Recognising flawed arguments
Mia spends a surprising amount of time debating with people about the value of her job and environmental sustainability. Read about the types of flawed arguments she faces…
Mia is the engineering and safety advisor for the Salty Creek Community Festival, but she’s also in charge of running the Engineering Industry Booth. While she is setting up the booth for the festival, a volunteer asks about her career as an environmental engineer, and her new role as the Head of Environmental Sustainability at a large mining company.
The volunteer asks Mia whether anything has surprised her about her new role as an advisor.
Read Mia’s response to the volunteer.
“Yes! I spend a lot more time debating people than I did before.
When I propose new sustainable changes at work, I often have to debate their importance with my superiors. Sometimes I also need to reassure my colleagues that these changes are what’s best for us all in the long run. Everyone seems to have opinions on what I do and its value, so I end up having to defend my role a lot.
I actually don’t mind debating, but these discussions are often with people using logical fallacies. Once you’re able to recognise logical fallacies, which are flawed, deceptive, or false arguments, you can generally use and reasoning to prove them wrong.
Sometimes, people don’t even know they’re using logical fallacies in their argument. When you’re in a role like mine, being able to identify logical fallacies is an important and valuable skill!”
Look at the cards below to learn about three logical fallacies.
Read some conversations Mia has had with different people about her job and the environment. Try to identify the logical fallacies they’ve used.
Understanding logical fallacies gives Mia an edge when it comes to talking about her job and the environment. Being able to recognise a logical fallacy makes it easier for her to address someone’s argument, point out its weaknesses, and then present them with facts. It also means she’s able to see through flawed reasoning in other places like social media posts, news items, and in general discussions.
Logical fallacies are everywhere. Being aware of their existence and how people use them to avoid evidence, distract from the main issue, or manipulate emotions, will help you break down these arguments. This type of critical thinking is an advantage within education, in the workforce, and in our day-to-day lives, as it makes us much less likely to fall prey to things like propaganda, misleading news, and marketing ploys.
Learn more on Learning Lab
- There are many more types of logical fallacies – explore the Logical fallacies tutorial to read about them, see examples, and test your knowledge. (25 minutes each)
Critical thinking means examining (analysing) a situation in detail and using evidence to make a judgement (evaluating) from an objective point of view. Critical thinking doesn’t have to be negative all the time, nor does it mean always pointing out the faults in an issue. A good critical thinker asks good questions, recognises and challenges biases (including their own), doesn’t accept everything as true, finds credible sources, and reflects on their own understanding of ideas.