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SPOKEN ENGLISH WIKI LIBRARY

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My name is Sasha and I’ve sat in a lot of classes in my life! After high school, I spent six years earning my first degree (5 years at a Russian University and 1 year as an exchange student at an American college) then I took a break and worked in Moscow eventually deciding to spend another 2 years to earn my Master’s degree in the US. I’ve spent 18 years on formal education and certainly I’ve learned a ton. However, I’ve also realized that there are many flaws in the conventional educational system. Very often, education is conflated with indoctrination and educators mold a person into another conforming worker rather than into an independent, unique, inquisitive and creative thinker. This is not right. 

I studied at a regular high school and all kinds of students were brought together into groups of 25-30 people. Despite their different mental faculties, everyone was given the same material and there was always a disparity in how quickly students picked up the material: the slower students were not treated differently at all. That made these students hate their life in high school. For those students who were coping with the material, the whole purpose of the school was to turn them into efficient test takers who could then use their test results to enter universities and make their school proud. However, nobody gave a damn about what the individual student was interested in. Most kids were competing for what their parents and teachers thought was the right fit for the students. 

I was a rather efficient test taker and I got a full ride at a university, the university that looked like the right fit for me. Soon I realized that the university experience was merely a continuation of my high school experience with more specialized classes and exams. Perhaps, it was because of my country’s complicated past: the university system was not helping the students become individuals, it seemed like the system was manufacturing new obedient factory workers. Most professors were cowards who did whatever the administrators were telling them to do. There was only one teacher who stood out in the crowd: he was my literature professor. He was not a conformist and he always said what he thought, that’s why he was not liked by lots of his colleagues. I’d say that he was the only professor in all 5 years of my studying at that university who was truly enlightening his students. 

In 2010, I went to the US as an exchange student to study at a liberal arts college in a progressive state for one year. The experience was different from that at my Russian university: it was okay to say controversial things in classes and the professors could have very different perspectives. We had all kinds of guest speakers who could have their own opinions. It didn’t seem like the professors depended on the administrators too much and I didn’t see any particular agenda that was dominating the college. It felt rather free.

Six years later, when I started my Master’s program in the US in another progressive state, to my dismay, things were different. The professors were teaching their materials effectively and the students had really high IQs but there was clearly a problem with excessive administration and 99% of the students (at least verbally) had the same views on most societal topics. On top of that, I found such concepts as safe spaces and trigger warnings appalling and contradictory to the idea of challenging your views and stepping out of your comfort zone while attending a college. Political correctness was through the roof and groupthink was taking the reins. Strangely, the atmosphere was even more suffocating than that in my post-soviet university. Something had changed in the American higher education. People who had views different from the accepted agenda were afraid to even slightly criticize the vociferous ideologues for fear of being branded a bigot, which they were not at all. It felt rather totalitarian. 

We’re building Keenston to change the perception of how people can be educated, connect those who want to enlighten and be enlightened, help people understand their potential, build critical thinking skills, be heterodox thinkers, become creators but not copiers and understand the complex world by connecting with people from different cultures. We are going to be a niche English-speaking site (if you’re not a native speaker, it’s also a great place to improve your English) for people who truly care about enlightenment and who want to make education better throughout the world. We will strive to make Keenston as objective as possible; so we will not use echochamber-creating algorithms but give the user as much academic and creative freedom as possible. We want to foster flexible educational approaches, promote courageous educators, cherish diversity of thought and cultivate nuanced thinking!

 

Causal Fallacy is a logical fallacy in which a person presents an incorrect cause. 

Stan: I think one of the reasons why my project is failing is that I started it in the summer. Everytime I start doing something serious in the summer I end up failing.

Mary: I don't think that this fact had any impact on the outcome. There's a number of objective factors that contributed to the outcome.

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

Tu Quoque Fallacy (Appeal to hypocrisyis a type of Ad Hominem fallacy in which a person tries to discredit the opponent by claiming that the opponent doesn't act according to the argument's conclusion.

