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Fallacy Fridays

January 21st, 2011 by Matt

Over the past few years I have occasionally been asked by para-church, church and home-schooling groups to put together a critical thinking or “mini logic” course, with a focus on fallacy spotting, and teach it to their youth. I have done this from time to time and have often found as many adults in attendance as youth; the demand for this sort of thing seems to be fairly high if the turnouts of these events are anything to go by.

Invalid ArgumentCourses of this sort are common in a first year university philosophy programs but there are not many that are accessible to younger students of high school age or those not enrolled in such programs. It also seems that there are not many resources out there for self-teaching that are lay friendly in general. Madeleine and I subscribe to the email lists of a few home schooling groups and it is not uncommon for us to see people asking where they can find resources of this nature to use in their small groups and within their families. Those resources that get recommended are not always so user friendly and sometimes their quality is deficient.

So, given that Thinking Matters Tauranga have been particularly keen for some time now for me to formally put together what I have been doing ad hoc (along with a few other other groups) I have decided to do a short piece on this every Friday on MandM entitled “Fallacy Friday”. This should enable me to both actually get on with sorting through the rough notes I normally work from into tidier form and get critical feedback on the material itself – some understanding of how others will understand what is said and so on would be very useful before I turn this into a course I offer to small groups.

The first few Fallacy Friday posts will cover some basics then I will move into common fallacies proper with examples and application. To navigate the series as we go on, use the tag.

Apologetics 315 are producing an audio version of this series, also released every Friday. Subscribe to the Fallacy Friday Podcast using:
• RSS Feed, or
• Via iTunes, or
• one-click to your feed-reader

Tags:   5 Comments

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5 responses so far ↓

  • What do you mean ‘another that penguins aren’t very good at?’ Penguins have heaps of talents and abilities, such as being atheists, hence why they are so popular-compared to goats at least.

    Please leave penguins alone in future posts.

  • I think you just stole one of my secret ideas – title and all! Haha.

    Great stuff – looking forward to it.

  • Hey all,

    What I’m doing is actually following a list (of books) by one guy — named C.G. Weaver.

    The list can be found here:

    For Christmas I got the first two books on the list. I’ve been reading Elementary Symbolic Logic by William Gustason. It’s an easy read with questions and answers for each section. Even though, so far, it has been a pretty easy read, it’s not without substance. It introduces you to arguments, validity, soundness, truth-tables, etc. It also deals with some common fallacies (e.g. affirming the consequent and denying the antecedent) .

    I would definitely recommend the book. I agree with Helios’s book review on Amazon. (Unfortunately, the price of the book has gone up since I’ve gotten it).

  • Here’s a little something to add to your Fallacy notes:

    Reconciliation: Ending Anti-Semitism

    The best way to combat Anti-Semitism is to abolish the words themselves. Strike them from the lexicon and never use them again. A curse be upon the man who first coined the phrase. Call it what it is: Religious discrimination, a hate crime, plain and simple.

    To assign hatred for Jews it’s own term of reference, the words “Anti-Semitism”, presumes that Jews have a different status amongst the many who suffer religious persecution, and that hatred towards Jews is in some way a more serious crime than acts of hatred perpetrated against religious groups who are not Jewish. When it comes to hate crimes there can be no distinction between hatred for Jewish-Semites and hatred for Semites who are not Jewish. Nor can there be any distinction between hatred for Semites and hatred for those who are not Semite. No group or religion can claim special status on the hate list.

    If you want to get rid of Anti-Semitism, getting rid of the term itself would be a good start. We must deal with all hate crimes equally, without discrimination.

    The plain truth is; God doesn’t have a religion and God doesn’t discriminate. Any religion that professes to be the only true religion, or that they‘re special in the eyes of God preaches false doctrine. If the Spirit of God is truly with you, it will only be known by acts of “unconditional” love and charity. No religion can claim exclusive rights to God. He belongs to all that He has created, and to foster a belief in “us” and “them” is to divide humanity, not unite it.

    And so it will be in The End, that those who have set themselves apart from their fellow man will find that they have set themselves apart from God. The worth of a soul will only be measured by how much it has loved, nothing more, nothing less.

    Woe to those who have taken the widow’s mite and built castles and empires in His name. They have incurred a great accountability. Their suffering will be unending.

  • The Fallacies Keep on Coming…

    I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Matt Flanagan’s “Fallacy Fridays” feature that he’s been running since January. (I regret not having mentioned it before now!) It’s not quite a full-blown course in logic, but it is an excellent introduction to what counts…