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How to Get More out of What You Read

How to Get More out of What You Read

March 13th, 2013 // 11:37 am @

Two Books Reviewed by Oliver DeMille

People often ask me if I’m going to write a book called Thomas Jefferson Education for Adults.

They usually say this after reading my books A Thomas Jefferson Education or A Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens, or both.

They get excited about getting a truly great education, not settling for anything less than the highest quality of learning for themselves and their children, and they wonder how to really get that kind of education themselves.

My answer is always, “Start reading the classics.”

When people follow this suggestion, many of them soon realize they’re not getting as much out of their reading as some people seem to.

When they ask how they can get more from their reading, I frequently tell them to study the logical fallacies.

Too many classrooms and schools today teach students what to think rather than how to think, and even many professional and graduate schools focus on when to think.

Teaching students how to think (deeply, broadly, creatively, innovatively, etc.) seems to be a lost art in too much of our modern educational system.

Two books on fallacies are an excellent response: The Art of Argument by Aaron Larsen, Joelle Hodge, and Chris Perrin, and Joseph Spider and the Fallacy Farm by David Grant.

Read these books together, since the first is an excellent workshop on how to think and the second is a fun story that will pull in younger students.

These books not only teach readers how to think, they inspire them to engage thinking.

In short, to think.

A lot.

Specifically, these two books teach a number of fallacies of thinking—in an interesting and effective way.

I highly recommend them for any youth, parent and teacher who wants to boost their students’ thinking ability.

In fact, both books are a great read for any adult.

When people know the fallacies, they automatically start thinking more deeply and they get a lot more out of everything they read—especially the classics.

So if you’re reading important books and want to significantly increase your rate of learning from them, check out these two books.

It’ll make a huge difference for your students and, even more importantly, for you.


odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the chairman of the Center for Social Leadership and co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Book Reviews &Education &Featured

3 Comments → “How to Get More out of What You Read”

  1. Elizabeth

    11 years ago

    Help! I can’t find a copy of Joseph Spider and the Fallacy Farm anywhere. Is this even in print anymore?

  2. Oliver DeMille

    11 years ago

    You know, I’m not sure. I have spoken with the author previously about possibly selling it on our site. Perhaps I’ll get back to that discussion.

  3. Keith

    11 years ago

    The best thinking is relational and not linear. Here are examples of logical fallacies that exemplify linear thinking. For axiomatic thinking, see below the fallacies. Sorry for the length.

    1# Red Herring (Colloquialism that means to distract the hounds. Argument intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand.)
    “I know the lottery loots from the poor, but what of the dreams and fantasies that you will take away from them if you abolish it?”

    2# Slippery Slope (Assumes one instance automatically leads to thousands of similar instances, and hence to chaos.)
    “No, you can’t order a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with peanut butter instead of bacon! Then everyone would start wanting substitutions on their sandwiches!”

    3# Circular Reasoning (Supporting a claim by restating it in different words. Also referred to as “avoiding the issue.”)
    Juan is an impressive speaker because he always touches his listeners deeply. (Why is Juan an impressive speaker? Because he touches his listeners deeply. Why are Juan’s listeners touched so deeply? Because he is such an impressive speaker.)

    4# Oversimplification (Pretending a complex issue is really very simple. A tendency to appeal to ignorance.)
    Abortion is pure, premeditated murder.

    5# False Analogy (When two items don’t have strong enough similarities to predict that what happens in one will happen in the other. Deduction from hypothesis.)
    Podunk Junior College should not require a freshman writing course. Harvard doesn’t require a freshman writing course, and the students get along fine without it.

    6# Equivocation (Changing the definition of words whenever you run into an objection, or simply not taking the time to define your terms free from contradiction.)
    As for reality in a dream, there is reality in your dreams, because everyone’s perception of reality is different. All people have different views of reality, some of us have delusional views while others have the serious view. Reality is there, it just depends on you.

    7# Ill-Founded Generalization (Unjustified conclusions. Rarely are we entitled to generalize with words like all, nobody, everything, or nothing etc.)
    Every week we read newspaper reports of some college hiring a professor who holds Marxist views. We are turning our colleges into centers of indoctrination in the Marxist view of economics and history.

    8# Non Sequitur (Conclusion or inference which does not follow from the premise, a remark having no bearing on what has just been said. Latin for “it does not follow.” Other faulty causal connections can be seen in a Post Hoc fallacy, which is a second event following closely after another which is not necessarily a result of the first.)
    All students who take earth science instead of physics are lazy. Susie took earth science instead of physics. Susie should be kicked out of school.
    A partygoer smokes marijuana and has a bad accident driving home.

