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Old 2013-11-12, 03:15   #1
jasong
 
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"Jason Goatcher"
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Default Critical thinkin'

I like to think I'm an intelligent thinker. But, admittedly, I don't have a rigorous definition of critical thinking, so I can't be totally certain I know how to think critically. So, my question is...

Are there any books, especially reasonably prices Kindle books, that teach about critical thinking? I'm going to look it up on Amazon, but I'm basically asking for recommendations, or maybe wiki entries. Now that I think about it, maybe it should just be about the general topic and I'll look it up on my own.

Anyway, if it hasn't been covered in the past, it's a pretty good topic for the Soapbox anyway. :)

(I was going to Google it before I posted, but I pressed enter while in the subject section. Sorry.) :(

Last fiddled with by jasong on 2013-11-12 at 03:18 Reason: shoot, posted too early because I pressed enter while in the subject part
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Old 2013-11-12, 07:36   #2
philmoore
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
I like to think I'm an intelligent thinker. But, admittedly, I don't have a rigorous definition of critical thinking, so I can't be totally certain I know how to think critically. So, my question is...

Are there any books, especially reasonably prices Kindle books, that teach about critical thinking? I'm going to look it up on Amazon, but I'm basically asking for recommendations, or maybe wiki entries. Now that I think about it, maybe it should just be about the general topic and I'll look it up on my own.

Anyway, if it hasn't been covered in the past, it's a pretty good topic for the Soapbox anyway. :)

(I was going to Google it before I posted, but I pressed enter while in the subject section. Sorry.) :(
I'm a math kind of guy, and of course, I have learned a lot about critical thinking through the study and pursuit of math and science, but looking back on my education, I have to say that I learned more about critical thinking through my writing classes than through my math and science classes. Good writing teachers challenged me to be specific, to support my point of view by citing evidence, and to consider other points of view when formulating my arguments. My parents taught me to treat others' assertions skeptically, and this was reinforced in my science education. One may have the impression in either math or science that prevailing theory is more or less agreed upon by consensus, but a good science teacher will expose his or her students to examples of prevailing published articles that were subsequently overturned by subsequent studies. My best advice: question everything, even those things you think are obviously true!
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Old 2013-11-12, 09:39   #3
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Like Phil, I also learned more about critical thinking from writing essays under the instruction of good teachers (in my case at my secondary school when I was still in my teens!) than from the Mathematics which I went on to study to graduate level. If I had taken the Math(s) further, for which I really did not have the natural talent or, if I'm honest, the inclination, then no doubt there would have been more critical thinking involved in investigating, and proving, results for myself, instead of accepting the material on a plate as I did.

Robert T. Carroll is a great writer on critical thinking. I have to admit that I have never yet taken the time to read his books and publications, but I frequently browse the wealth of wonderful essays on his website "The Skeptic's Dictionary" http://www.skepdic.com/.
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Old 2013-11-12, 10:22   #4
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It might help to look at the list of fallacies. http://www.fallacyfiles.org/ is a good start. So is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies
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Old 2013-11-12, 16:16   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
(I was going to Google it before I posted, but I pressed enter while in the subject section. Sorry.) :(
This is already good because it shows you are paying attention to what you are thinking and doing (mindfulness). It shows that you consider other people's time and attention valuable (courtesy). And since you explain how a mistake was made, you are helping yourself and others avoid that particular pitfall (learning and helpfulness).

A lot of critical thinking is involves rigor and noticing and avoiding pitfalls. I think you are doing some of that already. Carry on.
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Old 2013-11-12, 17:19   #6
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I would suggest that a good place to improve your critical thinking still further is with the Kindle:
when you buy a "book" for it, what have you actually purchased?

Last fiddled with by Nick on 2013-11-12 at 17:21 Reason: Typo
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Old 2013-11-12, 18:18   #7
chalsall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
Like Phil, I also learned more about critical thinking from writing essays under the instruction of good teachers (in my case at my secondary school when I was still in my teens!)...
Yup, same here.

What I only realized when I was in my thirties is that (for example) legal documents are really software -- programs -- which just happen to be coded in a human language. Thus, they should be as "logically consistent" as anything else which passes through a compiler or interpreter.
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Old 2013-11-12, 18:39   #8
Batalov
 
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There's a good free course on human arguments (not "arguing" but the arguments and reasoning); here is the introduction: https://www.coursera.org/course/thinkagain

Or embedded for convenience:


I went through 3-4 weeks but then fell behind because of my Moscow trip.
It is important that this is not \eq math logic. There is an interesting fork from formal logic somewhere in 2nd or 3rd week (I don't remember off the top of my head).

It is a good start. (There's also a book. I didn't buy it, so I cannot vouch for it.)
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Old 2013-11-13, 03:52   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
I would suggest that a good place to improve your critical thinking still further is with the Kindle:
when you buy a "book" for it, what have you actually purchased?
Someone wrote in a post a while back(anywhere from months to years ago) that everytime a standard used to access purchased data gets thrown out with the trash, a lawsuit needs to happen. It'll be interesting to see what happens when the Kindle standard starts to show it's age. Then again, it could be around longer than I am.
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Old 2013-11-13, 03:58   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chalsall View Post
Yup, same here.

What I only realized when I was in my thirties is that (for example) legal documents are really software -- programs -- which just happen to be coded in a human language. Thus, they should be as "logically consistent" as anything else which passes through a compiler or interpreter.
Off-topic:This is why I hate case law in the US, I don't believe judges have the legal right to "interpret" law. People call us a democratic republic but, more specifically, we're a constitutional republic, a nation of written law. If a law is vague, contradicts itself or exhibits values contrary to modern thought, the proper thing to do is repeal it and pass new laws, NOT have some random judge add his two cents. Case law is base law, primitive and messy. (Not sure if I'm using the base term right, and of course someone could go the other way by defining base as basic.)
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Old 2013-11-13, 04:31   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
Off-topic:This is why I hate case law in the US, I don't believe judges have the legal right to "interpret" law. People call us a democratic republic but, more specifically, we're a constitutional republic, a nation of written law. If a law is vague, contradicts itself or exhibits values contrary to modern thought, the proper thing to do is repeal it and pass new laws, NOT have some random judge add his two cents. Case law is base law, primitive and messy. (Not sure if I'm using the base term right, and of course someone could go the other way by defining base as basic.)
You make a good point, but suppose that in a particular legal case, the lawyer for one party says that the law says "A", and the lawyer for the other party says that the law says "B". (In a criminal trial, of course, one of these two parties is the national, state, or local government.) The outcome of the case hinges on what the law really says. If the trial is a jury trial, then the jury ultimately must decide which is correct. But in appeals court, where the case is heard by a judge or panel of judges, who should decide in this case what the law actually says? There is no jury of citizens, so who decides? Remember that one avenue of an appeals court decision is to declare that a trial was conducted improperly and to demand a new trial in a lower court. Certainly if the law is contradictory or vague, the only remedy is for the legislative branch to revise it, but how can the fact that the law is contradictory or vague even be made evident if not through some legal proceeding?
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