Pitfalls: A Quick Guide to Identifying Logical Fallacies for Families provides a way to teach logic in a concise, easy to understand format. The book is part of the “Picture Book Apologetics” series and approaches the fallacies from the stance of teaching children to engage in conversations about their faith, though it is clearly broadly applicable.
The fallacies covered in this book are informal fallacies, though at the end the authors note the difference between formal and informal fallacy. Both the back cover and the table of contents explain what a logical fallacy is. Fallacies covered include ad hominem, appeal to force, equivocation, and many more. There are 24 covered in all, along with the distinction made between informal and formal. Each features an illustration with a dialogue between various delightful critters demonstrating the fallacy. Many of the explanations close with a humorous application of the fallacy. Each explanation is about 50-80 words long (I counted a few of them).
The explanations are clear and concise, to the point where they would frankly serve the introductory philosophy course as well as the six-year-old. They’re impressively well done and with plenty of humor on the side for older children and adults. It is rare I find myself really enjoying a children’s book, but this is one that easily fits in that category.
I put the book through the rigorous test of seeing how long the illustrations could please my son. He isn’t quite a year and a half old yet, and his attention span reflects that. Nevertheless, he touched many of the cutely drawn animals and even made (highly accurate) animal noises for a few. Given that both I and my son enjoyed the illustrations, I think its safe to say they’re well done.
I would be a poor reviewer if I didn’t note the tongue-in-cheek humor behind some of these illustrations. For example, the fallacy of “Begging the Question” is clearly a depiction of Joseph Smith with the gold plates for the Book of Mormon, and the “Genetic Fallacy”‘s illustration is a pair of Jehovah’s Witness gerbils (or hamsters? I can never keep them straight). These do not mock these groups, but instead expose their ideas in the briefest conversation bubble and show some of the fallacious reasoning behind them. It’s done smartly.
It’s difficult to judge exactly how easily understood these fallacies are made by the book with myself and my son as subjects, but having discussed this kind of thing with parents who have older children, I believe this book would be highly beneficial for introducing some heady concepts at fairly young ages. Of course, do that at your own risk as you will be training little lawyers. Each explanation is quite brief, to the point where a few times I wish there had been just a little more clarification. It’s hard to fault that, however, given the intended audience of the book.
Pitfalls: A Quick Guide to Identifying Logical Fallacies for Families is just as advertised, but with no small amount of wit. It is both informative and delightful, well-illustrated and humorous. I highly recommend it.
+Grab-bag of information
+Useful for review
-Could be a bit more expansive on a few topics
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.
J.D. Carmolinga Pitfalls: A Quick Guide to Identifying Logical Fallacies for Families (Whittier, CA: Picture Book Apologetics, 2015).
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