Clarifications And Assumptions And Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking - Interactive Examples


Critical Thinking Actions Quiztop

Below is a list of Critical Thinking Actions:

  1. Predicting: envisioning a plan and its consequences.
  2. Analyzing: separating or breaking a whole into parts to discover their nature, function, and relationships.
  3. Information Seeking: searching for evidence, facts, or knowledge by identifying relevant sources and gathering objective, subjective, historical, and current data from those sources.
  4. Applying Standards: judging according to established personal, professional, or social rules or criteria.
  5. Discriminating: recognizing differences and similarities among things or situatinos and distinguishing carefully as to category or rank.
  6. Transforming Knowledge: changing or converting the condition, nature, form, or function of concepts among contexts.
  7. Logical Reasoning: drawing inferences or conclusions that are supported in or justified by evidence.

QUIZ - Critical Thinking Actions (Click Here!)



During the spring of 2011, an Enter Hemorrhagic E. Coli (EHEC) infection spread in Europe. The bacteria infected thousands of people and several died from the disease. Everyone who was infected had been in Germany and had eaten vegetables in Germany.

While the infection struck Germany, imported cucumbers from Spain were blamed for the outbreak. These where later excluded as the source and the false accusations cost the Spanish farmers around 280 million dollars. It was found that the probability of being infected was nine times higher among people who had eaten bean sprouts from Germany. This source was later excluded as well.

Although there was no definite proof that vegetables were causing the infection, farmers had to destroy their harvest, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars each. The food market grew skeptical toward European vegetables and Russia totally stopped the import of vegetables from European countries during this time.

QUIZ - Mysterious Disease (Click Here!)



Deepwater Horizon Oil Spilltop

Deepwater Horizon, an ultra-deepwater offshore oil drilling rig, had been leased to BP ever since its maiden voyage 2001. BP used it for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the rig was reported to cost as much as $600,000 per day.

BP, one of the largest oil companies in the world, has had a spotty reputation for safety. Among other BP accidents is an explosion at a Texas refinery in 2005 where 15 workers died, and in 2006 there was a major oil spill from a badly corroded BP pipeline in Alaska.

In April 2010, the BP team onboard the Deepwater Horizon worked at the Macondo well. According to their plan, they decided to skip the usual cement evaluation if the cementing went smoothly. Generally, the completion rig would perform this test when it reopened the well to produce the oil the exploratory drilling had discovered. The decision was made to send the cement team home at 11:00 a.m. on the 20th of April, thus saving time and the $128,000 fee. BP Wells Team Leader John Guide noted, “Everyone involved with the job on the rig site was completely satisfied with the [cementing] job.”

The rig crew began the negative-pressure test. After relieving pressure from the well, the crew would close it off to check whether the pressure within the drill pipe would remain steady. But the pressure repeatedly built back up. As the crew conducted the test, the drill shack grew crowded. The night crew began arriving to relieve the day shift, and some VIP's from a management visibility tour came in as part of their guided tour around the platform. There seemed to be a problem but “tool pusher” Jason Anderson insisted that senior tool pusher Randy Ezel should go and eat with the dignitaries before going off his shift, being sure Anderson would call him if there was a problem. Tool pusher Wyman Wheeler was convinced that something wasn't right, but had to go off his shift and leave the situation in the hands of the night shift.

Later the same evening assistant driller Steve Curtis called Senior Toolpusher Randy Ezel who had left his day pass. “We have a situation. ...The well is blown out. . . . We have mud going to the crown.” Ezel was horrified. “Do y'all have it shut in?” Curtis: “Jason is shutting it in now. . . Randy, we need your help.” Ezell: “Steve, I'll be—I'll be right there.”

At approximately 9:45 p.m. on April 20, 2010, methane gas from the well, under high pressure, shot all the way up and out of the drill column, expanded onto the platform. The gas reached the engine room and a spark ignited the gas and the disaster ensued. Fire engulfed the platform and the workers left for the lifeboats. Eleven of the workers on Deepwater Horizon were never found.

The emergency disconnect switch (EDS), which was supposed to unlatch the blowout preventer (BOP) and shut the well, was turned on. Unfortunately the BOP did not seal the well. A few brave men stayed at the burning platform to manually try to unlatch the BOP, but without succeeding.

When the leak was finally stopped it had released about 4.9 barrels of crude oil. The total cost is still unknown but BP has established a trust fund of $20 billion to cover expenses

QUIZ - Deepwater Horizon Spill (Click Here!)



Critical Thinking Questionstop

Below is a list of Critical Thinking Questions (Socratic Questions):

  1. Questions about the question: The purpose of this question is to find out why the question was asked, who asked it, and why the question or problem needs to be solved.
  2. Questions for clarification: The purpose of this question is to find missing or unclear information in the problem statement question.
  3. Questions that probe assumptions: The purpose of this question is to find out if there are any misleading for false assumptions.
  4. Questions that probe reasons and evidence: The purpose of this question is to find out motive assertino, and/or justification and observations to support an assertion
  5. Questions about viewpoints and perspectives: The purpose of this question is to learn how things are viewed or judged and to consider things not only in a relative perspective, but also as a whole.
  6. Questions that probe implications and consequences: The purpose of this question is to understand the inferences or propositions and the end results if the inference action is carried out.

