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How to Win Every Argument: The Use and Abuse of Logic [Paperback]

Madsen Pirie
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Sep 2007
In this witty and infectious book Madsen Pirie provides a complete guide to using - and indeed abusing - logic in order to win arguments. He identifies with devastating examples all the most common fallacies popularly used in argument. We all like to think of ourselves as clear-headed and logical - but all readers will find in this book fallacies of which they themselves are guilty. The author shows you how to simultaneously strengthen your own thinking and identify the weaknesses in other people arguments. And, more mischievously, Pirie also shows how to be deliberately illogical - and get away with it. This book will make you maddeningly smart: your family, friends and opponents will all wish that you had never read it. Publisher's warning: In the wrong hands this book is dangerous. We recommend that you arm yourself with it whilst keeping out of the hands of others. Only buy this book as a gift if you are sure that you can trust the recipient.

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How to Win Every Argument: The Use and Abuse of Logic + Winning Arguments: From Aristotle to Obama - Everything You Need to Know About the Art of Persuasion + Rulebook for Arguments
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (1 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826498949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826498946
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 13 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"'an entertaining...idea' Nottingham Evening Post, 29/07/2006 'Armed with this book, we can go fearlessly into verbal combat...knowing how to muster our arguments and showing the fallacies in theirs...make a space for this on your shelves too. You never know when you may need it.' --DMJ, The Ark, Spring 2007"

About the Author

MADSEN PIRIE is President of the Adam Smith Institute and author of numerous books including Boost Your IQ and The Sherlock Holmes IQ Book. He was formerly Distinguished Visiting Professor of Philosophy and Logic at Hillsdale College, Michigan, USA.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
76 of 80 people found the following review helpful
By Marshall Lord TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
We've all been in the situation where some smart-alec produces an argument, often as a joke, which everyone knows must be wrong but where nobody can quite see the mistake.

More seriously, I suspect most of us have seen debates where one side appears to have much more evidence to support their case, until someone comes along who presents the other side of the argument so much better that everyone is convinced - at least until after the superior speaker has won the vote/verdict/board or council decision, by which time it is too late.

Madsen Pirie's book is a masterly and very entertaining guide to the different tricks which people can use to make their argument sound much stronger than it really is, how to spot them, and what the holes in their logic are.

He lists the logical fallacies which, by accident or design, can lead people to support false conclusions.

Unfortunately, as Madsen Pirie points out, knowing why the argument you are listening to is wrong does not always make it easy to defeat the person advancing it. Arguments "ad baculum" (by threat of force) do not go away if you prove the person making the threat to be wrong, irrelevant humour, if it is funny enough, can carry away a valid argument on a gale of laughter, and emotional appeals can be extremely hard to stop with mere logic.

Nevertheless, to be able to understand why an argument is wrong is a useful start - if you don't know yourself you have little chance of persuading anyone else. And this book is really helpful at showing you how to see where faulty logic is in play.

This book is an updated version of a book published in the mid 1980's with the title "The Book of the fallacy - a training manual for intellectual subversives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Firstly, in case you don't already know, this is less a guide to winning every argument and more a guide to identifying fallacies.

This book is a great introduction to the fallacies prevalent in the modern world. There is great breadth to the examination, and each fallacy is explained well. However, note that each fallacy is covered in a couple of pages, so don't expect anything much depth. The humour is cringe-inducing at times, but hardly a reason to ignore this work.

If you have any interest in fallacies, this is a great introduction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good collection of logic abuse 15 Aug 2009
By L. Guta
Format:Paperback
At first glance, the title will mislead you. This book should be called "The Abuse of Logic in Arguments". But I suppose the current title is designed by marketing people to sell more copies of it.

This book will not show you how to win every argument, but it will show you how logic is being abused in some of them (with real examples). It will also suggest in each case how you could get away with it if you were the one doing the abuse (although you get the feeling the author doesn't quite approve of it). It even has some clever ideas about how you could apply them with children.

