Designed as a method for teaching correct mathematical thinking to high school students, this book contains a brilliantly constructed series of what the authors call "lapses," erroneous statements that are part of a larger mathematical argument. These lapses lead to sophism or mathematical absurdities. The ingenious idea behind this technique is to lead the student deliberately toward a clearly false conclusion. The teacher and student then go back and analyze the lapse as a way to correct the problem.
The authors begin by focusing on exercises in refuting erroneous mathematical arguments and their classification. The remaining chapters discuss examples of false arguments in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and approximate computations. Ideally, students will come to the correct insights and conclusions on their own; however, each argument is followed by a detailed analysis of the false reasoning. Stimulating and unique, this book is an intriguing and enjoyable way to teach students critical mathematical reasoning skills.
Reprint of the Pergamon Press, Oxford and London, and the Macmillan Company, New York, 1963 edition.