Goal: Although many people would find the observation fallacious, most of us are guilty of fallacious reasoning. Because we tend to think “enthymematically”—that is, with skips and leaps instead of in some sort of linear progression—most of us will fail at the cultural rules of logic, even on a daily basis. We are most prone to fallacious reasoning when following a pattern or script we have learned on a position we hold (for example, the main “talking points” issued by political parties). Use this activity to get your students thinking about how and why we might use fallacious reasoning, and how we can avoid it.
1. Split your students into groups. Have each group locate a school newspaper, either in print or online.
2. Have students look through their newspapers to find examples of the following fallacies; ad hominem, bandwagon, either-or, non sequitur, red herring, and slipper slope. Encourage your students to check the editorial page, letters ot the editor, or in news stories if the first two do not provide any.
3. Have students present their newspaper and explain the examples of the fallacies that they found.