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Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington: Understanding Political… (2008)

by Thomas Cathcart, Daniel Klein

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3811052,355 (3.33)6
What did Donald Rumsfeld mean when he said, "The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence"? And what's the essence behind Bill Clinton's gem, "It depends on what the meaning of the word is is"? Whether they are misleading with doublespeak, having fun with ambiguity, drawing weak analogies, or getting inappropriately personal, politicians, frequently make our heads spin. Cathcart and Klein sift through the claptrap and make sense of it all.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Another quick and easy breeze of a read in the same vein as their first work (Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar). Though not as entertaining or as funny as their first work, it was enlightening to how the politicos speak, and their level of bullshit. Though primarily based on the George W. Bush's presidency and a bit after, it does delve into some past political leaders and pundits. ( )
  BenKline | Aug 7, 2016 |
I did not get very far, there was way to much right bashing.I did not expect that the authors were only looking to "bring out the truth" on one side of the policital realm. Both have faults and that was not expressed in the book.(I am hoping that I am wrong and it changes as the book continues but I did not have the patience to even look.)
  TriciaDM | Jul 14, 2011 |
This is a sequel of sorts to Plato and a Platypus. While that book attempted to teach philosophy with jokes, this book examines the philosophical underpinnings of political rhetoric, or rather, the logical errors inherent in most of it.

My biggest issue with this book, besides it simply not being as funny as its predecessor, is that while the authors try to pretend that they're being objective, there's a very heavy emphasis throughout the book on singling out Republicans. Oh, there are some token Democratic examples taken -- one of the first quotes in the book is from California Senator Barbara Boxer -- but most of the quotes selected for dissection come from George W. Bush, his administration, or his most avid supporters in the media and in Congress. Mind you, I'm not a fan of any of these people, but it doesn't sit well with me that the authors focus disproportionately on one party. One could, I suppose, make the argument that Republicans make more logically questionable statements than Democrats, but although I might like to believe that, I doubt it's actually true.

Furthermore, most of the quotes referenced in the book, when not from the Bush Administration, are from the 2008 Presidential campaign. Even in September of 2010, this really dates the book. To me, it would've made more sense for them to focus on historical statements from major political figures of past decades, like Reagan, Kennedy, Goldwater, Roosevelt, McCarthy, etc. Not only would this have given it a broader feel, but it would mean getting away from recent politics (which people are going to feel very strongly about, one way or another) and instead allow readers to examine statements of past politicians with a more objective eye.

But instead we got jokes about Dubya's IQ. Hardee har har. ( )
  stochasticooze | Sep 11, 2010 |
This is a review for the unabridged audio version of Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington.

Very rarely does a book come along that fails at every point. This book reads like a college essay written two hours before the due date. The feeble attempt to educate the reader about fallacies in logical arguments are undermined by the fact that the best examples of bad logic comes from the authors own diatribes. Jokes that are intended to illustrate the points of the author are old and lame. Politics of the author are interjected in the most clumsy manor. Conservative politicians are described as being weasel like while liberals are treated with kids gloves. Basically it is mental masturbation for the left wing set. ( )
  OccamsHammer | Jul 25, 2010 |
Following up their successfully funny and informative approach to philosophy in "Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar," Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein follow it up with "Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington," which claims to show the philosophical and logical fallacies of 'political doublespeak.'

The problem is that Cathcart and Klein constantly fall into the same fallacies that they claim to be pointing out in others. Rather than offering a humorous introduction to logic, they simply berate Republicans for their irrational rhetoric, and by implication, their irrational and indefensible political positions.

There is much doublespeak in politics -- talking points from both sides of the political spectrum are rife with logical fallacies. One could write a very funny book that pointed these things out, but this is not that book. Given the insight and playfulness that Cathcart and Klein demonstrated with "Plato and a Platypus…" I expected much better. As much as I enjoyed that book, I hated this one. Any time an author or authors allow their political views to cloud their reason, the result is not pretty. In this book, the result is ugly indeed. ( )
  ALincolnNut | Nov 2, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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Klein, Danielmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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To the memory of that famous political quipster of yore Will Rogers, who nailed it when he said, "There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you."
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"That sounds like utter bullshit!"
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What did Donald Rumsfeld mean when he said, "The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence"? And what's the essence behind Bill Clinton's gem, "It depends on what the meaning of the word is is"? Whether they are misleading with doublespeak, having fun with ambiguity, drawing weak analogies, or getting inappropriately personal, politicians, frequently make our heads spin. Cathcart and Klein sift through the claptrap and make sense of it all.

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