QUIZ - Critical Thinking Questions (Click Here!)



Of Bird Droppings and Car Painttop

An Australian auto manufacturer where began experiencing increasing damage to the cars. Until recently the cars were shipped almost as soon as they came off the line. Now because of slow sales they remain on a lot outdoors and experience damage due to bird droppings. The car polish currently used does not remove the stains completely, and the stains are still visible after multiple buffings.

To tackle this problem, the manager assigns the following task to his technical specialist:
Find a better car polish that can remove the stains caused by bird droppings.

After collecting responses and observations, it was found that that this problem seems to occur more often on hot sunny days. To follow up on that observation, the specialist decides to go online and search for the composition of bird droppings and car paint. Upon initial research, he learns that birds excrete uric acid in their droppings. One of his colleagues remembers that acids are very corrosive and calls an old friend who majored in Material Science.

The material science friend tells him that it is difficult to develop a car paint to completely prevent the bird droppings from damaging the car, and that removing it is even tougher. After analyzing the information collected, they decide that the real problem may not be related to the kind of car polish used, but instead the fact that the sun and heat speed up the damage of car paint from uric acid.

The real problem statement is as follows:
Prevent car paint damage by first preventing the droppings from having a chance to contact the car.

QUIZ - Of Bird Droppings and Car Paint (Click Here!)



In 1997 woodcarver Sam Holman invented a novel method of extracting more water from maple wood. He later founded Sam Bats and started began producing maple bats for Major League Baseball (MLB) using this wood, claiming them as lighter, but still as strong as traditional ash bats. In 2001, Barry Bonds broke the single-season home run record after switching to maple bats. Other baseball players took note and believed that maple bats were superior to ash bats regardless of their tendency to shatter. Unfortunately, the number of baseball bats breaking each season increased between the 2000 and 2008 seasons. A record 2,232 bats broke in MLB from July to September 2008, forcing MLB to investigate this broken bat epidemic. MLB consulted Dave Kretschmann, a research engineer at Forest Products Laboratory to tackle the broken bat problem. Upon investigating nearly every broken bat that broke in the second half of the 2008 season, issues that made bats more prone to shattering were identified. Almost all broken bats had one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Made of maple (low-density) instead of ash.
  • Had thin handles
  • Had thick barrels

Upon further investigation, it was found that some bats with these three characteristics had been used for seasons without breaking. Krestschmann called in random professional baseball players and asked them to perform a series of batting simulations. Upon compiling and reviewing results, the data show no correlation between intensity of the swing and number of bats being broken. Thus, the problem is not related to the athlete, but the bat itself. Investigating further, Kretschmann discovered an even bigger problem. The main reason that bats break into multiple sharp pieces is due to the “slope of grain” in the wood, which is the maximum angle that the grain runs through the bat with respect to the longitudinal axis.

An ideal bat would have grains that run perfectly parallel to the longitudinal axis of the baseball bat. Reading past research articles showed that a 3° deviation from parallel weakens bat's strength by 20%. Kretschmann re-examined the broken bats and discovered bats that deviated by 10° or more.

More data analysis showed that maple bats were three times more likely to break than ash bats, but bats were four times more likely to break due to poor slope of the grain. Through Kretschmann's use of critical thinking questions and actions, he was able to determine the real problem (slope of grain) from the perceived problem (maple bats). To solve the real problem, tougher standards on slope of grain, and handle and barrel diameters were enforced starting with the 2009 season. In addition, all maple baseball bat manufacturers must now place an ink dot on the handle of the wood bat. When an ink dot is placed on the raw wood surface, the ink bleeds along the wood grain. This bleeding highlights the direction of the wood grain, and thus allows inspectors to confiscate bats that do not meet standards.



QUIZ 1 - Baseball Bats(Click Here!)



QUIZ 2 - Baseball Bats(Click Here!)



What type of Critical Thinking Action is each of the following?

"I dissected the situation..."

"I knew I had to compare..."

"I grouped things together..."

"I made sure I had all the pieces of the picture..."

"I deduced from the information that..."

"I could imagine that happening if I did..."

"Although this situation was somewhat different, I knew..."

What type of Critical Thinking Action is each of the following?

Blaming bean sprouts as the cause because the probability of being infected was nine times higher among people who had eaten sprouts from Germany.

Applying safety precautions from other food epidemics.

Finding out what method of German scientists are using to detect the bacteria.

Finding out what bacteria caused the illness.

Blaming German Vegetables.

Finding out what vegetables the infected people had eaten.

What type of Critical Thinking Action is each of the following?

Diving for parts of the flow out prevent.

Studying the different incidents and the effect they had on the accident.

Comparing the data from the pressure test performed before the accident to normal values

Comparing BP safety procedures with other deepwater drilling companies.

What type of Critical Thinking Question is each of the following?

How are... and ... similar?

Why do you say that?

What is the difference between ... and ... ?

Compare ... and ... with regard to ...

What could we assume instead?

What was the point of this question?

What would be an example?

What would be an alternative?

Why do you say that?

What type of Critical Thinking Question is each of the following?

How long have the paint stains been happening?

Why do you think the droppings are responsible for the damage?

What would happen if the bird stain problem continued?

Under what specific conditions do the droppings damage the paint?

What could happen if we brought in a couple of falcons?

Is the paint still wet when the droppings fall?

