Blog: Thoughts on Critical Thinking

Welcome to the interactive blog of distinguished authorities on critical thinking, Dr. Linda Elder and Dr. Gerald Nosich, Senior Fellows of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. Join us here often – we will share personal readings we find helpful to our own development, instructional designs and processes we recommend, and strategies for applying critical thinking to everyday life situations.

Through this blog, we will also recommend videos and movies that can help you, your students, your colleagues, and your family internalize and contextualize critical thinking principles, or identify where and how critical thinking is missing. Look for our tips and questions connected with our recommendations.

We will also showcase in our blog articles by our scholars and by community members that are exemplary in advancing critical thinking. If you would like to recommend articles for showcasing here that you believe are exemplary, please forward them to us at
Linda Elder
Oct 13, 2020 • 6d ago
The News Media, Politics, Group Think and What the News Media Should Be Doing

{"ops":[{"insert":"The logic of the news media is both simple and complex. On the one hand, many reporters see themselves as objectively informing the public of important information—and in many cases, this is precisely what they are doing. Yet, on the other hand, it seems that reporters themselves do not have a shared conception of objectivity in the news. Indeed, the Society for Professional Journalism has recently removed the term “objectivity” from its list of primary purposes because the term now apparently means different things to different journalists (Atkins, 2016). One might then ask: how can the news be objective when reporters themselves have neither a shared understanding of the very term “objective,” nor feel the need even to aspire to it in their work?\n \n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"POLITICAL INFLUENCES, ADVERTISING, AND GROUP THINK"},{"insert":"\nThe lack of a shared concept of “objectivity” on the part of journalists reveals that reporting the news is not so straightforward as it usually appears and is presented.\n \nYet there is an overarching logic underlying the news of which critical news consumers are well aware, and which is the primary focus of this book. For instance, you cannot critically examine the news without understanding the connection between politics and news coverage, because political parties often have deep affiliations with major news outlets—increasingly so as advocacy journalism has become more the norm than an anomaly in recent times. Indeed, some news outlets are flagrant voices for a given political party, without demur nor apparent need to\nexplain their political biases.\n \nJust as politics plays a major role in media bias, so also does money, since politics and money typically go hand in hand. Political forces and advertisers influence media content in ways frequently hidden from the news consumer. Consequently, to understand the logic of the news media is to understand, as a beginning place, the logic of the relationships between the news media, politics, and economics (or, in other words, money).\n \nAnother key variable in grasping the logic of the news entails understanding sociocentric biases, or group think, and how group biases affect the news as it is disseminated to the people—including the fact that people fundamentally want to agree with the news and therefore seek news outlets that validate their own biases, prejudices, and worldviews. In other words, because the news must be sold to the people, naturally it must be palatable to its audience.\n \nConsequently, news outlets typically give their audiences what they want to hear and will naturally agree with. Clearly this is not in line with critical thinking or objectively discerning what is happening in the world.\n \n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"Whenever you seek the news from one or more outlets, you might therefore ask:"},{"insert":"\n• To what degree and how is “the news,” as presented by this outlet, affected by politics and the political climate? (Politics)\n• Do the owners of this news outlet hold a particular political position, and if so, how might their political views and affiliations influence the ways in which “news” is disseminated through this outlet? (Politics)\n• To what degree is the news affected by the wishes and motives of advertisers that largely pay for the news? How can this even be determined? (Money)\n• To what degree is news being given to the people in accordance with what they want or like to hear, rather than making them uncomfortable by telling them news they would rather not know or have to face? (Sociocentrism or groupthink)\n \n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"TECHNOLOGICAL NOISE IN THE NEWS"},{"insert":"\nAdding to these complexities, current trends in technology have radically changed the way we experience the news. Through their questions, critical thinkers examine how these complexities affect the way they receive, pursue, and interpret the news.\n \n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"For instance, critical thinkers might ask:"},{"insert":"\n• How is my ability to think deeply about complex issues presented in the news being affected by the constant bombardment of advertisements from companies strictly targeting me, increasing the likelihood that I will be highly distracted by those ads (precisely because they are designed to appeal specifically to me)? In other words, how does this barrage of personal ads affect my ability to read and reasonably interpret the news across different platforms? (We now have ad blocking software that can be downloaded to cut down on some of this noise.)\n• If I’m reading all of my news on a small device like a cell phone, how do I experience the news differently from when I can see it on a larger page such as a magazine, newspaper, or even a larger computer screen? How can I even know how this is affecting my ability to reasonably interpret the news? In the end, it is up to each of us to ask these questions as well:\n• What news outlets should I pursue? What criteria am I using to make this decision?\n• Do my biases lead me toward certain news outlets and away from others?\n• How can I find reputable alternative news sources?\n• Am I even open to considering alternative, perhaps more reasonable, ways of looking at the news?\n \n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"WHAT WE NEED THE NEWS MEDIA TO DO FOR US"},{"insert":"\nAs readers of the news, we are often caught up in following news stories as if they came to us from on high—as if these were the only stories worth knowing, since they are the ones given to us by whichever particular news outlets we choose to follow. But when we look closely at what passes for news, we may wonder whether more important or enlightening stories are being ignored, and whether we are wasting our time, or being misled, by the stories we read.\n \nWhat we need the news media to do, among other important things, is:\n1. Illuminate best practices throughout human societies in potentially every important domain of human thought.\n2. Focus on what is most significant in advancing human life and wellbeing, rather than highlighting and propagating the trivial.\n3. Enlighten and educate us.\n4. Point out the most pressing problems we humans face, including our treatment of one another, other sentient creatures, and our home—planet earth.\n5. Illuminate problems from all reasonable significant perspectives, without fearing that news consumers may take a position contrary to the “party line” or the status quo.\n6. Offer real investigative journalism that uncovers issues which should be of concern to us.\n \nCritical consumers of the news are aware of the inherent weaknesses in the logic of news media largely controlled by money, political power, and groupthink. They therefore seek ways, through alternative news sources, to counter biased mainstream news. And they have a broader historical perspective of the news, with a keen awareness of how news stories today fit into broader historical patterns of human ideas and actions.\n \n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Adapted from an excerpt (pp. 7-9) from our forthcoming book: "},{"insert":"Fact Over Fake: A critical thinkers guide to media bias and political propaganda"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":", by Richard Paul and Linda Elder (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2020, in press:"},{"insert":"\n"}]}

