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Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:12 PM

What is "critical thinking"?

In alot of discussion here there is a great deal of emphasis on "critical thinking".

I know here in the shop we have terms like "mechanical aptitude" that pretty much defines if someone can take something apart, figure out what is wrong with it, and then put it back together. Some of this can be taught, for sure, but some people just have that aptitude and will always be better at it than others.

So ... guess I am asking how would one define, "critical thought"?

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Arrow 45 replies Author Time Post
Reply What is "critical thinking"? (Original post)
Lurker Deluxe Jan 2013 OP
samsingh Jan 2013 #1
derby378 Jan 2013 #2
Sekhmets Daughter Jan 2013 #3
longship Jan 2013 #4
janx Jan 2013 #5
Lurker Deluxe Jan 2013 #11
janx Jan 2013 #29
janx Jan 2013 #30
winter is coming Jan 2013 #17
janx Jan 2013 #40
DonCoquixote Jan 2013 #21
MrMickeysMom Jan 2013 #38
janx Jan 2013 #41
libdem4life Jan 2013 #6
janx Jan 2013 #9
immoderate Jan 2013 #7
duffyduff Jan 2013 #15
malaise Jan 2013 #8
Cirque du So-What Jan 2013 #10
The Magistrate Jan 2013 #12
malaise Jan 2013 #13
LineLineReply !
kentuck Jan 2013 #19
Odin2005 Jan 2013 #25
Sparkly Jan 2013 #26
duffyduff Jan 2013 #14
janx Jan 2013 #32
backscatter712 Jan 2013 #16
janx Jan 2013 #33
Egalitarian Thug Jan 2013 #18
mlr Jan 2013 #20
janx Jan 2013 #34
no_hypocrisy Jan 2013 #22
Laura PourMeADrink Jan 2013 #23
janx Jan 2013 #31
patrice Jan 2013 #36
Odin2005 Jan 2013 #24
ZombieHorde Jan 2013 #27
randome Jan 2013 #28
patrice Jan 2013 #35
janx Jan 2013 #39
patrice Jan 2013 #43
coalition_unwilling Jan 2013 #37
dimbear Jan 2013 #42
TheKentuckian Jan 2013 #44
Hissyspit Jan 2013 #45

Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:13 PM

1. what the repugs don't have

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:16 PM

2. I rather like this one

I think the best approach to take is the skeptical approach. Being a skeptic doesn’t mean you aren’t open to new ideas; quite the contrary. I consider myself a strong skeptic and yet I’m fascinated by new ideas and hold quite a number of them that would not be considered mainstream. I’m always on the lookout for the new and unusual in the hopes that I can learn something and thereby grow. I don’t mind being on the leading edge, but I want to be on the correct leading edge. Truth as best we can determine it is very important to me.

A skeptic doesn’t accept received wisdom on the basis of authority or tradition. We don’t accept things because our parents, our teachers, a minister, or a guru says so. A skeptical attitude is a “show me” or “prove it” attitude. It is one that depends on the methods, not the authority of reason, logic, and science. A skeptic can be very inquisitive and curious (I am), but he simply cannot be credulous towards the unproven claims made by others. We are swimming in a modern sea of information and a credulous person is going to be a sucker for those peddling nonsense. Life is too short to waste your time on nonsense.


http://www.ratracetrap.com/the-rat-race-trap/critical-thinking-skillsa-skeptical-attitude.html

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:21 PM

3. Critical thinking is to information,

what mechanical aptitude is to an automobile engine. Have you ever known anyone who could give you facts but never seemed to be able to draw a conclusion from those facts...could never get beyond point A to point B or C? It's the evaluation of information in such a way as to establish the validity of that info, draw a conclusion and they apply it.

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:21 PM

4. Methodological naturalism, for one.

Which means the scientific method.

Also, it would help knowing how the human brain can be fooled -- a little basic psychology.

Plus, you might want to familiarize yourself with The Top 20 Logical Fallacies, which the GOP uses pretty much use all the time.

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:27 PM

5. First and foremost, it's the ability to use logic.

But it also includes being able to examine information on more than a surface level: to evaluate information--whether it be news, literature, propaganda, art, what-have you.

Where does the art/info/news/literature come from? Who created it and why? What does it actually say or imply? What is the context?

Have a conversation with it. What is your reaction, and why do you suppose that is?

It also involves the ability to make connections and to realize that there are more often than not more than two sides to any given situation (a logical fallacy that our pop culture loves to promote).

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Response to janx (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:55 PM

11. Nice.

Some nice answers all around, but I kinda liked this one. I imagine that pretty much so every person has this ability, to some extent. Much like mechanical aptitude, degrees of which can be encouraged but not nessassarily taught. Some people will always be more "curious" than others.

So, what in your opinion is it that, in K-12 education, fosters this more in some areas than others?

