In Rough Economic Times, the Community College Instructor Teaches Critical Reasoning by Paul Dickey

I don’t remember working for the Mafia, but it is possible. I keep finding things in the basement: wads of cash in small denominations; arguments for the existence of God too good to be true; boxes full of old, irrelevant premises without claims; young men and women working sixty hours a week and preferring to use their leftover time to text each other rather than draw Venn diagrams. Okay, so what if these last things I didn’t actually find in my basement?  I might as well have. Everything doesn’t add up here all the time, folks. This ain’t the Ivy League. 

People, did you actually read chapter six? Okay, look at it this way: what if when I pick up my kids at school, there are many black limousines and no police cars in the parking lot? I know I am lucky, but I am not sure what I am dealing with. What is a justifiable inference? Okay, they aren’t really in the parking lot. Students, please! We have material to cover here.  

You see, I have suspicions, call it a theory. There is some history no doubt, and I am researching it and don’t forget there’s your term essay due next week. The college has accounts with Wikipedia. So far I have ruled out the Spanish Inquisition, the Nuremberg trials, Watergate. My notorious flirtation with Freud in college still is a possibility. And yes, once I sneaked a copy of The Origin of the Species through the narthex to read during Mass, but that was years ago. I didn’t think anyone knew anything about it. I am not sure anymore. What if your thesis for your paper is that everything comes back on you? What arguments will you give?  

Fine, now how many logical fallacies do you find in the previous scenario? Yes, it might be on the final. No doubt I am a fool and all this is nothing. Everything is cool. The economy is great. The school administration sends out emails saying everyone is intelligent. We are all just smart in different ways. All my students will graduate and become doctors. 

But seriously, there are footprints in the snow outside the kitchen and the back bedroom. The glass in the garage window is cracked from the neighbor kid’s baseball, though I never find the ball. Every time I get it fixed, he just does it again. I am thinking I was in the Mafia and knew someone who killed Kennedy. 

A student who sleeps in class—presumably for no reason other than perhaps he is homeless and it is warmer than sleeping on the streets—speaks up tonight in a Big Bang, a spontaneous combustion of energy, and sums up the meaning and history of the world and all that stuff. He has been waiting all quarter to tell us about it. Now he wants to know something truly Big and he thinks I can tell him. You’ve been spouting all these—what’d you call ‘em?—yeah,  SILL  LOG  JIS UMS. He sneers. And when he mispronounces Socrates, my head scoffs and my heart goes out to him. He has a syllogism for me. P, he took the midterm, and Q, he has credit card bills to pay off and his girlfriend is well, you know, so if P and Q, why didn’t he get an A?

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