book review: Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington

light, quick tour through a host of logical fallacies with lots of funny quotes and funny jokes


I was convinced to read this book when I stumbled upon it at an airport bookstore and saw that it had (a) quotes from The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, and (b) funny story jokes.  That was enough for me!


In this slim volume [just 3 CDs for the unabridged audiobook], the authors illustrate a broad array of logical fallacies (with fancy philosophical names like “denying the antecedent”*) using quotes from current politicians and lots of jokes (see Appendix A for an example).  Members of the George W. Bush administration are the primary targets, although Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others don’t get left out.


The quotes are funny and the jokes are funny.  The book is light, quick, and enjoyable.


The philosophy provides a structural framework: the authors go through various fallacies one-by-one, giving a short description and then examples and jokes.  One could probably learn something about philosophy from this, but I admit that a few days after having finished the book, most of what has stayed with me are the quotes and the jokes.


I listened to the unabridged audioboook narrated by Johnny Heller [just 3 CDs].  He does a good job except when he is imitating Dick Cheney or George W. Bush: Then, not so much.


* That may not be the actual name.  I’m recalling here.


Appendix A: A joke from the book, retold by me

A man approaches another man on the street and says, “Jones, you’ve completely changed!  You used to be fat and now you’ve lost all the weight and are thin as a rail.  You used to wear nice suits and now you’re wearing these rags.  You even used to be short and now you’re tall.”  The other man responds, “My name isn’t Jones,” to which the first replies, “So you’ve even changed your name!”

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