Ages 13+
Analysing Sources

Ages 13+
Analysing Sources

Case Study 4

Nasreddin’s Sophisms

Nasreddin, a very famous figure in the Arab Muslim world, was the author of often absurd stories. Families enjoy reading his stories together and refuting his biased reasoning, which is designed to sharpen our critical thinking skills and ability to foil sophistry. Identifying the flaws in Nasreddin’s reasoning is a useful logic game and a good way to introduce logical concepts. Challenge your children to show where Nasreddin goes wrong, and come up with equivalent examples from current events or everyday life that involve the same flawed reasoning.

The Tigers

Very early one morning, Nasreddin was up sowing salt all around his house.

  • “What on earth are you doing with all that salt, Nasreddin?” asked his neighbor.

  • “I’m putting it around my house to ward off tigers.”

  • “But there aren’t any tigers here.”

  • “Well then, that’s proof that the salt worked!”

The Moon and the Sun

One day, Nasreddin was asked:

  • “Tell us, Nasreddin, which is more important: the sun or the moon?”

  • “The moon, of course,” he replied immediately.

  • “And why?”

  • “Because the moon appears at night, and that’s when we need light most.”

The Power of Age

Nasreddin arrived at a café one day, looking proud and happy.

  • “Hey, Nasreddin,” his friends called to him. “You look as if you’ve just found treasure.”

  • “Even better, even better,” he replied. “I am 70 and I have just discovered that I am still as strong as I was when I was 20.”

  • “And how did you discover that?”

  • “Simple! You see that huge rock in front of my house? Well, when I was 20, I couldn’t move it.

  • “So?”

  • “Today, I tried again and I still can’t move it, just like when I was 20.”