From the author of the forthcoming An Illustrated Book of Loaded Language, here’s the antidote to fuzzy thinking, with furry animals!
Have you read (or stumbled into) one too many irrational online debates? Ali Almossawi certainly had, so he wrote An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments! This handy guide is here to bring the internet age a much-needed dose of old-school logic (really old-school, a la Aristotle).
Here are cogent explanations of the straw man fallacy, the slippery slope argument, the ad hominem attack, and other common attempts at reasoning that actually fall short—plus a beautifully drawn menagerie of animals who (adorably) commit every logical faux pas. Rabbit thinks a strange light in the sky must be a UFO because no one can prove otherwise (the appeal to ignorance). And Lion doesn’t believe that gas emissions harm the planet because, if that were true, he wouldn’t like the result (the argument from consequences).
Once you learn to recognize these abuses of reason, they start to crop up everywhere from congressional debate to YouTube comments—which makes this geek-chic book a must for anyone in the habit of holding opinions.
A sweeping chapter-wise outline of the content of this book is the following. The chapter 'Introduction' informs the reader about the history of the subject, and its relation to other disciplines. 'Epistemic Logic' is an overview of multi-agent epistemic logic - the logic of knowledge - including modal operators for groups, such as general and common knowledge. 'Belief Revision' is an overview on how to model belief revision, both in the 'traditional' way and in a dynamic epistemic setting. 'Public Announcements' is a detailed and comprehensive introduction to the logic of knowledge to which dynamic operators for truthful public announcement are added. Many interesting applications are also presented in this chapter: a form of cryptography for ideal agents also known as 'the Russian cards problem', the sum-and-product riddle, etc. 'Epistemic Actions' introduces a generalization of public announcement logic to more complex epistemic actions. A different perspective on that matter is independently presented in 'Action Models'. 'Completeness' gives details on the completeness proof for the logics introduced in 'Epistemic Logic', 'Public Announcements', and 'Action Models'. 'Expressivity' discusses various results on the expressive power of the logics presented.
The practice, indeed, is recommended by considerations far too obvious to require a formal justification. Logic is a portion of the Art of Thinking: Language is evidently, and by the admission of all philosophers, one of the principal instruments or helps of thought; and any imperfection in the instrument, or in the mode of employing it, is confessedly liable, still more than in almost any other art, to confuse and impede the process, and destroy all ground of confidence in the result. For a mind not previously versed in the meaning and right use of the various kinds of words, to attempt the study of methods of philosophizing, would be as if some one should attempt to become an astronomical observer, having never learned to adjust the focal distance of his optical instruments so as to see distinctly.
Since Reasoning, or Inference, the principal subject of logic, is an operation which usually takes place by means of words, and in complicated cases can take place in no other way; those who have not a thorough insight into the signification and purposes of words, will be under chances, amounting almost to certainty, of reasoning or inferring incorrectly. And logicians have generally felt that unless, in the very first stage, they removed this source of error; unless they taught thei pupil to put away the glasses which distort the object, and to use those which are adapted to his purpose in such a manner as to assist, not perplex, his vision; he would not be in a condition to practise the remaining part of their discipline with any prospect of advantage. Therefore it is that an inquiry into language, so far as is needful to guard against the errors to which it gives rise, has at all times been deemed a necessary preliminary to the study of logic.
But there is another reason, of a still more fundamental nature, why the import of words should be the earliest subject of the logician’s consideration: because without it he cannot examine into the import of Propositions. Now this is a subject which stands on the very threshold of the science of logic.
The object of logic, as defined in the Introductory Chapter, is to ascertain how we come by that portion of our knowledge (much the greatest portion) which is not intuitive: and by what criterion we can, in matters not self-evident, distinguish between things proved and things not proved, between what is worthy and what is unworthy of belief. Of the various questions which present themselves to our inquiring faculties, some receive an answer from direct consciousness, others, if resolved at all, can only be resolved by means of evidence. Logic is concerned with these last. But before inquiring into the mode of resolving questions, it is necessary to inquire what are those which offer themselves; what questions are conceivable; what inquiries are there, to which mankind have either obtained, or been able to imagine it possible that they should obtain, an answer. This point is best ascertained by a survey and analysis of Propositions.
In the daily battle for our hearts and minds--not to mention our hard-earned cash--the truth is usually the first casualty. It's time we learned how to see through the rhetoric, faulty reasoning, and misinformation that we're subjected to from morning to night by talk-radio hosts, op-ed columnists, advertisers, self-help gurus, business "thinkers," and, of course, politicians. And no one is better equipped to show us how than award-winning philosopher Jamie Whyte.
In Crimes Against Logic Whyte take us on a fast-paced, ruthlessly funny romp through the mulligan stew of can, folderol, and bogus logic served up in the media, at the office, and even in your own home. Applying his laserlike wit to dozens of timely examples, Whyte cuts through the haze of facts, figures, and double-talk and gets at the real truth behind what they're telling us.
"An incisive philosopher."