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Logic & Scientific Philosophy

The Hitchhikers Guide to a Logical Argument

Imagine walking along, minding your own business, and all of a sudden stopping dead in your tracks only to discover that you’ve come face to face with an angry beast on the hunt. If this just-so-happens to be a Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, there’s no reason to panic. That is, as long as you have your towel.

To deal with a Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Trall, one should wrap a towel around their head. The creature’s own logic tells it that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you.

If you can’t see it, it can’t see you.

If you wrap a towel around your head, you can’t see it.

Therefore, the beast can’t see you, rendering itself useless in it’s efforts to try to eat you.

Since this logic could save a life someday, I’m fairly content with it’s conclusion. In Douglas Adam’s “The Hitchhikers Guide to the galaxy,” logic like this is used quite frequently to create a comedic effect, as well as strengthen the believability of the fictional environment. The arguments used are most of the time valid, and also true and sound in the universe created by the books. The use of logic like this, no matter how absurd, helps make the environment in the story more realistic for the reader. No matter if the arguments would prove to be true and/or sound in real life, they still add more to the fictional world of the story, because the things in the story affected by the logical arguments become more believable and make sense to the reader in a way. As long as there’s nothing in the fictional environment to prove it invalid, untrue, or unsound, the logic used continues to add a little extra understanding of the story.

Remember, logic is useful in both literature and real life. And don’t go anywhere without your towel.

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Discussion

3 thoughts on “The Hitchhikers Guide to a Logical Argument

  1. I wondered about that. They never explain the towel anywhere in the movie, and I’ve never read the books.

    Posted by Stephen Downes | October 5, 2012, 12:16 pm
    • The books tells us that a towel is useful, not just for dealing with Bugblatter beasts, but also, among other things, for: combat, if you wet the towel first; keeping warm; lying on; and making people think that you are a together kind of guy (if you’ve got your towel, you must also, surely, have, a toothbrush, a compass, etc.); and you can even dry yourself with it.

      Posted by Nicholas Joll | October 6, 2012, 7:07 pm
  2. I always find it interesting to see how logic – or absurd logic – is used to make people laugh, and what that says about our own inherent understanding of what is logical. Good to see another example where this is done, thanks!

    Posted by liamthesaint | October 6, 2012, 8:33 pm

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