I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.
Learning to think logically and learning the skill to recognise errors in arguments is an important skill for everyone, so I was keen to try out The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn to see what it was all about. Over the past 6 weeks we’ve been working through the lessons and having fun calling each other out when we see another family member use a fallacy in daily life.
In university I took a logic class to satisfy my math requirement because the usual math classes weren’t offered over the summer semester. It seemed quite strange to me that logic is considered to be math when it’s all about how language is used. It was my most frustrating class that summer, but it was also one of the most useful classes I took during my undergrad time.
I think it’s important for everyone to learn about fallacies in logic and arguments so that they can be well-informed and not fall victim to false advertising, propaganda, or peer pressure. Starting this type of critical thinking during the teen years is the perfect time. The Fallacy Detective is recommended for use by those 12 to adult.
Table of contents
What is a Fallacy?
“A Fallacy is an error in logic – a place where someone has made a mistake in his or her thinking.”
About The Fallacy Detective
We received a 264-page soft-cover workbook to review. The interior is black and white, with fun cartoon strips and illustrations throughout to help drive the meanings of each fallacy home.
At the back of the book there are game instructions, a Short List of Fallacies, and an Answer Key.
There is also information in the book on how to download a test to ensure that students were paying attention (let them know at the start that there will be a test so they are more likely to be motivated to retain the information).
The book is divided into 5 main areas:
- The Inquiring Mind
- Avoiding the Question
- Making Assumptions
- Statistical Fallacies
Some of the fallacies in The Fallacy Detective:
- Red Herring
- Tu Quoque
- Straw Man
- Loaded Question
- Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
- Appeal to Fear
- Snob Appeal
- And so many more!
The Fallacy Detective contains 38 short lessons; each lesson focusses on one fallacy using a definition, examples, stories, and some fun humour as well. Following the lesson there are roughly 1 or 2 dozen exercises. These are mostly identifying which fallacy (or none) is being used in the question.
Each lesson builds on the previous lessons, so you should work your way through the workbook in order to avoid confusion.
How We Used The Fallacy Detective
I was initially going to go through this book myself and next year start it with my children when my youngest will be 12, the lowest recommended age. However, because it is also recommended that 2 or more people go through it together and discuss each lesson as a group, and because the lessons are short and sweet, I invited Tristan (13) to take some time out of his day and join me in the lessons about twice a week.
Kallista also joined us on one occasion when we took the book with us on a walk. Although she didn’t know the fallacies that we’d already covered, she quickly picked up on the Tu Quoque fallacy that was the focus of that day.
Usually, we would read a lesson aloud, then take turns asking a question and discuss what we thought the correct answer was before checking with the Answer Key. This way Tristan could explain why he thought the answer was what he thought. Sometimes I might think a different answer was correct, but we would give our opinions on why we chose the response we did, which is also good practice for thinking logically. We also found that with some questions there could be more than one solution, but when you are able to back yourself up, that is what was required.
What do we think about The Fallacy Detective?
We have been enjoying working our way through this book together. Tristan says there’s a lot of information and it can get confusing to learn so many new terms and the intricacies between them. To help with this I have been making simple flashcards that we can review before each lesson as needed. There is a glossary at the back of the book, but flashcards can be used for other ways of studying, too.
The one thing I will mention is that as a book authored in the United States, there are some examples that refer to American politics, in which the intended meanings may not be fully comprehended for those who are not growing up in North America or are not on top of American current and historical events. For these items I’d either explain the background to Tristan if he wasn’t familiar with it, or he would pass on the question and I’d answer it alone.
Particularly in the current era of fake news, conspiracy theories, and misleading information on social media, it’s important to be able to spot fallacies, which is why I wanted my children to learn how to be critical with what they hear and read, and The Fallacy Detective does this clearly and in a fun manner.
More About Hans & Nathaniel Bluedorn
Click here to read 40+ reviews about The Fallacy Detective as well Archer and Zowie by the Homeschool Review Crew.
Download and try a sample lesson on this page, as well as find out more information about the book.
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