Stan: Well, Mary, you were working on your project for two years and it was clear after one year that it wasn't working out. And now you are trying to convince me to quit so early.

Mary: I agree that I made a mistake and quit much later than I could have. But it doesn't mean that you have to follow my example.

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

Circular Argument is a logical fallacy in which a person basically makes the same point in both sides of the argument.

Stan: Dan's business is awesome and successful, because Dan is such a successful businessman.

Mary: Not sure how this is relevant but you are making the same point twice... 

 

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

Hasty Generalization is a logical fallacy in which a person draws a conclusion without providing sufficient data to support it.

Stan: My friend Dan was experiencing serious problems with a project similar to mine but he survived so I should also keep on trying with my project.

Mary: Your friend Dan's case is not representative of the whole population who had similar projects. He succeeded but it doesn't mean that all other people have succeeded. 

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

Sunk Costs Fallacy is a logical fallacy in which someone argues that something has to continue (project, business etc.) despite being fruitless and unpromising only because a lot of resources has already been used to maintain the project. 

Stan: I have spent so much time, resources and money on my project, I just can't give it up.. Even though it's not working out now, I have to try more and the adoption rate will rebound. All these efforts don't have to be in vain.

Mary: I understand that you feel bitter and you don't want to give up your project. But the fact that you have spent much on the project doesn't have to define what you're going to do next. You clearly didn't find a product-market fit, even though you have a nice product. It's time to move on, scrap the project and start something new benefiting from the experience from your previous project.

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

Equivocation (ambiguity) is a logical fallacy in which someone uses a phrase or a word in multiple senses in an argument. 

Stan: Well, I have the right to work on my project, therefore it's right for me to continue doing what I'm doing. 

Mary: No one disputes your right to do what you want. But I wouldn't agree that continuing your project is a right thing to do. 

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

 
 
Standardized testing is used universally nowadays in the university and school systems to select people based on how well they performed on the test. While a standardized test could be an efficient way to assess a person's mental abilities/IQ, it could also miss other important aspects of human mind and nature. 
 
 

Slippery Slope Fallacy is a logical fallacy in which somebody suggests an unlikely outcome in an argument without providing enough data.

Adam: I know what happens to people who don't care about college degrees.. They start exploring different options, try this, try that. They think they can succeed by doing something unusual, but the thing it's super hard to do something unique, so when you realize it, it's too late and nobody wants to employ you because you have no degree and you end up on the street.

ET: Not going to college doesn't mean you're doomed for failure. Yes, it's immensely hard to create something new and not copy anyone. But like I said, there are many other alternatives to college nowadays. The prestige of college degrees is overrated. But still it doesn't mean that nobody should pursue college education. For many people it's a viable option. But it also doesn't mean that going to college is the only way to succeed.

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

False Dilemma is a logical fallacy in which somebody limits the number of options in an argument, e.g. presenting two options when there are in fact more than two options.

Adam: Well, when a person finishes high school, they should do something good with their lives that is go to college to prosper and contribute to society or else they will end up using drugs and they will wind up in jail. 

ET: There's absolutely no reason to believe that there are only two outcomes after you finish high school. You can explore many other options like going to a trade school, joining an apprenticeship program or starting your own venture. 

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

Appeal to Emotion (pity, affection) is a logical fallacy in which a person tries to win the argument by manipulating his or her opponent's emotions.

Adam: The thing is, 99% of people do not agree with you and understand the importance of college education for everyone. Moreover, both Ben Affleck and George Clooney believe that college education is essential. All countries have been trying to promote higher education for decades so that everyone could benefit from that and now it's part of every modern country's tradition to prepare high school students for college. And how dare you speak all this dangerous stuff! Think about those poor little kids who might get out of their hopeless situations by pursuing a college degree!?

