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Many years back, while entering some kind of early-stage, intellectual, mid-life crisis, I became passionate about science, philosophy, and religion, which eventually led to my starting a debate website as a way to help me understand how other people think, and how they come to the conclusions they do. What I never imagined is that this little side project of mine would result in hours a day of evaluating arguments, reasoning, and logic, opening my eyes to a world of truth hidden by a world of fallacious reasoning.
This discovery did not happen overnight.
After years of what I considered eloquent defense of my positions, I found that I was getting nowhere (in part because those with whom I was debating did not value logic and reason, but more on that later); despite my facts being correct. My positions, those which I could confidently defend, were being overshadowed by what appeared to be well-crafted, airtight arguments from the opposition. At one point, I actually thought I was in the Twilight Zone1. Something had to be wrong; and something was.
Then I picked up a textbook on argumentation that opened my eyes to a whole new area of study, which led me to the study of logic (both formal and informal), reasoning, persuasion, critical thinking, rationality, rhetoric, the existence of cognitive biases, and fallacious reasoning. I went back to school to get my master's degree in general psychology, and I am now finishing up my PhD work in social psychology. I can honestly say that I now see clearly what I overlooked most of my life: deception, erroneous thinking, and faulty reasoning, coming from others as well as coming from myself.
With my new superpower, I deconstructed many of my long-held beliefs and my reasons for holding them. Let me tell you, this was a very humbling experience. My attitude changed towards those with bad reasons for holding different beliefs because I realized that our emotional, and often irrational, unreasonable, and illogical brains get in the way. It is this “secret” that every human being should know. Once we know that our brains deceive us, we can learn how they deceive us and how to recognize such deception and then allow our logic and reason to triumph.
For so long I have been trying to debunk one superstitious and/or irrational belief after another, which is like giving people intellectual fish, rather than teaching them how to intellectually fish for themselves. And then it hit me...
Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime.
This book is a crash course meant to catapult you into a world where you start to see things how they really are, not how you think they are. The focus of this book is on logical fallacies, which, loosely defined, are errors in reasoning. With the reading of each page, you can make significant improvements in the way you reason and make decisions. I’ll bet you $1 that once you start reading this book, you will find it difficult to stop. If I win, save your money and relish in your newly found enlightenment. If you find this book doesn’t interest you, then you can just send me the $1 by mail2. Otherwise, enjoy the book!
1 No, kids. This has nothing to do with freakishly good-looking vampires. Twilight Zone was a mind-blowing, sci-fi show back in the late 50's and early 60’s where the main characters found themselves in really weird, and sometimes horrifying, situations.
2If you fell for that, you might need more help with your reasoning than this book can offer.