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Crimes Against Logic: Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests, Journalists, and Other Serial Offenders Paperback – October 3, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0071446433 ISBN-10: 9780071446433 Edition: 1st

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Crimes Against Logic: Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests, Journalists, and Other Serial Offenders + Nonsense: Red Herrings, Straw Men and Sacred Cows: How We Abuse Logic in Our Everyday Language + A Rulebook for Arguments
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 157 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (October 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780071446433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071446433
  • ASIN: 0071446435
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Whyte] whets a long knife of ultra-rationalism on the cold stone of logic, and death by a thousand cuts is inflicted on prejudice, statistics, morality, religion, weasel words, and seductive sirens such as politicians, New Agers, advertising executives, and, of course, journalists who expect you to be persuaded by anything other than facts." (The Times)

"He ruthlessly exposes logical flaws and sheer nonsense. . . in likably angry and witty style." (The Guardian)

About the Author

Jamie Whyte (London, England) is a past lecturer of philosophy at Cambridge University and winner of Analysis journal's prestigious prize for the best article by a philosopher under 30.


More About the Author

Jamie Whyte (London, England) is a past lecturer of philosophy at Cambridge University and winner of Analysis journal's prestigious prize for the best article by a philosopher under 30.

Customer Reviews

I'm not saying that Pascal's Wager can't be refuted.
George R Dekle
Awesome book... Mr Whyte does a great job in articulating the logical fallacies we see and hear everyday.
BK
Not after reading this clear and often very funny book.
Gary the Traveller

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

761 of 786 people found the following review helpful By Gulley Jimson on October 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book deserves the widest possible exposure in America, especially so close to the election, because it an excellent primer on how to guard yourself against the faulty reasoning that governs so much modern political discourse - and avoid adopting it yourself. I first heard about the book because one of its points was mentioned in an essay. The point was basically that just because someone has a motive to hold a certain position doesn't necessarily mean that the position is false. This seemed pretty obvious, but as I turned to the media I was amazed at how often politicians use this method, and how easily I had accepted their claims if they lined up with my political preferences.

Any damaging report against either side, for example, would frequently be denounced as a "partisan" attack, with occasional documentation of how the person who presented the report was tied to one party or another, as if this were the issue at hand. No attempt was made to address whether the report was true or not, the assumption being that exposing a bias - a motive for the potentially false information - was conclusive evidence.

Some of the things Whyte discussed in the book - for example, sample bias in statistics - are going to be familiar to many people, but just as frequently he comes up with something that all of us have probably used in an argument. For example, in the chapter "begging the question," he quotes a common pro-choice argument: "If you believe abortion is wrong, that's fine, don't abort your pregnancies. But show tolerance toward others who don't share your beliefs."

He points out that this ignores that actual position of anti-abortionists, that abortion is murder, morally equivalent to killing a live human being.
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93 of 97 people found the following review helpful By T. Wyman on April 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
Whyte brilliantly exposes the Motive Fallacy in Chapter 2, then occasionally slips into using it throughout the rest of the book, He doesn't descend to using it to refute arguments, but does use it to undermine credibility, e.g. "It gives them a thrilling fit of the cosmic heebie-jeebies."

Others did not detect smugness. I did, but am not bothered by it. It comes with the territory when writing about unclear thinking. As he invites the reader to share in it if one can but follow along, I doubt many people will be put off by it. He chooses some surprising examples to illustrate his points; some groups will be pleased at encountering a rare acknowledgement of their reasonableness.

There is a second weakness. Some questions are decided according to different standards of proof, as in the varieties of legal evidence: "beyond a reasonable doubt" vs. "clear and convincing" vs. "preponderance of the evidence." Whyte notes this accurately in some places, but neglects it in others, requiring proof where reasonableness might be enough.

Still, it's good. Amusing, instructive, and clear.
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345 of 401 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 31, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is much about this book that I like very much. Mr. White's ability to see the logical flaws in an argument is impressive and there are few things that would benefit this world more than if more people had the ability to see if they were being misled by their politicians, pundits and religious leaders. A serious reader of this book would certainly gain more tools in this difficult task.

On the other hand, in my opinion this book does have one weakness: its dismissive tone. There is a subtle air of superiority that Mr. White projects in his prose that I find disheartening. Though he pays lip service to the fact that it can be very difficult to spot certain logical fallacies, particularly as we are bombarded by opinions disguised as fact 24 hours a day through the media, he does not seem very sympathetic the fact that many people do try their best to work there way through the morass of opinions despite being hampered by media overkill, prominent positions demanding action, their own strongly held opinions and the lack of a prestigious education. Mr. White has much to teach but it is difficult to swallow when the student is made to feel small and foolish.

I am particularly disappointed by Mr. White's dismissiveness towards religion. Though I agree completely with his assertion that religious tenets (like the existence of God, etc.) cannot be proved logically and that many religious leaders misuse logic severely, I do not agree that this is sufficient to dismiss religious experience out of hand. Granted, I am a person of religious belief, but I am also a mathematician and I would argue that there are things that are true that cannot be proved. But I'm sure Mr. White, chuckling sadly and looking down his nose at me, would disagree.
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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Denis Benchimol Minev on September 8, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jamie Whyte follows in a long tradition of writers that focus on flaws of logic that most people seem to fall into. His predecessors include Richard Dawkins (of a more scientific tone) and Gary Becker (of a more economics tone). Dr Whyte, by training a philosopher, focuses on pure reason and the ways people violate it.

The book is divided into major types of logical flaws to which the author gives specific names, such as Morality Fever, Right to Your Own Opinion, Mexploitation and Prejudice in a Fancy Dress. Examples include using words with bad conotations to contaminate an argument, staking moral high ground and drawing ridiculous parallels to make an argument and cultural relativism about things that are either true or not; these are some of the strategies employed to support arguments oftentimes devoid of logic.

The tone of the author is sometimes sarcartic and arrogant, which may put off a few readers at time, but overall it is well written and clear, a good entertaining read. It does leave one with the lingering "Aha" memory whenever one meets the fallacies presented here. Unfortunately, they are much more common than logic would expect.
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