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The Duck That Won the Lottery: and 99 Other Bad Arguments Hardcover – 1 Sep 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (1 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184708043X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847080431
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 3.4 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 82,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A curiosity cabinet of spurious reasoning and spin ... Every society needs its guardian of good sense: Baggini is ours' -- Financial Times

'A book to treasure for Baggini's never-miss lucidity' -- Big Issue in the North

Review

'A book to treasure for Baggini's never-miss lucidity'

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am a firm fan of Baggini's previous works, but I have to say this is my favourite and in my view his best. I have been aware of some of the most common tricks used in arguments, but this book helps to clarify and contextualise the sleights of hand often used either knowingly or unwittingly by those trying to convince us. The chapters are short and punchy and I continually found myself thinking 'oh go on then...one more chapter and then put it down'. The only warning I would issue is that if you wish to retain healthy relationships with friends and loved ones, avoid shouting 'false dichotomy!' or 'post-hoc fallacy!' whilst watching the news or reading the newspaper. Perhaps a knowing smile, or a wry shake of the head will suffice...
Overall, an uncommon combination: an accessible book, but one that makes the reader feel genuinely 'educated' after dipping into it.
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Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for an in-depth look at rhetorical methods then look elsewhere. This is light, fluffy reading and those with more than average awareness will find little to chew on. That said it does make for a quick read and makes plenty of valid points, albeit often pretty obvious ones. If you read the media without looking behind the language then you should be read this or something similar. The only problem of course is that the book is really designed for those who would not read a book on the subject. Catch 22. The tone is a trifle inconsistent, veering between chatty to more measured and, sorry to say, includes some hideous modern office-style slang, which will date terribly. He is also obviously trying hard to be fair to everybody, admirable but not always entertaining. The best joke: sweeping statements are always wrong. Nice. It reads as if the author is holding back and only really comes alive when he starts bringing out the big guns and pointing out the philosophic arguments that underpin the destruction of the fallacies and takes a proper swing at something. The book itself suffers from amateur-looking typesetting (including huge leading), poor fonts and could certainly have done with a better editor to weed out the occasionally bizarre word choices. Good, but not what it could have been. Next time please let go a little.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the 'The Duck that won the Lottery', 100 different logical fallacies are explained clearly and concisely. Each fallacy is initially presented by giving a well known argument that contains it, then the fallacy is explained and then a more subtle argument that may or may not contain the fallacy is provided. The clear objective is to make the reader think.

There are four reasons why I really like this book:
1.
By using simple but relevant examples to explain each fallacy, Baggini makes things easy to read and easy to understand. For example, not everyone knows what a false dichotomy is, even though many of us thought Bush's infamous: "You are either with us or the terrorists" sounded a bit dodgy.

By using this approach something esoteric becomes non - esoteric.

2.
After presenting an obvious example that contains a fallacy, he presents another argument which may or may not contain the very same fallacy. Things aren't as obvious and a bit more thought is required.

The intent here is obviously to make the reader question their own opinions. Yes it's easy, to pick other people's arguments apart but the chances are many of our own are a bit faulty. We may just have to think a bit more to realise that.

3.
After several well known arguments are shown to be just more examples of sloppy thinking, there is a subtle reminder that bad logic is just ubiquitous. Most arguments are poorly thought out and contain not much more than catchy rhetoric. This is remarkable considering the origins of logic go back over 2,500 to Aristotle et al and we are still struggling to come up to speed with it.

4.
Have you ever heard an argument which you think didn't make sense but you just couldn't explain exactly what was wrong with it?
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think I keep going back to Baggini's works because I really enjoyed 'The Pig that Wants to be Eaten' and want to read some more similarly mind expanding stuff. However I found 'Everytown' longwinded and a bit patronizing (sheltered academic goes to live with 'average' people to find out what they're really like, hmmm) and this to be not as much fun as the premise promised. Shooting down other people's bad arguments invites a light and pithy approach (the bling clad duck on the dust jacket suggesting that I'm not the only one who thinks this) but Baggini appears to have fallen in love with the eloquence of his own verbosity - the result, a book that's longer and duller than it should be. Still, I learnt a thing or two and I must like Baggini's writing at some level because I've got three of his titles on my bookshelves and one on my wishlist; I'd struggle to recommend this though. I'm going to read one more of his books and if that doesn't thrill me I'm off to find myself another Philosopher.
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