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While arguers should strive for fallacy-free persuasion, sometimes logical fallacies rear their ugly heads anyway.
Students often have a feel for whether an argument is valid, but they can’t rely on gut sense alone in a culture that takes a no-holds-barred approach to argument.
Advertising, politics and student writing assignments all require rhetorical devices to convince people that their arguments are valid.
There are many ways to help older students improve their understanding of logical fallacies.
The website is helpful because it has a point-and-click interface to the most common logical errors.
By associating traditional logical fallacy concepts with images and easy explanations, the website helps students learn more complex fallacies like the straw man or hasty generalization.
Mike Rugnetta of PBS Idea Channel has a series of You Tube videos that identify logical fallacies.It can be eye-opening for students to see that these persuasive commercials often have little data or content.Instead, they rest their entire argument on our emotional connection with certain music and images.Assigning the reading before they study logical fallacies can be an excellent way to illustrate how authors can manipulate a reader’s’ thoughts and emotions.Gauging student response to the argument before and after learning about logical fallacies illustrates student learning.And they can use this knowledge to strengthen their persuasive writing and earn better grades on their assignments.Logical fallacies work because they make messages feel more persuasive.Students may have identified with a piece before they saw its weaknesses, but have an entirely different response later.If you don’t have time for a longer reading, focus on a set of phrases or short paragraphs that commit fallacies, and ask student teams to identify the errors.As students begin to apply their theoretical knowledge, they develop a deeper sense of logical errors and their importance in argument building.Having students examine a piece of writing that contains logical fallacies is particularly helpful.