from the police, Turing answered with naive honestly that the relationship was homosexual. In those days, homosexuality was treated as a grave crime. Turing was ordered to take feminising drugs as an alternative to imprisonment. Turing later committed suicide "while the balance of his mind was disturbed", in the standardised words of the inquest of the Good Old Days. Since then, there have been revisionist speculations that his death may have been accidental, or murder.

    Turing was a brilliant 'mechanic' who developed the work of logicians like Gödel into real-world applications.

    "I assume that the reader is familiar with the idea of extra-sensory perception, and the meaning of the four items of it, viz. telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psycho-kinesis. These disturbing phenomena seem to deny all our usual scientific ideas. How we should like to discredit them! Unfortunately the statistical evidence, at least for telepathy, is overwhelming. It is very difficult to rearrange one's ideas so as to fit these new facts in. Once one has accepted them it does not seem a very big step to believe in ghosts and bogies. The idea that our bodies move simply according to the known laws of physics, together with some others not yet discovered but somewhat similar, would be one of the first to go." etc [ Alan Turing]

    Later work showed these 'experiments' were based on poor experimental design and downright fraud.

  6.  wittgenstein and russell 
    Ludwig Wittgenstein said that thinking in logic was sending him insane. "I am often afraid of madness".
    "Wittgenstein did have a persistent fear of madness, a madness that was hardly unrelated to his own temptations towards the lonely rigours of philosophical thought. Bertrand Russell, who knew the younger Wittgenstein well, describes him as a person so preoccupied with thinking as to have been on the verge of actual madness, a person who often complained that logic was driving him into insanity." [Sass, p.74]

    Bertrand Russell responded to Wittgenstein's remark, "Possibly so".
    "Wittgenstein's decision to spend some time alone in Norway was, Russell wrote, 'a blow and an anxiety'. He told Lucy Donnelly that he had tried several ways of talking him out of it: "I said it would be dark, he said he hated daylight. I said it would be lonely, & he said he prostituted his mind talking to intelligent people. I said he was mad & he said God preserve him from sanity. (God certainly will.)"
    [Monk, p.324]

    Russell was Wittgenstein's tutor at Cambridge University from 1912 to 1913. He described Wittgenstein as "the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived; passionate, profound, intense, and dominating."[Duignan, p.259]

  7. My own impression of Wittgenstein is that he was much saner than his contemporaries and that, in fact, he was struggling with the insanities of academic 'logic". Russell, after repeating (without being aware of it) in Principia Mathematica the earlier work of Gottlob Frege, declared that logic had worn him out.

    "So I persisted and in the end the work was finished, but my intellect never quite recovered from the strain." [Russell, vol.1, p.152-153]

    It was Russell who had a variety of naive beliefs, such as world government, pacifism, unilateral disarmament, eugenics, and socialism - the basic cult orchestra. However, he did modify some of his his expressions in later life, in accord with popularism. This was, of course, long after his writings on logic and his claims to be a 'philosopher'.

    "Despite their differences, Russell and Frege were alike in taking an essentially platonic view of logic. Indeed the passion with which Russell pursued the project of deriving mathematics from logic owed a great deal to what he would later somewhat scornfully describe as a 'kind of mathematical mysticism.' As he put it in his more disillusioned old age, 'I disliked the real world and sought refuge in a timeless world, without change or decay or the will-o'-the-wisp of progress.' Russell, like Pythagoras and Plato before him, believed that there existed a realm of truth that, unlike the messy contingencies of the every-day world of sense experience, was immutable and eternal. This realm was accessible only to reason, and knowledge of it, once attained , was not tentative and corrigible but certain and irrefutable. Logic, for Russell, was the means by which one gained access to this realm, and thus the pursuit of logic was, for him, the highest and noblest enterprise life had to offer." [Duignan, p 257/9]

    "W. G. Grace, the great English cricketer, once jumped on a chair in a meeting and shouted something like: 'God doesn't want a head. any old cabbage will do for a head. What God wants is a heart.' Now, Wittgenstein liked that because he thought that was the right attitude to have to religion." [Bryan Magee]

use and misuse of logic in communication

  1.  abelard's view
    Language is a new development in humans. People have yet to learn to handle language well - they tend to confuse language with the reality to which the language applies. (See also review on The philosophers by Scharfstein, below.)
    Education needs referents that stop this confusion.

