Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 160s

160: Crimes Against Logic by Jamie Whyte

DDC_160

160: Whyte, Jamie. Crimes Against Logic: Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests, Journalists, and Other Serial Offenders. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005. 158 pp. ISBN 0-07-144643-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 160: Logic

All around us are statements, phrases, and bon mots which simply serve to obscure logic. Jamie Whyte’s Crimes Against Logic serves as a oasis of hope is a desert of slick dissimulation. Whyte’s main goal is to expose the devices that people use to turn a dubious argument or perspective into one that might be more believable. Many of these fall into categories of logical fallacy, such as the Authority Fallacy or False Equivalency or the Motive Fallacy (among many others). Along with these traps, there are also techniques, such as using jargon, weasel words, or hooray words that throw the listener or the reader off-kilter. This is not to say that everyone and everything is out to pull the wool over your eyes, but there are areas where language is deliberately couched. After reading this, it’s next to impossible to listen to a news broadcast or read an article without seeing all the hidden ways that facts are manipulated to fit the audience or the agenda. Pair this one with Farhad Manjoo’s True Enough and you’ll never trust anyone ever. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. A quick, eye-opening read.

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169: Surfaces and Essences by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander

DDC_169

169: Hofstadter, Douglas & Emmanuel Sander. Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking. New York: Basic Books, 2013. 530 pp. ISBN 978-0-465-01847-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 160: Logic
  • 169: Analogy

Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander’s Surfaces and Essences is written for one purpose: to make you think. It not only makes you think, it makes you think about thinking and think about language and think about the language of thinking (it’s a pretty thoughtful book). The authors’ main premise is that analogy is the root of thought and language. Their definition of an analogy is an instance where a current thought, experience, or linguistic device is compared to another so that it can be fully comprehended. All thing have an analog to some other thing. Without analogy, they claim, modern thought and language fall apart. This is a very interesting proposition mainly due to the fact that we need language to define the pieces of language and therefore everything has to compared to everything else. It’s a wonderfully tight system. It also compares English language analogies to other foreign languages to help define a perspective for certain modes of thinking, which I think is a rather astute inclusion.

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168: The Art of Deception by Nicholas Capaldi

168: Capaldi, Nicholas. The Art of Deception: An Introduction to Critical Thinking. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1987.  204 pp. ISBN 0-87975-424-9.

Dewey Construction:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 160: Logic
  • 168: Argument and persuasion

So much of our discourse nowadays (and especially during an election year) is focused on convincing people that your point-of-view or opinion is better or more valid than someone else’s. The ability to break down an argument into its logical pieces and understand whether it is fundamentally sound is a precious one to have. Luckily, Nicholas Capaldi is here to help.

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