ET: Everything that you just said is unreasonable and too emotional. You don't present any valid points and instead appeal to what other people think and have thought or to what some public figures believe is true.

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

Appeal to Tradition (Argumentum ad Antiquitatem) is a logical fallacy in which a person claims that a statement is true because it is correlated with a certain tradition, past or present. 

Adam: The thing is, 99% of people do not agree with you and understand the importance of college education for everyone. Moreover, both Ben Affleck and George Clooney believe that college education is essential. All countries have been trying to promote higher education for decades so that everyone could benefit from that and now it's part of every modern country's tradition to prepare high school students for college. And how dare you speak all this dangerous stuff! Think about those poor little kids who might get out of their hopeless situations by pursuing a college degree!?

ET: Everything that you just said is unreasonable and too emotional. You don't present any valid points and instead appeal to what other people think and have thought or to what some public figures believe is true.

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

Appeal to Authority (Ad Verecundiam) is a fallacy in which a person claims that a statement is true because a certain important (or not very important) person says so. 

Adam: The thing is, 99% of people do not agree with you and understand the importance of college education for everyone. Moreover, both Ben Affleck and George Clooney believe that college education is essential. All countries have been trying to promote higher education for decades so that everyone could benefit from that and now it's part of every modern country's tradition to prepare high school students for college. And how dare you speak all this dangerous stuff! Think about those poor little kids who might get out of their hopeless situations by pursuing a college degree!?

ET: Everything that you just said is unreasonable and too emotional. You don't present any valid points and instead appeal to what other people think and have thought or to what some public figures believe is true.

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

Appeal to Popularity (Bandwagon Fallacy) is a fallacy in which a person claims that a statement is true since a significant number of people believe it is true. 

Adam: The thing is, 99% of people do not agree with you and understand the importance of college education for everyone. Moreover, both Ben Affleck and George Clooney believe that college education is essential. All countries have been trying to promote higher education for decades so that everyone could benefit from that and now it's part of every modern country's tradition to prepare high school students for college. And how dare you speak all this dangerous stuff! Think about those poor little kids who might get out of their hopeless situations by pursuing a college degree!?

ET: Everything that you just said is unreasonable and too emotional. You don't present any valid points and instead appeal to what other people think and have thought or to what some public figures believe is true.

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

Appeal to Ignorance (Argumentum ad Ignorantiam) is a logical fallacy in which a person claims that a statement is true if it can't be proven false, or a statement is false if it can't be proven true.

Adam: Have you ever seen any studies confirming that it's better for these people to not pursue any college degrees? There's no proof so we can't say that these people are better off not going to college. 

ET: I can ask you the same question whether you've ever seen any evidence that getting a college degree is better than doing something that you really like. The mere fact that there's no proof that doing a trade that you like is better than getting a liberal arts degree doesn't indicate that my argument is necessarily wrong.

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

Strawman is a logical fallacy in which a person attacks a position that his or her opponent doesn't really hold. It could be done deliberately when a person has nothing to offer against the real argument and wants to distort it to be able to attack it. Or it could be done accidentally when a person doesn't get the opponent's argument.  

Adam: So you're trying to say that psychology, political science and other liberal arts degrees are useless!? Look at Mary: she's a psychology major and she's got a very successful private practice..Or look at John: he studied international relations and now he's a popular podcaster and he's already paid off his loans! Most people I know who went to college are doing well now..

ET: Not at all, I'm not claiming that liberal arts degrees are useless. On the contrary, they can be enlightening and worthwhile for many people, especially those who are genuinely interested in pursuing careers related to liberal arts degrees. All I'm saying is that you don't have to do what you don't like to do just because you or your parents are seeking status in the form of a college degree. Carpenters are just an example, there're lots of vocations that don't require degrees and are compensated handsomely. There are lots of people who have a great potential for these vocations and who could do easily without a college degree.  

