Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.
In this crazy time of information being thrown at us from all angles with all types of bias in it, knowing how to evaluate it is an asset we cannot afford to skip teaching our children. Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn, authors of The Fallacy Detective, gave us a great teaching resource for just this purpose. This soft back book contains 38 lessons on how to identify bad reasoning and to spot common errors in reasoning. Knowing these reasoning pitfalls can help not only in identifying them but also in avoiding them ourselves.
A fallacy – what is it? A fallacy is an error in logic or reasoning. The Fallacy Detective addresses a number of fallacy types and groups them into four categories – avoiding the question, making assumptions, statistical fallacies, and propaganda. Within each of these categories, there are several different fallacies addressed. These include red herrings, faulty appeal to authority, hasty generalizations, fear, pity, loaded questions, circular reasoning, straw man, and so much more. In addition to the four categories, there is an introduction, a section on using your mind, a game, and an answer key.
Each lesson includes an explanation, some examples and how to consider them, and a section of exercises for the student to work through. The answers can then be checked against the answer key at the back of the book.
We have used this particular logic book with 2 students now. And it has gone 2 very different ways, as you would expect. My middle child used this book in conjunction with another book by these authors as part of a logic and debate credit in her 9th grade coursework. She is quite independent so she read each chapter, completed the exercises in the book, and then checked her work. Any that she did not get an answer in agreement with the answer key, she brought to me. We discussed her answer vs. the answer key. Her logic was often faultless, picking up on a few inconsistencies in the answer key. If she could justify her answer to me, I gave her full credit for it. She worked through this book at about 3 lessons per week. It definitely helped her in her debate abilities when evaluating what the other side was presenting.
My youngest child is currently using The Fallacy Detective. She and I are doing the reading out loud together. I then read the exercises and she answers them with me. Writing is not a strong point for her so I am not requiring that from her with the book. The thinking can be quite challenging and when your student struggles to put thoughts to paper, that just amplifies difficulty and frustration while losing the purpose of the exercise. So she is answering out loud. We then check each answer against the answer key, talking about where the given answer explanation differs from her own thinking. I am not giving a correct or incorrect for her answers. We are completing one lesson per week at this time. When we go back to full school, I expect to bump it up to two lessons per week, planning to complete this before Christmas.
I like this program. It includes a lot of cartoons, including reprints of one of our favorites – Calvin & Hobbes. These comic strips are great representations of many of the ideas that the authors are trying to get across. There are also fun illustrations done in grey scale. The writing is not complicated and is intended to help students understand how others are presenting information to them. It helps equip the students to sift through the barrage of media to pick out the falsehoods being presented to them, locating the important bits. This is a necessary skill in today’s world and work places. This is a good place to start on this skill.
Just a fair warning, though – it may make your student a much stronger opponent when they present their ideas to you AND when they disagree with something you present to them. Beware! 🙂
Lori, At Home.
Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about how other families have used The Fallacy Detective and Archer and Zowie, a sci-fi book about friendship.
Tagged: Middle School, reviews, TOS
we used this book in a co-op class one year. the students had a lot of fun coming up with arguments.
It can be a lot of fun and it has definitely been a conversation starter.
[…] – Miss J is working through The Fallacy Detective. You can read our review of it to learn more. She only works on it once a week and does one lesson […]