Julian Baggins

Duck Book
Not a Duck Thing

A trip to the bookstore introduced me to two books by Julian Baggini, who turns out to be a ‘philosopher’. It’s rare to find anyone with this title to their names but he is by a large a journalist or writer from my point of view given the works he produce. The two books I stumbled on, which I found immensely useful to students of General Paper in Junior College level is The Duck That Won the Lottery and 99 Other Bad Arguments as well as The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten and 99 Other Thought Experiments.

The Duck is about arguments and rhetoric, which are aspects of writing and presentation that is usually missing in our General Paper classes. We have extremely few lessons where we truly tear apart arguments and examine rhetoric used by writers, politicians, activist. Getting to know how to avoid bad arguments and thereby make good ones would not only help lawyers in court but an ordinary student when it comes to presenting his/her ideas during lesson, trying to engage peers in a project/idea as well as General Paper writing.

The Pig, on the other hand, examines arguments made by others – basically a GP lesson for each of the text or passage examined in the book. It claims to hold thought experiments but basically Baggini is merely making readers think twice about arguments or scenarios presented and the ideas behind them. I didn’t quite read the books but simply browse through them. Even if they don’t present the topics well, they are good starting point for how you should actually be studying GP.

Baggini writes a lot of other books, perhaps more related to philosophy than the two I pointed out. In addition, he also does a magazine, TPM: The Philosopher’s Magazine, which looks pretty impressive.

2 Comments

  1. Wei Seng says:

    I read The Pig That Wants To Be Eaten and found it rather confusing but thought-provoking… it’s worth reading for the eye-opening experience.

    I am tempted to buy The Duck That Won The Lottery for my GP student, who makes all sorts of horrible illogical arguments and statements that I simply cannot correct, or statements that are not exactly right but not exactly wrong, which makes him think it’s okay to write like that (when it isnt).

  2. Kevin says:

    Oh, haha. Ya, I think everyone needs a those of that – most of the time these rhetoric and argument stuff involves deep understanding in the language; usually learning them strengthens your thinking abilities as well but getting good at it in English might sometimes be in expense of your ability in other languages.

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