Do we really have to solve this problem?

Could the pitting in the car surface be a result of malfunctioning paint machines?

Could the dropping be from small animals (chipmunks, squirrels) rather than birds?

What type of Critical Thinking Question is each of the following?

Why do you think Dan said the bats were lighter?

Are lighter bats weaker than heavier bats?

Could the bat shapes and wood grain cause it to break?

What are the similarities and differences in the properties between maple and ash woods?

Could the smaller handle be the cause of the breaking bats?

Could we assume that the baseballs were changed in 2008?

Are breaking bats dangerous?

Is their breakage costing MLB a significant amount of money?

What are the examples of things that would cause the bats to break?

Could it be that the batters whose bats are breaking are taking a new grip on the bat?

What type of Critical Thinking Question is each of the following?

Why do we need to solve the problem of the bats, breaking?

When you are counting the number of broken bats are you considering only those bats that separate parts to be broken or are you including a crack in the bat as being broken?

What are some of the things that could cause a bat to break?

Who should be responding to the breaking of the bats? The MLB? The individual clubs? The manufacturer?

What would you do if it’s how the batters hold the bats that causes the problem?

What would happen if we changed back to the pre 2008 bats?

Why do you think it’s the ash that is causing the bat to break?

Where are the bats breaking (the handle, middle, end of the bat)?

Glossary: A-B


accurate
: Free from errors, mistakes, or distortion. Correct connotes little more than absence of error; accurate implies a positive exercise of one to obtain conformity with fact or truth; exact stresses perfect conformity to fact, truth, or some standard; precise suggests minute accuracy of detail. Accuracy is an important goal in critical thinking, though it is almost always a matter of degree. It is also important to recognize that making mistakes is an essential part of learning and that it is far better that students make their own mistakes, than that they parrot the thinking of the text or teacher. It should also be recognized that some distortion usually results whenever we think within a point of view or frame of reference. Students should think with this awareness in mind, with some sense of the limitations of their own, the text's, the teacher's, the subject's perspective. See perfections of thought.

ambiguous: A sentence having two or more possible meanings. Sensitivity to ambiguity and vagueness in writing and speech is essential to good thinking. A continual effort to be clear and precise in language usage is fundamental to education. Ambiguity is a problem more of sentences than of individual words. Furthermore, not every sentence that can be construed in more than one way is problematic and deserving of analysis. Many sentences are clearly intended one way; any other construal is obviously absurd and not meant. For example, "Make me a sandwich." is never seriously intended to request metamorphic change. It is a poor example for teaching genuine insight into critical thinking. For an example of a problematic ambiguity, consider the statement, "Welfare is corrupt." Among the possible meanings of this sentence are the following: Those who administer welfare programs take bribes to administer welfare policy unfairly; Welfare policies are written in such a way that much of the money goes to people who don't deserve it rather than to those who do; A government that gives money to people who haven't earned it corrupts both the giver and the recipient. If two people are arguing about whether or not welfare is corrupt, but interpret the claim differently, they can make little or no progress; they aren't arguing about the same point. Evidence and considerations relevant to one interpretation may be irrelevant to others.

analyze: To break up a whole into its parts, to examine in detail so as to determine the nature of, to look more deeply into an issue or situation. All learning presupposes some analysis of what we are learning, if only by categorizing or labeling things in one way rather than another. Students should continually be asked to analyze their ideas, claims, experiences, interpretations, judgments, and theories and those they hear and read. See elements of thought.

argue: There are two meanings of this word that need to be distinguished: 1) to argue in the sense of to fight or to emotionally disagree; and 2) to give reasons for or against a proposal or proposition. In emphasizing critical thinking, we continually try to get our students to move from the first sense of the word to the second; that is, we try to get them to see the importance of giving reasons to support their views without getting their egos involved in what they are saying. This is a fundamental problem in human life. To argue in the critical thinking sense is to use logic and reason, and to bring forth facts to support or refute a point. It is done in a spirit of cooperation and good will.

argument: A reason or reasons offered for or against something, the offering of such reasons. This term refers to a discussion in which there is disagreement and suggests the use of logic and the bringing forth of facts to support or refute a point. See argue.

to assume: To take for granted or to presuppose. Critical thinkers can and do make their assumptions explicit, assess them, and correct them. Assumptions can vary from the mundane to the problematic: I heard a scratch at the door. I got up to let the cat in. I assumed that only the cat makes that noise, and that he makes it only when he wants to be let in. Someone speaks gruffly to me. I feel guilty and hurt. I assume he is angry at me, that he is only angry at me when I do something bad, and that if he's angry at me, he dislikes me. Notice that people often equate making assumptions with making false assumptions. When people say, "Don't assume", this is what they mean. In fact, we cannot avoid making assumptions and some are justifiable. (For instance, we have assumed that people who buy this book can read English.) Rather than saying "Never assume", we say, "Be aware of and careful about the assumptions you make, and be ready to examine and critique them." See assumption, elements of thought.

assumption: A statement accepted or supposed as true without proof or demonstration; an unstated premise or belief. All human thought and experience is based on assumptions. Our thought must begin with something we take to be true in a particular context. We are typically unaware of what we assume and therefore rarely question our assumptions. Much of what is wrong with human thought can be found in the uncritical or unexamined assumptions that underlie it. For example, we often experience the world in such a way as to assume that we are observing things just as they are, as though we were seeing the world without the filter of a point of view. People we disagree with, of course, we recognize as having a point of view. One of the key dispositions of critical thinking is the on-going sense that as humans we always think within a perspective, that we virtually never experience things totally and absolutistically. There is a connection, therefore, between thinking so as to be aware of our assumptions and being intellectually humble.

authority:

1) The power or supposed right to give commands, enforce obedience, take action, or make final decisions.

