Eliminate Faulty Reasoning in Your Class
Faulty Reasoning Example #1
"Why are you wearing a pink Boa?" I asked Dexter one morning.
"My favorite player, Kobe," he explained, "says that pink boas are the next big fashion statement."
"Is this Kobe guy a fashion expert?"
"Then why are you taking fashion advice from him?"
"Because he's my favorite player. That's why I drink Sprite and hate Colorado too. If Kobe says it, it must be true!"
I explained to Dexter that he had fallen victim to faulty reasoning. Advertisers use testimonials of famous people who are an expert in one area to endorse a product in an area in which they are not an expert. He ripped off the pink boa, threw away his Sprite, booked a ski vacation in Colorado, and asked me to explain more types of reasoning to him. I shared with him the following examples of faulty reasoning:
Mistakes in reasoning are called logical fallacies. Avoid the following types of reasoning:
Overgeneralizations - conclusions based on too little evidence.
- Example: Cleveland won their first three games. They win all their games. The results of three games is not sufficient to make a definitive statement on how they have done historically.
Circular Reasoning - supporting your opinion by restating it in other words.
- Example: Of Mice and Men is really popular because a lot of people like it. Popular and a lot of people like it mean the same thing.
Either-Or Fallacy - assuming that a complex question has only two possible answers.
- Example: In The Odyssey, Eurlychus proposed either leave the sun cattle alone and starve to death or eat the cattle and drowned at sea. He eliminated other possibilities, such as wait a few more days, go fishing, or eat leaves.
Cause and Effect Fallacy - saying one event caused another just because it came before.
- Example: Cleveland led the game until I called my brother to celebrate. I obviously jinxed them. Calling my brother had no effect on Anderson Varejao's stupid shot (or did it?).
Loaded Language - words or language meant to appeal to emotions rather than logic.
- Example: He is a scheming politician as opposed to a politician with a plan. Loaded language relies on knowledge of word connotation.
Bandwagon - you should do it because everybody's doing it and you want to belong, don't you?
- I've sold widgets to fourteen people on this street already.
Try one of the following options for teaching students how to recognize bad reasoning and logic.
- Read a previous essay or an essay rough draft and find examples of logical fallacies.
- Find 5 examples of logical fallacies in advertising, a political speech, sign, or TV show. Identify the type of fallacy.
- Write an essay with at least five different examples of faulty reasoning.
- Make a poster with examples of the above types of reasoning.
- Stage a debate using faulty logic.
- Introduce the lesson by using examples of faulty logic to punish students.
- Bring in copies of The National Enquirer, The Globe, The New York Post, or other tabloid type news and find examples of faulty logic.