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A Short Course in Intellectual Self-Defense



Trade Paper
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Seven Stories Press
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"My personal feeling is that citizens of the democratic societies should undertake a course of intellectual self-defense to protect themselves from manipulation and control, and to lay the basis for more meaningful democracy."-Noam Chomsky "Exercising intellectual self-defense is an act of citizenship. It is what has motivated me to write this little book, which offers exactly this: an introduction to critical thinking."-Normand Baillargeon What is the relationship between democracy and critical thinking? What must a citizen in a democracy know to make the word democracy meaningful? In A Short Course in Intellectual Self-Defense, radical pedagogue Normand Baillargeon trains readers to think, deconstruct, and ask the necessary questions to protect themselves from the manipulations of government, "authorities," and other elites. Whether the issue be the call to what we're told will be a bloodless war, the "debate" around Intelligent Design, understanding a government military expenditure, or simply reading the news, Baillargeon teaches readers to evaluate information and sort fact from official and media spin. In the spirit of advocates of critical thinking from every age, and including the famed late scientist Carl Sagan's "Baloney Detection Kit" and George Orwell's views on the political uses and abuses of language, this vivid, accessible primer empowers readers to take their education as citizens into their own hands. Normand Baillargeon is a professor of education fundamentals at the University of Quebec in Montreal, where he teaches on the history of pedagogy and the philosophy of education.

Author Biography

Normand Baillargeon is Professor of Education Fundamentals at the University of Quebec in Montreal, where he teaches the history of pedagogy and the philosophy of education.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 11
Some Indispensable Tools for Critical Thinking
Languagep. 19
Introductionp. 20
Tracherous Wordsp. 24
The Art of Mental Trickery and Manipulation: Some Everyday Fallaciesp. 50
Mathematics: Those Who Refuse to Be Conned, Count!p. 87
Introductionp. 87
Treating Common Forms of Innumeracyp. 89
Probability and Statisticsp. 110
On the Justification of Belief
Personal Experiencep. 171
Introductionp. 171
Perceivingp. 172
Rememberingp. 189
Judgingp. 196
Empirical and Experimental Sciencep. 223
Introductionp. 223
Science and Experimentationp. 228
Science and Epistemologyp. 242
A Few Questions for the Critical Reading of Research Resultsp. 261
The SEARCH Modelp. 263
The Mediap. 267
Introductionp. 268
Another Kind of Democracyp. 273
The Propaganda Model of Mediap. 277
Thirty-one Strategies for Fostering a Critical Approach to the Mediap. 290
Conclusionp. 307
Independent Media Guidep. 309
Suggested Readingsp. 321
Notesp. 327
About the Authorp. 333
About Seven Stories Pressp. 335
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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