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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bad Arguments

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments is an entertaining and instructive website.  It is also a book you can print or download.  It is, as one comment put it, a "flawless compendium of flaws".  The book is an introduction to fundamental principles of logical discourse.  It is written by Ali Almossawi who also provided the creative and art direction.  And it is elegantly illustrated by Alejandro Giraldo. 



Ali Almossawi writes:

This book is aimed at newcomers to the field of logical reasoning, particularly those who, to borrow a phrase from Pascal, are so made that they understand best through visuals. I have selected a small set of common errors in reasoning and visualized them using memorable illustrations that are supplemented with lots of examples. The hope is that the reader will learn from these pages some of the most common pitfalls in arguments and be able to identify and avoid them in practice.
...
The illustrations are partly inspired by allegories such as Orwell's Animal Farm and partly by the humorous nonsense of works such as Lewis Carroll's stories and poems.
It you have spent time perusing the internet, particularly any areas of comment or discussion, you will have seen most or all of the bad arguments illustrated here. Even if you are not new to the principles of logical reasoning the book is instructive and entertaining. Each illustration of a bad argument has a brief explanation of the argument next to it.  Below are pictures from the book of some popular bad arguments you will encounter frequently.  Follow the link to An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments to see more and read the explanations.

Argument from consequences





Equivocation





Appeal to Fear





Straw Man


 

 

Ad Hominem



You will recognize these and many more reading through the book, which is very short and to the point.  One of the particularly nice features of the book is its creative commons license:

... this work is shared under a Creative Commons BY-NC license, which means that you can freely share and adapt it for non-commercial use with attribution.

I think this book might prove delightful for use with high school, college, and even middle school students. It can help anyone be more careful in their thinking and their arguments.  The author quotes Richard Feyman:

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.

If you enjoy An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments, you may also enjoy these books from the MCPL collection.

Plato and a platypus walk into a bar : understanding philosophy through jokes by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein.

Aristotle and an aardvark go to Washington : understanding political doublespeak through philosophy and jokes by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein.

Nell M.

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