The Fallacy Detectiv: Thirty-eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning
by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn
The Fallacy Detective is a friendly, let's-sit-down-and-chat-about-this, introduction to logic. The subtitle of the book is "Thirty-eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning." The entire first part of the book demonstrates how to recognize everyday fallacies such as assumptions, generalizations, loaded questions, and circular reasoning. The last part of the book contains lessons on recognizing different types of propaganda. Each lesson contains an explanation of the fallacy with a number of examples, all presented in a humorous, conversational style (like a "real" book rather than a textbook). This is followed by exercises (which can be done orally or on paper) where a sample statement is presented, and the student has to identify the fallacy (if any) being represented. The book also contains project ideas (my boys made posters with samples of different types of propaganda fallacies they found in various magazines and newspapers). There's even an anwer key in the back of the book. I worked through this book with my 4th, 7th, 9th, and 11th graders (another multi-level treasure!). We did it as a "read-aloud." I required them to write down the fallacy and its definition in their notebooks, as well as some examples. Then, we worked through the exercises together (sometimes around the breakfast table), conversation-style. My boys actually enjoyed it, and learned a lot (as did I). The lessons are not lengthy, so you can easily use this book to supplement other language arts studies.
If you've ever looked longingly at all those intriguing logic courses out there, but doubted your ability to teach logic to your student? Perhaps you recognize the need for your kids to be equipped to logically defend their faith, their standards, and their decisions, but you yourself never had a formal logic course. Maybe you are concerned that your kids seem unable to see through the propaganda around them and the illogic of their peers. If this is similar to your thought patterns, then you'll want to check out this book.
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