My top question!
July 30, 2017 at 12:35 pm #3907
I recently thought about what are the simplest and most powerful questions for critical thinking. I wanted to recommend to everyone the link to the attached pdf as a great guide. I dont think you need a PHD in logic to be a great thinker.
My top most powerful question is:
- Why is that? (or the fact checking version What is it that makes you say that?)
Never underestimate the power of the Why.
My most powerful technique is ‘Changing the actor’. An example demonstrates this best. I once asked a gay friend what is it he liked about men. He returned the question and said ‘What is it you like about Women?’. Touche.
Swapping Male for Female, Female for Male, Old for Young, Young for Old, Trump supporter for Antifa SJW or any other reversal of the context is amazingly revealing.
What other techniques do people use…July 31, 2017 at 9:54 am #3927
I think there’s a lot to be said for clearly distinguishing one thing from another, and establishing basic facts. The biggest barrier to critical thinking is thinking that things should be a certain way, and assuming that they are this way. After all, reality is not affected by, and doesn’t care, what we think. But we seem to think that reality will conform to the way we think it should be. The whole idea of critical thinking is to just observe what’s there, similar to painting a realistic picture.
I think this ties into the idea of figure/ground formation, where we only notice things that are relevant to our goals. On the one hand, this is biologically valid. On the other hand, it gets in the way of seeing clearly. So if we can be more dispassionate, our brain is set up so that we will see more clearly.July 31, 2017 at 10:50 am #3929
I also think it’s important to spell out and establish basic things, that might look so basic and obvious that they don’t need to be spelled out and established. But often this is the most fruitful thing to do. ASSUME makes an ass of u and me.
I learned this from studying pure mathematics: the best training for critical thinking.July 31, 2017 at 11:23 am #3930
Interesting that you mention math as good training. I like the idea of teaching thinking indirectly – simply because it is more appealing. The trouble with maths is that a lot of people ‘lose it’ very early on (if they ever get it at all).
I did a couple of courses of computer progamming back in the day and was impressed with just how much it forced you to follow through a chain of instructions. Teaching a simple language at a very early age would be useful I think.July 31, 2017 at 11:51 am #3931
I have found that computer programmers are good at solving problems.July 31, 2017 at 4:22 pm #3935
Reg the Fronkey FarmerModerator
Would you distinguish between logical thinking and critical thinking? Logical Thinking is to mathematics (or coding) as what Critical Thinking is to Reason?? Logic would dictate that if a=b=c then a=c but Reason might decide that not “all swans are white”. Just a thought…..
Here is a good video on Critical Thinking.July 31, 2017 at 7:00 pm #3937
Reg the Fronkey FarmerModerator
We also need to be aware of the paradoxes of Probability that can exist when making what seem to be logical deductions that appear to be correctly reasoned from the available data. This is where we need to get more critical in our analysis of what the mathematics implies.July 31, 2017 at 9:10 pm #3938
“Would you distinguish between logical thinking and critical thinking?”
– I think that critical thinking means analysis – uncovering the facts of a situation, and how these are made up of other facts, and how they all relate together, and make up an overall picture, and seeing how this picture fits with everything else we already know.
Logical thinking probably covers analysis, but it also means reasoning – using logical principles to put facts and relationships together, manipulate the information you have to produce new information. Probably, logical thinking is a combination of analysis and reasoning.
I think we have to be clear when we’re not sure of something, or how sure we are of something; but we can act as if something is true and see what it leads to – whether it can predict what turns out to be true, or how much of the facts it can plausibly take into account, or whether it leads to contradictions. Every model is regarded as provisional. But physical facts can’t be denied, except so far as established science, or our senses, can be denied.August 1, 2017 at 2:58 am #3939
I think that a big part of critical thinking is asking questions.August 1, 2017 at 8:13 am #3940
Also, formulating the right questions to ask.August 2, 2017 at 11:48 pm #3945
I’ve been taking some Men’s Rights Activists to task for not having good critical thinking skills (also, let’s face it, the whole thing is terrible and disturbing). The complacency is what gets me.August 2, 2017 at 11:59 pm #3946
Hooray!August 3, 2017 at 11:03 am #3947
The real problem is getting anyone to think at all. Look around you – pretty much most people need to ‘switch on’ if you ask me.August 3, 2017 at 12:02 pm #3948
So many people will believe anything that others believe. Confirmation bias is a huge factor. I wouldn’t say I am antisocial, but I am selective about my social contacts. I just have a low tolerance for irrationality. There are so many who would love to drag you down with them. Usually they are their own worse enemies.August 6, 2017 at 4:47 pm #4023
Perhaps only in mathematics can one construct a pure logical argument. Even that involves postulates; and as Godel proved, any sufficiently expressive grammar (logical structure) must by necessity have contradictions.
Most everything else in the world is not nearly so clear cut. You can apply some level of logic, but inevitably you’re starting with missing information, contradictory information, wrong information (and things like the famous ‘things we know, things we don’t know, and things we don’t know that we don’t know). Many situations as well involve weighing one set of outcomes against another, or one set of probable ‘truths’ against another… with the result being that often reasonably logical, intelligent people can come to rather different conclusions.
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