2) A person with much knowledge and expertise in a field, hence reliable. Critical thinkers recognize that ultimate authority rests with reason and evidence, since it is only on the assumption that purported experts have the backing of reason and evidence that they rightfully gain authority. Much instruction discourages critical thinking by encouraging students to believe that whatever the text or teacher says is true. As a result, students do not learn how to assess authority. See knowledge.

bias: A mental leaning or inclination. We must clearly distinguish two different senses of the word ’’bias’’. One is neutral, the other negative. In the neutral sense we are referring simply to the fact that, because of one's point of view, one notices some things rather than others, emphasizes some points rather than others, and thinks in one direction rather than others. This is not in itself a criticism because thinking within a point of view is unavoidable. In the negative sense, we are implying blindness or irrational resistance to weaknesses within one's own point of view or to the strength or insight within a point of view one opposes. Fairminded critical thinkers try to be aware of their bias (in sense one) and try hard to avoid bias (in sense two). Many people confuse these two senses. Many confuse bias with emotion or with evaluation, perceiving any expression of emotion or any use of evaluative words to be biased (sense two). Evaluative words that can be justified by reason and evidence are not biased in the negative sense. See criteria, evaluation, judgment, opinion.

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{"id":247,"title":"Glossary: A-B","author":"","content":"<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong><br /> accurate</strong>: Free from errors, mistakes, or distortion. Correct connotes little more than absence of error; accurate implies a positive exercise of one to obtain conformity with fact or truth; exact stresses perfect conformity to fact, truth, or some standard; precise suggests minute accuracy of detail. Accuracy is an important goal in critical thinking, though it is almost always a matter of degree. It is also important to recognize that making mistakes is an essential part of learning and that it is far better that students make their own mistakes, than that they parrot the thinking of the text or teacher. It should also be recognized that some distortion usually results whenever we think within a point of view or frame of reference. Students should think with this awareness in mind, with some sense of the limitations of their own, the text's, the teacher's, the subject's perspective. See perfections of thought.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>ambiguous</strong>: A sentence having two or more possible meanings. Sensitivity to ambiguity and vagueness in writing and speech is essential to good thinking. A continual effort to be clear and precise in language usage is fundamental to education. Ambiguity is a problem more of sentences than of individual words. Furthermore, not every sentence that can be construed in more than one way is problematic and deserving of analysis. Many sentences are clearly intended one way; any other construal is obviously absurd and not meant. For example, \"Make me a sandwich.\" is never seriously intended to request metamorphic change. It is a poor example for teaching genuine insight into critical thinking. For an example of a problematic ambiguity, consider the statement, \"Welfare is corrupt.\" Among the possible meanings of this sentence are the following: Those who administer welfare programs take bribes to administer welfare policy unfairly; Welfare policies are written in such a way that much of the money goes to people who don't deserve it rather than to those who do; A government that gives money to people who haven't earned it corrupts both the giver and the recipient. If two people are arguing about whether or not welfare is corrupt, but interpret the claim differently, they can make little or no progress; they aren't arguing about the same point. Evidence and considerations relevant to one interpretation may be irrelevant to others.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>analyze</strong>: To break up a whole into its parts, to examine in detail so as to determine the nature of, to look more deeply into an issue or situation. All learning presupposes some analysis of what we are learning, if only by categorizing or labeling things in one way rather than another. Students should continually be asked to analyze their ideas, claims, experiences, interpretations, judgments, and theories and those they hear and read. See elements of thought.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>argue</strong>: There are two meanings of this word that need to be distinguished: 1) to argue in the sense of to fight or to emotionally disagree; and 2) to give reasons for or against a proposal or proposition. In emphasizing critical thinking, we continually try to get our students to move from the first sense of the word to the second; that is, we try to get them to see the importance of giving reasons to support their views without getting their egos involved in what they are saying. This is a fundamental problem in human life. To argue in the critical thinking sense is to use logic and reason, and to bring forth facts to support or refute a point. It is done in a spirit of cooperation and good will.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>argument</strong>: A reason or reasons offered for or against something, the offering of such reasons. This term refers to a discussion in which there is disagreement and suggests the use of logic and the bringing forth of facts to support or refute a point. See argue.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>to assume</strong>: To take for granted or to presuppose. Critical thinkers can and do make their assumptions explicit, assess them, and correct them. Assumptions can vary from the mundane to the problematic: I heard a scratch at the door. I got up to let the cat in. I assumed that only the cat makes that noise, and that he makes it only when he wants to be let in. Someone speaks gruffly to me. I feel guilty and hurt. I assume he is angry at me, that he is only angry at me when I do something bad, and that if he's angry at me, he dislikes me. Notice that people often equate making assumptions with making false assumptions. When people say, \"Don't assume\", this is what they mean. In fact, we cannot avoid making assumptions and some are justifiable. (For instance, we have assumed that people who buy this book can read English.) Rather than saying \"Never assume\", we say, \"Be aware of and careful about the assumptions you make, and be ready to examine and critique them.\" See assumption, elements of thought.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>assumption</strong>: A statement accepted or supposed as true without proof or demonstration; an unstated premise or belief. All human thought and experience is based on assumptions. Our thought must begin with something we take to be true in a particular context. We are typically unaware of what we assume and therefore rarely question our assumptions. Much of what is wrong with human thought can be found in the uncritical or unexamined assumptions that underlie it. For example, we often experience the world in such a way as to assume that we are observing things just as they are, as though we were seeing the world without the filter of a point of view. People we disagree with, of course, we recognize as having a point of view. One of the key dispositions of critical thinking is the on-going sense that as humans we always think within a perspective, that we virtually never experience things totally and absolutistically. There is a connection, therefore, between thinking so as to be aware of our assumptions and being intellectually humble.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>authority</strong>: </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">1) The power or supposed right to give commands, enforce obedience, take action, or make final decisions. </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">2) A person with much knowledge and expertise in a field, hence reliable. Critical thinkers recognize that ultimate authority rests with reason and evidence, since it is only on the assumption that purported experts have the backing of reason and evidence that they rightfully gain authority. Much instruction discourages critical thinking by encouraging students to believe that whatever the text or teacher says is true. As a result, students do not learn how to assess authority. See knowledge.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>bias</strong>: A mental leaning or inclination. We must clearly distinguish two different senses of the word ’’bias’’. One is neutral, the other negative. In the neutral sense we are referring simply to the fact that, because of one's point of view, one notices some things rather than others, emphasizes some points rather than others, and thinks in one direction rather than others. This is not in itself a criticism because thinking within a point of view is unavoidable. In the negative sense, we are implying blindness or irrational resistance to weaknesses within one's own point of view or to the strength or insight within a point of view one opposes. Fairminded critical thinkers try to be aware of their bias (in sense one) and try hard to avoid bias (in sense two). Many people confuse these two senses. Many confuse bias with emotion or with evaluation, perceiving any expression of emotion or any use of evaluative words to be biased (sense two). Evaluative words that can be justified by reason and evidence are not biased in the negative sense. See criteria, evaluation, judgment, opinion.</span></p>\r\n<p><a href=\"#top\"><strong>Back to top</strong></a></p>\r\n<p><br style=\"clear: both;\" /></p>","public_access":"1","public_downloads":"1","sku":"","files":{},"images":{}}

