by Mal Vickers
Wasn’t it Paul Keating who used phrases like “the honourable members opposite squeal like stuck pigs”? Whilst the use of ad hominem attacks (name calling) and other logical fallacies abound in politics, has anyone noticed that the Federal Government this year has actually funded a project to help Australians become better critical thinkers?
On the 18th of January 2012 Professor Ian Chubb, Australia’s chief scientist, announced a competition.
“Australians of all ages are invited to create 3-5 minute videos presenting an argument on one of four topics”, Professor Chubb said. Details here. The competition ends on the 1st of May 2012.
Whilst those topics may not be of interest, ahead of the competition a production company called Bridge8 was funded by a government program called TechNyou to produced some primer videos about critical thinking to help inspire the competition.
Bridge8 have done an excellent job. I’m presenting all six videos for your enjoyment below.
More videos after the fold.
I can only applaud such good videos. Well done!
Also of interest to anyone who wants to read about logical fallacies is the book Crimes Against Logic (subtitle: Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests, Journalists and Other Serial Offenders) by Jamie Whyte.
The book certainly got me thinking. Chapter one gets off to a cracking start. It’s Whyte’s contention that holding an opinion is not a right. I quite enjoy holding my own opinion, I was somewhat taken aback by this statement. The logic goes something like this:
If person A says to person B “you don’t own a dog” and person B responds “don’t be ridiculous, of course I own a dog, Fido, you remember, you’ve seen him and patted him, why would you say such a thing?” and person A then responds “I have a right to my own opinion”. You can see there is a problem. The argument that holding an opinion is a right or an entitlement, I don’t know about you dear reader, but I’ve heard that argument used many times.
The logic (I as I understand it) goes: if person B does indeed own a dog, then person A is clearly wrong. Asserting the right to hold an opinion won’t change the fact that person B owns a dog. In other words, asserting the right to hold an opinion shouldn’t give person A the right to live in their own irrational world of wrong facts and lies.
By the way, this is my quick interpretation of Whyte’s logic, as set out in chapter one. The book covers many more, every day, fallacious arguments, is clearly written and works through the logic better than I can in this short blog post.
Crimes Against Logic is available at all the usual outlets for less than $20.