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Critical thinking Part 2: Broken Logic

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Like maths equations, logic has a structure. It looks a bit like: one, plus two, equals three. On one side of the equation we have things we already know or agree upon. On the other side is an answer that's true, so long as the numbers on the other side don't change. In logic, an idea is called a premise, which can be put together with other premises in such a way that they lead us to a conclusion. One premise might say magnets attract iron, the other premise might be, this object is made from iron. Without seeing it you can logically say that the magnet will attract this object. But what if you swap around the information? Say, magnets attract iron and this object is attracted to magnets. Can you then say that this object is made from iron? Unfortunately not. It still looks like logic, but the conclusion no longer works. Magnets not only attract iron, but other metals as well, such as nickel. This broken logic is called a logical fallacy. This particular example, is a formal fallacy. Because its form looks similar to logic, but is false. In Latin and in legal circles, it's called a 'non sequitur' which means 'does not follow.' It's easy to mistake the logical fallacy for the real deal if you're not careful. People do it all the time. Sometimes by accident and sometimes to fool you. Knowing the structure of a logical argument is important. You wouldn't make the mistake of thinking: three, plus two, equals one. Rules are rules after all. But breaking the rules of logic, can make an answer seem right, when it isn't.

Video Details

Duration: 2 minutes
Country: Australia
Language: English
Producer: Bridge 8
Director: James Hutson
Views: 2,710
Posted by: ffuentes on Feb 29, 2012

Part 2 of the TechNyou critical thinking resource.

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