Thursday, January 9, 2014

Book Review #18

RuleBook for argument
Anthony Weston

By chance, I picked this book up at a college bookstore. I was just shopping for the regular textbook, and I saw this little book. I was intrigued, and picked it up. In truth, I have learned all the rules described in the book, except I didn't have names to them. This book not only outlines the logic behind the rules, but also the fallacies that people use to fool you.

Nowadays, everytime somebody used any of the fallacies, instead of commenting and explaining their errors, which can take a while and may involve heated words, I simply say, for example, "ad populus" or "ad hominem" or "circular reasoning." And unless the other person corrects the error, I always leave the conversation. It has save me a lot of time in avoiding wasteful conversations with idiots.

The book was out of print for a while. I'm glad that the book has gone at least four printings, with the latest including a small treatment for the internet generation. I have since found that the wikipedia has a much more comprehensive set of logical rules and fallacies, but this book remains the gold standard not only in what it includes, but also what it excludes. It has that magic balance of not too much, not too little. Highly recommended.

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