Glossary: C

An Educator's Guide to Critical Thinking Terms and Concepts

clarify: To make easier to understand, to free from confusion or ambiguity, to remove obscurities. Clarity is a fundamental perfection of thought and clarification a fundamental aim in critical thinking. Students often do not see why it is important to write and speak clearly, why it is important to say what you mean and mean what you say. The key to clarification is concrete, specific examples. See accurate, ambiguous, logic of language, vague.

concept: An idea or thought, especially a generalized idea of a thing or of a class of things. Humans think within concepts or ideas. We can never achieve command over our thoughts unless we learn how to achieve command over our concepts or ideas. Thus we must learn how to identify the concepts or ideas we are using, contrast them with alternative concepts or ideas, and clarify what we include and exclude by means of them. For example, most people say they believe strongly in democracy, but few can clarify with examples what that word does and does not imply. Most people confuse the meaning of words with cultural associations, with the result that "democracy’’ means to people whatever we do in running our government-any country that is different is undemocratic. We must distinguish the concepts implicit in the English language from the psychological associations surrounding that concept in a given social group or culture. The failure to develop this ability is a major cause of uncritical thought and selfish critical thought. See logic of language.

conclude/conclusion: To decide by reasoning, to infer, to deduce; the last step in a reasoning process; a judgment, decision, or belief formed after investigation or reasoning. All beliefs, decisions, or actions are based on human thought, but rarely as the result of conscious reasoning or deliberation. All that we believe is, one way or another, based on conclusions that we have come to during our lifetime. Yet, we rarely monitor our thought processes, we don't critically assess the conclusions we come to, to determine whether we have sufficient grounds or reasons for accepting them. People seldom recognize when they have come to a conclusion. They confuse their conclusions with evidence, and so cannot assess the reasoning that took them from evidence to conclusion. Recognizing that human life is inferential, that we continually come to conclusions about ourselves and the things and persons around us, is essential to thinking critically and reflectively.

consistency: To think, act, or speak in agreement with what has already been thought, done, or expressed; to have intellectual or moral integrity. Human life and thought is filled with inconsistency, hypocrisy, and contradiction. We often say one thing and do another, judge ourselves and our friends by one standard and our antagonists by another, lean over backwards to justify what we want or negate what does not serve our interests. Similarly, we often confuse desires with needs, treating our desires as equivalent to needs, putting what we want above the basic needs of others. Logical and moral consistency are fundamental values of fairminded critical thinking. Social conditioning and native egocentrism often obscure social contradictions, inconsistency, and hypocrisy. See personal contradiction, social contradiction, intellectual integrity, human nature.

contradict/contradiction: To assert the opposite of; to be contrary to, go against; a statement in opposition to another; a condition in which things tend to be contrary to each other; inconsistency; discrepancy; a person or thing containing or composed of contradictory elements. See personal contradiction, social contradiction.

