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A Short Course in Intellectual Self-Defense
Synopses & Reviews
“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 Québec in Montreal, where he teaches on the history of pedagogy and the philosophy of education.
Book News Annotation:
Equally concerned with the deleterious effects of irrationality and stupidity on the one hand and propaganda and manipulation on the other, Baillargeon (education fundamentals, U. of Québec, Canada) provides an introduction to critical thinking necessary for avoiding charlatanry and for being a good citizen. In the first half of the book, he synthesizes knowledge on the property of words, notions of logic and logical fallacies, common forms of innumeracy, issues of probability and statistics, and manipulations of forms of data presentation (such as graphs that use the same data but visually tell different stories). The second section of the book discusses the conditions necessary to hold a proposition true when justified by personal experience, by recourse to experimentation, or by representations in the media (this last part is influenced heavily by the propaganda model pioneered by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky). Annotation Â©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Find your inner Chomsky.
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, historian and educator Normand Baillargeon provides readers with the tools to see through the spin and jargon of everyday politics and news reporting in order to decide for themselves what is at stake and how to ask the necessary questions to protect themselves from the manipulations of the government and the media. Whether the issue be the call to what were told will be a bloodless war, the "debate" around Intelligent Design, or the meaning of a military expenditure, Baillargeon teaches readers to evaluate information and sort fact from official and media spin.
About the Author
Normand Baillargeon is the author of several prior books of critical thinking. He teaches education at the University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada and is a regular contributor to Le Couac newspaper and À Bâbord magazine.
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