In our homeschooling, I teach Logic as a separate, stand-alone subject, in addition to working it into other topics whenever possible. But even if your kids go to conventional schools, it’s important (and great fun!) to teach Logic at home. Teaching our kids to think critically about what they see, hear, and read is key to guiding them into becoming adults who think for themselves.
While I can’t wait to get into Formal Logic myself, it’s never too early to start on some basics, to make everyone in the house familiar with some of the common bits of logic (or illogic) that trip up adults on a daily basis. That’s how we fall for things on commercials, in the news, with politics, and in just about every aspect of our lives. We need to be able to see the hole in an argument so that we can realize where the facts actually lie.
Enter An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi and illustrated by Alejandro Giraldo. Almossawi has created what appears to be a children’s book, highlighting 19 different logical arguments. The book isn’t specifically aimed at kids, but it’s a great format for teaching kids about logic, since it’s illustrated in a very pretty and informative manner. The book is aimed at people relatively new to logical arguments, since it just gives a basic introduction to, and examples of, each of the included logical fallacies.
The book starts off with some introductory information, including a list of definitions, to make sure everyone’s on the same page. It defines words such as “argument” and “validity” and “logical fallacy,” among others. It then lists a quote from Richard Feynman, before diving into the fallacies themselves. (I posit a proposition that all things are made better by an inclusion of a Richard Feynman quote. Feel free to debate this in the comments.) The author also quotes Stephen King’s On Writing in the Preface, which is another mark in the book’s favor.
Then each of the 19 fallacies gets a two-page spread. One page explains the fallacy in as much detail as can reasonably fit, and the other has an illustrated example of it. The art is classic and cute, and the examples are spot on. All of your favorites are there, including Straw Man, Slippery Slope, Ad Hominem, Circular Reasoning, and more. Need a great coffee table book that looks like a kid’s book but will teach everyone around you to think more critically? This is that book. Share with your friends. Encourage your family members to flip through it. Casually leave copies in public places.
For now An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments is only available for viewing online, but physical copies will be available for purchase in early November. Also, if you enjoy the free version online, the author is accepting donations toward the work he’s done, and the work he’s doing on the next book in the series. He’s also open to feedback and constructive criticism, noting, “Sightings of unintended irony should be reported to the author!”
Encourage this kind of work in the area of critical thinking by supporting Ali Almossawi’s project.