Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Review: The Fallacy Detective

I buy books at a faster rate than I can actually read them. As such, I've had The Fallacy Detective on my shelf for a few years, intending to read it and have my kids read it. Then I came across an offer from the authors for a free review copy of their new Audible edition. "Reading" in my car is my primary form of reading these days, so I jumped on it.

The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Six Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning is a logic primer aimed at middle schoolers and up.

"Hold on," you say, "logic primer?!" Two things you need to know:

1) Logic is simply clear thinking. Christians need to know logic. We need to know how to think clearly, and we really need to know how to identify shoddy reasoning from the world around us, because it is everywhere, and the world uses it to try to influence us and our children.

2) This "logic primer" is no stuffy text book or pseudo-Puritan handbook. It handles the material in short sections with the occasional joke and light-hearted examples that none the less illustrate the skills in question. It has a breezy tone and presents the material clearly.

The book covers all the typical reasoning errors with examples, then it gives exercises (with answers provided) for practice in recognizing the fallacies. Finally, the authors offer a game to help you and yours (they recommend 3+ players) sharpen your skills. Each chapter could probably be covered in less than 10 minutes, including exercises.

About the Audible version: The narrator does a fine job of reading the material, and he uses different voices to make the example conversations easier to follow. There are weaknesses. It's hard to do the exercises that way at first, and sometimes he has to describe a figure in the text (it really doesn't work). The authors recommend the Audible as a supplement to the hard copy (or maybe as the parent's version), but if this is all you have, you can make it work.

Again, every Christian — especially young Christians who are about to enter college and then the "real" world — need to know basic logic. This is about as painless textbook as I can imagine. Logic is not hard, and you (and your children) can use any book, but this is the gentlest of all the books I've come across. Of the best of the rest, A Rulebook for Arguments is shorter, but less clear, and Come, Let Us Reason is quite clear, but longer and less ... friendly. I think The Fallacy Detective will serve you and your family well.

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Blog update: Sharing posts

After all these years I've finally managed to fix the buttons to share posts to Facebook, Twitter, and such. Yes, I am quite the luddite. I wonder what I broke while fixing this.