What should a course on critical thinking include?

What should a course on critical thinking include?

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What should a course on critical thinking include?

#1  Postby Kasper G » Aug 26, 2014 9:45 am

I am designing a new course in critical thinking, skepticism, rationality and argumentation. I would like it to have a focus that will enable participants to use their new skills right away, so I want the course to be very practical oriented.

The idea is that the course should give a good foundation for the participants to critically evaluate claims they might encounter in their daily life. The ideal for the course would be to immunize against pseudoscience and the like – naturally without telling the participants what to think, only how to think.

The course will be made available for anyone via a special offer under the Universities in my country, meaning that the participants will be adults from various backgrounds. Experience with these courses reveal that the participants are rarely young.

I am still collecting and researching relevant topics, and I would love to be inspired by your thoughts. What should such a course include?
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#2  Postby campermon » Aug 26, 2014 9:50 am

:wave:

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:beer:
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#3  Postby Ihavenofingerprints » Aug 26, 2014 10:09 am

Kasper G wrote:

I am still collecting and researching relevant topics, and I would love to be inspired by your thoughts. What should such a course include?


For me skepticism boils down to removing yourself from a situation to think about it from all viewpoints. If you want some kind of framework for this you can look at the "6 thinking hats" http://www.debonoforschools.com/asp/six_hats.asp .

I don't personally use that sort of corporate junk in my day to day life, but if I was attempting to convey the idea of looking at problems from different angles, that is one method I would briefly run over.
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#4  Postby campermon » Aug 26, 2014 10:14 am

Michael Shermer's 'Baloney detection kit' is worth a watch; http://www.questioneverything.ca/found/ ... ection_kit

:cheers:
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#5  Postby Nicko » Aug 26, 2014 10:56 am

Hi Kasper.

I would say the starting point for any course in critical thinking would be explaining what an argument is (a series of premises advanced to support a conclusion). Move from there to the difference between valid/invalid, sound/unsound, true/untrue. This will lead you into explaining deductive logic, it's two valid forms (modus ponens and modus tollens) and the two classic invalid forms (known to one of my lecturers as "modus morons"). From thence into the common logical fallacies, then to inductive logic and the inherent problems with it.

A really good exercise is to have students take a piece of persuasive writing (ie. a newspaper op-ed), break it into its component premises, identify the conclusion (often not as straightforward as it might seem), eliminate rhetorical flourishes and re-organise the piece into a logical structure.

Good luck.
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#6  Postby hackenslash » Aug 26, 2014 11:06 am

For me, the starting point always has to be a single question:

'What is your justification for thinking that?'

All else flows from there.
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#7  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Aug 27, 2014 12:53 am

Rule One:-

Religion is bum-custard.
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#8  Postby Nicko » Aug 27, 2014 3:49 am

Darwinsbulldog wrote:Rule One:-

Religion is bum-custard.


Actually, not a good starting point. It's probably best to use examples that none of the students are emotionally-invested in.

Once they are armed with the tools of critical thought they can work out for themselves that religion is bum-custard. After all, there's little more value in not believing in god(s) just because someone told you not to than there is in believing in god(s) just because someone told you to.
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#9  Postby Mazille » Aug 27, 2014 7:46 am

Maybe you could incorporate an insight into our inherent limitations of thought and perception, which can bias our understanding of the world. I did the gorilla experiment with a group of my students a couple of years ago and it worked like a charm. They were in their first semester of a social science-y discipline, though and knew next to nothing about anything, so it was rather easy to baffle and surprise them with it.
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#10  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Aug 27, 2014 8:12 am

Nicko wrote:
Darwinsbulldog wrote:Rule One:-

Religion is bum-custard.


Actually, not a good starting point. It's probably best to use examples that none of the students are emotionally-invested in.

Once they are armed with the tools of critical thought they can work out for themselves that religion is bum-custard. After all, there's little more value in not believing in god(s) just because someone told you not to than there is in believing in god(s) just because someone told you to.

yeah i know! :dopey: :)
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#11  Postby murshid » Sep 06, 2014 9:24 am

You can check out this lecture course by Ray Hyman:
How To Think About Dubious Claims
Last edited by murshid on Sep 06, 2014 5:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#12  Postby Clive Durdle » Sep 06, 2014 3:22 pm

"We cannot slaughter each other out of the human impasse"
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#13  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Sep 07, 2014 1:16 am

A priori, EVERYTHING is bollocks until proved otherwise.
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#14  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Sep 07, 2014 1:21 am



Fuck the experts-they don't even believe in true Scottish people! :evilgrin:
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#15  Postby james1v » Sep 07, 2014 1:37 am

Carpet bombing Imams and extremist priests, of any religion? :think: Just a thought, off the top of me ed. :think:

It would certainly make for less victims, worldwide.
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#16  Postby Nicko » Sep 07, 2014 2:14 am

I think some people are confusing "critical thinking" with "debunking things I don't agree with".
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#17  Postby Nicko » Sep 07, 2014 2:16 am

james1v wrote:Carpet bombing Imams and extremist priests, of any religion? :think: Just a thought, off the top of me ed. :think:

It would certainly make for less victims, worldwide.


This is certainly a suggestion that would benefit from being subjected to critical scrutiny.
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#18  Postby quas » Sep 11, 2014 11:24 am

One night stay in a locked up haunted premise would do the trick. Whoever loses his/her mind, fails the course.
The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem
those who think alike than those who think differently. -Nietzsche
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#19  Postby Zwaarddijk » Sep 11, 2014 11:39 am

quas wrote:One night stay in a locked up haunted premise would do the trick. Whoever loses his/her mind, fails the course.

Doesn't that say more about suggestibility and disposition than about ability for critical thinking?
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Re: What should a course on critical thinking include?

#20  Postby igorfrankensteen » Sep 11, 2014 11:50 am

I'd recommend a good section on SELLING THINGS. Specifically, you would want to directly address how sales techniques use emotion to overcome rationality, desire to overcome the will to be careful.

Another good element would be a course in Magic. How magic tricks are performed, especially including the fundamental of misdirection, and the way that magicians take advantage of an audience's existing myths and doubts.

One more requirement would be a solid grounding in how to conduct historical research. How to tell the difference between what someone SAYS happened, and what ACTUALLY happened. And, how to STOP a the point where you realize that you CAN'T prove that you know what actually happened.
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