Ulcers, Aliens & Mozart: Mr H’s List of Commonly Held Fallacies. (Critical Thinking Topics for Students.)

(Critical Thinking Topics for Class Discussions, Student Presentations, Research Assignments & Computer Skills Projects.)

(Cue: Happy, Pop Infomercial Music)

(Read in an over-excited pseudo-expert voice. Enthusiasm: 11/10)

Tired of the same old topics when assigning research tasks? Tired of having to listen to plagiarised bunkum masquerading as an English speech? Want your computer students to create a really interesting web-site? Teaching critical thinking? Want to get your students excited about school again? Wish you could also learn something you didn’t know from your students?

Then try Mr. H’s bumper list of commonly held fallacies. Each one of these topics will encourage your students to think a little more deeply about the content they encounter on the Internet. As an added bonus, they may even begin to interrogate some their own shallowly-held beliefs about the world. Wow! You can finally teach them the things you really want to teach them, while still teaching the core skills you are required to cover.

Marvel as your students enjoy the process of comparing and evaluating sources. Look on in wonder as they hone their own critical thinking abilities. Enjoy the vibe of follow-up discussions and debates. Feel rejuvenated as you watch them learn to avoid shady reasoning and become clear, logical thinkers. Be astounded as they finally have the courage to present to their peers because they have at last been assigned a topic they think their classmates will find interesting. Impress parents and your principal with amazing student-produced websites.

But wait… There’s more… read this list now, and for a limited time, you will receive a whole lot of fun, learning and the sense of having taught something meaningful. Free of charge. No fine print. No hidden costs.

(Spoken very quickly) Warning: Must be used as part of a carefully designed lesson on research methodology, logical fallacies, and critical thinking skills. Batteries sold separately. Assumes enthusiasm and a passion for twenty-first century education on the part of the teacher.

Note: (For the more literal readers of this post) Each and every one of the statements below is false. That’s right. Every single one. Your students should be researching things like:
1. Why they are not true
2. Who says they are true
3. Why they say it is true, and
4. What the truth really is… even if the truth is that we don’t really know.


Things Some People Say That Simply Aren’t True:

  • Global warming isn’t happening
  • Evolution is just a theory
  • The Earth is hollow
  • Vaccinations can make you sick
  • School is about getting good marks
  • Lizards from outer space control human affairs
  • The American government was behind 9/11
  • The aliens have landed (but in secret)
  • Cell-phones cause cancer
  • Recycling is good for the planet
  • Columbus discovered America
  • The Illuminati controls world affairs
  • Shakespeare didn’t write his own plays
  • Dinosaurs went extinct
  • Cleopatra was an Egyptian
  • The world will end in .. (insert year here)
  • Society is becoming more violent
  • There are only two types of countries: rich and poor
  • Humans are the most successful species on the planet
  • Humans only use 10% of their brains
  • The Secret: If you believe you will achieve
  • Animals live in a monochrome world
  • Thomas Edison was a great inventor
  • Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction
  • HIV-AIDS is the disease that kills the most people in the world
  • An IQ test can determine how intelligent you are
  • School prepares you for the world
  • There’s something strange going on inside the Bermuda triangle
  • Maths and Science are the most important subjects at school
  • MacDonalds puts strange ingredients in their food
  • Coke is dangerously corrosive
  • The Chinese were the first explorers to set out on voyages of discovery
  • Only religious people have strong morals
  • Africa was backwards before the colonialists took over
  • There are five senses
  • There are three states of matter
  • Capitalism beats socialism every time
  • The economy must grow every year or we will be in trouble
  • Traditions and uniforms at school encourage respect
  • Teachers have to teach a syllabus
  • The City of London (Inside London) controls the world economy
  • If you want to do anything in business in the future, you’ll have to speak Chinese
  • Sport is important to national well-being
  • Ulcers are caused by stress
  • We are being controlled by fluoride added to our water
  • Being gay is a choice
  • Sharks are dangerous
  • There is a ‘missing link’
  • Subliminal messages in advertising can make you buy products
  • Playing classical music to babies increases their intelligence
  • You can hide your emotions
  • Eating chocolate gives you acne

Please feel free to add your own in the comments section.




  1. At least two of these are true in rare circumstances. Saying they are 100% untrue is not a good idea.The two I know are, at least in rare cases, true, are these: Vaccinations CAN in fact make you sick if they are contaminated, processed or produced incorrectly, or if you are allergic to them. And the second, you CAN hide your emotions, but you have to either train yourself to and practice with someone who is excellent at percieving them, or have certain traits of psychopathy or sociopathy (not necessarily BE a psychopath or sociopath, just have certain traits common to those conditions.)

    Others might be true, but I haven’t personally encountered them, so I’m not sure.


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