Heated political rhetoric is everywhere. It sets us apart from one another and erodes what’s left of civil discourse. It grinds the worthy concept of logic into dust. Not any more. Not when we fight back with a game I’m calling Logic Shrink.
I’m not selling a thing. You don’t need an app, a console, even a board. It’s entirely your game. Play a solitary version. Play it during a get-together with your extended family. Play it with kids, especially teens. Bring it to the classroom, assisted living center, or secret Super PAC meeting. It will entertain.
Afterwards, when the lively score-keeping has ended there will be something new in the room. It may be unfamiliar at first. It’s a state of being that requires no name calling, no slippery slope. It’s logical thinking.
Now just envision the game being played over and over, from living rooms to sports bars, spreading this thing called logic across all so-called divisions. Even if every snarky pundit huffed off the airwaves the game wouldn’t have to end. We’d just spread nice thick layers of logic in plenty of other places.
How To Play Logic Shrink
The general idea is to watch or listen to two sides of an issue as presented by pundits, politicians, or other talking heads. Using a guide to logical fallacies, players call out any errors they perceive. The first person to call out a fallacy that at least a third of other players agree is correctly identified, gains points. Players who correctly estimate in advance how many fallacies will be committed by each side gain points too.
1. First, print out or otherwise make available a list of logical fallacies. (Here’s one and here’s another but you can find many online or use the graphic heading this post.) As with any game, the players won’t be immediately familiar with all of these fallacies nor the names they’re commonly called. Shorten the list to the most common fallacies for new players or younger kids. Give a little time in advance of each game for players to go over the list. It seems dull now, but it won’t when players use the list to score points. Liven up the logical fallacy list any way you like, perhaps giving an introduction to each as a stand-up comedy routine or asking each player to offer an example of a logical fallacy they’ve heard recently.
2. Locate competing sources. That might be right (Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Fox & Friends) versus left (Rachel Maddow, Thom Hartmann, Democracy Now). It might be a political debate. It might be two podcasters squaring off on an inflammatory issue. It’s best if the sources are taped or otherwise turn-off-able, because you’ll be stopping them a few times. Start with no more than ten minutes of each. Maybe five.
2. Scoring. This is your game so you may keep score any way you choose. Here are my suggestions. At the beginning of each game, guess the number of fallacies each different segment will provide and put that number at the top of your list or other scoring method. Then keep track of fallacies outed. The easiest way? Provide two different colored pencils to each player (helpful for designating which source committed which fallacy), then let players check off each fallacy on the list they hear. They must be the first to call out the fallacy aloud to earn points. You can get more high tech if you’d like, there are all sorts of student response systems (SRS), audience response systems (ARS), and personal response systems (PRS) available for smart phones and tablets. Or hell, make a wall-sized board that lights up when players touch a remote. This game is ripe for geekifying.
3. Disputing scores. This is where it gets, shall we say, energized. Stick to the statements heard and the way those statements fit on the list of logical fallacies. The goal of the game is only to discover illogical rhetoric. Be the first to call out a logical fallacy, you get five points if at least a third of other players agree by a quick show of hands. Other players can dispute the exact fallacy you claim or that any fallacy exists. (The recording will need to be turned off or backed up a few times.) Everyone should add the agreed-upon fallacies to their overall score sheet, seeing who gets closest to their pre-game estimates. At the end, the closest overall estimator gets 25 points. Also add up scores earned during the game. Grand total wins, although we all know, logic is the true champion.
- Pass out list of logical fallacies.
- Go over them together.
- Explain scoring.
- Start the show, stopping when necessary to sort out all the yelling and raised hands.
- Finish by adding up scores.
- Cheer for the elevation of reason and logic.
Tell me how you play, and improve on, Logic Shrink. If you come up with a great app or device to use with Logic Shrink, feel free to give me a cut. So far, tirelessly advancing good causes hasn’t paid me a nickel.