  2. In my view, received 'logic' drives people mad.
    My analysis of Aristotelean / received 'logic' is designed to show how and why this is so - to show how current 'logic' is unrealistic and can be contrary to sanity, yet it is at the core of much common 'education'.

  3. A stick of dynamite is reasonably safe until you light the fuse. See chapter 2, counting beliefs - irrational associations.
    For example, the ruler of Germany, Angela Merkel, was 'educated' in the former German Socialist Republic.
    That programming very likely remains buried in her head ('computer'). It just needs an appropriate stimulus.
    The refugee 'crisis' appears to have sparked that fuse for her.

  4. Most humans are simply mad. They have nuttiness conditioned in during childhood. Those nuttinesses stop them thinking well under various and unpredictable circumstances. If the bootstrap does not work well, the computer will not work well. It may also respond erroneously relative to the programmer's intentions.

  5. Look at Barack Obama, raised between Islam and Marxism.
    It is very foolish to ignore such facts.

  6. Look at the loon that raised Ed Miliband with his Marxist nonsense. Now in Britain, there is Jeremy Corbyn.

  7. This may be psychological rocket science, but it can be understood with sufficient study.

  8.  mind reading — mad, bad or sad 
    • You cannot know the mind of another.
      The mad person may kill in the paranoid assumption that one is about to slice them into pieces for the evening salad.
      The bad psychopath may kill because they want your purse and know no reason they should not have it, meanwhile assessing that you are in their way.
      The sad fool acts ‘stupidly’ if they kill a person by hitting them with a piece of two by four through mere clumsiness.
      In each case the target is similarly dead.

    • Mad bad or sad: ultimately, you cannot know or decide. For you do not and cannot know, with any sureness, what is in the mind of another.
      As Abelard would have said, only god may know what is in the heart of another. Assumptions to the contrary are mere vanity and ego-comforting illusion.

    • Acts that harm others are essentially unsane in a civilised state. Humans are struggling out of the swamp and the jungle. To attain a civilised state, we must strive to cause no harm. This can be expressed in the anarchist assumption, ‘your freedom stops when you step on my toes’ or otherwise, as much freedom as possible, as long as it doesn't interfere with the freedom of others. Medics have the Hippocratic Oath of "do no harm".

deliberately dishonest communications - examples from the socialist cult

  1. The essential purpose of socialists is to either to lie their way to power, or failing that, to generate mass hysteria and mob rule in pursuit of revolution. As a dogmatic religion, socialism seeks to disengage people from critical analyis.

  2.  the ways socialists lie - destroying the given order 
    • By 'trashing' the person - a form of distraction.

    • Using a false assumption in questions posed, or replies made.
      For instance: "When did you stop beating your wife?"

    • By trying to divert every reference to the real world towards some emotional irrelevance.
      For instance: Statement - Our welfare is becoming out of control.
                             Response - That's because you don't care about the poor.

      Goebbels method of lying:
    • Repeating a lie over and over again until it is widely believed.
    • Telling a big enough lie.
      e.g. the British banks caused the 2008 recession in Britain.
      e.g. Labour was the origin of the NHS.

      Sorel method:
    • Bringing up a myth to radicalise people and prepare them for war.

      See also Labour Party structure.

    • Lenin method:
      Lenin was right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.
      [The Economic Consequences of the Peace,1919, ch. 6]
      This is, of course, the point. This is the objective of Marxists/Socialists - to so disrupt society that they can take over. Lenin generated devastating inflation. The rouble depreciated about 50 million times by 1923 [Katsenellenbaum, Russian Currency and banking, 1914-24, published 1925].

    • Stalin method:
      Kill off the establishment. Examples: The French Revolution and Stalin's attempt to kill the capitalists (kulaks).
      Kill off anyone with education. Examples: Pol Pot, Mao's cultural revolution, the Iranian revolution also used similar methods.