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Richard Paul Archives
Oct 06, 2020 • 13d ago
Distinguishing Weak From Strong Sense Critical Thinking - Still a Problem in Human Societies

{"ops":[{"insert":"The following, written by Richard Paul, was adapted from the conference theme from the 4"},{"attributes":{"script":"super"},"insert":"th"},{"insert":" Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform, held in 1986. We are still a very long way from the realization of strong sense critical thinking across human societies. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"(see footnote)"},{"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"CONFERENCE THEME: WEAK & STRONG SENSE CRITICAL THINKING "},{"insert":"\nThe conference theme has been selected to give participants a central concept by means of which they can understand the basic relationships between all of the various presentations. The field of critical thinking research and instructional approaches is rich and diverse, but there are common core concepts and insights which can be used to organize that diversity and render it coherent. \n\nThere is no question, for example, that there are a body of intellectual skills presupposed in critical thinking, skills which have broad application across the full range of human thought and action. Whenever humans act or think they conceptualize or give meanings to their action and thought. These meanings or conceptualizations may be more or less clear (hence the importance of skills of clarification). These meanings organize and give expression to \"information\", which may be more or less accurate well­justified, and complete (hence the importance of skills for the gathering, processing and assessing of information). They are based upon beliefs some of which we take for granted (hence the importance of skills for locating and assessing assumptions). They build toward or entail consequences and implications (hence the importance of skills for pinning down and assessing consequences and implications). Finally, human action and thought is based upon and creates meanings within some perspective, point of view, or world view (hence the importance of skills which locate the perspective or point of view within which a given action or line of thought is developed). \n\nBut critical thinking is not just about intellectual skills, for intellectual skills can be used in a variety of ways, some of which are inconsistent with the foundational values of critical thinking: open- or fair-mindedness and a concern to apply the same rigorous standards of evidence and proof to our own thinking---especially that which serves our vested interest---as we do to \nothers. It is easy, of course, to be critical when we are hostile to persons or belief systems, very difficult when we are strongly predisposed to favor persons or belief systems. Our egocentric or sociocentric biases may act as blinders to narrow our critical thinking to what are fundamentally self-serving uses of it. This problem was identified in ancient Greece by Socrates and Plato as the problem of sophistry. We know it in the modern world as the problem of demagoguery, propaganda, closed-mindedness and self-deception. This, of course, is not simply a matter of stupidity or of conscious evil. \n\nWhat it does mean is that critical thinking skills can be used to defeat the ends of critical thinking. Or, less extreme, a person may not yet have learned how to organize and use his or her critical thinking skills with the same degree of consistency within domains where there is emotional blockage. In these cases we can call the person a \"weak sense\" critical thinker, highlighting the incomplete development of those skills. In these cases, there are degrees or levels of proficiency in critical thinking and the distinction between ”weak” or “strong” sense helps highlight some of the salient considerations to keep in mind in conceiving the developmental process from uncritical to critical thought. It also helps highlight the values implicit in critical thought (fairmindedness e.g.).\n\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"Here are brief definitions of both strong sense and weak sense critical thinking. "},{"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"strong-sense critical thinkers"},{"insert":":  fairminded critical thinkers; skilled thinkers characterized predominantly by the following traits: (1) the ability and tendency to question deeply one’s own views; (2) the ability and tendency to reconstruct sympathetically and imaginatively the strongest versions of viewpoints and perspectives opposed to one’s own; and (3) the ability and tendency to reason dialectically (multilogically) in such a way as to determine when one’s own point of view is at its weakest and when an opposing point of view is at its strongest; (4) the ability and propensity to change one’s thinking when the evidence would require it, without regard to one’s own selfish or vested interests.\n \nStrong-sense critical thinkers are fundamentally concerned with reasoning at the highest level of skill, considering all the important available evidence, and respecting all relevant viewpoints.  Their thought and behavior is characterized primarily by intellectual virtues or habits of mind.  They avoid being blinded by their own viewpoints. They recognize the framework of assumptions and ideas upon which their own viewpoints are based. They realize the necessity of putting their assumptions and ideas to the test of the strongest objections that can be leveled against them. Most importantly, they can be moved by reason; in other words, they are willing to abandon their own ideas when other ideas prove more reasonable or valid.\n \nTeaching for strong-sense critical thinkers entails routinely encouraging students to explicate, understand, and critique their deepest prejudices, biases, and misconceptions, thereby discovering and contesting their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies (for only when we do so can we hope to develop as fairminded persons).\n \nRegularly thinking dialogically about important and personal issues is necessary for developing strong-sense critical thinkers. If critical thinking is taught simply as atomic skills separate from the empathic practice of entering into points of view that students are fearful of or hostile toward, they will simply find additional means of rationalizing prejudices and preconceptions, or convincing people that their point of view is the correct one. They will be transformed from vulgar or naïve thinkers to sophisticated (but not strong-sense) critical thinkers.\n \n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"weak-sense critical thinkers"},{"insert":": those who use the skills, abilities, and to some extent, the traits of critical thinking to serve their selfish interests; unfair or unethical critical thinkers. Weak-sense, or unethical critical\nthinkers, have the following pronounced tendencies: \n1.     They do not hold themselves or those with whom they ego-identify to the same intellectual standards to which they hold opponents.\n2.     They do not reason empathically within points of view or frames of reference with which they disagree;\n3.     They tend to think monologically (within one narrow perspective). \n4.     They do not genuinely accept, though they may verbally espouse, the values of fairminded critical thinking. \n5.     They use intellectual skills selectively and self-deceptively to foster and serve their selfish interests at the expense of truth.\n6.     They use critical thinking skills to identify flaws in the reasoning of others and sophisticated arguments to refute others’ arguments before giving those arguments due consideration.\n7.     They routinely justify their irrational thinking through highly sophisticated rationalizations. \n8.     They are highly skilled at manipulation. \n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"footnote: The notes and slight adaptations in this article were made by Linda Elder"},{"insert":"\n\n"}]}