criterion (criteria, pl): A standard, rule, or test by which something can be judged or measured. Human life, thought, and action are based on human values. The standards by which we determine whether those values are achieved in any situation represent criteria. Critical thinking depends upon making explicit the standards or criteria for rational or justifiable thinking and behavior. See evaluation.

critical listening: A mode of monitoring how we are listening so as to maximize our accurate understanding of what another person is saying. By understanding the logic of human communication — that everything spoken expresses point of view, uses some ideas and not others, has implications, etc. — critical thinkers can listen so as to enter sympathetically and analytically into the perspective of others. See critical speaking, critical reading, critical writing, elements of thought, intellectual empathy.

critical person: One who has mastered a range of intellectual skills and abilities. If that person generally uses those skills to advance his or her own selfish interests, that person is a critical thinker only in a weak or qualified sense. If that person generally uses those skills fairmindedly, entering empathically into the points of view of others, he or she is a critical thinker in the strong or fullest sense. See critical thinking.

critical reading: Critical reading is an active, intellectually engaged process in which the reader participates in an inner dialogue with the writer. Most people read uncritically and so miss some part of what is expressed while distorting other parts. A critical reader realizes the way in which reading, by its very nature, means entering into a point of view other than our own, the point of view of the writer. A critical reader actively looks for assumptions, key concepts and ideas, reasons and justifications, supporting examples, parallel experiences, implications and consequences, and any other structural features of the written text, to interpret and assess it accurately and fairly. See elements of thought.

critical society: A society which rewards adherence to the values of critical thinking and hence does not use indoctrination and inculcation as basic modes of learning (rewards reflective questioning, intellectual independence, and reasoned dissent). Socrates is not the only thinker to imagine a society in which independent critical thought became embodied in the concrete day-to-day lives of individuals; William Graham Sumner, North America's distinguished anthropologist, explicitly formulated the ideal:

The critical habit of thought, if usual in a society, will pervade all its mores, because it is a way of taking up the problems of life. Men educated in it cannot be stampeded by stump orators and are never deceived by dithyrambic oratory. They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence, uninfluenced by the emphasis or confidence with which assertions are made on one side or the other. They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices and all kinds of cajolery. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens. (Folkways, 1906)

Until critical habits of thought pervade our society, however, there will be a tendency for schools as social institutions to transmit the prevailing world view more or less uncritically, to transmit it as reality, not as a picture of reality. Education for critical thinking, then, requires that the school or classroom become a microcosm of a critical society. See didactic instruction, dialogical instruction, intellectual virtues, knowledge.

critical thinking:

1) Disciplined, self-directed thinking which exemplifies the perfections of thinking appropriate to a particular mode or domain of thinking.

2) Thinking that displays mastery of intellectual skills and abilities.

3) The art of thinking about your thinking while you are thinking in order to make your thinking better: more clear, more accurate, or more defensible. Critical thinking can be distinguished into two forms: "selfish" or "sophistic", on the one hand, and "fairminded", on the other. In thinking critically we use our command of the elements of thinking to adjust our thinking successfully to the logical demands of a type or mode of thinking. See critical person, critical society, critical reading, critical listening, critical writing, perfections of thought, elements of thought, domains of thought, intellectual virtues.

critical writing: To express ourselves in language requires that we arrange our ideas in some relationships to each other. When accuracy and truth are at issue, then we must understand what our thesis is, how we can support it, how we can elaborate it to make it intelligible to others, what objections can be raised to it from other points of view, what the limitations are to our point of view, and so forth. Disciplined writing requires disciplined thinking; disciplined thinking is achieved through disciplined writing. See critical listening, critical reading, logic of language.

critique: An objective judging, analysis, or evaluation of something. The purpose of critique is the same as the purpose of critical thinking: to appreciate strengths as well as weaknesses, virtues as well as failings. Critical thinkers critique in order to redesign, remodel, and make better.

cultural association: Undisciplined thinking often reflects associations, personal and cultural, absorbed or uncritically formed. If a person who was cruel to me as a child had a particular tone of voice, I may find myself disliking a person who has the same tone of voice. Media advertising juxtaposes and joins logically unrelated things to influence our buying habits. Raised in a particular country or within a particular group within it, we form any number of mental links which, if they remain unexamined, unduly influence our thinking. See concept, critical society.

cultural assumption: Unassessed (often implicit) belief adopted by virtue of upbringing in a society. Raised in a society, we unconsciously take on its point of view, values, beliefs, and practices. At the root of each of these are many kinds of assumptions. Not knowing that we perceive, conceive, think, and experience within assumptions we have taken in, we take ourselves to be perceiving "things as they are," not "things as they appear from a cultural vantage point". Becoming aware of our cultural assumptions so that we might critically examine them is a crucial dimension of critical thinking. It is, however, a dimension almost totally absent from schooling. Lip service to this ideal is common enough; a realistic emphasis is virtually unheard of. See ethnocentricity, prejudice, social contradiction.

