Thinking in Binary

“The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers.” ~ Sydney J. Harris

This evening I was reading a blog post in which the author mentioned how our culture relies so heavily on a binary system; if there is something in-between physical and mental we avoid it or institutionalize it. This fits right into what I’ve often said about how our society/culture likes to pigeon-hole things and tries to put everything into absolutes while ignoring everything in between or refusing to believe than anything in between exists. Her comment made me realize that we live in a binary culture.

  • 1 or 0
  • On or Off
  • Yes or No
  • True or False
  • Left or Right
  • Right or Wrong
  • Black or White
  • Red or Blue
  • Liberal or Conservative
  • Republican or Democrat
  • Gay or Straight
  • Pro-life or Pro-Choice
  • Creationist or Evolutionist
  • Good or Evil
  • God or Satan
  • Heaven or Hell
  • Pure or Corrupt
  • Sinner or Saint
  • Christian or Heathen
  • Muslim or Infidel
  • With us or Agin us
  • Art or Porn
  • Legal or Illegal
  • Dead or Alive
  • Love or Hate
  • Male or Female
  • Virgin or Whore
  • Masculine or Feminine
  • Sane or Insane
  • Rich or Poor

Binary logic works well for computers bur our brains are capable of distinguishing, experiencing and appreciating the infinite possibilities in between the extremes. We exist in that area in between. The world is not binary. It is analog.


Author: Rick

I'm a simple man, trying to make my way in the universe.

One thought on “Thinking in Binary”

  1. I alluded to this post on Twitter/Facebook and I’m not sure those who commented understood my point. Admittedly, in trying to express it in 140 characters or less I may not have been as clear as I would have liked. I do have a pretty good understanding of binary logic. The point of my Tweet (and this post) was that people have a tendency to see things in terms of absolutes — it’s either one thing or its polar opposite without any regard for what lies in between.

    It’s very basic binary thinking, just OR. There’s no AND, no XOR, just OR. It’s A or it’s B; C, D, and E either do not exist or are completely irrelevant. I find this kind of thinking quite frightening whether this sort of logic is being carried out by humans or computers.


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