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Linda Elder
Sep 17, 2020 • 32d ago
HOW THE INTERNET PERVADES OUR LIVES and Why Critical Thinking is Essential

{"ops":[{"insert":"To effectively navigate and participate in the world today, it is necessary to understand how the internet works, and, more broadly, how technologies affect our lives. The internet has become an essential tool and information source for the average person living today. Moreover, technological advances in the past half-century have thrust most people across the world into a highly technical and complex world that they have no choice but to navigate.\n \nWithout basic critical thinking abilities, it is impossible to comprehend and properly assess the internet, the news embedded in it, and, more broadly, the technologies surrounding us. We need to look closely at how the internet works.\n \nWe need to know how technologies are on one hand improving, and on the other hand diminishing, the quality of our lives. We need to understand the big picture of technology—to both better protect ourselves and to think critically about the technologies we support and participate in.\n \nIt is essential to understand, at the outset, that the websites and technologies being created for us are only as good as the reasoning that conceptualizes, creates, and maintains them over time. By this we mean specifically the reasoning of the people overseeing and executing a given website or technology. In many cases, if the reasoning used in the development process is limited in some important dimensions, products are created that the public is then forced into buying, because those are the only such products available to them. A primary assumption that should be questioned, then, is that the people creating the technologies are also experts in understanding how the end-user will want and need to use that technology. For instance, a small number of companies monopolize the design and development of cell phones. Over time, to keep us buying, these phones become more complex with added features (often of little or no use to most buyers), while at the same time losing desirable features from a previous version of the same phone.\n \nThis points up the underlying pervasive authority of money on the fabric of human life, and specifically the untenable pattern of constantly spending on products for the purpose of maintaining the current capitalistic system, which is designed so that it can never be satiated no matter how productive our output.\n \nThis way of living requires the pursuit of ever higher yields of money through the ramping up of capitalism across the world, and is manifest in companies constantly creating products with as short a life span as we will tolerate, which can then be thrown away and replaced as soon as possible. This enables companies to force us into purchasing new technologies as soon as possible in order to constantly fill their coffers. Never mind that many of these products are far inferior to products made (in some cases) a hundred or more years ago. Never mind that the earth’s resources are being continually diminished and our trash heaps are ever growing.\n \n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"HOW THE INTERNET WORKS: THE BIG PICTURE"},{"insert":"\nTo understand the logic of the internet is first to see it as a huge information-propagating machine, with tentacles going out into countless directions which, in the perceivable future, will continue to expand into something like infinity. For our purposes, we need not catalog these tentacles (whose vastness would exhaust the mind, as well as become obsolete as soon as they were cataloged). Rather, what we need is to grasp the logic of the whole and how critical thinking can help us weave our way through internet information sources, weed out junk and nonsense unworthy of our attention, and focus on what is best and what enhances, rather than diminishes, the quality of our lives.\n \nFirst and foremost, as with all creations of humans, we must recognize that every website, again, is a product of human reasoning; even if generated by machines, every website must be at some point conceived by human reasoning, if only to set it in motion. As such, every website should be judged according to the quality of reasoning embedded in it.\n \nHere are some simple starting places:\n1. For most people today, spending enormous amounts of time on the internet is considered both natural and good. However, critical thinkers limit their exposure to the internet to those information sources and sites that enhance some part of their real lives. They spend far less time online than the vast majority of people, who seem or are addicted to the internet. This is because virtual reality simply is not the same as living in and experiencing the real world. Virtual reality can never replace the beauty and dynamism of experiencing actual human relationships face to face. Of course, at unusual times like this, during a worldwide pandemic which forces us to socially distance from one another, we have to rely on the internet more for social and business interactions. One of the best uses of the internet, indeed, is the fact that we can meet and talk face to face using webcams, in real time and all across the world. This feature has unlimited potential for good. We are only beginning to learn its value now.