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A Short Course in Intellectual Self Defense Format Kindle
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|Longueur : 338 pages||Langue : Anglais|
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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.
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?!
Many such books tend to 'bash' Christians, but he has refrained from this emphasis.
Others are so indifferent to any objective truth that their efforts seem to be on designing a persuasive argument regardless of the merit or honesty behind it.
One of my 'keeper' books to be used again and again.
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