George Lucas Educational Foundation
Critical Thinking

Logic Shrink: A Game That Teaches Students to Spot Logical Fallacies

October 21, 2016

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.

You don’t need an app, a console, even a board. It’s entirely your game and entirely free. It's perfectly suited for the classroom, especially for preteen through college, but I've taught it to much younger kids. (Something about a seven-year-old shouting "ad hominem!" soothes my soul.)

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 strawman, no slippery slope. It’s logical thinking.

Now just envision the game being played over and over, from classrooms to living rooms to sports bars, spreading this thing called logic across all our 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 basic format 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.

To recap

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.

Let 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.

Logical fallacy lists

  • Download a free fallacies poster

Other logical fallacy resources

  • Six animations explaining some critical thinking basics, including several logical fallacies.
  • Prezi on Fallacies for Children using old advertisements as examples
  • An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi ages 10 and up
  • The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedom, ages 12 and up
  • Mastering Logical Fallacies  by Michael Withey, high school and up

Need two competing sources?

Try five minutes from the conservative side such as:

  • The Glenn Beck Program
  • The Rush Limbaugh Show
  • Fox & Friends

and five minutes from the liberal side such as:

  • The Rachel Maddow Show
  • Thom Hartmann
  • Democracy Now

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.

Share This Story

  • email icon

Filed Under

  • Critical Thinking
  • Media Literacy
  • Social Studies/History
  • 6-8 Middle School
  • 9-12 High School

Follow Edutopia

  • facebook icon
  • twitter icon
  • instagram icon
  • youtube icon
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use

George Lucas Educational Foundation

Edutopia is a free source of information, inspiration, and practical strategies for learning and teaching in preK-12 education. We are published by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.
Edutopia®, the EDU Logo™ and Lucas Education Research Logo® are trademarks or registered trademarks of the George Lucas Educational Foundation in the U.S. and other countries.