\n \n2. For the most part, “succeeding” on the internet is not the same as succeeding in the real world—the latter of which entails developing individual skills of creativity. Consider, for instance, the time wasted on gaming. Or consider the fact that people “play instruments” such as the guitar online, believing themselves to be actual musicians when they are nothing of the kind. These endeavors give the illusion of success, but in fact are addictions of the mind that lead away from engaging in real-life healthy and creative activities such as sports or playing the actual guitar or piano. Those who fall prey to these types of illusions are typically unaware of the fact that algorithms are designed, increasingly with the help of psychologists, to figure out exactly how to keep people addicted to these games and other digital activities.\n \n3. Recognize that we can divide internet content into two basic (but often overlapping) categories:\n \na) the websites you choose to visit and activities you choose to engage in."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"b) the things that come at you and happen to you as byproducts of visiting these websites—the advertisements bombarding you, advertisers tracking you in ways you are unaware of, government surveillance systems, and so forth. The varieties of websites you can choose to visit are ever expanding, so we wouldn’t try to catalogue them all, but here are some basic types:"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \n1. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn—these are place where people talk about and share all manner of things, including what is frequently termed “news.”"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"2. Shopping sites, such as the monstrous Amazon and numerous smaller sites, where you can purchase things that come right to your door."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"3. Educational and other information-propagating websites, such as encyclopedias; video-streaming services; schools, colleges, and universities (public and private, professional and technical, musical, artistic, and so on);"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"podcasts; and audio book sites."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"4. Gaming sites, including instrument and sports simulations."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"5. Social casinos, where people pretend they are gambling. Users are not winning real money, but they are paying real money to play. In fact, many people are apparently now addicted to the “game” of gambling in ways similar to additions to actual gambling, some of whom have lost tens of thousands of dollars or more at these social casinos.(footnote)"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"6. News sites, including mainstream and alternative news."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"7. Membership sites, including academic and technical sites, or sites dedicated to arts or the professions. Some of these are private and require payment to join."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"ASSESS A GIVEN WEBSITE USING CRITICAL THINKING STANDARDS"},{"insert":"\nAny website must be individually assessed for quality, since no standards are built into the internet. Freedom of speech allows for even the most inane, crass, immature, and dangerous thoughts to be broadcast, and people with similar biases tend to share their biased “news” and commentary with one another, validating their already narrowminded views.\n \nAgain, the quality of information—and, indeed, everything—found on the internet is only as good as the quality of the thinking that gives rise to it. And since the quality of human thinking is typically ignored in human societies, we can’t expect any given website to be at all concerned with advancing reasonable principles. See Criteria Corner in our academy to learn about critical thinking standards. "},{"attributes":{"color":"#954f72","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"  Also see: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#954f72","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":" ).\n\n \nFootnote: To understand some of the important implications of this, read how Facebook works with social casinos to keep people addicted: \n \n \n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"This blog was adapted from an excerpt (pp. 66-70) from our forthcoming book: "},{"insert":"Fact Over Fake: A critical thinkers guide to media bias and political propaganda"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":", by Richard Paul and Linda Elder (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2020, in press:"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"}]}

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Linda Elder
Sep 07, 2020 • 42d ago

