John Capps, Donald Capps

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Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

This review was submitted by malekz.

You've Got To Be Kidding! - How Jokes Can Help You Think
By John Capps and Donald Capps
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (2009)

Whether you are CEO of a fortune 500 corporation; a team leader, sales manager, stressed out person looking for employment, or someone suffering from health problems, having a sense of humor would be almost mandatory for your survival. Even receiving frustrating objections in communicating with others would require a well-developed sense of humor to stop negative emotions from leaking out and to reframe the situation with gentle humor to bring it back into an effective persuasion process.

For a long time psychologists and philosophers have been grappling with questions such as “What makes us laugh” and “What are the techniques of making humor?” For example, early on Sigmund Freud in his famous book “Jokes and Their Relations to the Unconscious” tried to answer these elusive questions which have long remained the subject of numerous other publications to follow.

“You’ve Got to Be Kidding!” stands out among such a huge number of publications on the subject because of its innovative and rather unique point of view. While this book deals with a great number of logical fallacies and irrational thinking whose unexpected incongruities lead to humor, its main purpose is something else - and notably  a much more noble and important one. It uses humor constructions to teach the reader how to think critically.

The authors, inspired by Jamie Whyte’s “Crimes against Logic – Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests, Journalists, and Other Serial Offenders (2005),” creatively use constructions of humor to highlight various logical fallacies. Their book receives high marks because of its double value in showing incongruity structures in humor as well as techniques of critical thinking. The latter is of utmost importance especially for the present US education system geared toward keeping students dumb and ignorant as a means of controlling public mind and having a steady supply of devoted consumers easily influenced by narrow facts, TV advertising, political speeches, and marketing ploys. If so many cannot read well, how can they be able to sift through logical fallacies to apply critical thinking so they won’t become victims of manipulative techniques? If you think this is only a Conspiracy Theory that should be discarded; remember, for example, the recent standards Texas Board of Education is trying to impose on History textbooks so they can rewrite history, ignoring certain historical events of great importance.

“You’ve Got to Be Kidding!” will be an excellent textbook to teach critical thinking skills through humor while making learning about logical fallacies and irrational thinking processes much enjoyable.  The book can also be used along with another textbook, for more serious examples, to teach rhetoric and critical thinking at the university level.

Read this book carefully and enjoy many of its jokes while each one would highlight an important lesson in critical thinking. Perhaps among its many in the “Fallacies of Relevance” category, I enjoyed the “ad baculum” fallacy the most. It is because I see politicians often use a double dose of it in demanding negotiations to be held and, at the same time, demanding acceptance of terms which could only be the result of give-and-take during negotiation - all as a pre-condition to negotiate!  They would fortify the demand by another dose of this “ad baculum” fallacy in the form of possible punishments, attacks, sanctions, etc, if the other side did not comply.  Read this book so next time you hear the “ad baculum” fallacy (aka: “Threat Disguised as Reason”), you can laugh out loud and tell them “You’ve Got to Be Kidding!”

This is a highly recommended 5-Star Book.