Critical Thinking Study Guide official version
Return to Critical Thinking
Mid-term covers 1st, 2nd, and part of 4th disciplines and associated readings in handbook and reader.
Note: On concepts be sure to be able to identify, define, and explain the significance of each concept.
1st Discipline: Reflective Voice
- Five Disciplines of Thought -- know all five, by heart!
- Terms: Rationales, arguments, explanations, claim, premise, conclusion, reflective/deliberative context. (p. 3)
- Thinking in Stereo: what is it, what questions are asked at each level.
- Cognitive Bias: 1 Anchoring, 2 Framing, 3 Fundamental attribution error, 4 Confirmation bias,
- Thought Experiment for finding reflective ideals: What do you need to count on when you begin a serious discussion with someone? What specific values and expectations should one have? What mutual obligations follow? p. 12 and following.
- Reflective ideals: sympathetic understanding, seeking knowledge, inviting appraisal.
Questions on Readings:
- Haidt: How does basic information about the human brain help us thinking about the nature of thought?
- Stanovich: Look at specific thinking "puzzles" Stanovich consider, but also try to state his general point.
- Gopnik: How does Gopnik want us to think about thinking? What's her evidence?
2nd Discipline: Reconstruction
- Theory of Rationales - basic defintion of a rationale, distinction between argument and explanation.
- Distinguishing argument and explanation (skill of identification from exercise set "Distinguishing Argument from Explanation).
- 3 Criteria for Good Reconstruction.
- Reconstruction (skill) Might have a short argument to reconstruct. (Not Fall 2010)
- Distinguishing Deductive and Inductive arguments. (skill) also, give definitions and compare. (Handbook topic: "Logical Structure in Deductive and Inductive Reasoning")
- How do you show logical structure in deductive arguments? in inductive? in explanation? (Handbook topic: "Deductive Argument Forms" "Inductive Argument Forms", and "Form in Explanations".)
- Identify and give examples of basic deductive argument forms and formal fallacies.
- Validity. (esp. relation to truth.) Can a valid argument have a false conclusion? In a valid argument is the conclusion always true?
- Basic inductive patterns and inductive analogies.
- Understand discussion of "Why Mars is Red" in "Form in Explanation"
- Gladwell: Why is it so hard to offer cross cultural explanations of people's drinking behavior?
3rd Discipline: Critical Response
- 3 Techniques for assessing rationales. (skill)
- What is critical response?
- What is the difference between assessing rationales and giving a critical response?
- Ad hominem fallacy
- What factors should you consider in preparing a critical response to someone's rationales?
- Identify some of the ways that critical response discussions can wrong.
4th Discipline: Recognizing Knowledge
- What does it mean to call some information authoritative in the everyday sense? in the academic sense?
- What is the "peer review" process and how does it contribute to the recognition of knowledge?
- What does is mean to define knowledge as "justified, true belief"?
- What is the difference between "knowledge by discovery" and "knowledge by interpretation"?
- Causation: what is it. What did Hume say about it? How did Mill prepare the way for modern statistics?
- Concepts in causation and correlation: independent variable, explanatory variable, dependent variable, response variable, strength of correlation, direct and inverse relationships, linear regression and multiple regression analysis.
Rich, "For Whom the Cell Tolls"
- Why is it hard to determine whether cell phones cause brain tumors?
Schick & Vaughn, "Science and It's Pretenders"
- Give a general characterization of science based on this reading.
- What point is being made by the author's claim that, "All of the data upon which the atomic theory rests, however, can be described without mentioning atoms."
- Learn the story of Benjamin Franklin and blind testing.
- Study the criteria of adequacy for scientific hypotheses.
- What does it mean to say that we only test scientific hypotheses in bundles?
- What is phlogiston?
- Quantitative Information in Knowledge Claims
- 1 What is a measure?
- 2 Baseline
- 3 Percentages and rates
- 4 Linear vs. Non-linear relationships
- 5 Surveys
- 6 Probability
- 1 Definition,
- 2 Gambler's fallacy,
- 3 Predictive dreams
- 4 SI jinx
- 7 Causation
- 1 Regression analysis
- 2 Multiple regression analysis
Seethaler, "What Happens if..."
- Follow the discussion of cause and effect, the ways that studies (such as epidemiological studies) can go wrong,
- Observational vs. experimental studies, placebo effect, double blind studies, Cause and effect links and complications (fig. 5.4), give examples, "anthropogenic causes".
Silberman, "Placebos are Getting Better"
- Why does Silberman think placebos are getting better?
- What explanations are offered for this phenomenon?
Sevilla, "Probability" Chapters 18 and 19
- Major concepts: random process, sample space, event, sampling with/without replacement, probability, disjoint events, conditional probability, independent events.
- Skills: Determine the probability of an event from a table of data, determine the conditional probability of an event from a two-way table.
5th Discipline: Seeing Complexity
- 1. Simplification as part of knowledge production
- 2. Systems, complex systems, chaotic systems (links, nodes, degrees of separation)
- 3. Coupling, buffering, feedback loops
- 4. degrees of separation
- 5. Konigsburg bridge problem
- 6. Baltimore syphilis epidemic, Colorado Springs G. epidemic
- 7. What do good managers of complex systems do?
- 8. Thin slicing and the return of intuition
- 9. Stereotyping
Reading: Peter Miller, "Swarm Theory" -