Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
Bo Bennett’s Logically Fallacious is the “ultimate collection of over 300 logical fallacies”. The book is described as “a crash course”, to achieve the following end:
Expose an irrational belief, keep a man rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, and keep a man rational for a lifetime.
Bennett provides a short introduction on erroneous thinking, before listing the collected fallacies in alphabetical order. Each fallacy has alternate names, a description and applications. For example, ‘denying the antecedent’ is provided in the book as:
(also known as: inverse error, inverse fallacy)
Description: It is a fallacy in formal logic where in a standard if/then premise, the antecedent (what comes after the “if”) is made not true, then it is concluded that the consequent (what comes after the “then”) is not true.
Logical Form: If P, then Q. Not P. Therefore, not Q.
Example #1: If it barks, it is a dog. It doesn’t bark. Therefore, it’s not a dog.
Explanation: It is not clear that clear that a fallacy is being committed, but because this is a formal argument following a strict form, even if the conclusion seems to be true, the argument is still invalid. This is why fallacies can be very tricky and deceptive. Since it doesn’t bark, we cannot conclude with certainty that it isn’t a dog – it could be a dog who just can’t bark.
The arguer has committed a formal fallacy and the argument is invalid, because the truth of the premises do not guarantee the truth of the conclusion.
Occasionally, this list will be piqued by famous examples, particularly the ‘If-by-whiskey’ fallacy. It is noticeable from underlined websites URLs that this book may not have been originally intended to be printed. Indeed, books centred on lists, such as John Rentoul’s The Banned List, have to provide a lure outside the main attraction. In Rentoul’s book, containing the author’s compendium of unacceptable cliché and jargon, Rentoul seeks to outline why such cliché arises. Bennett’s opening 13 pages sets out definitions of key terms, but the part focused on fallacies takes little over a page. Since lists of logical fallacies may be found online, the book would have greatly benefitted from an investigation into why fallacious reasoning occurs, whether it is a general misunderstanding of logic, or ease and convenience.
This book will remain a competent little resource, particularly when arguing online with MPs and commentators.