The Simpsons: Season 3, episode 4
In this video, reputed mobster Fat Tony Williams defends his questionable actions to Bart. Bart has taken a job with Fat Tony and had been asked to store a large quantity of cigarettes at his house. Bart later finds out that a truck of cigarettes has been stolen and asks Fat Tony about it.
This clip shows two types of reasoning — deductive and analogical — and at least three logical fallacies. The students can be asked to identify these. This videoclip is currently available for free at SimpsonsWorld.com.
It can be a challenge for college students to distinguish facts and opinions in writing and speaking, but it is so important for public speakers to be able to do this with their own information so that they know where they will need to provide more support.
I used a sample story for students followed by a series of questions to illustrate that the lines between fact, opinions and inferences are not always clear-cut. I can’t find that exact story online and do not know if I am allowed to type it in since I got it from an educational publication, but I found a similar example online at http://www.education.com/study-help/article/difference-fact-opinon-practice-exercise/ problem 2. It has an answer key as well.
There are also several examples online of brief statements that ask students to identify facts and opinions, much like problem 1 on the above link. These could be done as a group discussion (this is how I did it) or as a small group activity with groups also discussing how they could support the opinions or inferences in a speech.
If you have found any other paragraph examples online, please let us know in a comment.
Bad reasoning as well as good reasoning is possible; and this fact is the foundation of the practical side of logic.
Charles Sanders Peirce, identified as ‘America’s greatest logician’
What this country needs is more free speech worth listening to.
Hansell B. Duckett (this one may be apocryphal as I could not find out anything associated with this name except other quotes…)
This is simple but an active way to introduce the ideas.
- Sort the students into the same number of groups as the number of fallacies you wish to cover. (I like to have them count off to move around and work with someone new for this assignment).
- Assign each group a fallacy from the list.
- Have them use their books or, if you wish, the web site http://www.logicalfallacies.info/ to define their fallacy and then to create an example.
- Talk through the list, having students provide the definition and example (with any additions you want to make). I then follow up with my own examples and ask them to identify them.
- Collect their fallacy examples and use the best ones on the test in a question like “identify the fallacy demonstrated in the following examples.”
This takes some time, but gets the students more involved in defining the fallacies and they like seeing their examples pop up on the test.
Update: In October 2012, I added a file with several test bank questions and original examples of fallacies here: teacherspayteachers
If you can’t write your message in a sentence, you can’t say it in an hour.
Dianna Booher, Corporate communication expert