"The Fine Art of Baloney Detection"

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Tools for Skeptical Thinking

What Not to Do -- Logical Fallacies

The main content of this page is adapted from Chapter 7 of Carl Sagan's book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.

Tools for Skeptical Thinking

"What skeptical thinking boils down to is the means to construct, and to understand, a reasoned argument and, especially important, to recognize a fallacious or fraudulent argument. The question is not whether we like the conclusion that emerges out of a train of reasoning, but whether the conclusion follows from the premises or starting point and whether that premise is true.

Among the tools:

What Not to Do -- Logical Fallacies

"In addition to teaching us what to do when evaluating a claim to knowledge, any good baloney detection kit must also teach us what not to do. It helps us recognize the most common and perilous fallacies of logic and rhetoric. Many good examples can be found in religion and politics, because their practitioners are so often obliged to justify two contradictory propositions. Among these fallacies are: