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Straight and Crooked Thinking [Paperback]

Robert Henry Thouless
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
Price: 8.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

29 April 2011
This new edition of a timeless classic demonstrates how the use of clear, rational thinking and logic can win any argument, however emotionally charged the topic in question. It describes the typical flaws of reasoning in argument and shows how language can be used to deceive - and how to avoid being deceived. It will show you how, by learning what is 'straight', rational language, and clear thought, you can disentangle emotionally charged rhetoric and hold your own in any argument or debate, no matter how challenging. Although written nearly 80 years ago, this book proves that certain principles remain timeless; it has shown many thousands over the decades how to cope with media spin and distorted reasoning - and now it will do the same for you.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (29 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444117181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444117189
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 16.8 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 116,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'It is neither a dry nor weighty tome, but is jam-packed with raw rational sense. It will give you techniques for identifying fallacies and false arguments. It will help protect you from the devious subterfuges of politicians and preachers, journalists and jingoists. It is sweet manna from a rational heaven. Thouless describes 38 dishonest tricks that are commonly used in arguments (there may be more). ' (

"Straight and Crooked Thinking remains one of the most succinct and practically-applicable books ever written. One blogger named it as his favorite book of all time, describing it as "a concise work of supreme genius." (

"...put it back on the mass market, where it belongs! (...) get it on every bookshelf on the planet." (

Book Description

A new edition of a much loved guide to how to think and reason your way logically through difficult and challenging arguments

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changed my life. 20 May 2002
By A Customer
I first read Straight and Crooked Thinking in 1971, when I was 16. (I found it in a public library) It had an enormous impact upon me. When listening to political debates, or reading newspapers I often had the feeling that speakers/writers were being dishonest and/or illogical. This book gave me the tools to understand why!
I did make myself rather unpopular with my contemporaries at the time by pointing out fallacies in their arguments, but that is another story.
I later found out that the book had had a similar impact upon my father when he read it in 1942. (It had been distributed free to troops to help the battle of ideas against Nazi propaganda.)
When I started teaching in 1979, I bought two copies, one to keep and one to lend to interested students. Alas, I lent and lost both of them.
I recently borrowed the most recent edition (edited by Christopher Thouless) from my university library and found it as relevant as ever.
This is a wonderful book. It is a powerful antidote to the modern culture of "spin"!...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THIS is what they should be teaching in school! 5 July 2011
By J. Scott TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Some of the info in this book is just plain common sense, but it's also full of stuff that will open your eyes to the way our politicians (and newspapers) daily try to mislead us, even when they're not telling us outright lies.

Many of the examples in the book are so spot-on that one almost wonders if it's required reading for prospective politicians and news-writers, to teach them the dirty tricks of their trade.

The book is easy and enjoyable to read, but the contents may change your life.

When I think of all the hours of my life that were wasted learning about Henry VIII, permafrost in Siberia, etc., etc., I really wonder... why didn't they teach us something USEFUL, like this stuff instead?

Definitely recommended to anyone who cares about language, logic, or being manipulated.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing 19 Aug 2005
When I went to university in 1984, to study engineering, this book was a compulsory purchase. I bought it (1.95), and it changed the way I thought. It's as simple as that, an incredible book - I still have my yellowed, dog-eared copy and I'd recommend it to anyone.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clearly written with great humour and logic. 13 Mar 2004
I first read this book some twenty years ago and happened to come across it again the other day. I started delving into it and soon found myself reading it from cover to cover once more. It must still be regarded as one of those classic works that has stood the test of time. Anyone interested in thinking independantly, or critically would do well to try this. Straight and Crooked thinking is an accessible read which borders upon Psychology,Philosophy and Logic as an excellent introduction to these disciplines.
Not only does the book expose logical fallacies that one encounters in argument or every day conversation, but also the author uses humourous examples to illusrtrate illogical standpoints.
One has to be carefull though, I found myself examining my own thoughts and prejudices!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this! 20 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A simple guide to how words can be twisted. It is an invaluable resource for teachers; English, PSHE, and History are some of the more obvious subject that could use this material.
For an individual it can help you understand how others try to manipulate you into agreeing with them. How words multiple shades of meaning can be used to mislead.
I knew quite a lot of this already, but it was very enlightening to have it shown so clearly how this's happening everyday. Do try the exercises, as they really help you to apply the knowledge to everyday life.
Buy this book and read it, then pass it on to your friends and relatives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting perspective 7 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Staight and Crooked thinking is a short book initially published in 1930 (then again in 1953) but despite its age, the concepts and examples all hold true today. Thouless sets up examples and then picks them apart, illustrating what literary technique the author of such a statement is utilising in an effort to mislead, persuade or sensationalise.

I will say, this isn't light-reading, I'm not an english-language student and had to reread several paragraphs to wrap my head around the concept being explained. A few of the examples need updating. Despite a number of outdated examples or grammatical constructions that we rarely use today unless it's in an ironic-archaic sense, this is still a great book that gives a refreshing perspective when reading the papers, as it allows you to see past the writers intent and gain a better look at the objective origin of the statement.

Still, if you are not a journalist, writer, language-student or grammar-fiend this could be considered pretty dry reading. A solid book that does what it claims.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Straight and crooked thinking 15 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
looks like it could be a good read. It was recommended to me so I bought it. I will read it in due course.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Breeze from the past 14 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lost my original copy - well - loaned out and never returned (that good).
Glad to get a replacement. Excellent reference book!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One to let go gracefully out of print.
Straight and Crooked Thinking
One to let go gracefully out of print.

There is a phrase in Japanese, `furu-kusai' which roughly translates as either `has an air of... Read more
Published 6 months ago by ARWoollock
5.0 out of 5 stars If you hate evasive obfuscation...
This book is an old gem, updated by the grandson of the original writer (who printed the original before the second world war!), and a very good job he has done too.
Published 7 months ago by Lewcee42
4.0 out of 5 stars Good information but dated style
The information in this book is excellent for almost everyone. In business it will allow you to get more from your staff or your boss. Read more
Published 11 months ago by J. Lyne
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear; crystal clear
A brilliantly written book on a topic that is of immense importance especially in today's era of 24/7 news and media spin. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant classic, brilliantly brought up to date.
Several of the other positive reviews describe experiences uncannily similar to mine. It is one of a small number of books which have had a major, lasting effect on me, for which I... Read more
Published 23 months ago by observer100
3.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't finish it..
A book on critical thinking and the tricks employed by others to manipulate the truth and the perception of the truth is interesting. However not in this case. Read more
Published on 25 Nov 2011 by Mr. R. D. Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be in schools.
This book should be part of the curriculum in all Secondary schools. It should be compulsory reading in the English departments as well as in Tutor Sessions. Read more
Published on 27 Oct 2011 by bookworm8
4.0 out of 5 stars Food For Thought (Straight & Crooked)
An informative book dealing with a subject that could be complicated or bogged down in new-age psycho-babble, were it written by lesser mortals more fixed in the current... Read more
Published on 17 Oct 2011 by Paul Pinn
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to frighten the horses.
Sometimes there's a reason why a book has remained out of print, and this is a case in point. Much of what is in here is, or at least should be, commonsense. Read more
Published on 10 Oct 2011 by Mr. M. P. Duffy
2.0 out of 5 stars Dry
I loved the idea and blurb for this book relishing a timeless classic enlightening me. I wasn't expecting a how to or a particularly slick book but I was expecting something... Read more
Published on 15 Sep 2011 by rachelcreative
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