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A Short Course in Intellectual Self Defense
 
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A Short Course in Intellectual Self Defense [Format Kindle]

Normand Baillargeon , Charb , Andrea Schmidt

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Présentation de l'éditeur

What is the relationship between democracy and critical thinking? What must a citizen in a democracy know to make the word democracy meaningful? In A Short Course in Intellectual Self-Defense, historian and educator Normand Baillargeon provides readers with the tools to see through the spin and jargon of everyday politics and news reporting in order to decide for themselves what is at stake and how to ask the necessary questions to protect themselves from the manipulations of the government and the media. Whether the issue be the call to what we’re told will be a bloodless war, the "debate" around Intelligent Design, or the meaning of a military expenditure, Baillargeon teaches readers to evaluate information and sort fact from official and media spin.

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Amazon.com: 3.1 étoiles sur 5  7 commentaires
20 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Chomsky would be proud 31 mai 2009
Par Massimo Pigliucci - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Noam Chomsky famously said that citizens in a democracy ought to equip themselves with a course in intellectual self-defense, so not to be duped by politicians, the media, corporate interests and assorted demagogues. Normand Baillargeon's book does exactly that in a marvelously accessible fashion, managing to engage the reader while teaching the basics of critical thinking, from logical fallacies to ways of critically reading the news. Despite its brevity, the volume manages to cover basic numeracy and to provide enough understanding of statistics to add invaluably to readers' arsenal of intellectual self-defense weaponry. This and similar books should be a must read for anyone interested in playing a constructive part in the democratic discourse, or simply in avoiding to be made a fool by people who wield bad arguments and deploy questionable data. I will use it as reading material for an introductory level course in critical reasoning this coming Fall.
15 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 critical thinking 2 novembre 2008
Par David DN - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This book is, among other things, a good place to turn after hearing one too many faulty or misleading arguments, or after being attacked by someone who is incapable of taking in new information. The author lists and exposes various categories of faulty reasoning and dishonest arguments such as circular logic, bait and switch, and false dilemma. There are some good reminders here for most of us to sharpen our own thinking.

Another reviewer here has a complaint that I can't completely follow but seems to revolve around the book's author recommending a publication known for strongly anti-Zionist views and which supposedly is unfairly biased toward tyrants, though it's unclear how these two things are connected. (The Zionist issue appears specifically in the back and forth comments section.) At any rate, the reviewer obviously believes that Counterpunch magazine or website should not be recommended and that they contain biased articles in which the actions of tyrants and monsters are forgiven, covered up or endorsed. I would invite any reader who thinks they have the strength to brave such a place to go there, read, cross check information, find out for themselves.

I feel lucky that I was brought up to understand that nothing is automatic and nothing is assumed. I don't think you can say "motherhood is good" or "families are good" without explaining yourself and logically defending that point of view with specificity. If you try you quickly find that these statements are only partly true--or only true under certain conditions. Black and white thinking is illogical and ultimately insane.

The facts speak for themselves, and Zionism or the governments of Syria or Cuba, as distinct examples, all in fact appear to be good for some people but not particularly good for others. As with motherhood and families, one must examine the evidence and the situation at hand and sort it all out.

This book probably deserves 5 stars. I did wish there were a bit more. Perhaps some of the topics could have had additional examples from modern political discourse, from different sides of the same question or issue, even though that might further antagonize someone with a belief system that would admit no serious questioning.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A book that everyone should read 6 avril 2010
Par Bazza - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
One of the illuminating things that you discover when you study statistics and logic formally is that peoples' arguments are based on poor reasoning and/or dodgy math (particularly dodgy statistics). This is especially true of much of the arguments of so-called opinion-leaders that are communicated via the media. I suspect that, if you're reading this review, you already have a sense of this as an issue. The great thing about a book like this one is that it can give you the intellectual tools to unpack these arguments to identify their fatal flaws.

Part One of the book describes "some indispensable tools for critical thinking" which is really a discussion about how words themselves can be used to try to manipulate you into thinking one way or another about a subject without you realising it.

Part One then goes on to explain the basic construction of a logically valid argument and why some arguments are invalid purely by their construction (regardless of the merit of the issue being argued for). This is followed by an explanation of the common fallacies in argumentation and is great stuff because the author explains most of these fallacies very well.

After this, Part One deals with math (specifically probability, statistics and graphs, etc) and how it can be used to manipulate people. That said, let me rush to add that this isn't a math textbook so it's not heavy-duty. However, there is enough to give you a grasp of some of the basic issues that will help you to develop a healthy scepticism of the reported results of opinion polls and quasi-scientific research.

Part Two of the book is possibly more challenging. Not because the theory is difficult (actually, most of the theory is relatively straight-forward) but because it uses the latest research into human perception, memory and judgement to challenge what you think you see and hear. And, if it does, you'll certainly be more sceptical about what other people tell you that they saw and heard. In the end, you'll find that people just can't be trusted - Not because they're liars but because they're oh so human.

Do I think that there is anything wrong with the book? Well, yes - There are a few minor problems (but none that would stop me from buying the book). First, the author can be a little patronising at times (especially in Part One). I doubt that he feels superior necessarily. I just don't think he realises that his audience is reading the book because they're already clever enough to have a sense that something is wrong and they've come to book because they want to do something about it.

Second, I'm not sure whether it's the fault of the author or the translator but, unless you know the definition of words like coda, dissemble, utilitarian, etc, you'll need to keep a dictionary close by (though mostly for Part One of the book, Part Two is much better in this regard).

Third, although the author's examples are valid, some can be a little silly. For example, one that he uses throughout the book involves the New York Police Department and a rather silly brand of "billy club" (which I presume is a baton). Couldn't he think of a more inclusive example?!
3 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Framing? 18 février 2011
Par Aritza - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I can't believe the words frame and framing are nowhere to be found in this book. It is a well known fact in cognitive science that framing of the issues is the main way in which people's are manipulated in our society.
0 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Book Condition 17 octobre 2011
Par Isabelle Books - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
First time ordering anything online. Ordered used book from this user however it was recieved better then in an "Acceptable" condition, no problems with Shipment , would definatley buy books online again.
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