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

Ad Hominem (Latin for "against the man") is a logical fallacy in which someone rejects his or her opponent's argument on the basis of that person's personal characteristics (appearance, age, birthplace and etc.) 

ET: I don't think all people should go to college now.. The college degree is overrated and you have to spend a lot of money on it risking to be drowned in hefty loans until you retire. For example, lots of people are very good at working with their hands, they might as well become carpenters and be much better off without a degree.

Adam: ET, you are extraterrestrial, you haven't had any human experiences, so you can't know what is good for us humans.  

ET: I don't think that my planet of origin should define my ability to hold a position that could touch upon people and their experiences. Those who like to create things made of wood and they do it well don't have to get psychology or political science degrees just to have a piece of paper confirming that they had 4 years of college education. They can earn as much or even more by doing what they really like, be satisfied and debt-free. 

Full dialogue here: All argumentation fallacies

Video example: 

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Dialogue #1

Ad Hominem (Latin for "against the man") is a fallacy in which someone rejects his or her opponent's argument on the basis of that person's personal characteristics (appearance, age, birthplace and etc.) 

ET: I don't think all people should go to college now.. The college degree is overrated and you have to spend a lot of money on it risking to be drowned in hefty loans until you retire. For example, lots of people are very good at working with their hands, they might as well become carpenters and be much better off without a degree.

Adam: ET, you are extraterrestrial, you haven't had any human experiences, so you can't know what is good for us humans.  

ET: I don't think that my planet of origin should define my ability to hold a position that could touch upon people and their experiences. Those who like to create things made of wood and they do it well don't have to get psychology or political science degrees just to have a piece of paper confirming that they had 4 years of college education. They can earn as much or even more by doing what they really like, be satisfied and debt-free. 

Strawman is a fallacy in which a person attacks a position that his or her opponent doesn't really hold. It could be done deliberately when a person has nothing to offer against the real argument and wants to distort it to be able to attack it. Or it could be done accidentally when a person doesn't get the opponent's argument.  

Adam: So you're trying to say that psychology, political science and other liberal arts degrees are useless!? Look at Mary: she's a psychology major and she's got a very successful private practice..Or look at John: he studied international relations and now he's a popular podcaster and he's already paid off his loans! Most people I know who went to college are doing well now..

ET: Not at all, I'm not claiming that liberal arts degrees are useless. On the contrary, they can be enlightening and worthwhile for many people, especially those who are genuinely interested in pursuing careers related to liberal arts degrees. All I'm saying is that you don't have to do what you don't like to do just because you or your parents are seeking status in the form of a college degree. Carpenters are just an example, there're lots of vocations that don't require degrees and are compensated handsomely. There are lots of people who have a great potential for these vocations and who could do easily without a college degree.  

Appeal to Ignorance (Argumentum ad Ignorantiam) is a fallacy in which a person claims that a statement is true if it can't be proven false, or a statement is false if it can't be proven true.

Adam: Have you ever seen any studies confirming that it's better for these people to not pursue any college degrees? There's no proof so we can't say that these people are better off not going to college. 

ET: I can ask you the same question whether you've ever seen any evidence that getting a college degree is better than doing something that you really like. The mere fact that there's no proof that doing a trade that you like is better than getting a liberal arts degree doesn't indicate that my argument is necessarily wrong.

Appeal to Popularity (Bandwagon Fallacy) is a fallacy in which a person claims that a statement is true since a significant number of people believe it is true. 

Appeal to Authority is a fallacy in which a person claims that a statement is true because a certain important (or not very important) person says so. 

Appeal to Tradition is a fallacy in which a person claims that a statement is true because it is correlated with a certain tradition, past or present. 

Appeal to Emotion (pity, affection) is a fallacy in which a person tries to win the argument by manipulating his or her opponent's emotions.