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{"id":"248","title":"Glossary: C","author":"","content":"<p><span style=\"color: #0044aa; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong><a name=\"C\"></a><span style=\"color: #666666;\">An Educator's Guide to Critical Thinking Terms and Concepts</span></strong></span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>clarify</strong>: To make easier to understand, to free from confusion or ambiguity, to remove obscurities. Clarity is a fundamental perfection of thought and clarification a fundamental aim in critical thinking. Students often do not see why it is important to write and speak clearly, why it is important to say what you mean and mean what you say. The key to clarification is concrete, specific examples. See accurate, ambiguous, logic of language, vague. </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>concept</strong>: An idea or thought, especially a generalized idea of a thing or of a class of things. Humans think within concepts or ideas. We can never achieve command over our thoughts unless we learn how to achieve command over our concepts or ideas. Thus we must learn how to identify the concepts or ideas we are using, contrast them with alternative concepts or ideas, and clarify what we include and exclude by means of them. For example, most people say they believe strongly in democracy, but few can clarify with examples what that word does and does not imply. Most people confuse the meaning of words with cultural associations, with the result that \"democracy&rsquo;&rsquo; means to people whatever we do in running our government-any country that is different is undemocratic. We must distinguish the concepts implicit in the English language from the psychological associations surrounding that concept in a given social group or culture. The failure to develop this ability is a major cause of uncritical thought and selfish critical thought. See logic of language.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>conclude/conclusion</strong>: To decide by reasoning, to infer, to deduce; the last step in a reasoning process; a judgment, decision, or belief formed after investigation or reasoning. All beliefs, decisions, or actions are based on human thought, but rarely as the result of conscious reasoning or deliberation. All that we believe is, one way or another, based on conclusions that we have come to during our lifetime. Yet, we rarely monitor our thought processes, we don't critically assess the conclusions we come to, to determine whether we have sufficient grounds or reasons for accepting them. People seldom recognize when they have come to a conclusion. They confuse their conclusions with evidence, and so cannot assess the reasoning that took them from evidence to conclusion. Recognizing that human life is inferential, that we continually come to conclusions about ourselves and the things and persons around us, is essential to thinking critically and reflectively.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>consistency</strong>: To think, act, or speak in agreement with what has already been thought, done, or expressed; to have intellectual or moral integrity. Human life and thought is filled with inconsistency, hypocrisy, and contradiction. We often say one thing and do another, judge ourselves and our friends by one standard and our antagonists by another, lean over backwards to justify what we want or negate what does not serve our interests. Similarly, we often confuse desires with needs, treating our desires as equivalent to needs, putting what we want above the basic needs of others. Logical and moral consistency are fundamental values of fairminded critical thinking. Social conditioning and native egocentrism often obscure social contradictions, inconsistency, and hypocrisy. See personal contradiction, social contradiction, intellectual integrity, human nature.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>contradict/contradiction</strong>: To assert the opposite of; to be contrary to, go against; a statement in opposition to another; a condition in which things tend to be contrary to each other; inconsistency; discrepancy; a person or thing containing or composed of contradictory elements. See personal contradiction, social contradiction.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>criterion (criteria, pl)</strong>: A standard, rule, or test by which something can be judged or measured. Human life, thought, and action are based on human values. The standards by which we determine whether those values are achieved in any situation represent criteria. Critical thinking depends upon making explicit the standards or criteria for rational or justifiable thinking and behavior. See evaluation.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>critical listening</strong>: A mode of monitoring how we are listening so as to maximize our accurate understanding of what another person is saying. By understanding the logic of human communication&nbsp;&mdash; that everything spoken expresses point of view, uses some ideas and not others, has implications, etc. &mdash; critical thinkers can listen so as to enter sympathetically and analytically into the perspective of others. See critical speaking, critical reading, critical writing, elements of thought, intellectual empathy.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>critical person</strong>: One who has mastered a range of intellectual skills and abilities. If that person generally uses those skills to advance his or her own selfish interests, that person is a critical thinker only in a weak or qualified sense. If that person generally uses those skills fairmindedly, entering empathically into the points of view of others, he or she is a critical thinker in the strong or fullest sense. See critical thinking.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>critical reading</strong>: Critical reading is an active, intellectually engaged process in which the reader participates in an inner dialogue with the writer. Most people read uncritically and so miss some part of what is expressed while distorting other parts. A critical reader realizes the way in which reading, by its very nature, means entering into a point of view other than our own, the point of view of the writer. A critical reader actively looks for assumptions, key concepts and ideas, reasons and justifications, supporting examples, parallel experiences, implications and consequences, and any other structural features of the written text, to interpret and assess it accurately and fairly. See elements of thought.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>critical society</strong>: A society which rewards adherence to the values of critical thinking and hence does not use indoctrination and inculcation as basic modes of learning (rewards reflective questioning, intellectual independence, and reasoned dissent). Socrates is not the only thinker to imagine a society in which independent critical thought became embodied in the concrete day-to-day lives of individuals; William Graham Sumner, North America's distinguished anthropologist, explicitly formulated the ideal: </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">The critical habit of thought, if usual in a society, will pervade all its mores, because it is a way of taking up the problems of life. Men educated in it cannot be stampeded by stump orators and are never deceived by dithyrambic oratory. They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence, uninfluenced by the emphasis or confidence with which assertions are made on one side or the other. They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices and all kinds of cajolery. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens. (Folkways, 1906) </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">Until critical habits of thought pervade our society, however, there will be a tendency for schools as social institutions to transmit the prevailing world view more or less uncritically, to transmit it as reality, not as a picture of reality. Education for critical thinking, then, requires that the school or classroom become a microcosm of a critical society. See didactic instruction, dialogical instruction, intellectual virtues, knowledge.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"color: #0044aa; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><span style=\"color: #000000;\"><strong>critical thinking</strong>:</span> </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>1)</strong> Disciplined, self-directed thinking which exemplifies the perfections of thinking appropriate to a particular mode or domain of thinking. </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>2)</strong> Thinking that displays mastery of intellectual skills and abilities. </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>3)</strong> The art of thinking about your thinking while you are thinking in order to make your thinking better: more clear, more accurate, or more defensible. Critical thinking can be distinguished into two forms: \"selfish\" or \"sophistic\", on the one hand, and \"fairminded\", on the other. In thinking critically we use our command of the elements of thinking to adjust our thinking successfully to the logical demands of a type or mode of thinking. See critical person, critical society, critical reading, critical listening, critical writing, perfections of thought, elements of thought, domains of thought, intellectual virtues.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>critical writing</strong>: To express ourselves in language requires that we arrange our ideas in some relationships to each other. When accuracy and truth are at issue, then we must understand what our thesis is, how we can support it, how we can elaborate it to make it intelligible to others, what objections can be raised to it from other points of view, what the limitations are to our point of view, and so forth. Disciplined writing requires disciplined thinking; disciplined thinking is achieved through disciplined writing. See critical listening, critical reading, logic of language.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>critique</strong>: An objective judging, analysis, or evaluation of something. The purpose of critique is the same as the purpose of critical thinking: to appreciate strengths as well as weaknesses, virtues as well as failings. Critical thinkers critique in order to redesign, remodel, and make better.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>cultural association</strong>: Undisciplined thinking often reflects associations, personal and cultural, absorbed or uncritically formed. If a person who was cruel to me as a child had a particular tone of voice, I may find myself disliking a person who has the same tone of voice. Media advertising juxtaposes and joins logically unrelated things to influence our buying habits. Raised in a particular country or within a particular group within it, we form any number of mental links which, if they remain unexamined, unduly influence our thinking. See concept, critical society.</span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>cultural assumption</strong>: Unassessed (often implicit) belief adopted by virtue of upbringing in a society. Raised in a society, we unconsciously take on its point of view, values, beliefs, and practices. At the root of each of these are many kinds of assumptions. Not knowing that we perceive, conceive, think, and experience within assumptions we have taken in, we take ourselves to be perceiving \"things as they are,\" not \"things as they appear from a cultural vantage point\". Becoming aware of our cultural assumptions so that we might critically examine them is a crucial dimension of critical thinking. It is, however, a dimension almost totally absent from schooling. Lip service to this ideal is common enough; a realistic emphasis is virtually unheard of. See ethnocentricity, prejudice, social contradiction.</span></p>\r\n<p><a href=\"#top\"><strong>Back to top</strong></a></p>\r\n<p><br style=\"clear: both;\" /></p>","public_access":"1","public_downloads":"1","sku":"","files":{},"images":{}}