{"ops":[{"insert":"Capitalism is the predominant economic force on the planet. Almost all humans and other sentient creatures now experience implications of capitalism. Even countries with socialist governments are intertwined with capitalism. In his book "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"A Theory of Global Capitalism"},{"insert":", William Robinson (2004) argues that we are now living in a new economic system of global capitalism, the theory of which he details:\n \nGlobalization is the underlying structural dynamic that drives social, political, economic, and cultural-ideological processes around the world in the twenty-first century. … Global capitalism has generated new social dependencies around the world. Billions of people who may have been at the margins of the system or entirely outside of it have now been brought squarely within its confines. The maintenance of the system is very much a life-and-death matter for millions, indeed billions, of people who, willingly or otherwise, have developed a stake in it. (p. xv)"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nThough capitalism has its strengths, the many negative implications that result from unrestrained capitalism are largely passed over or played down in today’s mainstream western cultures and beyond. In developed countries, people tend to assume capitalism is the best economic system; those who argue for public ownership and cooperative management of the means of production, through what are frequently stereotyped as “socialist” programs, are often marginalized and even demonized. People in capitalist countries generally fail to see capitalism as one choice among several viable economic systems. Born into capitalistic societies, they tend to uncritically accept capitalistic ideology.\n \nAnd capitalism represents a tremendously powerful sociocentric force in human life today. One problem with capitalism, according to Robinson, is that it naturally expands. “In order to survive, capitalism requires constant access to new sources of cheap labor, land, raw materials … and markets” (p. 3). In his concluding chapter on the contradictions of capitalism, Robinson (2004) points to some of its far-reaching problems:\n \n… as capitalism produces vast amounts of wealth, it also generates … social polarization and crisis … workers produce more goods and services than they are actually able to purchase with their wages … at some point capitalists as a group … are left with more goods and services produced by their workers than they are able to market. … This is the point at which economic recession typically sets in. … The polarization of world income, downward mobility, and declining purchasing power among broad swaths of humanity make it impossible for the world’s majority to consume all the goods being churned out by the global economy … two processes germane to capitalist development have intensified through globalization. One is the secular process by which the spread of capitalism uproots precapitalist classes such as peasantries and converts them into members of the working class. The accelerated incursion of capitalist production into the countryside around the world in the second half of the twentieth century uprooted hundreds of millions of peasants and threw them into the capitalist labor market, often as unemployed or underemployed workers. (pp. 147–149)"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nOne implication of unbridled capitalism is the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, not only in the United States, but across the world. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (June 25, 2010) reports: “The gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and 2007. … [T]he new data suggest greater income concentration at the top of the income scale than at any time since 1928.” The United Nations reports that “around the world more than 2.5 billion men, women and children live in grinding poverty on less than $2 a day. Such extreme poverty results in chronic hunger and malnutrition, preventable diseases such as malaria, measles and tuberculosis, environmental degradation, low literacy rates and countless other social, public health, economic and political problems.” According to the United Nations Development Report (1999), “Global inequalities in income and living standards have reached grotesque proportions.” The report goes on to say:\n\nThe richest countries, such as the United States, have 20 percent of the world’s people but 86 percent of its income … 82 percent of its exports and 74 percent of its telephone lines. The 20 percent living in the poorest countries, such as Ethiopia and Laos, have about 1 percent of each. The three richest officers of Microsoft—Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer—have more assets, nearly $140 billion, than the combined gross national product of the 43 least-developed countries and their 600 million people."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nWhen the market goes too far in dominating social and political outcomes, the opportunities and rewards of globalization spread unequally and inequitably— concentrating power and wealth in a select group of people, nations and corporations, marginalizing the others."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"The challenge is … to provide enough space for human, community and environmental resources to ensure that globalization works for people, not just for profits."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"One result of globalization is that the road to wealth—the control of production, patents and technology—is increasingly dominated by a few countries and companies … this monopoly of power is cutting poorer nations off from a share of the economic pie and, often, from decent health care and education."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nApproximately 150 years ago, in a private letter, President Abraham Lincoln (1864) predicted that the wealth of the U.S. would increasingly fall into the hands of a few; in essence, he anticipated the term “überwealthy,” now in almost common use. He could see powerful and unethical forces, emerging through capitalistic thought during his lifetime, and hence predicted what has in fact come true.\n \nI see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country … corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands. … I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nGiven the increasing gap between the rich and poor, and the consequent inordinate power now in the hands of the wealthiest few, Lincoln’s fears, again, have been realized. The question is how can we change what now seems inevitable – the continuing thirst for more things - for more to buy, the growing disparity between those who have too much and those who suffer from not having enough, and the many other continuing problems in unbridled capitalism? Is there a more just, and at the same time feasible, economic system that could be embraced by human societies? What are your recommendations?\n \n \nThis blog is adapted from my newly release book: "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Liberating the Mind"},{"insert":" by Linda Elder (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).\n\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"References:"},{"insert":"\n \nRobinson, W. (2004). A theory of global capitalism. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins\nUniversity Press.\n \nThe Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (June 25, 2010), taken from the website of the United Nations, "},{"attributes":{"color":"#954f72","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":", December 19, 2010.\n \nThe United Nations Human Development Report, found at\n\n \n"}]}

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Linda Elder
Aug 26, 2020 • 53d ago
To Have or To Be...wisdom from Erich Fromm

