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Author Topic:   Should students receive education on logical fallacies?
Perdition
Member (Idle past 1317 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 16 of 24 (508310)
05-12-2009 12:48 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Creation Is Fallacious
05-11-2009 10:02 PM


I've long been in favor of teaching critical thinking in 5th grade and continuing the education, much like math, English, science, etc are all progressive. Teaching kids to think for themselves while also teaching them HOW to think for themselves would do a lot of help in this country.
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Lithodid-Man
Member (Idle past 1010 days)
Posts: 504
From: Juneau, Alaska, USA
Joined: 03-22-2004


Message 17 of 24 (508331)
05-12-2009 4:30 PM


Logic fallacies
This is a great point and one I agree with completely. Several years ago I taught a 300-level class called "Philosophy of Biology". In that course we spent about 1/3 of the semester on logic fallacies and bad science.

It made sense to me to not limit the fallacies to science, as I think all of us are bombarded with misleading conclusions in our daily lives, whether it be reading how doctors have proven a link between some form of cancer and some food item, or product ads, etc. The students in that class became very adept at pointing out these fallacies, and I cannot help but believe they have a distinct advantage over those who are unaware.

The amazing thing (although not surprising) was how I did not have to point out the logic fallacies in the creation movement. They just flowed naturally with the students discovering them and pointing them out. I think there is value in creating a situation where the conclusion is student-derived. I simply showed examples of fallacies, then later presented students with pseudoscientific papers (including some EvC posts).


Doctor Bashir: "Of all the stories you told me, which were true and which weren't?"
Elim Garak: "My dear Doctor, they're all true"
Doctor Bashir: "Even the lies?"
Elim Garak: "Especially the lies"
    
Taq
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Posts: 7673
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 18 of 24 (508343)
05-12-2009 5:12 PM


I fully agree that logical fallacies should be taught, and science class seems to be the most logical (hehe) place for it. As a practical suggestion, using scientific examples of those logical fallacies would probably work really well.

I make the argument that it is impossible that a single bacterium can divide into millions of bacteria in a single day (argument from incredulity). It just doesn't make sense. Can't happen. The students run experiments using different techniques and find, contrary to my protestations, that a single bacterium can produce a million clones of itself in a single 24 hour period. Fallacy exposed.

I make the argument that if light acts as a particle that it can not act like a wave (false dichotomy). The kids run the Young's Double Slit experiment and review the photoelectric effect. Sure enough, light can act as both, a third option that was not inlcuded in the original argument.

I don't see how other classes can lend themselves so easily to demonstrating why these are logical fallacies. A philosophy course would definitely work, but very rarely do high schools have such classes.


Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by Perdition, posted 05-12-2009 5:37 PM Taq has responded
 Message 24 by Michamus, posted 05-19-2009 2:35 AM Taq has not yet responded

  
Perdition
Member (Idle past 1317 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 19 of 24 (508351)
05-12-2009 5:37 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Taq
05-12-2009 5:12 PM


I don't see how other classes can lend themselves so easily to demonstrating why these are logical fallacies. A philosophy course would definitely work, but very rarely do high schools have such classes.

Which, to my mind, is a great disservice. We should have a basic philosophy course, starting around 5th grade, IMHO, teaching basic logic and critical thinking, progressing through middle school and high school to deeper categories such as ethics/morality, theology, and such.


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 Message 18 by Taq, posted 05-12-2009 5:12 PM Taq has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 20 by Taq, posted 05-12-2009 6:24 PM Perdition has responded

    
Taq
Member
Posts: 7673
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 20 of 24 (508362)
05-12-2009 6:24 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by Perdition
05-12-2009 5:37 PM


Which, to my mind, is a great disservice. We should have a basic philosophy course, starting around 5th grade, IMHO, teaching basic logic and critical thinking, progressing through middle school and high school to deeper categories such as ethics/morality, theology, and such.

I want to agree, but I just don't know if it will work. Are kids really ready for this stuff in the 5th grade? Some may be able to, but I doubt the majority of students will be able to slog their way through it. OTOH, I may be a die hard pessimist.;)

All I can see are eyes glazing over as the teacher presents Platonic Forms. Perhaps it is all dependent on how the material is presented. If you make it "sexy" perhaps the kids will pay attention and dig into it.


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 Message 19 by Perdition, posted 05-12-2009 5:37 PM Perdition has responded

Replies to this message:
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 Message 22 by Perdition, posted 05-13-2009 12:04 PM Taq has not yet responded

  
Stagamancer
Member (Idle past 2995 days)
Posts: 174
From: Oregon
Joined: 12-28-2008


Message 21 of 24 (508369)
05-12-2009 7:13 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by Taq
05-12-2009 6:24 PM


I think what we really need is a complete overhaul of the educational system. Yes, I know that this would be hard, but I really think we need to move away from an information based education to a thinking based education. It's getting easier and easier to access facts. With smart phones and tiny laptops becoming ubiquitous, and with sites like wikipedia and others, vast amounts of info are seconds to minutes away. We already know standardized tests really don't mean that much in terms of intelligence, so why don't we move away from that kind of teaching already? I think from a very young age, we can start teaching kids critical thinking by having them figure things out for themselves instead of just thrusting information into their heads.

All I can see are eyes glazing over as the teacher presents Platonic Forms.

There are many ways to teach kids how to think critically besides presenting them with formal theory. I think the best way is to get them to start thinking critically by having them come up with ideas, try to answer them and then defend their answers. Then later, we can formalize it with the particular vocabulary used in a Logic Class, or whatever. In my ideal world, it would be like teaching them a language. Kids learn to use language even before we ever tell them exactly what a noun or a verb or a gerund is, and they do it by trying it out for themselves.

I dunno, I'm no expert on teaching or learning, but in my ideal world that how it would be.

Edited by Stagamancer, : copied a quote twice.


We have many intuitions in our life and the point is that many of these intuitions are wrong. The question is, are we going to test those intuitions?
-Dan Ariely
This message is a reply to:
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Perdition
Member (Idle past 1317 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 22 of 24 (508439)
05-13-2009 12:04 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by Taq
05-12-2009 6:24 PM


I didn't expect to get into Platonic Forms in 5th grade, just the basic critical thinking skills and the basic logic functions such as Modus Tollens and Modus Ponens, etc.
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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8838
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 23 of 24 (508455)
05-13-2009 2:13 PM


An approach to critical thinking
I would not suggest getting too darned formal as others have warned you could get boring.

What I would suggest is that the examples used be things which most or all of the kids already think are false. You might have to find 3 or 4 examples for 2 or 3 different groups of kids and let those who disagree with the issue work together to say why they think it is wrong.

After they have their own attempt at it then you could introduce the various fallacies and errors in thinking that apply to the issue that group has (and a few that don't just to make them work a bit). Let them work with those for a bit to see if they can apply them by themselves.

After everyone has critically analyzed 2 or 3 things they started off disagreeing with then you open it up and let them look at some things they agree with and see if they can be critical of those too.


  
Michamus
Member (Idle past 3236 days)
Posts: 230
From: Ft Hood, TX
Joined: 03-16-2009


Message 24 of 24 (509148)
05-19-2009 2:35 AM
Reply to: Message 18 by Taq
05-12-2009 5:12 PM


Taq writes:


A philosophy course would definitely work, but very rarely do high schools have such classes.


Actually Taq, My partner medic here has his undergrad in Philosophy, and he didn't even know what logical fallacies were. I didn't realize it until he made a statement, and I called it out as being a straw-man, to which he asked "What's a straw-man fallacy?"

I would agree that logical fallacies should be taught to all high-school students so as to augment their real world skills.


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