Book Review: An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments


Ali Almossawi, 64 pgs, The Experiment,, $14.95 

In this digital age we live in, it’s surprisingly easy to get dragged into an endless debate or argument online. With Internet trolls around every corner, it’s becoming increasingly crucial that we regular folk don’t just learn how to argue, but also how to know a bad argument when we hear one.

This is where An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments comes in, laying out all the classically bad arguments one can make with helpful illustrated explanations that have all the whimsy of The Wind in the Willows-esque anthropomorphic animals.

At first glance, the strategy seems juvenile — mocking the very people who would dare employ a Strawman or No True Scotsman argument with a literal “silly rabbit, fallacies are for kids!” comment. But then, as you start reading, the childish examples really help you comprehend an improper style of argument that might be difficult to wrap your brain around otherwise.

In fact, it was surprising how much the illustrations actually helped, especially with the sparsely-worded explanations underneath. Take “An Argument from Consequence,” for example; it’s when you speak for or against the truth of a statement by appealing to its consequences if it were true or false. (Yeah, our eyes glazed over too.) But add the handy-dandy illustration of a farmer riding a cow who comes across a sign that says, “Cow emissions are killing our planet” with the below caption: “But if we got rid of cows, we’d have to walk everywhere and that would be horrible. Therefore, cow emissions are not killing our planet.” Suddenly, “An Argument from Consequence” makes much more sense.

This collection is a must-have reference guide for anyone who frequently finds themselves wading the always-murky waters of online debate. (Aaron Broverman)