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Monday, March 12, 2012

The Art of Argument

I do not like to argue.

I do not like confrontation.

Some of my best friends in high school loved debate.  They were even National Debate Champions.

Debate scared me.  It was like choosing to argue with front of an audience.....for fun.

Instead, I became a really rough and tough storyteller in Speech. 


Honestly, Rainman and I hardly ever argue or fight.  Suits me just fine.

I do not like to argue.

I don't seem to be able to get my thoughts in order quick enough to be successful.

So, when we received a book by Classical Academic Press to review called The Art of Argument an Introduction to the Informal Fallacies, I thought, alright.  I may finally want to pick a fight with Rainman because I will be able to win.  (Not really.....I reeeaaaallly don't like to fight)

This book says that by mastering the "art" of argument,  you will learn to argue like a philosopher, but also to think clearly like a philosopher.  Not in a stuffy, professor-y way, but, like a Philosopher  - Greek words for - philos = loving and sophia = wisdom.

The fallacies discussed in the book have Latin, Ad Hominem arguments.   D-man is studying Latin, so that part sort of ties in nicely with what he is already learning.  (An example of Ad Hominem argument would be like on the playground when one kid dares another to try something and when they refuses, resorts to name calling, "What are you, chicken?")

All this Greek and Latin.....makes me feel like I am trying to sound all academic and hoighty toighty.

If you know me at know I am not.

So, I will just say, that it is a going to take us a while to finish this book, because it opens a lot of doors for discussion. 

Especially once you start recognizing how these fallacies are being used against us everyday.  There are three main areas of fallacies; Relevance, Presumption and Clarity and within those three categories there are 28 fallacies.  This is a course designed for middle schoolers on up (grades 7-12). 

One of my most favorite parts of this book is the way it teaches the fallacies that surround us everyday (advertisements, political statements and even media coverage). They give you a visual picture with fake ads.

Here is an example of one that totally cracks me up:

"A blonde was driving...  When it's just too dangerous to be blonde.  Brunetta."

This fake ad shows the fallacy of Presumption, Induction and False Cause.

Funny, but teaches something.  I like it.

In a way, it would be worth it to have this book just to look at their fake ads and imagine what it was like in the room while they were creating them.  Actually, now that I think about is probably what happens in ad agencies all over the world when they are launching a new product!

It just helps you recognize how often these fallacies are used against us in trying to get us to vote for someone, or buy something.

I have always been a bit of a skeptic when listening to ads or even political speeches. I always try to think about the "other side" of the story. An annoying quality if you are my husband and just want me to agree with what you think about a politician....but actually, pretty helpful in being able to root out and identify the "art" of an argument that companies or people are trying to use against me. I just didn't know all the fancy schmancy Latin names for them!

The Art of Argument textbook is available from Classical Academic Press for $21.95.  You can also get the teacher's guide for $24.95.  There is even a DVD set for $54.95.

I recommend working through this book with your children.  If you don't, they may use what they learn against you.  If you don't have the time or interest in working through it too, it is set up really easily for them to do on their own....especially if you have the teacher's guide in case you need a little help with the correct answers.  But, if they start convincing you to let them have a lot more privileges, a new phone, that perfect pair of jeans, or the keys to the know who to blame. 

The blonde.

If only you had used Brunetta!

See what arguments other TOS reviewers had for or against The Art of Argument by clicking here.   Seriously.  Check them is what all the cool moms are doing!

I received a copy of the Art of Argument, the teacher's guide and the first DVD is the series in exchange for an honest review of the product.