Book Review: An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi

Book review by Jeannette

This small book is “aimed at newcomers to the field of logical reasoning.” The author uses nineteen of the most common errors in reasoning and provides illustrations in conjunction with examples to clarify and learn about the most frequent pitfalls in arguments.

Below is an example of an Informal Fallacy > Red Herring > Genetic Fallacy > Ad Hominem > Appeal to Hypocrisy

This fallacy involves countering someone’s argument by pointing out that it conflicts with his or her own past actions or statements [Engel]. Thus, by answering a charge with a charge, it diverts attention from the argument at hand to the person making it.

I liked the simplicity of the layout in this book, each fallacy is displayed on two pages. The first page gives the definition of the argument, via example, and explains why it is an ineffective method of making this argument, the second page provides a caricature that further clarifies why that reasoning is faulty.

Even though this book is an introduction to the field of logical reasoning, I found the examples complex, the explanations brief and the reasonings seemed to be missing steps, leaving me confused on some fallacies. I really did appreciate the caricatures and found most of them more helpful in providing some context to the concept of an unsound argument.

While I would not say that this is the easiest introduction into the field of logical reasoning, I did find it helpful in spotting the weak points in an argument, making it easier to stay on track in a discussion and as such avoiding “common pitfalls in arguments.”