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:07 PM

29. Literature and science.

I teach undergrad college students at a technical university, so I'm not a K-12 expert, but it has been my experience that those students who are encouraged to read literature and take an interest in science are more naturally inclined to be critical thinkers. They are curious.

Much of this comes from parents before teachers are even involved.

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:08 PM

30. And thank you for your interest in my opinion.

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Response to janx (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 06:16 PM

17. All of this, plus a willingness to change your position when presented with new information. n/t

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Response to winter is coming (Reply #17)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:56 PM

40. Yes. Always. n/t

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Response to janx (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 06:57 PM

21. Logic is needed

But there is also the ability to analyze the context, to see what factors affect your argument, and how.

To quote Ambrose Bierce: Logic, by itself would dictate that if one man could dig a post hole in 60 seconds, 60 could do it in one second.

Of course, Monty Python does the explanation better than I could:


But the idea of context is more imprtant than ever, as those who would make sheep out of humans have a greater ability then ever to distort the context (as we just saw this week when they tried to turn the Bengazi hearings into a high tech burning of an uppity witch.)

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Response to janx (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:47 PM

38. I think that's a good definition, too...

I had good enough fortune to have a teacher (not in high school, but later years) to introduce me to similar thought processes. Part of what I had to do to be good in my field is to learn how to learn. In order to address that, it's an evaluation process, your way of following an algorithm.

"have a conversation with it"... yep!

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Response to MrMickeysMom (Reply #38)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:00 PM

41. . . .

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:28 PM

6. The Texas Board of Education declined entering it into their curriculum. Probably because of its

predilection to the opposition of barbarian "anarchy"...Critical Thinking = cultural WTF???

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Response to libdem4life (Reply #6)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:33 PM

9. Because THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT IT WAS!

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:29 PM

7. Deciding what's true and what's false.



--imm

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Response to immoderate (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 06:05 PM

15. That's what it is in a nutshell. And schools do teach it. n/t

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:30 PM

8. There are some lovely critical thinking web sites

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:41 PM

10. This gives a good introduction

Skills

The list of core critical thinking skills includes observation, interpretation, analysis, inference, evaluation, explanation, and meta-cognition. There is a reasonable level of consensus among experts that an individual or group engaged in strong critical thinking gives due consideration to establish:

Evidence through observation
Context
Relevant criteria for making the judgment well
Applicable methods or techniques for forming the judgment
Applicable theoretical constructs for understanding the problem and the question at hand

In addition to possessing strong critical-thinking skills, one must be disposed to engage problems and decisions using those skills. Critical thinking employs not only logic but broad intellectual criteria such as clarity, credibility, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, significance, and fairness.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_thinking

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:56 PM

12. The Jeopardy Answer, Sir, to 'What Are People Who Vote Republican Utterly Incapable Of?'

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #12)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 05:57 PM

13. Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

My dear Sir, I am ROFL

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #12)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 06:20 PM

19. !

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #12)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:52 PM

25. You, sir, get a DUzy!

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #12)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:54 PM

26. Perfect as always, Sir.

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 06:01 PM

14. Among other things, it is supposed to mean the ability to separate fact from opinion

I keep hearing this "lack of critical thinking" stuff, especially when some claim schools aren't teaching it. That is an outright lie. They do teach it. They encourage students to have opinions on issues with encouraging students to find supporting arguments for their positions. They also teach about what propaganda is and critically analyze ads.

What I cynically believe what others mean by "critical thinking" is they think people who possess "critical thinking skills" are those people who agree with them politically.

Political stances have little to do with the having the ability "to have critical thinking skills."

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Response to duffyduff (Reply #14)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:36 PM

32. Nope.

It has nothing to do with political agreement. It has everything to do with what separates opinion (including political opinion) from fact.

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 06:09 PM

16. I think of critical thinking as applying the scientific method to the world & ideas around you.

In other words, don't believe everything you hear, use logic, call out fallacies.

When FOX News, for example, makes some claim, take a second to think of whether that claim's backed up with evidence, or whether Megyn Kelly or Billo are blowing hot air.

Somebody makes an extraordinary claim, put the onus on them to prove it. If you make a claim, it's fair that you'll be asked to back it up with evidence before people accept it.

That's one way to think of it.

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Response to backscatter712 (Reply #16)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:39 PM

33. + 1000

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 06:20 PM

18. Conceptualizing through reason supported by facts. The capacity to separate what is from

 

what is believed. It is essential to reaching correct or effective solutions especially when not all the facts are known.

It is also something that is sorely lacking in every part and level of America.

