With two 5-year-olds and a 4-year-old in our family, bad logic frequently permeates our home. Here are two conversations just from yesterday:
Me to my 4-year-old daughter: “Can you please put that blue ball away?”
My daughter: “Mommy, I’m not wearing blue today. I must not have gotten it out.”
Logic fail: Not wearing blue has nothing to do with whether or not you got the ball out. (But nice try.)
Me to my 5-year-old daughter: “It looks like you need to go potty. Please go.”
My daughter: “No, mommy I don’t need to go.”
Me: “Then why are you walking like a duck?”
My daughter: “Because I need to go potty.”
Me: “You just said you didn’t.”
My daughter: “Right, because I don’t.”
Logic fail: Totally inconsistent responses.
It’s pretty easy for adults to call out kids when they’re using poor logic. It can be a lot harder, however, to identify bad reasoning coming from other adults, particularly when it comes to claims against Christianity.
Consider the following statement that commonly gets tossed around the internet. You might realize it doesn’t sound like good reasoning, but can you explain why? More importantly, can your kids?
“Religion is just an accident of geography. If a person is born in Kansas, he’ll probably be a Christian. If he is born in Saudi Arabia, he’ll probably be a Muslim. Religion is man-made and you were simply brainwashed into it.”
(This is called a genetic fallacy – saying something can’t be true because of where it began, how it began, or who began it. Even if religions are correlated with geographic locations, that says nothing about the respective truth of those religions.)
We can’t teach our kids how to answer every single claim against Christianity before they encounter it. But we can teach them how to think critically so they are intellectually prepared to appropriately evaluate the massive amounts of information that will come their way.
Today I want to share a fantastic resource that is designed to help you do just that. It’s a book called The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning.
A fallacy is simply an error in the way someone is making an argument. The book’s 38 lessons are written for kids ages 12 and older to understand, and are perfect for parents to go through as well (I don’t have kids 12 and older, but I learned a lot myself as I read through this!). Each chapter contains:
- A 2-3 page lesson on what the fallacy is.
- Several exercises to practice identifying that fallacy. Example statements are given, and the reader has to identify which of all the fallacies he/she has learned to date applies.
- Answers to the exercises, with brief explanations. (As a side note, there were several answers I disagreed with, but it didn’t hurt my overall impression of the book. They could have made some of those exercises more clear, but at the same time, that makes for even better discussion with your kids.)
The exercise examples are somewhat entertaining, so kids won’t be bored by them. They’re also very practical types of statements that kids would actually hear – statements about religion (the authors are Christians), politics, and everyday life. Although the suggested age is 12 and up, parents could easily use this with younger kids who are intellectually curious.
If you want to help your kids learn how to think, this is a wonderful introduction! You can read more about The Fallacy Detective here. (Just for credibility’s sake, this was a totally unsolicited post about the book – I simply came across it, bought it, thought it was an awesome resource and wanted to tell you about it!)
Have you used this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you have other resources to share that will help parents teach their kids good reasoning skills, please do!