It's impossible to win EVERY argument anyway, but this book will help skew the odds in your favour as you should be able to spot the specific abuses of logic that others are doing.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars could be better 2 April 2009
By Pat
Format:Paperback
I got interested in fallacies and making valid arguments. I found lots of good material on the net, but wanted something a bit more portable and with more structure to it. This book sounds ideal, but it's more of a dictionary of all the types of fallacy such as ad hominem, red herring, straw man, and lots of others that I never knew existed - about ninety are defined. A few pages are devoted to each entry, explaining what they are, giving examples and how to try and use them successfully. I don't like that aspect - promoting the use of fallacies and how to get away with it. Looks like I did buy the wrong book; I would not have bought it if I'd known it was a dictionary. As a learning guide, there must be better books than this which break fallacies into groupings, such as logical, emotional and ethical. For me, this book will be reference only; I'll look for something better and refer to this one if I need further examples. Like me, you will find better for free on the net.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great insight into logical fallacies. 21 Mar 2012
By Tox VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Have you watched the news recently? I read this book and started spotting logical fallacies everywhere. Even last week opponents to gay marriage were saying "If we allow this then what next? Three people getting married?" My first reaction was "well that's not a logical argument, it is the slippery slope fallacy". I have started seeing these fallacies everywhere in adverts, political statements and some of the most audacious claims attached to things.

The book was originally reccomended to me in a Podcast by the Merseyside Skeptics and I find it invaluable in looking at spurious claims I now see. If you have a questioning mind or want to win debates, then read this book, it is brilliant.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spot on. 6 Nov 2011
By Shariq
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author views "any trick of logic or language which allows a statement of a claim to be passed off as something it is not..." as a fallacy. The author classifies a number of fallacies and explains them succinctly and in a sufficiently deadpan manner as to make this text very readable. One of the other reviewers touched on the fact that the names given to the fallacies are in Latin. This is true, however, I'd disagree with the view that any knowledge of Latin is actually required to read and enjoy this text. I know almost none and loved it.

I view this book as a well-written, fascinating and entertaining reference to the ways people knowingly (and unknowingly) twist, massage and manipulate the English language in order to make their point. You do need a solid grasp of English to fully appreciate the book - it does focus closely on the nuances of the language and if you're not fluent, you'll miss the point.

Communication is a vital skill. Like all skills, it can be learnt, honed and improved. Some people are born with the skill to persuade, convince, dodge and debate (e.g. politicians and sales people). Some need a little help.

This book has allowed me to more effectively spot from a distance when any of these fallacies are being applied to me by others and head them off before they take effect. I have noticed that I can now analyse what people say in a much more clinical manner which allows me to infer more correctly the real motivation behind the words and phrases used. I've also seen improvements in my ability to steer discussions and conversations towards my preferred agenda without antagonising others and by avoiding conflict.

This book certainly isn't a list of case studies to be memorised and regurgitated back in an attempt to win arguments.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars There are much better books than this.
I was quite suprised by how badly writen this book is. For some reason the grammer is really bad, being quite jumpy and alittle hard to follow. Read more
Published 3 months ago by patrick
5.0 out of 5 stars Pithy, Entertaining and Insightful
A diverting, interesting and accessible book that's well written with a lightness of touch. Explains the common fallacies and demonstrates them with readily followed examples. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Neil Thompson
1.0 out of 5 stars An ironic paradox
Contrary to its title, this is basically a book detailing how NOT to argue. It catalogues an extensive range of fallacies ranging from the well-known (straw man) to the obscure... Read more
Published 13 months ago by The Alpha Parent
1.0 out of 5 stars Simply a dictionary of logical fallacies.
Title is very misleading. The book is simply an A to Z of all the logical fallacies.

Personally, I found the author's style of writing is clunky (dodgy syntax), crusty,... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Lord Belcher IV
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Selection
The author clearly has his tongue in his cheek with this title. Really, he wants you to be aware of the tricks of illogic, in order to combat them; but as with many other tools,... Read more
Published on 18 Oct 2011 by Thomas De Vries
1.0 out of 5 stars not for everyone
Okay, English is not my native language but I now know why this guy wins every argument. In order to understand this book you need at least a University degree in Latin. Read more
Published on 9 May 2011 by Chris
4.0 out of 5 stars An A to Z of Logical Fallacies
A slightly disingenuous title but if, as I did, you came to find this book by searching Amazon for 'logical fallacies' then it's probably just what you're looking for. Read more
Published on 20 Mar 2011 by red_monkey
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm always right
Gives plenty of ideas about winning arguements. Now all I have to do is put them into practice.
Published on 31 Jan 2010 by Gerald D. D. S. Croft
5.0 out of 5 stars how to win every argument
Love this book, its a great introduction to logic easy to read and so informative upto now its me and the book 6 wife nil! buy it read it and win!!!!
Published on 12 Sep 2009 by P. J. De Maziere
3.0 out of 5 stars No doubt based on earlier books..
... I haven't even read this book; however I vaguely know Pirie, from Mensa, and have never been impressed by his smug superficiality. Between the wars (i.e. Read more
Published on 9 Sep 2009 by Rerevisionist
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