{"ops":[{"insert":"In his classic book entitled “"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"To Have Or To Be"},{"insert":",” Erich Fromm offers suggestions for cultivating what he calls “The New Man“. We will hopefully forgive his use of the term man for what is intended to mean persons or human beings.\n \nIn this remarkable but mostly forgotten book, Fromm argues that for humans to achieve a sense of well-being, all around, we must focus, not on what we can "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"get"},{"insert":" but what we can "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"be"},{"insert":". He points out that capitalism, as we have developed it, and the rise of technology, have together led to massive alienation and a failure in the vast majority of people to achieve what they would hope to achieve, and to be what they would want to be.  Fromm argues that people should focus on cultivating their highest and best inner selves themselves, or what he terms their “being,” rather than living in accordance with their possessions (including people they think they possess); he outlines a future world in which people develop character which entails the following, all of which connects with a robust conception of fairminded critical thinking (note that he even mentions critical thought):\n "},{"attributes":{"align":"justify"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"“• Willingness to give up all forms of having, in order to fully "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"be"},{"insert":".\n• Security, sense of identity, and confidence based on faith in what one is, on one's need for relatedness, interest, love, solidarity with the world around one, instead of on one's desire to have, to possess, to control the world, and thus become the slave of one's possessions.\n• Acceptance of the fact that nobody and nothing outside oneself give meaning to life, but that this radical independence and nothingness can become the condition for the fullest activity devoted to caring and sharing.\n• Being fully present where one is.\n• Joy that comes from giving and sharing, not from hoarding and exploiting.\n• Love and respect for life in all its manifestations, in the knowledge that not things, power, all that is dead, but life and everything that pertains to its growth are sacred.\n• Trying to reduce greed, hate, and illusions as much as one is capable.\n• Living without worshiping idols and without illusions, because one has reached a state that does not require illusions.\n• Developing one's capacity for love, together with one's capacity for critical, unsentimental thought.\n• Shedding one's narcissism and accepting the tragic limitations inherent in human existence.\n• Making the full growth of oneself and of one's fellow beings the supreme goal of living.\n• Knowing that to reach this goal discipline and respect for reality are necessary.\n• Knowing, also, that no growth is healthy that does not occur in a structure, but knowing, too, the difference between structure as an attribute of life and \"order\" as an attribute of no-life, of the dead.\n• Developing one's imagination, not as an escape from intolerable circumstances but as the anticipation of real possibilities, as a means to do away with intolerable circumstances.\n• Not deceiving others, but also not being deceived by others; one may be called innocent, but not naive.\n• Knowing oneself, not only the self one knows, but also the self one does not know—even though one has a slumbering knowledge of what one does not know.\n• Sensing one's oneness with all life, hence giving up the aim of conquering nature, subduing it, exploiting it, raping it, destroying it, but trying, rather, to understand and cooperate with nature.\n• Freedom that is not arbitrariness but the possibility to be oneself, not as a bundle of greedy desires, but as a delicately balanced structure that at any moment is confronted with the alternative of growth or decay, life or death.\n• Knowing that evil and destructiveness are necessary consequences of failure to grow.\n• Knowing that only a few have reached perfection in all these qualities, but being without the ambition to \"reach the goal,\" in the knowledge that such ambition is only another form of greed, of having.\n• Happiness in the process of ever-growing aliveness, whatever the furthest point is that fate permits one to reach, for living as fully as one can is so satisfactory that the concern for what one might or might not attain has little chance to develop.”\n\nHow many of the traps Fromm mentions here do you fall into?\n\n\n\nThe quote in this blog comes from "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"To Have or To Be"},{"insert":", by Erich Fromm, NY: Bantam Books (1988). Pp. 155-157.\n"}]}

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Linda Elder
Aug 17, 2020 • 63d ago
Help us Develop Critical Thinking Publications in Your Discipline, Subject and Profession

{"ops":[{"insert":"Though many people believe critical thinking is now common in human societies, the fact is that we are a long way from realizing fairminded critical societies in any part of the world. For instance, we still have very few books or guides to academic and professional subjects articulated through the explicit tools of critical thinking. We invite all established authors interested in working with us to develop thinker’s guides or books in your areas of specialty, including but not limited to the following list, developed by Richard Paul before he died. Paul envisioned a world in which every subject was understood through the core principles of critical thinking, since reasoning (and hence critical thinking) is at the heart of all domains of human thought. Here are some possibilities (contact me at "},{"attributes":{"color":"purple","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":" if you are interested in working with me on a thinker’s guide to critical thinking in your field):\n \nAnthropological thinking\nMathematical thinking\nSociological thinking\nArcheological thinking\nBiological thinking\nBotanical thinking\nZoological thinking\nChemical thinking\nBiochemical thinking\nGeological thinking\nPolitical thinking\nGeographical thinking\nEcological thinking\nPhysiological thinking\nAstronomical thinking\nFinancial thinking\nMedical thinking\nPharmacological thinking\nPsychological thinking\nArithmetic thinking\nAlgebraic thinking\nGeometrical thinking\nMusical thinking\nArtistic thinking\nBiotechnological thinking\nCriminological thinking\nEpidemiological thinking\nStatistical thinking\nTechnological thinking\nNano-technological thinking\nGlobal thinking\nPhilosophical thinking\nMetaphysical thinking\n___________ thinking\nThinking like a doctor\nThinking homeopathically\nThinking allopathically\nThinking like a surgeon\nThinking like a psychologist\nThinking like an economist\nThinking like a librarian\nThinking like a lawyer\nThinking like an educator\nThinking like a teacher\nThinking like a principal\nThinking like a dean\nThinking like a classroom teacher\nThinking like a novelist\nThinking like a dramatist\nThinking like a poet\nThinking like a writer\nThinking like a civil engineer\nThinking like a nurse\nThinking like an accountant\nThinking like an architect\nThinking like a sculpture\nThinking like a painter\nThinking like a dancer\nThinking like a physicist\nThinking like a parasitologist\nThinking like a linguist\nThinking like a computer scientist\nThinking like a judge\nThinking like a defense attorney\nThinking like a prosecutor\nThinking like a police officer\nThinking like a social worker\nThinking like a physical therapist\nThinking like a _______________\nMulti-logical thinking\nInterdisciplinary thinking\nTransdisciplinary thinking\nThinking Outside the box\nVisual thinking\nThinking Beneath the Surface\nIntegrative thinking\nCultural thinking\nTranscultural thinking\nMulticultural thinking\nPathological thinking\nEthnocentric thinking\nAutonomous thinking\nConformist thinking\nThinking theologically\n"}]}

