Opening the Doors to the Arguments Clinic

You may well have been brought up not to argue. At school you were probably encouraged to sit quietly and write down facts. Memorize names, dates, objective facts, figures, processes, and systems. And now, you watch the news, read the headlines, listen to the commercials, and hear the “experts.” You are consistently asked to accept everything you are told as the objective reality. So, welcome to a very different way of seeing the world — Critical Thinking.

This is truly the ‘arguments clinic’ in which patients can pay for either 5-minute or hour-long arguments (as the famous Monty Python sketch has it). No, it isn’t. Yes it is. Still say that it isn’t? But, yes it is! (If you like, check out ten of the world’s most influential arguments, by skipping ahead to the end of the course. I’ll still be here when you get back! Of course, as the sketch says, this isn’t proper argument at all, merely contradiction: nothing like a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.

If an ability to contradict people is all you come away with after reading this book then you, like the man in the Monty Python sketch, would be entitled to your money back. Don’t worry, here you will find so many new ways of looking at issues that you’ll soon be having the full, hour-long arguments on everything under the sun. My aim by the end of this section of the course, is to give you the big picture of Critical Thinking. Just as a doctor diagnoses and treats patients, in the Argument Clinic, you will learn to diagnose and treat flawed reasoning and unhealthy debates.