Spotting an Argument
Learning to Think Again
Inspired by a post on LinkedIn asking:
why don’t we teach logical fallacies in school?
I decided to learn about them this weekend.
My first stop was:
Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies
A logical fallacy is a flaw in reasoning. Logical fallacies are like tricks or illusions of thought, and they're often…
which is a simple yet effective website to get familiar with or just to revise common fallacies.
But this was by no means sufficient, and I started looking for a book, but could not find one dedicated to logical fallacies.
Meanwhile, I found another great post with more text and funny videos:
15 Logical Fallacies You Should Know Before Getting Into a Debate
By David Ferrer Logical fallacies are like landmines; easy to overlook until you find them the hard way. One of the…
As I refined my Google search, I stumbled upon a course/book named ‘Developing Critical Reading Skills’:
The ancient-looking website contained only exercises from a book, and I was not sure if I want to buy that book.
But it provided me a new keyword to look for, that was ‘critical reading’ or more generic: ‘critical thinking’.
With this keyword in mind, I started searching for an online course. It was not long before I found the Think Again course on Coursera:
Think Again I: How to Understand Arguments | Coursera
Learn Think Again I: How to Understand Arguments from Duke University. How to Understand Arguments Think Again: How to…
The course is the first part of a four-part Think Again series, and the content seemed interesting.
After watching the first few videos, I decided to give it a try.
The rest of the post tells what I learned in the first week of the course.
The first week is titled “How to Spot an Argument”.
Most important learning for me was the fact that
An argument is not a fight.
I think I learned this because we end up using the two interchangeably — and labeling arguments as fights was easier for me than learning about it.
Complain and contradiction are also not argument, but I already knew that.
The next most important lesson for me was about the purpose of arguing.
The primary reason for an argument is to make others understand you. To provide reasons for what you believe — or to explain why you came to a conclusion.
Arguments are also used to persuade someone, but the result of your attempt at persuasion and the quality of argument are independent.
Strong arguments don’t always persuade everyone
because human being are not always logical.
Argument does not have to be between two or more people as well.
You can build an argument alone in your room — in the pages of your diary, trying to justify or explain your conclusion.
To give a proper definition —
An argument is a group of statements including one or more premises and one and only one conclusion. The purpose of premises is to provide reason or support for the conclusion.