Lessons in Logic: The Fallacy Detective - A Book Review

August 1, 20131

What is a fallacy?  The very first sentence of the book defines it as “an error in logic — a place where someone has made a mistake in his thinking.” Sometimes unintentionally, but sometimes these fallacies are used intentionally to mislead others — consumers, the general public, and as you’ll see, even your family.The Fallacy Detective: Lessons in Logic - A Book Review @EvaVarga.net

The ability to recognize fallacies is important and we have thereby been working through the lessons in The Fallacy Detective as a family these past few months.  We typically bring it along with us on road trips and I read aloud the lesson, chuckling at the clever illustrations and anecdotes.  The lessons are presented in such a way that even my 8-year old son understands the material.  Let me share with a funny story relaying our lessns in logic detection.

Thus far, our favorite fallacies are the “Red Herring” and “Special Pleading”.  We have come to discover that a couple of us use these tactics regularly to varying degres of success.  Upon completing the exercises in The Fallacy Detective, we now recognize them as errors in logic and eagerly call one another it, much to their chagrin. I love it when my 8 year old, in the midst of a disagreement, yells out, “Red herring!!”

While driving north to Oregon recently, we departed early and my daughter was too excited to eat breakfast.  She thereby brought along an apple to eat in the car despite the fact that eating in the car is not permitted.  Her father is very adament about this and we’ve had many family related arguments discussions.  About forty minutes into the drive, she begins to eat the apple and of course her father (who is driving) reminds her of the rules and reprimands her gently about her failure to follow through.  She apologizes and carefully wraps the core in a tissue to discard at our first stop.

We continue on our drive and I read aloud the Lesson 6 – Special Pleading.  We work through the exercises easily and continue to the next lesson, Ad Hominem.  About 2 1/2 hours into the drive, we stop for fuel and as we are only about 15 minutes from our destination Dad suggests we go through the drive-thru at Carl’s Jr for lunch.  “We can bring it to the campground and eat there before we unpack. I know we are all hungry and we won’t want to delay eating once we get there.”  We all agree it is a sound idea and thus we order our usual as our bellies begin to growl with anticipation.

No sooner do we pull back onto the road and Dad asks me to hand him his burger.  Say what?!

“We don’t eat in the car!” we exclaim in unison as we all remind him.

“I know but I am very hungry.  I wouldn’t have suggested it otherwise. I know we all want to get there as soon as possible.”

“Well, can we eat ours then?” we asked.

“No!  We don’t eat in the car.  I am just very hungry and I’ll have to unpack when we get there,” he states.

“Special pleading!!” the kids yell out.

“You got mad when I ate my apple, Dad.  You can’t eat a messy burger!!”

Awesome!  I love how the lessons in The Fallacy Detective have come to life for us.  The Bluedorn brothers have put logic into an assessable, easy to teach, easy to learn format that has clear examples and plenty of exercises for review.  It is an excellent book to introduce lessons in logic and critical thinking.

I was not compensated for this review.  I purchased the book myself because it appealed to me and it fit our current curriculum.  The opinion shared here is honest and is solely my own.

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