The Thinking Toolbox – End of term review

I’ve just finished “The Thinking Toolbox”, by Hans and Nathaniel Bluedorn, the two brothers who wrote one of my favorite school books of last year, “The Fallacy Detective”. Although I liked “The Fallacy Detective” better, “The Thinking Toolbox” really gave me some argument and logic skills that will most likely prove to be helpful. These are a few of my favorite points from the first 24 chapters.

The third chapter in the book informs me about the right time to argue, and when not to. It is dumb to argue when neither person knows for sure the correct answer to the thing that they’re arguing about, and when it’s pure speculation; or when arguing could be dangerous to you, if your opponent can use force against you or harm you rather than using words. If someone’s making a dumb argument just to get you angry, don’t argue with them. As they quoted in the book, from Proverbs 26:4, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him”.

This next tool, explained in chapter thirteen, I already knew about, but it was cool to see it covered in the book, which helped me understand the concept of primary and secondary evidence better, and that’s why I choose it as one of my favorites. Primary evidence is usually to always more trustworthy than secondary evidence. Primary evidence comes directly from someone who saw an event firsthand. Secondary evidence comes from someone who had heard about an event from somewhere or someone, but did not see it firsthand. Of course, people who claim to have primary evidence could be lying, and that’s why I said “usually to always”, instead of just always, which brings me to my next favorite chapter.

In the fourteenth chapter, the book takes a look at arguments at a crime scene, two different stories from two different people, and who to believe. You must ask yourself the question: Who has a reason to lie? You can usually trust a bystander who doesn’t have any incentive, but can you trust a person who is suspected of committing a crime? Usually not. You have to think about their motives, their story that they give you, and their evidence, among other things.


These are just a few of the tools I’ve added to my own “thinking toolbox”, and they’ve helped me in arguments with friends and in deciding whether someone is lying or not. I still liked the Fallacy Detective a bit better, and “Thank you for Arguing” is currently my favorite book I’m reading, but when you put all three together, it makes for a lot of useful and insightful knowledge.


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