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 06:29 PM

20. critical thinking

 

Critical thinking is like porn, you cant always define it but you know it when you see it. I have been amazed in my lifetime by certain peoples' ability to see things differently than most people. I enjoy watching old George Carlin videos when on Utube. My short study of science and logic and especially logical fallacies have given me a nose for bs. I have also heard lots of wonderful ideas on how to make the world a more loving, humane and prosperous place, but these ideas never take root with those in power because there are people who profit from the way things are. Sad

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Response to mlr (Reply #20)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:41 PM

34. Sober up. n/t

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:03 PM

22. The ability to prove a premise is valid/true through evaluation of

authenticated evidence and facts, not assumption, faith, and/or fallacies.

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:15 PM

23. Critical Thinking is hard to find here IMHO (And I love DU). Typically, most people

seem to be in a "Kill the Messenger" mode.

If a post is about what the opposition is saying or doing, it is hard to find any analysis about the pros and cons and motives and consequences about what it said. 99% of responses are typically that the person "is an asshole, or doesn't know what the hell they are talking about. Why the hell are you reading what this person is saying?"

To prove this, I would challenge you to post a quote from Boehner or Cantor, or any other right winger, and see how many responses you get about why they are saying what they are saying, what the consequences are, etc. Even if you preface the post "Forget this guy is a republican, why would he be saying what he is saying?" it doesn't help.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Reply #23)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:30 PM

31. Agreed. n/t

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Reply #23)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:45 PM

36. Agree, but I think it is getting a little better since the advent of DU3 & the jury system. nt

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:50 PM

24. Being able to think logically and spot fallacies.

A logical person would not fall for, say, putting personal anecdote (My kid became autistic after his MMR shot!!!) ahead of objective data (no link between MMR vaccines and autism).

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:56 PM

27. Great thread! nt

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:00 PM

28. Anyone who agrees with me.

That's also the definition of 'logical'.

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:41 PM

35. I like your suggestion; it's kind of like "mechanical aptitude" but it's "cognitive aptitude"

instead: the ability to take thinking apart, honestly, and thus to be aware of its logical components.

Analysis takes things apart rationally, breaks whatever meme, or case, or talking point, or sentence, or rhetorical unit, into its elements and then breaks those into their constituents and then to identify factors in those constituents. All done rationally.

Think of the logic of outlining architecture:
I.-whatever. Most general categories or major points of ,
. . A.-whatever Major sub-categories under each of the previous super-ordinate categories/groups,
. . . . 1.-whatever. Major traits of each of the major sub-categories,
. . . . . . a.-whatever. sub-traits of the major traits of each of the major sub-categories
. . . . . . . . . and so forth (sorry about the . . . . . but I can't seem to get indents to work)

One can move lower or higher in the logical architecture of whatever. The tools of critical thinking, the tools of constructing and de-constructing analyses are basic understanding of what makes good and poor logic & various kinds of logical argumentation, what rationalism is and how it works (generally the processes and procedures of rational empiricism, what makes science science, you'll see references to the philosophy of science and the nature of scientific "proof"), and broad enough general knowledge, cultural awareness, and understanding of the humanities to add relevance and color to one's critique.

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Response to patrice (Reply #35)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:53 PM

39. It really is not that complicated.

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Response to janx (Reply #39)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:09 PM

43. Yeah, ;-)

It doesn't seem complicated to me, because it's second nature to me know. It can go into as much or as little detail as feels appropriate. I'm getting old, so I also come from a different educational environment that included more emphasis on what used to be considered the conservative core curriculum and, in post secondary years, much more respect for the Liberal Arts than appears to be the average anymore.

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:45 PM

37. Your OP itself offers an example of 'critical thinking' which begins

 

with the asking of questions and defining of terms.

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:05 PM

42. It takes mechanical aptitude to put the engine back together. It takes critical thinking

to realize why it won't run. (The camshafts accidentally got switched.)

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:33 PM

44. Willingness to make questioning everything and consumption of data standard operating procedure

which leads to a bullshit detector attached to a thoughtful mind which leads exploring information like Cousteau explored oceans which leads to a spirit of discernment that is part and parcel of the person.

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 01:33 AM

45. Benjamin Bloom's Classification of Cognitive Skills

Bloom arranged them by level of complexity, but there is much debate about that. Some put analysis, synthesis and evaluation as parallel:

- Knowledge: recalling or remembering something without necessarily understanding
- Comprehension: understanding something that has been communicating without necessarily relating it to anything else
- Application: using a general concept to solve problems; using learned material in ne and concrete situations
- Analysis: breaking down something into its parts; analysis of relationships between parts
- Synthesis: creating something new by putting parts of different ideas together to make a whole
- Evaluation: judging the value of material or methods as they might be applied in a particular situation or with the use of definite criteria

Dr. Mel Levine separates critical thinking from other types of human intelligences:

- Memory
- Language
- Facial Ordering
- Sequencing
- Motor Skills
- Social Thinking
- Attention

- Critical Thinking or what we often refer to as "higher thinking:"
Sense of Irony
Concepts, etc.

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