Published by The Experiment Pages: 64
on September 23, 2014
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
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.
In honor of America’s recent birthday, I thought I’d share a review of a book of one of our favorite national past-times. No, not baseball. ARGUING! If you spent 4th of July arguing with your racist uncle or opinionated auntie, you may find yourself wishing you’d had this adorable book at hand.
An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments is a small hardback book that I found quite on accident at our local science-themed book store (Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe) and immediately fell in love with. It features single-page descriptions of the most common bad argument tactics, with illustrations on the opposite page.
This book has a fable-like feeling. Illustrator Alejandro Giraldo’s artwork is pretty unique, with large-eyed animals, and woodblock-like detailing.
As somebody who was never on the debate team, and never took a logic class, I found An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments very accessible. It uses clear language and examples of arguments. And while I basically understood what a straw man argument or false dilemma was, it’s nice to have a reference to reach for when I have to actually put it into words.
Although logic itself has no political affiliation, since some of the arguments in here are based on the science around evolution and global warming, some readers may detect a left-leaning slant and may not enjoy it as much if they disagree with science. Keep that in mind when deciding who to share this book with. It does not reference specific politicians or political parties, and only touches briefly on religion, mainly in referencing famous arguments or tactics based on religion.
At only 60 pages long, this is obviously not a deep dive into arguments, logic, and debate. It’s a fun book that can be read in a single afternoon.
Who do I think this book would be ideal for? It’s an obvious gift for the friend or family member in your life who loves to argue on the internet. It could be a cute graduation gift for poli-sci majors. I could also see it being a great way to start to introduce your kids to logical fallacies and crafting a good argument, although if you have multiple kids they may get into just as many arguments about each other’s tactics as about whatever topic they’re arguing about, so keep that in mind.
If you think you’d like to read this book but you can’t see spending $15 on it, you can read the entire thing for free online at the author’s website, BookofBadArguments.com. You can even give a small donation if you want the author and artist to receive some compensation for their enjoyable work.
This book shows the importance of visiting your local bookstore from time to time, because it’s definitely the sort of thing I never would have found otherwise. It’s far enough outside my usual reading wheelhouse that it wouldn’t have come up on my Amazon recommendations, but I’m so glad to have it on my shelf for the next time I need to refute someone’s poorly-made points on Facebook.