    • Cloward-Piven method:
      "First proposed in 1966 and named after Columbia University sociologists Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, the Cloward-Piven Strategy seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse."

      "In their 1966 article, Cloward and Piven charged that the ruling classes used welfare to weaken the poor; that by providing a social safety net, the rich doused the fires of rebellion. Poor people can advance only when "the rest of society is afraid of them," Cloward told The New York Times on September 27, 1970. Rather than placating the poor with government hand-outs, wrote Cloward and Piven, activists should work to sabotage and destroy the welfare system; the collapse of the welfare state would ignite a political and financial crisis that would rock the nation; poor people would rise in revolt; only then would "the rest of society" accept their demands."
      [Quoted from discoverthenetworks.org]

      Deliberately generate conflicts and envy between groups.
      Set men against women.
      Set ethnic groups against one another.
      Set the better-off against the less well-off.
      Generate religious conflicts.
      Foment strife between those of different ethnicity and skin 'colours'.
      And of course Marx's favourite, set workers against employers.

      See also ends and means, and the individual. return to the index

now read
chapter 4, intelligence and madness



The philosophers: Their lives and the nature of their thought
by Ben-Ami Scharfstein
The philosophers: Their lives and the nature of their thought

Oxford University Press, reprint, pbk, 1989

ISBN-10: 0195059271
ISBN-13: 978-0195059274

$39.99 [amazon.com] {advert}
£30.59 [amazon.co.uk] {advert}


Ben-Ami Scharfstein attempts here to compare, not very convincingly, the early childhood experiences of 'philosophers' with their philosophies. This is a Freudian approach and, obviously and correctly, assumes that the output of the 'philosophers' is not as objective as is widely supposed. Scharfstein does come to a view that his examples are, in the main, dysfunctional people.

Mario Bunge takes another approach to this problem in his Philosophy of Psychology. In particular, he tries to distinguish monist and dualist approaches to to the analysis of the output of 'philosophers' and psychologists.

Then we have German idealist 'philosophers' who complain about psychologism, by which they tend to wish to maintain their ego-waffling arrogance while keeping it pristine from pestiferous matters like fact and reality! [See Language as calculus vs. language as universal medium by Martin Kusch.]

"Philosophy, from the earliest times, has made greater claims, and achieved fewer results, than any other branch of learning." [Russell, Our knowledge of the external world, 1914]

Philosophy has similarities to religions, where over time various sciences grow out of speculations, theorising, and downright waffle of philosophy and theology. At which point, philosophy goes looking for new areas of speculation. As the fellow said to his friend, "we were having this fascinating conversation at the bar, and some fool came along and spoilt it with a fact". Some nuisance like Galileo climbs a tower and starts dropping weights, spoiling 2,000 years of speculation from the times of Aristotle.

[No GoldenYaks, as I would not persuade anyone but someone as dedicated as myself to read this. This book can be called a bywater.]

The Paradoxes of delusion: Wittgenstein, Schreber, and the schizophrenic mind
by Louis Arnorsson Sass

The Paradoxes of Delusion: Wittgenstein, Schreber, and the Schizophrenic Mind

Cornell University Press, pbk, 1995

ISBN-10: 0801498996
ISBN-13: 978-0801498992

$23.95 [amazon.com] {advert}


Bertrand Russell : The spirit of solitude 1872-1921
by Ray Monk
Bertrand Russell : The Spirit of Solitude 1872-1921

Routledge pbk, 1999

ISBN-10: 0415923867
ISBN-13: 978-0415923866



The autobiography of Bertrand Russell 1872-1914 [vol.1]
by Bertrand Russell
The autobiography of Bertrand Russell 1872-1914

Allen & Unwin, 1967

ISBN-10: 1135494002
ISBN-13: 978-1135494001



Wittgenstein: A life , young Ludwig 1889–1921
by Brian McGuinness
Wittgenstein: A Life , Young Ludwig 1889–1921

University of California Press, hbk, 1988

ISBN-10: 0520064968
ISBN-13: 978-0520064966



The 100 most influential philosophers of all time
by Brian Duignan
The 100 Most Influential Philosophers of All Time

