Critical Thinking – Standards of Thought – Part 1



in this session we're going to turn our attention as a point of focus we're not going to forget the parts of thinking and we'll still be using them in the questioning process we put special emphasis on standards for thinking intellectual standards for thinking now the point was made that critical thinking depends on learning what is Universal in thinking the power of the elements of thought has a means of questioning and thinking about thinking is precisely that these parts are universal if you could only use them once in a while it wouldn't be nearly as powerful well Joe says there are Universal parts of thinking but you can learn and bring into your thinking as you think about your thinking and improve your thinking because you know these parts so there are universal standards for thinking there are universal attributes of thinking which are desirable and universal attributes of thinking that are undesirable undesirable not because I said so but because they defeat the very purpose of thinking itself they are something intrinsic if you will to the logic of thinking and what thinking is trying to do is thinking for example thinking is trying to communicate thinking is trying to learn thinking is trying to explain and if it is unclear it doesn't communicate it doesn't explain it doesn't learn so if I say I've unclearly learned mathematics that's another way of saying I haven't learned it or if you can clearly explained it to the students then the explanation hasn't succeeded when the mind is unclear when it is confused when it is fuzzy when it is vague when it is modeled then it is not clear and no one would say with pride my thinking is fuzzy they muddled confused and unclear so these are attributes of thinking that needs help there are failure of thinking to achieve something that thinking is about clarity if our students learn simply to think clearly tremendous benefit would come to them they would say what they mean and mean what they say their directions would mislead no one their commitments would be real much good would come from clear thinking politicians could not get elected saying what they're saying today because we would recognize that most of what they're saying is not clear is not saying anything is just words not carefully connected with meaning so clarity of thought is an important attribute of thought it's universally desirable now there is a second standard of thinking that we're concerned with and that standard is precision very closely connected to clarity clarity says that what we've said is understandable precision brings detail and specificity to that clarity so if I say would you like to get something to eat and you say yes you're yes makes clear you would like to get something to eat but still you haven't specified yet what you want so you can say something that is clear yes I would like to get something to eat but there may be a further specification we need that will make your yes more precise so precision of thought occurs when we take something which is clear and specified in add detail so by the way each of these concerns translates into questions let me step back for a moment and deal with clarity at the level of the questions that you can ask to achieve it and you want students to learn to question their thinking using these standards because the questions that call for clarity help you to achieve clarity and there are three questions at least that you can ask in the act of clarification there are actually many more than three but these are three basic ones we should ask them and we should teach our students to ask them here's the first question could you elaborate further on what you have said could you express their details and perhaps other words the call for elaboration elaboration can clarify I spell it out more second question of clarification could you illustrate that could you give me an illustration that you draw a picture give me a metaphor give me an analogy give me something that it illustrates our models what you're saying and that's the second point of clarification a way to achieve greater clarity here is a third and probably of all the most powerful could you give me an example of what you mean because now the thought is connected with real life it is translated into something concrete and real that we can all observe and touch and feel and smell and life is concrete life is not abstract you don't live life abstractly you live a life very concrete you do something specific on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and what I ask my students for examples they very often say something abstract I find that my students are poor at giving examples and I find it interesting that many people say their concrete thinkers but I find their abstract thinkers they keep talking abstract way and to give a concrete example of something they know little about to be specific and detailed in concrete give me a for instance describe a particular person in a particular situation in a particular context they're very weak at that so I don't think students are thinkers I think they're very abstract thinkers and they need to become far more concrete than they are one of the things that which I loved about during those witches talk and when two elders talk is that were filled with examples because it's examples that give power to thinking and that clarify so three questions could you elaborate further could you give me an illustration could you give me an example its clarification now let's look at questions regarding precision it's really a simple precision is a simple thing it's adding detail and specificity so it goes beyond simple clarity to give detail and D in detail is sometimes very important and so the temperature of the patient is hot the patient is hot okay that's clear enough as a rough thing but what exactly is the temperature of the patient could you give me the details now context determines the degree of precision that is relevant for example with something like temperature we want it to tenths of a degree ninety-eight point for a hundred point one we don't need it to a hundredth of a degree we don't need it to a thousandth of a degree and we certainly don't need it to the ten thousandth of a degree however if it is a question of lead in the drinking water we want it in parts per million so we want much greater specificity for that than this and so we have to know that precision is a contextual matter and help students to discover this and help them to give the detail and specificity which is relevant to the context so clarity and precision work and in here

25 thoughts on “Critical Thinking – Standards of Thought – Part 1”

  1. Now looking at the comments, fuck I must got it wrong. If the comments reflect critical thinking I'm fucked

  2. Still clueless what critical thinking is. Well I guess I am a moron because I'm just not getting it. I took it college. Failed faked it to pass it. Still no clue. I thought by listening to his class. Can someone please tell me teach me critical thinking!!!!!!!

