I am a missionary in Russia, and have had the fun of reading The Fallacy Detective with my teenage daughter this year, as part of her homeschool program. Recently, I’ve had several opportunities to address public school teachers and university professors in our city. This is rare in Russia, where educational institutions are jealously guarded and foreigners–especially Americans–are viewed with great suspicion. Last week, I was invited to give a seminar on critical thinking, and since this is nearly a brand-new concept in Russia and almost no materials for it already exist, I had carte blanche to say whatever I wanted to say.
Russian thinking is often characterized by many of the logical fallacies presented in The Fallacy Detective, so right away, I thought, “Russians need to know this stuff!” I wrote a portion of the seminar on logical fallacies, using the ideas in your book (and only small quotes, all of which I referenced per your copyright restrictions.) I was amazed by the reactions. It was by far the most popular part of the seminar, and afterward several university professors told me, “We will be using this material with our own students. We’ve never heard these things before!”
Also, there was one professor there who is just finishing up her post-graduate thesis on the subject of advertising. I mentioned propaganda in advertising only in passing (there wasn’t time to talk in-depth about it) and it was clear to me later that it was a concept the woman was unfamiliar with. She asked me many questions about it, and the answers I gave her were what I learned from The Fallacy Detective. I hope to follow up with an e-mail to her that has more details (in which I will certainly reference you!)
Thanks for your part in adding this dimension to the world-and-life view of these women. The influence of educators in Russia cannot be overemphasized (probably that’s some kind of logical fallacy, since obviously it can be overemphasized….) What teachers say in the classroom carries far more weight in this country (as a nation of non-critical thinkers) than it does in America (where critical thinking is, at least to some degree, part of our culture.) I believe the ripple effect of last week’s seminar will go on for years to come as some of these teachers put into practice the things I learned from you and in turn passed on to them. I’ve been invited to present the same seminar on a city-wide basis in February. How exciting to think of all the educators who will hear these things then!
With warm appreciation,