Adam: The thing is, 99% of people do not agree with you and understand the importance of college education for everyone. Moreover, both Ben Affleck and George Clooney believe that college education is essential. All countries have been trying to promote higher education for decades so that everyone could benefit from that and now it's part of every modern country's tradition to prepare high school students for college. And how dare you speak all this dangerous stuff! Think about those poor little kids who might get out of their hopeless situations by pursuing a college degree!?

ET: Everything that you just said is unreasonable and too emotional. You don't present any valid points and instead appeal to what other people think and have thought or to what some public figures believe is true.

False Dilemma is a fallacy in which somebody limits the number of options in an argument, e.g. presenting two options when there are in fact more than two options.

Adam: Well, when a person finishes high school, they should do something good with their lives that is go to college to prosper and contribute to society or else they will end up using drugs and they will wind up in jail. 

ET: There's absolutely no reason to believe that there are only two outcomes after you finish high school. You can explore many other options like going to a trade school, joining an apprenticeship program or starting your own venture. 

Slippery Slope Fallacy is a fallacy in which somebody suggests an unlikely outcome in an argument without providing enough data.

Adam: I know what happens to people who don't care about college degrees.. They start exploring different options, try this, try that. They think they can succeed by doing something unusual, but the thing it's super hard to do something unique, so when you realize it, it's too late and nobody wants to employ you because you have no degree and you end up on the street.

ET: Not going to college doesn't mean you're doomed for failure. Yes, it's immensely hard to create something new and not copy anyone. But like I said, there are many other alternatives to college nowadays. The prestige of college degrees is overrated. But still it doesn't mean that nobody should pursue college education. For many people it's a viable option. But it also doesn't mean that going to college is the only way to succeed.

 

Dialogue #2

Sunk Costs Fallacy is a fallacy in which someone argues that something has to continue (project, business etc.) despite being fruitless and unpromising only because a lot of resources has already been used to maintain the project. 

Stan: I have spent so much time, resources and money on my project, I just can't give it up.. Even though it's not working out now, I have to try more and the adoption rate will rebound. All these efforts don't have to be in vain.

Mary: I understand that you feel bitter and you don't want to give up your project. But the fact that you have spent much on the project doesn't have to define what you're going to do next. You clearly didn't find a product-market fit, even though you have a nice product. It's time to move on, scrap the project and start something new benefiting from the experience from your previous project.

Hasty Generalization is a fallacy in which a person draws a conclusion without providing sufficient data to support it.

Stan: My friend Dan was experiencing serious problems with a project similar to mine but he survived so I should also keep on trying with my project.

Mary: Your friend Dan's case is not representative of the whole population who had similar projects. He succeeded but it doesn't mean that all other people have succeeded. 

Circular Argument is a fallacy in which a person basically makes the same point in both sides of the argument.

Stan: Dan's business is awesome and successful, because Dan is such a successful businessman.

Mary: Not sure how this is relevant but you are making the same point twice... 

Tu Quoque Fallacy (Appeal to hypocrisyis a type of Ad Hominem fallacy in which a person tries to discredit the opponent by claiming that the opponent doesn't act according to the argument's conclusion.

Stan: Well, Mary, you were working on your project for two years and it was clear after one year that it wasn't working out. And now you are trying to convince me to quit so early.

Mary: I agree that I made a mistake and quit much later than I could have. But it doesn't mean that you have to follow my example.

Causal Fallacy is a fallacy in which a person presents an incorrect cause. 

Stan: I think one of the reasons why my project is failing is that I started it in the summer. Everytime I start doing something serious in the summer I end up failing.

Mary: I don't think that this fact had any impact on the outcome. There's a number of objective factors that contributed to the outcome.

Equivocation (ambiguity) is a fallacy in which someone uses a phrase or a word in multiple senses in an argument. 

Stan: Well, I have the right to work on my project, therefore it's right for me to continue doing what I'm doing. 

Mary: No one disputes your right to do what you want. But I wouldn't agree that continuing your project is a right thing to do. 

 

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