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Linda Elder
Aug 02, 2020 • 78d ago
A Sound Theory of Critical Thinking is Not Proven Through Scientific Research

{"ops":[{"insert":"I recently received an email from a professor who said he could see how advantageous it would be to have the Paulian Framework adopted as a first-year university course at his institution, but that some of his colleagues cited a lack of supportive evidence for its effectiveness.\n \nThroughout our 40 years of advancing critical thinking, this argument has frequently been made by skeptical academicians. On the one hand this is completely understandable given the fluff and nonsense that frequently passes for critical thinking, along with the many superficial approaches to bringing thinking skills across the curriculum faculty have been encouraged (or even required) to use over the past few decades.\n \nOn the other hand, this viewpoint illuminates a lack of understanding of a robust, integrative conception of critical thinking. This is connected with the fact that a sound theory of critical thinking is not proven by science, nor through research. It is proven through its conceptual soundness; its effectiveness is proven through application of its principles to real life situations (as is the case with all theory).\n \nUnfortunately, in this postmodern era people tend to equate “proof” with "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"proof through scientific research"},{"insert":". In other words, everything is seen through the lens of science and especially scientific proof. But again, critical thinking is fundamentally conceptual and therefore must be understood conceptually; a reasonable theory of critical thinking is proven when it makes sense conceptually, not scientifically.\n \nFurther, very few teachers at any level understand critical thinking (as a rich set of concepts) well enough to teach it, much less conduct sound research focused on it. This is a criticism of academic systems far more than a criticism of individual faculty. Instructors at all levels typically study a discipline - but without the explicit tools of critical thinking that give rise to that discipline. Many faculty become well-versed in their academic discipline or profession without understanding the reasoning that guides and controls the paths of thinking within the discipline. Some of them are able to intuitively teach at least some critical thinking embedded in their disciplines, but mostly at an implicit level. Very few faculty clearly see their disciplines as a mode of thinking, or are able to explain the intellectual standards needed to reason well within their disciplines. Hence the dearth of high-quality research in critical thinking.\n \nWhat is needed is critical thinking at an explicit level, as well as an agreed–upon conception of critical thinking that entails these dimensions at minimum:\n1.    precise in detailing useful concepts for improving thought,\n2.    accessible to all students,\n3.    based in natural languages (not special languages like formal logic),\n4.    relevant to reasoning within all fields of study, and\n5.    provides explicit tools for analyzing, assessing, and improving reasoning across all domains of human thought.\n \nWe agree that more research is needed to “prove” the importance of critical thinking in the classroom, but only because faculty and administrators desire that proof. In a memorial edition of the journal "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Inquiry"},{"insert":": "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines"},{"insert":", I made the following argument which lays out minimal first principles in critical thinking that cannot be denied. Some of these principles are more intuitive than others, but all of them are essential to a robust, efficacious conception of critical thinking that provides the means for developing reasoning across every domain of study and thought where reasoning is employed (which is all legitimate fields of study).\n \nWhen researchers have command of these principles, and effective means for cultivating understanding of them in teaching and learning, they are then in a position to study the extent to which students come to learn and effectively use or embody them. Some few studies extant are helpful in this regard, but far more research is needed to convince those who lack understanding of these principles and who can only be convinced through scientific studies. When, however, faculty understand these principles as conceptual guides for reasoning, they should see the importance of critical thinking to reasoning within their fields, and to teaching students to understand the reasoning that makes up their fields. Through learning these principles, they should be convinced of the essential role of critical thinking in reasoning through questions and issues within any subject.\n \nThe rest of this article is excerpted and adapted from my article in the Richard Paul Memorial Edition of "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines, "},{"insert":"entitled R"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"ichard Paul’s Contributions to the Field of Critical and to the establishment of first principles in critical Thinking"},{"insert":" (Spring 2016, Vol. XXI No. 1, p. 8). This excerpt details Paul’s contribution to first principles in critical thinking. These are principles that are conceptual in nature (and, again, therefore not proven through science) and that would not be denied by reasonable persons. The degree to which faculty foster these first principles can be studied through social studies research, assuming that researchers and teachers involved have an acceptable understanding of them, how to teach them, and how to assess the extent to which they are utilized or embodied by students.\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"Paul’s Contribution to First Principles in Critical Thinking"},{"insert":"\nThough Paul’s theory of critical thinking can be detailed according to its complexities, by narrowing in on three conceptual sets of understandings in his theory --"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"the elements of reasoning, universal intellectual standards, "},{"insert":"and"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" intellectual virtues"},{"insert":" -- as Paul conceptualized, articulated, and expanded them, we can locate and develop what may be termed "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"logical first principles in critical thinking"},{"insert":". Some of the most essential may be briefly articulated as follows:\n \n1. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"All reasoning has a purpose, objective, goal or function."},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Critical Thinking Principle:"},{"insert":" If we are clear about our purpose, about what we are trying to accomplish or achieve, we are far more likely to achieve it than when we are not. Moreover, the pursuit of any specific purpose is justified only when the purpose is fair to all relevant persons, other sentient creatures, and/or groups. Be clear about your purpose, and be certain it is fair and justifiable in context.\n \n2. