We seem to be surrounded by pseudo-scientific reasoning and even increasingly anti-scientific attitudes; by irrational and self-serving ideologies, whether political, religious or economic; by the exploitation and manipulation of our naturally occurring cognitive biases on behalf of corporate interests that distort our values, perceptions, attitudes and preferences; and by bullshit-peddling quacks and charlatans bent on making an easy buck at our expense.
And with our growing celebrity culture and our ever-growing need for instant gratification (and our deteriorating work ethic), it is an uphill battle to improve the level of discourse in which we engage. But one of the weapons at our disposal is the ability to think critically and analyze the quality of the ideas that confront us daily. Having the proper background information to argue intelligently on a given topic is great, but even without that knowledge, with the following short introduction to some of the most prominent logical fallacies and reasoning mistakes people make, you can at least spot and identify claims and arguments that may seem reasonable on the surface but that are ultimately dubious once you start thinking about them a little more deeply.
And if you want a meatier treatment of fallacies (with lots of hilarious examples to guide you along), you might want to check out our previous introduction to logical fallacies.