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Thu Aug 15, 2019, 11:22 PM

Key concepts for making informed choices

The linked commentary is from the current issue of Nature and was assembled by an interdisciplinary team of scientists:

Key concepts for making informed choices

each people to think critically about claims and comparisons using these concepts, urge Andrew D. Oxman and an alliance of 24 researchers — they will make better decisions.
(Oxman et al, Nature COMMENT 12 AUGUST 2019)

I believe this commentary is open sourced, but I will just reproduce the introductory paragraph.

Everyone makes claims about what works. Politicians claim that stop-and-search policing will reduce violent crime; friends might assert that vaccines cause autism; advertisers declare that natural food is healthy. A group of scientists describes giving all schoolchildren deworming pills in some areas as one of the most potent anti-poverty interventions of our time. Another group counters that it does not improve children’s health or performance at school.

Unfortunately, people often fail to think critically about the trustworthiness of claims, including policymakers who weigh up those made by scientists. Schools do not do enough to prepare young people to think critically1. So many people struggle to assess evidence. As a consequence, they might make poor choices.

To address this deficit, we present here a set of principles for assessing the trustworthiness of claims about what works, and for making informed choices (see ‘Key Concepts for Informed Choices’). We hope that scientists and professionals in all fields will evaluate, use and comment on it. The resources were adapted, drawing on the expertise of two dozen researchers, from a framework developed for health care2 (see ‘Randomized trial’).

Ideally, these concepts should be embedded in education for citizens of all ages. This should be done using learning resources and teaching strategies that have been evaluated and shown to be effective.


We all like to believe that we think critically, but if we are honest with ourselves, we can all recognize instances in which we fail to do so. Given the disruption to the world wide political culture, some of this is worthy, if unlikely to become general practice in the age of twittery.

The rest of the article is at the link, and is, again, I believe, open sourced.

Have a nice day tomorrow.

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Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply Key concepts for making informed choices (Original post)
NNadir Aug 15 OP
in2herbs Aug 16 #1
Igel Aug 16 #4
WheelWalker Aug 16 #2
PoindexterOglethorpe Aug 16 #3

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Fri Aug 16, 2019, 12:24 AM

1. In Sec. 2, p. 12 of the "Educating Our Children" section in the "2012 Republican Party

of Texas Report of Platform Committee and Rules Committee" paper the following agenda to abolish the teaching of critical thinking was set forth: "KNOWLEDGE-BASED EDUCATION - We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."

The problem with this attempt by politicians is that children do not have fixed beliefs. They live in a state of challenging their every moment of existence. Another problem with this attempt is that no parent can deny that our children are always thinking of ways to undermine our authority. No political proclamation is ever going to be able to legislate this behavior out of children. Which begs the question to be asked "What is the political gain to be had by legislating away a human's right to learn and think?"

For one to win a debate one must exercise critical thinking skills to anticipate what the opponent is going to say or do.

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Response to in2herbs (Reply #1)

Fri Aug 16, 2019, 07:14 PM

4. Two things with the same name

can be very different.

I've seen "critical thinking" as taught in many classrooms, and usually it's mostly "this is how you argue against this kind of political or social viewpoint."

Then, when the kids regurgitate those arguments, the teachers glow with pride, "Look how smart these kids are, such wonderful critical thinking skills."

I've seen the same thing from parents. Their second grader, based entirely on what the parents said, repeats what the parents said. The kid's a genius! Precocious! Wise far beyond her years. But in reality no more a genius than the kid of redneck or conservative parents whose kids engage in similar psittacism.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Fri Aug 16, 2019, 12:59 AM

2. But see: Dunning Kruger

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Fri Aug 16, 2019, 03:04 AM

3. For what it's worth, I tend to be highly skeptical

of all claims. And I like to find actual scientifically sourced proof of whatever. I know. Weird. I mean, who actually wants proof of claims? Oh, wait. Those of us who understand things like proof and science do. Hmmmm.

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