    9# Appeal to Wrong Authority (Without reason or historical backing, no appeal to authority should adequately serves as a sound and proper argument.)
    My political science teacher says that the new math is impossible for children to learn.

    10# Ad Homonym (Unless relevant, Ad Homonym arguments divert attention from the merit of ideas to the character and personal life of another. Means “directed at the person.”)
    Our Republican presidential candidate, Senator Bicknel, has a wife suing him for divorce and a brother who failed in business school.


    Axiom: To label all things objective is an attempt to neglect the spirit that moves in all things.
    Axiom: Words are bits of reality and must be placed into an invariant position as the words in a sentence are place into a particular part of speech.
    Axiom: The love of diversity is the love of darkness.
    An Axiom for Physics: Light doesn’t travel at a constant velocity in a vacuum everywhere in the universe anymore than an atomic clock oscillates at a constant velocity in a vacuum everywhere in the universe.
    The Axiom: Basic principles are inherent in our intelligence. Changing them reveals mans need to scoff at his creator and deny physical reality.
    The Axiom: Space and time are not continuums of objective reality any more than a subject or verb can ever become the object.
    The Axiom: The distinction of a space-time proportion is in meaning,
    the magnitude is inherent in time and direction is inherent in space.
    Axiom: The majority are right directly proportional to the quantity of their perception and the quality of their differing minds.
    The philosophical logos is thus: All meaning begins with a distinction. In order to have unity, you must first have distinction between two things. Diversity and multiplicity are not distinctive representations. They foster abstract confusion. Also, singularity is not unity. Singularity makes the mistake of doing away with distinction and opposition. Unity, on the other hand, brings distinction and opposition into equilibrium. There must be opposition. Singularity and multiplicity do not define. The essence of philosophical thought is a dichotomy of distinctive definition.
    The physical logos is thus: There are two distinct realities. One is magnetic and the other is electric. One obeys the left hand rule and the other suggests a right hand rule. This opposition creates light, mass, charge and even gravity. The same opposition defines the nature of light as linear energy and the nature of mass as angular energy. Light in other words is the manifest opposition in an electro-magnetic relationship. There must be a distinctive opposition. Singularity and multiplicity of physical existence plays havoc to
    conservation laws.
    The biological logos is thus: All living organisms foster dichotomies. Organic life is growth under opposition. Things do not happen without opposition. Singularity and multiplicity is not a factor inorganic procreation.
    The psychological logos is thus: First, the denial of rejection in life, and second, the denial of entropy in death drive every strange opinion and inordinate act. The diversity of magic is a fearful denial of this reality. Accepting this dichotomy of life and death overcomes denial.
    The economic logos is thus: The economy (flow of money) obeys the same law of conservation as found in physical reality. You cannot get something for nothing. Conservation is the only way to bring equilibrium between the rich and the poor. Just as the energy in a closed system remains constant, the solution to economic constancy is to create small community systems in equilibrium. The world, nation and state are like singularities that do not foster the principle of conservation to the smaller bodies. Large bodies of equilibrium create diversity and destruction to the smaller community. Free
    enterprise is a better opposition between communities and Sates and not between individuals. Individuals must be in equilibrium and unity with each and every member of the community. Unity must be with the team as in a beehive, but if the community is too large make another hive. National and international centralization denies individual and community responsibility.
    The Christian logos is thus: The word is in Christ and not in the tradition. Diversity of belief, custom and ordinance becomes a denial of his word.
    The political logos is thus: The opposition of two parties creates
    the atmosphere of the democratic process. A single party is destructive and
    the multiplicity of parties will also lead a nation into bondage. The only way a multiplicity of parties will benefit is if the highest two choices
    are represented in another election. Choice by singularity or multiplicity is not choice of the people. Choice is by dual opposition. Fostering anything contrary to a duality of opposition yields power to the state, the warmonger and the bureaucratic money mogul.
    God’s Creation logos is thus: There must be opposition in all things
    otherwise there is no existence. Anything contrary to this is a denial of
    reality altogether.
    Samuel Lewis logos is this: There are a minimum of two realities and a maximum of three. The third is not in opposition, but will bring the two opposites into equilibrium. All things are yin and yang, magnetic and electric or positive and negative. Unity is the equilibrium brought about by a third. Today that all things are Chi, Prana, or as in western thinking Light, is not a singularity. Light is a dichotomy in equilibrium. Opposition is inherent in light and must be the basis of all existence. Denial of this is the manifestation of suppressed fear of oblivion.

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