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Treasure 49: Popular Fallacies Book
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Treasure 49: Popular Fallacies Book

Historic Documents
Léa Moreau
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Treasure 49: Popular Fallacies Book
Historic Documents
220
Treasure 49: Popular Fallacies Book
In 1924 Alfred Seabold Eli Ackermann (1867-1951), member of the Society of Engineers in London, published his book Popular Fallacies Explained and Corrected to explore common beliefs among the people of his time.

Filled with useful information and interesting facts, the book proved to be very popular and was republished many times afterwards. This month's treasure features the third edition, published in 1924, and held in our Reference Collection.

Only 460 fallacies were listed in the first edition. Our copy of the book features 890 new myths and analyses 1,350 in total. In an article published in the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, Ackermann provides details about the book, and describes what he considers to be a fallacy:

"A popular fallacy or error is something which is generally thought to be true, but which in fact is not, and it is remarkable for how long error may continue. It is a fallacy, for example, that a thick glass tumbler can stand hot water better than a thin one" (5 May 1924).

The book explores a diverse range of topics concerning animals, minerals and vegetables, science and technology, domestic environment, statistics, music, the human body, law, weather, and many other subjects.

Popular Fallacies remains interesting even today and reflects the popular myths of the era. In an amusing tone, it "explains in a new way entirely not a few of our long-cherished fads and freaks" (Dundee Courier, 9 November 1907). It also provides an important insight into societal views and scientific and engineering discoveries of the 19th and 20th Century.

British newspapers were very enthusiastic when the book was first published in 1907. The Framlingham Weekly News in Suffolk, England reported that: "[it] is remarkable to a student to notice how false notions gain currency and become unquestionably accepted as though they had behind them all the weight of the law, natural or man-made as the case may be." (26 October 1907).

Ackermann revised the book between the first and the third version. He also added new categories, such as astronomy, geography, etymology and a biography of famous people.
Book
TR08_23
Fallacies, A.S.E. Ackermann
Aberdeen Local Studies
Yes
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