June 20, 2007

Book O' Mine: The Fallacy Detective



If I said to you "It is important that one keeps her blogging promises and posts certain posts on the days said she would!"... or if I told you to put down that donut and save yourself, while I chomped on a large bag of M & M's... you might not be impressed by my arguments and assume that my points are faulty. That is why you need this book. Lesson 8 Tu Quoque! "To dismiss some one's viewpoint on an issue because he himself is inconsistent in that very thing." It amounts to bad reasoning, people, and we do not want that. And that is why you need this book!

Folks, I've said it before and I'll say it again, you need this book: The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Six Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning. I loved doing this mini class in logic with Seth and you will too. Everyone needs this book. Lesson 32 Repetition! "Repeating a message loudly and very often in the hope that it will soon be believed."

These are the times when being a homeschool mom gets fun. I learned so much from this book. You know how sometimes someone is arguing a point with you and you know they're not really making much sense, but you can't quite put your finger on the fallacy of their argument? You will delight in each and every short fun lesson, if you answered yes. But this book is not just making you a better debater, it helps you learn from the viewpoints of others as well. You learn to cut to the facts better and throw out anything that isn't, well, reasonable. You'll thank me later, believe me, this product will make you more logical than other people and stand out from your neighbors and friends. (And that would be Lesson 34 Snob Appeal)

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Let me break it down for you. The first general type of fallacy is Avoiding the Question and there are quite a few ways this is used.

The most common one is the Red Herring, introducing an irrelevant point into an argument. "Sean, it's time for you to get in bed." "Doesn't Luke have to go to bed now too?"

The Ad Hominem attack is a good one. "I believe that the north side is the best place to build the new zoo." "Oh, yeah, like we're supposed to listen to a person who has a terrible temper."

Every parent has faced the Straw Man. "Tommy, why don't you stay in tonight, you've had a busy week and you have to get up early tomorrow for that test." "Mom, you'd be happy if I sat at the kitchen table studying an encyclopedia night and day, never saw another friend as long as I lived and became a priest." The straw man is used when we want to make the other person's argument sound totally ridiculous and exaggerated.

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The second type of general fallacy presented is Making Assumptions. Here are a few examples.

Part to Whole is also a good one to know if you're a mom. This is the assumption that what is true of the parts must also be true of the whole. See my post on vitamins and minerals. If vitamins and minerals are good for you and sugar cereal has vitamins and minerals, then sugar cereal is good for you! We could also file Lesson 16 Loaded Question here too.

Circular Reasoning also falls here. "This painting isn't selling because Gladys painted it and she is a lousy artist." "Why do you say that she's a lousy artist?" "Because this painting isn't selling."

Either-Or is a good one. "If you didn't get your puppy from the pound, you don't care about animals." "Well, you can go vegan, or go ahead and live on McDonald's for the rest of your life."

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The third general fallacy is called Statistical Fallacy.

Things like Hasty Generalizations..."Did you see those girls with their Little House on the Prairie dresses and bug nets? Gosh, homeschoolers are a strange breed."

Proof by Lack of Evidence "I didn't take your muffin pan!" "Oh, yeah? Prove it!" Or "When I sleep at night, invisible aliens come and tend my garden." "No they don't." "No one has ever proven otherwise, so it must be true."

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Propaganda is the final section.

Appeal to Fear. If you don't read this book, you'll probably suffer the humiliation of losing many arguments and remaining ignorant.

Appeal to Pity. The writers of this book are starving to death and would really benefit from you purchasing their book.

Bandwagon. People all over the country are reading this book and becoming excellent debaters.

Exigency. This book might fall off the planet next week, so hurry up and order.

Transfer. My friend who owns this book has a spotless house, a white smile and wears a size two.

Appeal to Tradition. Logic lessons are one of the oldest and permanent parts of a classical education, and can be found neatly arranged in this book.


Okay, here's a test. Which fallacies are exemplified here?


1. Jennie's choices of Books O' Mine posts have all been nonfiction, so obviously her entire library is nonfiction.



2. How can Jennie's argument about saving the whales be true? She once stole a roll of LifeSavers from the corner store!



3. You can buy this book and learn about fallacies in reasoning, or you can be a complete idiot on the subject.



4. The book is helpful in teaching logic because it helps you learn about good reasoning.



5. Jennie doesn't own that book because she can't present a receipt that proves it.


Finally, you may notice the word Christian on the back cover and perhaps you're not a Christian. Don't judge a book by its cover...Don't make the assumption that this book is an evangelical tool or that a book written by a pair of Christian homeschooled brothers, the Bluedorns, couldn't be a very enjoyable and satisfying read! Because, silly, that would be using bad logic!

Now, watch it in action in this very entertaining YouTube video.


2 comments:

rosemary said...

Oh, Jennie, you stole a roll of Lifesavers? I don't know what to think of you now. I stole a bathingsuit when I was in high school so that makes you an underachiever. . I do wonder if all you have is non fiction.

I am not prepared to take the test today Ms. Jennie because I just got the cliff notes and haven't studied them long enough.

Jennie said...

Well, I was around 2 and my father led me back to return it when he realized it. I'm not big on stealing, but it's a lot easier to reveal the "little" sins. ;)

I do have fiction, but very little compared to the ton of other stuff. I don't read much fiction and I often pass it on when I do because I'm fairly certain I won't read it again.