Beware of Pretzel Logic

I love the columns that Gene Weingarten writes for the Washington Post Sunday Magazine, the one that all of the DC political junkies like me pour over on Sunday mornings.  Between “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation” on TV and the Washington Post Magazine section, Sunday mornings is when I get my political fix for the entire week.  My family has known for years that my Sunday morning ritual is sacred to me and that they only can talk to me—-or to each other while in the same room with me— during  commercial breaks

Gene Weingarten’s writing always gets my attention.  He writes about mundane but interesting and amusing things in his column called “Below the Beltway.”  It does not get much more mundane than that in Washington, DC.  Most of all, he makes me laugh, and I love to laugh.

His column last Sunday made me laugh especially hard.  He was exploring what he calls “pretzel logic.”  Pretzel logic, as it turns out, is logic that is so contorted as to be unrecognizable to the rational mind.  Here a sampling:

An influential Saudi Arabian cleric explains that the reason women are not permitted to drive in his country is that they might damage their ovaries if they were to become involved in an automobile accident, thereby affecting the health of the future generation.

Logical?  Yes, of course……..

As Gene Weingarten points out, pretzel logic could be used to explain a lot of other things:

  •     Like the fact that American women still only earn 80% of what men earn—-according to pretzel logic, that is not bad because it makes the women angry and they channel their anger and aggression into more competitive behavior that will advantage corporate advancement;
  •     Like the fact that some people are too poor for health insurance—according to pretzel logic, that is not bad because it gives them stronger incentive to take better care of themselves, as in eating healthier foods and avoiding fast food alternatives;
  •     Like the fact that, in some jurisdictions in our country, gay people are not allowed to marry each other—according to pretzel logic, that is not bad because it protects their extraordinary creative and passionate contributions to society from the “passion-deadening yoke of matrimony”; and
  •     Like the fact that 1% of Americans own 40 % of the wealth in this country—according to pretzel logic, that is not bad because the other 99% do not know how to handle wealth and would squander it away.

You need to understand pretzel logic because it most likely will be used against most of you at one time or another.  As women, we are particularly vulnerable to pretzel logic.  Pretzel logic can be used to convince you that you lack dedication to your profession because you cannot be expected to handle the responsibilities of both profession and family.  Pretzel logic also can be used to explain that you were not invited to the sports event with the firm’s biggest client because you would not have enjoyed it, and pretzel logic can also be used to convince you that women are natural party planners and that you, therefore, are the logical choice for chairing the Christmas party committee.

There are no facts behind pretzel logic, but it sounds really good to the people who are trying to avoid facing serious issues and doing something about them.

So, beware of pretzel logic—-and remember that pretzels are not all thin and straight.  Some pretzels are all turny and twisty and loopy and do not seem to have a beginning or an end.  It is the same with pretzel logic.  It is your job to put an end to it!

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