DETECTING FAKE NEWS: CRITICAL vs. FALLACIOUS THINKING
In this Zoom conference, we will discuss critical vs. fallacious thinking. We live in an age in which fallacious thinking and false information are rampant. How can we spot logical fallacies and improperly sourced “facts”? Among other things, we will consider some examples of fallacious and fact-free arguments perpetrated by elements of both the political Right and the political Left.
“Critical thinking” does not mean a propensity to criticize, though it does mean a propensity to evaluate carefully, rationally, and skeptically. It is synonymous with “rational thinking.” The study of fallacies is part of a larger subject called “informal logic.” This is the kind of logic that applies to everyday personal, social, and political life, as distinguished from quasi-mathematical, academic formal logic. Promise: no symbolic logic will be utilized in this session, and no humans will be sacrificed.
The following references are not required reading/viewing. Sometime after this session, a more extensive bibliography will be posted in the PFC Forum (accessed by clicking the three horizontal bars on the right-hand side of the PFC home page) for those interested in pursuing these issues further.
“What is Critical Thinking?” (video, 2:29 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnJ1bqXUnIM. This is an introduction to critical thinking.
“5 Steps to Improve Your Critical Thinking: (video, 4:29 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dItUGF8GdTw. This is a somewhat more advanced introduction to critical thinking.
“Top 10 Logical Fallacies” (video, 6:55 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IawIjqOJBU8. This video is spot-on regarding typical fallacies, but there are many more examples, including political examples, than what are set forth here. It appears to be geared to a younger (millennial or gen Z) audience.
“How to Spot Fake News”: https://www.factcheck.org/2016/11/how-to-spot-fake-news/. As lawyers say, res ipsa locquitur (“the thing speaks for itself”).
Wikipedia, “List of Fallacies”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies. This extensive list covers the gamut, though not all scholars of logical reasoning agree that every one of these items is a fallacy.
General discussion group info:
This a virtual discussion group using the Zoom videoconference platform. If you register here, you will be sent a link to the videoconference on the day of. Please visit
PFC Monthly discussion groups are open to all - if the topic interests you, you'll be welcome! Discussion is moderated but informal - speak up as much or little as you wish.
This is our 2nd monthly discussion group, the original in Squirrel Hill
having outgrown the meeting space! As usual, we will post the
discussion topics in advance. Please feel free to submit discussion
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