Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Recommended Reading

I have recently been reading an excellent book called Bad Thoughts: a guide to clear thinking by Jamie Whyte, a philosopher and occasional columnist in The Times.

The book is a guide to logical fallacies, explaining why many oft-heard arguments are logically fallacious, and exploring how such errors of reasoning have been increasingly creeping into our everyday discourse. It is powerfully argued, yet this does not detract from its entertainment value because the author manages to remain both witty and interesting throughout. He relies upon examples from, amongst other things, politics, religion and literature.

The many topics covered in the book include:why the pot actually can call the kettle black, why Pascal (in his Wager) backed a loser, why the American Declaration of Independence is wrong, why a duck is the most common score in cricket and how success in bond trading is largely based on coincidence.

It is also a subject matter that should be of great interest to barristers. I found that the book succeeded in its purpose, stated in the Preface, of helping the reader to identify such fallacies when they hear them. This is a useful tool in picking holes in opponent's arguments.

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