Rosen Education Service, library binding, 1st edn 2009

ISBN-10: 1615300090
ISBN-13: 978-1615300099

$53.00 [amazon.com] {advert}
£41.68 [amazon.co.uk] {advert}

Connectome: How the brain's wiring makes us who we are
by Sebastian Seung

Connectome by Seung

Allen Lane, hbk, 2012

ISBN-10: 1846144140
ISBN-13: 978-1846144141


Penguin, pbk,2013

ISBN-10: 0241951879
ISBN-13: 978-0241951873

$11.00 [amazon.com] {advert}
£9.98 [amazon.co.uk] {advert}

Kindle edition
 4335 KB
Print Length: 346 pages
Penguin, 2012


$9.32 [amazon.com] {advert}
£7.23 [amazon.co.uk] {advert}

This is a useful basic primer on what is known currently about the physiology of brains. While his stats and logic are usually good, there are plenty of loose speculations and uncareful statements. A great deal of the bottom line is that we still know practically nothing. Thus there is no obvious connection between brain physiology and various faux categories of 'mental illness' apart from when there is evidence of actual or possible brain 'damage'.

The man with the hammer tends to be believe that everything he encounters is a nail. Medics are used to treating 'illnesses' with aspirins and antibiotics, so they tend to think in terms of brain chemistry pills rather than behavioural causation and modification, while the pharmaceutical industry is very willing to oblige. 'Mad' people are annoying, or 'challenging'. The primitive human urge when something goes wrong or is irritating is to kill it or kick it or hit it with your brand new hammer.

It is, of course, more humane to chain the lunatic/nuisance to the walls in Bedlam than it is to burn them as a witch or heretic. It is even more humane to electrocute their brain until it no longer remembers, or cut out a piece of their brain, and call it a 'cure'. In these enlightened days, we have the sweets from the chemistry labs, sometimes cynically called mental coshes - and thus does civilisation advance. But I am far from convinced that the fantasies of the DSM are anything but a cross between a money-making scheme and ego trip for 'professionals'.

There is much more to be hoped for with improvements in education and social behaviour than from brand new hammers, as we struggle to come down from the trees and leave the savannah behind.

It is good to study neurons and brain wiring, but I am unconvinced that it has much to do with correcting schizophrenia, depression, so-called autism and dyslexia.

Language as calculus vs. language as universal medium
by Martin
(sometimes Marren) Kusch, first edition 1989
Language as calculus vs. language as universal medium

 Springer, pbk, reprint, 2013

ISBN-10: 9401075891
ISBN-13: 978-9401075893

$269.00 [amazon.com] {advert}
£175.50 [amazon.co.uk] {advert}


Philosophy of Psychology
by Mario Bunge
, first edition 1987
Philosophy of Psychology

 Springer, pbk, (August 22, 2012)

ISBN-10: 1461291186
ISBN-13: 978-1461291183

$99.00 [amazon.com] {advert}
£72.00 [amazon.co.uk] {advert}


end notes

  1. Disproving the Myth that many early logicians were a few axioms short of a complete set
    I regard most of the above link content as ill-conceived, but it may well interest some.

  2. Lenin, 1917 - central banking (nationalisation) and socialism

    "The big banks are the "state apparatus" which we need to bring about socialism, and which we take ready-made from capitalism; our task here is merely to lop off what capitalistically mutilates this excellent apparatus, to make it even bigger, even more democratic, even more comprehensive. Quantity will be transformed into quality. A single State Bank, the biggest of the big, with branches in every rural district, in every factory, will constitute as much as nine-tenths of the socialist apparatus. This will be country wide book-keeping, country-wide accounting of the production and distribution of goods, this will be, so to speak, some thing in the nature of the skeleton of socialist society." [Lenin]

    The rouble depreciated about 50 million times by 1923 [Katsenellenbaum, Russian Currency and banking, 1914-24, published 1925].

    And again in 1990-3 Russia destroyed the rouble.
        Jan. 1990 : $1 was 10.27 roubles
        June 1993 : $1 was 1060 roubles, that is inflated by 100 times (source: IMF and World Bank). This was in the Gorbachev-Yeltsin era).

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