How to borrow logic from the animal kingdom

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REY ELBO

I LOVE feeding cats. Not the imported, good-looking kind, but the rugged pusakals (pusa sa kalye or street cats) variety that roam around our neighborhood. The moment they hear me opening the aluminium screen kitchen door, they all scamper to beg and wait for food scraps. They started out as kittens brought into this world by a mother who loves cavorting with any tom, dick or harry she meets on the streets.

They all appear proud of their clowder, especially during times when they have caught a big, black rat that they would place neatly as a trophy on the welcome mat of our house, to the big horror of my wife, who is not impressed at all with their conquest. But no, I’m determined to keep the pusakals, at least at an arm’s length, if only to keep those pesky rats away.

I told my wife we got only two choices—the pusakals or the black rats. I used “inductive reasoning” to convince her of the obvious choice. Now, she’s the one feeding the cats, short of buying them fancy canned goods from Shopwise. Why not? We’ve not seen any rats roaming around the garden. It only proves that I was right. Or, maybe the unwelcome rats are in my neighbor’s backyard, no longer keen on visiting us.

But what exactly is “inductive reasoning?” Livescience.com defines it as follows: “Inductive reasoning makes broad generalizations from specific observations. Basically, there is data, then conclusions are drawn from the data.”


In my case, the “broad generalizations” come from the age-old belief that “cats kill mice and rats.” It has always been so, even in the distant past when cats and humans got together through the discovery that they could both improve their diets by keeping grain stores mouse-free. And in modern cartoon shows, such as ‘Tom and Jerry,’ cats and mice continue the eternal struggle between hunter and prey. Your cat might bat a catnip mouse about the carpet to keep you happy, but make no mistake—the cat’s instincts crave the real thing,” at least, according to knowyourcat.info.

And, the “specific generalizations” are confirmed when my pusakals would normally parade their trophies in places where my wife could readily see them, until one time, when my wife surprised me with a killer question. Borrowing a kaizen cliché from me, she asked: “Is there a better way?”

Of course, inductive reasoning may fail in certain instances. Retaining pusakals to help us get rid of bothersome rats is not exactly fool-proof. Sooner than we can imagine, our pusakals may renege on their sworn
duty and leave us in uncertainty over their return or next delivery.

This got me into thinking about solutions, until I discovered an example from Wikipedia:

“All biological life forms that we know of depend on liquid water to exist. Therefore, if we discover a new biological life form it will probably depend on liquid water to exist. This argument could have been made every time a new biological life form was found, and would have been correct every time; however, it is still possible that in the future, a biological life form not requiring liquid water could be discovered. As a result, the argument may be stated less formally as: All biological life forms that we know of depend on liquid water to exist. All biological life probably depends on liquid water to exist.”

In other words, let’s enjoy the pusakals while their loyalty lasts. My worst fear came to fruition when I saw my pusakals doing part-time job at my neighbor’s house. It looks like were not the only ones naïve here. If you don’t feed them regularly, chances are, they will move to greener pasture.

Who says “endo” contracting is the exclusive domain of minimum wage earners?

Inductive reasoning is good while supply lasts. We trust that as long as we feed the pusakals, they will remain committed to us by making our garden and backyard rat-free. Besides, that approach is cost-effective. We give only food scraps that could have gone to trash anyway. And we don’t have to spend money to buy any expensive cat food. Also, rat poison is a dangerous and a toxic idea, not only for one’s health but for the environment.

At our senior age, we hope and pray that our happy hearts will still be beating tomorrow and beyond. Such confidence with our pusakals. If you left us for no reason, then don’t just reappear at our doorstep with your new kindle of kittens. That may sound good and acceptable if you belong to the animal kingdom, but what we fail to realize is that such statement can come only if you know how to use inductive reasoning.

So, the question is, if you’re in management, how fast are you in recognizing and using good reasoning?

Rey Elbo is a business consultant specializing in human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to elbonomics@gmail.com or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random thoughts on Elbonomics.

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