  3. "Hard" science and "theoretical" science are two distinctly different things. For example; NASA is trying to gather data about the sun because there are several "mysteries" that are confounding astrophysists like the sun is much cooler in the interior than it is at the corona, doesn't make too much sense if it is in fact a "nuclear furnace". Why? Right, because a furnace is hottest in the interior than it is at it's exterior. But no instrument and certainly no human will every experience the "interior of the sun" so no firsthand knowledge can ever be collected. We must "infer" through external observation and that is best left to theoretical science as is much phenomena in the realm of astrophysics. Unfortunately theoretical science by it's very nature is open to any criticism, some being more legitimate certainly by academics of equal caliber.

  4. You're referring to punctuated equilibrium, and no, it doesn't refute Evolution. Scientists will always debate various details about Evolution but the Theory itself is solid and continues to be confirmed by multiple lines of inquiry.
    Quote from Ager in his book The New Catastrophism: "..nothing in this book should be taken out of context & thought in any way to support the views of the 'creationists' (who I refuse to call 'scientific')".
    Apparently some are twisting his words for their agenda.

  5. Scientific Theories don't get to be Theories unless they have withstood rigorous tests of critical thought at the highest level. The reason the Theory of Evolution is a fact of science is because it has been subjected to peer review and has withstood falsification from every relevant branch of science.
    It sounds like you probably haven't done much research into the scientific literature. I'd like to suggest Jerry Coyne's "Why Evolution is True". Or consult an evolutionary biologist.

  6. A famous British paleontologist, Derek V. Ager, admits this fact, even though he is an evolutionist: The point emerges that if we examine the fossil record in detail, whether at the level of orders or of species, we find—over and over again—not gradual evolution, but the sudden explosion of one group at the expense of another.

  7. more likely people would just ignore the subject of religion the second it happens, then TheAmazingAtheist would lose a job.

  8. Yes. Indefinitely. It's only a matter of time. But, I don't think the idea of a higher power would be abolished. That idea is impossible to escape unless you wholly ignore it. Which I can't, as I'm a critical thinking person. 🙂

  9. I think that if you were thinking critically you wouldn't be so confident about such a broad statement.

    By trying to understand my new religion (new to me) I have found that I think more analytically and am much more contemplative on a personal and universal level.

    What religions do you study?

  10. We want your stuff.
    God sent us to run things here
    Give it up, or we take it by force
    …Imperialism = global banditry

  11. Yeah, some critical thinkers think they can think their way out of these things, rather than experience their emotional and sensational undercurrents. All thoughts arise out of sensations. Sensations cause our thoughts. Our attachment to our sensations, pleasant or unpleasant, makes us an adversarial culture. That, and attachment to 'ego'. Too bad we haven't progressed. We never learned of Alexander the Great's great regret that he had wasted everyone's time by invading India…

  12. Your imperfections are yours. Don't know what they are so I can't comment. If thinking critically helps you sort out your oranges and pears, who am I to complain? But, you must see the cultural logic inside the techniques you use. It's likely the result will be a false sense of security. Clarity of thinking on the surface, a boiling cauldron of contradictions in the deep.

  13. Conceptual 'clarity' is not useless. The Pentagon and the US President have a lot of clarity. War works, for example. Meditation offers a better form of clarity as it rids us entirely of the urge to be aggressive. Thinking of harming another becomes literally impossible. This is not conceptual clarity and conceptual clarity will get you nowhere fast, like a new year resolution that wanes after the first defeat..

  14. ? where is the explanation? I must have missed it? Concept equals concept doesn't do it for me I'm afraid. A=A, where's the context there. Perhaps if you'd mentioned Aristotle, then I might give you half points.

  15. Concepts come from experience. Conservative and liberal experiences, not to mention mystical experiences are different culturally. A concept is 'interpreted' differently. Concepts therefore do not have steady, permanent definitions. Read George Lakoff's 'Looks like an Elephant' or his longer 'Moral Politics', or even his more technical book on linguistics 'women, fire and dangerous things'..

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