Glossary: D

An Educator's Guide to Critical Thinking Terms and Concepts

data: Facts, figures, or information from which conclusions can be inferred, or upon which interpretations or theories can be based. As critical thinkers we must make certain to distinguish hard data from the inferences or conclusions we draw from them.

dialectical thinking: Dialogical thinking (thinking within more than one perspective) conducted to test the strengths and weaknesses of opposing points of view. (Court trials and debates are, in a sense, dialectical.) When thinking dialectically, reasoners pit two or more opposing points of view in competition with each other, developing each by providing support, raising objections, countering those objections, raising further objections, and so on. Dialectical thinking or discussion can be conducted so as to "win" by defeating the positions one disagrees with — using critical insight to support one's own view and pointing out flaws in other views (associated with critical thinking in the restricted or weak sense), or fairmindedly, by conceding points that don't stand up to critique, trying to integrate or incorporate strong points found in other views, and using critical insight to develop a fuller and more accurate view (associated with critical thinking in the fuller or strong sense). See monological problems.

dialogical instruction: Instruction that fosters dialogical or dialectic thinking. Thus, when considering a question, the class brings all relevant subjects to bear and considers the perspectives of groups whose views are not canvassed in their texts; for example, "What did King George think of the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress, Jefferson and Washington, etc.?" or, "How would an economist analyze this situation? A historian? A psychologist? A geographer?" See critical society, didactic instruction, higher order learning, lower order learning, Socratic questioning, knowledge.

dialogical thinking: Thinking that involves a dialogue or extended exchange between different points of view or frames of reference. Students learn best in dialogical situations, in circumstances in which they continually express their views to others and try to fit other's views into their own. See Socratic questioning, monological thinking, multilogical thinking, dialectical thinking.

didactic instruction: Teaching by telling. In didactic instruction, the teacher directly tells the student what to believe and think about a subject. The student's task is to remember what the teacher said and reproduce it on demand. In its most common form, this mode of teaching falsely assumes that one can directly give a person knowledge without that person having to think his or her way to it. It falsely assumes that knowledge can be separated from understanding and justification. It confuses the ability to state a principle with understanding it, the ability to supply a definition with knowing a new word, and the act of saying that something is important with recognizing its importance. See critical society, knowledge.

domains of thought

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