Look! “An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments”!

bad arguments

As various thought fallacies and flawed arguments are constantly being exposed, used, debunked or otherwise referenced during our ethics discussions and debates—the Ethics Alarms compendium is here–this looked like something readers would enjoy. I probably should dedicate this post to former blog Commenter of the Year tgt, in appreciation for his ending—maybe just briefly, we shall see—his latest sabbatical with a flurry of 70 comments while I was lecturing in Newport last week. I didn’t have time to properly engage him or even read all the comments, but he seemed in characteristic form.

Tgt loves the fallacies and delights in slapping them down whenever they occur. His favorite is “No True Scotsman.” I immediately thought of him when I  stumbled upon “An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments” by the multi-talented Ali Almossawi. Tgt’s  pet fallacy is here, as well as ad hominem, appeals to authority, the straw man, equivocation and others, some under different names than those I am used to. I haven’t read it carefully: there may be one or two that needs to be added to the Ethics Alarms list.

This is a well-researched and written exposition of some major fallacies with lovely illustrations, presented like a vintage children’s book. Someone should actually publish a children’s book like this: I would have been grateful for one when my son was a boy, or when I was a boy.  I’m grateful for this now.

You can find this amazing work of art, ethics, rhetoric and logic here. I’ve already sent the link around to many friends, young and old, and you may want to do the same.


26 thoughts on “Look! “An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments”!

  1. Thank you for pointing the way to this book. The link practically gives the book away in that you can see all the drawings, which are fantastic, and read the text for each illustration. I love books like this, so even though I could read it online, I still bought it and can’t wait to get it. This is a book where one reading won’t do. Moreover, it would make a great bathroom book, not that I plan to put it there.

  2. That… Is awesome! It’s now in my “favorites” folder. I also want the hardcover version; not to read, but to bludgeon to death people who torture me with logical fallacies and flawed arguments.

    • I hadn’t really heard that until Obama started trotting it out, and now it’s everywhere.

      I’d say that’s an appeal to false authority — “history” as some objective force that has a right side and a wrong side (surprise! I’m on the right side, and you’re not) — with a bonus element of ad hominem thrown in.

  3. That’s a great little book (and a great website). Bookmarked. Another site that I’ve used is yourlogicalfallacyis.com. In addition to the web page, it offers a pdf for download and printing; I have one taped to the wall next to my computer.

    Rhetorical logic should be a mandatory subject in school — so of course it’s not.

    Probably the most valuable class I ever had was 9th grade English at Kennedy Jr. High, where we diagrammed sentences, read poetry (and listened to Iron Maiden), were repeatedly tested on common Greek and Latin roots, wrote creative essays, and dissected ads to find the rhetorical fallacies and manipulations embedded in them. I loved that class. The rhetoric/composition students in my graduate program could have learned some useful thinking skills in there (but if they had, they probably wouldn’t have wound up as rhet/comp Marxists).

  4. I’ll try again:
    According to pronouncements above, the Leftists are advocating policies “adverse to human values and concepts of Liberty” by “foisting on malleable ears” arguments that are “irrational,” “fallacious,” “silly” and “error-ridden.”

    There was a recurring line on the “Laugh-in” show, spoken in all earnestness: “I didn’t know that!” It fits here.

    The biggest obstacle facing the country today, IMHO, is our reluctance to engage in honest, face-to-face discussion about our problems. “Those bastards don’t think straight” is, shall we say, an impediment to thoughtful discourse. Ask the members of Congress.

    • Uh huh. Been in hundreds of these discussions. Been quite honest. Sorry, that which you highlight in quotes to lampoon are actually well earned labels. Sorry it bothers you.

    • What about when the bastards don’t think straight? For example, I don’t think the pro-illegal immigrant argument has any legal, ethics, rational or practical legitimacy at all. Bad arguments should be called bad arguments. Fake facts should be called fake, and people who keep repeating them should be condemned in accurate and fair terms. Trayvon Martin was not stalked, hunted or murdered. George Zimmerman is not a racist. Mike Brown attacked Darren Wilson, who shot in self-defense. ISIS is a radical Islamic terrorist group. Facts matter, and those who intentionally misrepresent them or who keep chanting things even when they know the facts don’t support them should not be coddled or deferred to.

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