If you know the answer, please raise your foot…

Numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between the size of students’ feet and their reading ability. Statistically speaking, the bigger a student’s shoe size is, the better his reading level is.

Pretty neat, huh? Maybe you should buy your kids bigger shoes just to encourage them!

My entire factoid, while true, is a logical sham. Can you explain why?

Believing facts, seeing facts, or wanting facts?

Perhaps you have heard it said, as I have, that, in order for an argument to be logical, the arguer needs facts and proof, not just beliefs. And perhaps this seemingly obvious claim struck you as funny, as somehow off, as it strikes me. The claim is itself an attempt at a logical argument about logic, with a form, I think, like this:

Major premise: Logical arguments require demonstrable facts.

Minor premise: Beliefs are not demonstrable facts.

Conclusion: Logical arguments cannot be based on beliefs.

What primarily bothers me about this line of reasoning is that it seems to lack any factual content itself. Speaking more historically, this sort of “obvious” claim seems subject to the same flaws of old-school positivism. To wit, is it an empirical fact that “you need facts to make logical conclusions”? How can I empirically observe that statement? Or is the stricture itself just a belief about logic? Are facts, in fact, properly objects of logical construction?

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