A Short Course in Intellectual Self-Defense (Normand Baillargeon)

A Short Course in Intellectual Self-Defense (Normand Baillargeon)

A lively critical thinking text written by a French-Canadian philosopher and education theorist, motivated by his two concerns: (a) widespread acceptance of belief in the supernatural and the paranormal, and (b) lack of critical thinking skills among the citizens of democratic societies.

Baillargeon is a card-carrying anarcho-syndicalist in the tradition of Noam Chomsky, but his political orientation doesn't really show up until the last section on critical thinking and the media (not surprising, if you're familiar with Chomsky's views on propaganda and media).

Includes sections on language, fallacies, critical thinking involving numbers, probabilities and graphs, the justification of beliefs, scientific reasoning, and propaganda and the media.

The section on justification of beliefs includes material on the psychology of perception and belief formation, which is often not included in more logic-oriented critical thinking texts.

Lots of great examples, fun cartoons sprinkled through, and a lively prose style make this an enjoyable read. But it's pretty hard on those who are sympathetic to religion, the paranormal or the supernatural. In this respect it aligns itself more closely with the "skeptic movement".