Pyramidal and Mind Map

hierarchical presentation of reasoning

Mind Maps are pyramids around 360 degrees!

Mind Maps should be produced freely and with use of symbols and colours as memory jolts. However, they can be reproduced to show more consistent order.

Hierarchical arrangements of data

Then (in finished presentation) the ideas at each level should be presented in an order:

Inevitably, in terms of a pyramid or outward mind map, some of the lower level stages are summaries themselves of groups (clusters) of lower levels where arguments exist along that next level. Nevertheless each cluster should always relate up and down.

An outcome may be demonstrated in terms of titling...



1 (a)

1 (a) i
1 (a) ii
1 (a) iii

1 (b)

1 (b) i
1 (b) ii
1 (b) iii
1 (b) iv


2 (a)

2 (a) i
2 (a) ii

In this case the arguments are running along the i, ii, iii, iv levels whereas the introduction contains the potential summary for all, and then 1 (a) runs a high level elaborated introduction (ie may contain some introductory argument), and 1 (b) operates at this level. Of course it is possible for arguments to run along levels higher than those with (a)... or i... but these will be on the same level of hierarchy as other elaborated summaries and will probably exclude that lower level numbering in their case. This numbering/ ordering system should be possible even if the numbers (with or without titles alongside) do not appear.


(and inductive)
at any level

Deductive reasoning is reasoning from a premise that is argued step by step (there must be no intervening steps missed out), that cannot lead to another conclusion, and where the conclusion must be sound.
  • ducks are yellow
  • AA cards are yellow
  • therefore ducks are AA cards
is a false argument, whereas
  • I am a man
  • All men have two legs
  • therefore I have two legs
is a sound argument but based on inadequate observation, whilst
  • All people need sleep
  • I am a person
  • Therefore I need sleep
is a sound argument based on correct information.
Inductive reasoning is inference by information on shared entities or categories. So the argument starts with a survey of the situation, a grouping of the information, and inductive probabilities that result. Inductive logic is more likely to need an essay type creative argument, and can never be entirely convincing.
  • The teacher is not present
  • The teacher had a cold last week
  • Therefore the teacher is not coming to the class
In this case the shared entity is the teacher who is in a work based situation. The problem is that after 5 minutes the teacher walks through the door having been in a traffic jam, though continues to sneeze a lot. It wasn't simply that the reasoning lacked information, though inductive argument always benefits from more observation, but that there was inference being made leading to a probable not logical outcome. Of course observation may change the nature of the argument available to the logical one - but even:
  • The office worker is in bed all day
  • Therefore the office worker is not going to work
Whilst it looks deductive is still inductive because a stage or two is missed from the argument. What happens if the office worker gets her laptop and works in the way she can. Had a further argument been made that work always takes place in the office then the argument's conclusion would have been deductive.
  • The office worker is in bed at home all day
  • The office worker must travel to work in the office
  • Therefore the office worker is not going to work


These rules assist the logical thinking ahead of any written work. They do not, however, themselves lead to writing ability or the use of bridging statements.

This approach can be used for essay plans, where the diagram or mind map is part of the preparation towards better ordered and more logical thinking.

In terms of an essay, the process should run from top to bottom or centre outwards (of a pyramid or Mind Map respectively) but addressing each level down/ out within a group at a time, pursuing the logic of the argument, and using bridging paragraphs, returning to summary points of the hierarchy along the way and concluding back at the highest again. Of course the points at which the argument moves down/ outwards, then along a level, then up a level to go down to another group and its level, and so on, is the skill of the essay writing. So the essay's introduction is a summary of all in potential (perhaps deliberately not realised - don't give it all away!), then there are further lower levels of introductions and elaborations, and pursuing logical arguments along the level, before going on to another elaborated intrduction to another if related area or logical argument.

Further consultations:

Compare this page with: Minto, B. (1991), The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking, London: BCA.

Tony Buzan is the creator and promoter of Mind Maps, elaborated forms of spider diagrams.