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One of the most valuable courses I ever took was in what was then called Junior High: it was taught under the rubric of English, but it was really a class in critical thinking. In fact, the textbook was named A Guide to Critical Thinking.

Sadly, critical thinking seems to be out of fashion. In fact, it seems to be regarded with suspicion and antipathy by the vast majority of Americans. This is evident in the widespread mistrust and misunderstanding of science.

If you (as critical thinkers, since I doubt too many uncritical thinkers read my blog) want to play a more elevated form of “buzzword bingo,” check off how many times Romney and Obama use false arguments tonight. I’m referring to things such as these (gleaned from Wikipedia’s article on Fallacy):

  • Sweeping generalization
  • Hasty generalization (All butterflies are blue. I know, because I saw one.)
  • Argumentum ad hominem (one of the reasons I don’t waste time on doody-head pundits)
  • Appeal to authority (My father always said so.)
  • Red herring (You might claim that butterflies are blue, but let’s talk about pigs.)
  • Circular reasoning (Your jobs policy will fail, because it will cause a loss of jobs.)
  • Pivot (This is a term I heard for the first time¬†today: I’m glad you asked me about X, because I have a detailed plan for dealing with Y.)