Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Review: The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel & Hans Bluedorn

Title:  The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How To Recognize Bad Reasoning, 3rd edition
Authors:  Nathaniel Bluedorn & Hans Bluedorn
Illustrated by:  Rob Corley and Tim Hodge
Publisher:  Christian Logic, 2009
Price:  $22.00

I've heard of The Fallacy Detective for years, and it has been on my wish list for awhile.  When the opportunity to review it arose, I quickly volunteered.  I haven't seen the earlier versions, so this review will not be a comparison of the 3rd edition with previous editions.  It will focus solely on the recently released 3rd edition of the book.  The cover does state that the new book contains more fallacies and more cartoons, though.

If you're wondering what a fallacy is, the very first sentence of the book defines it as "an error in logic -- a place where someone has made a mistake in his thinking."  Sometimes we do this unintentionally, but sometimes these fallacies are used intentionally to mislead consumers and the general public.  The ability to recognize fallacies is important.

My first reaction to the book when it arrived was that the cover design is very catchy and pleasing, and the softcover book was well-made.  The 9" x 6.5" size is a nice one to hold, larger than a standard paperback, but not as bulky as a full-size text book.  The book includes Peanuts, Dilbert, Calvin and Hobbes, and other cartoons.  Its design, with the cartoons and short lessons, is appealing to myself and my students.

The book is divided into 38 logic lessons.  It begins with an introduction that explains what a fallacy is, then moves into 3 lessons on thinking and listening skills.  After that, the fallacy lessons begin:   9 lessons on methods used to "Avoid the Question", 9 lessons on "Making Assumptions", 7 lessons on "Statistical Fallacies", and 10 lessons on "Propaganda".  The book concludes with "The Fallacy Detective Game" and the Answer Key to the lessons. 

Each lesson begins with a concise and enjoyable description of that fallacy, complete with cartoons to help illustrate the point.  Then there are a variety of exercises to help you understand the fallacy and identify it in the world around you.  The lessons rely heavily on discussion to help students assimilate the information.

My plans were to use this book with my 12 and 14 year old daughters, doing one lesson together at a time.  That backfired when my 14 year old (9th grader) ran off with the book and began to devour it.  She was fascinated with learning to identify the fallacies, and quickly read through the book.  She then started trying to trick us into using a fallacy in our discussions so she could pounce on it.  It didn't work, but it was fun to see her looking for fallacies.

I still plan to continue to go through the book with the girls, one lesson at a time.  Although my daughter has enjoyed reading it quickly, I am sure she'll get more out of it when we take it more slowly and discuss the exercises together.  Once we've finished the book, we can enjoy "The Fallacy Detective Game" together ... sounds like a good car game for family trips.

It is well worth the $22.00 cost, is completely reusable and non-consumable.  It can be used to provide a year long curriculum in logic, covering one fallacy a week and spreading the exercises out over the course of the week.   My ideal method would be to read the fallacy lesson together on Monday, discuss a few exercises together, then assign additional exercises to be completed independently.  This should also lead to great discussion as we spot fallacies in the world around us.

The Fallacy Detective is an excellent logic book for junior and senior high students.   It will give students a foundation in logic that will help them think critically about the information surrounding them in life.  It will also give  them an advantage in school subjects like essay writing, speech, and debate.  Its format is easy to use, enjoyable, and most importantly ... effective in teaching the fallacies.

This item was provided free by Laurie Bluedorn, in exchange for my honest review.  Thank you for the opportunity to review it.

This review is NOT a part of my TOS Homeschool Crew assignment.  To read those reviews, click on the TOS Homeschool Crew category in the right column.

Trusting In Him,

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