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, settle some question, or solve some problem."},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle:"},{"insert":" To settle a question, we must know what it is asking and how to go about answering it. In other words, for every question one might ask, there are conditions that must be met before the question can be settled. Clearly delineate these conditions as you reason through questions and problems.\n \n3. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"All reasoning is based on some data, information, evidence, experience or research. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle:"},{"insert":" Thinking can only be as sound as the information upon which it is based."},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"Make sure the information you use when reasoning through a question is relevant to the question, and that it is accurate.\n \n4. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"All reasoning contains inferences from which we draw conclusions and give meaning to information, experiences, and situations."},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle:"},{"insert":" Thinking can only be as sound as the inferences it makes (or the conclusions it comes to). Infer only what is implied by the evidence.\n \n5. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"All reasoning is based on assumptions— beliefs we take for granted"},{"insert":". "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle:"},{"insert":" Thinking can only be as sound as the assumptions (beliefs) upon which it is based. Assess assumptions for soundness and justifiability before accepting them, or acting upon them.\n \n6. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, concepts, ideas, theories, principles and definitions."},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle:"},{"insert":" Thinking can only be as clear, relevant, realistic and deep as the concepts that shape it. Be aware of how your concepts shape how you interpret life’s events and situations. Control the concepts that guide your thinking and your actions.\n \n7. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"All reasoning leads somewhere, entails implications and, when acted upon, has consequences. "},{"insert":"Implications may emanate in many directions from a given thought."},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"Every human thought entails implications – ideas that may radiate in many directions, and that may originate from many potential sources."},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"Implications of our thinking and behavior exist"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"whether we perceive them or not. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle:"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"It is essential to identify and think through the major implications that"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"follow from, or are connected with, the thinking you are focused on. Follow out the implications of reasoning in many potential directions when dealing with complex issues. Think through the significant consequences likely to"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"follow from your decisions before you make them.\n \n8. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"All thinking occurs within some point of view, perspective, or frame of reference, situated within a worldview"},{"insert":". "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle:"},{"insert":" To reason justifiably through an issue, you must identify significant points of view relevant to the issue and enter them empathically. Enter opposing viewpoints "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"to be moved by"},{"insert":" superior reasoning, rather than to defend a position you already hold. Always bank on the best reasoning in a given circumstance, rather than following a given person - including yourself. [See "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"The Wheel of Reason"},{"insert":" in our Academy to learn about the elements of reasoning - "},{"attributes":{"link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"; also see the "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Thinker’s Guide to Analytic Reasoning - "},{"attributes":{"link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"]\n \n9. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"All thinking has potential intellectual strengths and weaknesses and hence should be routinely and systematically assessed according to objective criteria for thought."},{"insert":" These criteria have been documented and developed throughout human history, and are found in all ordinary, or natural, languages, and hence in all primary dictionaries within natural languages. Intellectuals reasoning at the highest levels within all "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"bona fide"},{"insert":" disciplines and fields of study faithfully attempt to adhere to these criteria. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle:"},{"insert":" To reason well on a consistent basis, across the domains of your life, you must monitor your thinking to ensure that it is adheres to universal intellectual standards. Here are a few essential intellectual standards: clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, logic, significance, and fairness. [See Criteria Corner in our Academy for a deeper understanding of intellectual standards - "},{"attributes":{"link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":". Also see the Thinker’s Guide to Intellectual Standards - "},{"attributes":{"link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"]\n \n10. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"Human"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"thinking is not necessarily fair, since humans, frequently driven by selfish and narrow group-centered goals, are given to ignoring or downplaying the rights and needs of others. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle:"},{"insert":" Fairmindedness requires that people consider all viewpoints with an open mind, without reference to their own feelings or vested interests, or the feelings or vested interests of their friends, community, nation, or species. It implies adherence to intellectual standards, again, without reference to one’s own advantage or the advantage of one’s group. To reason critically in the fullest sense of the term, you must strive to be fairminded in all domains of your life entailing an ethical dimension.\n\n11. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"The mind does not naturally distinguish between what it knows and what it does not know, and therefore is not intrinsically predisposed toward "},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"intellectual humility"},{"insert":". Rather the natural state of humans at any given moment is to believe themselves to be in possession of the truth, or to think they know more than they know. The human mind is naturally intellectually arrogant, which entails intrinsic self-validation and protection of one’s belief systems. People do not tend to intrinsically seek to discover their misunderstandings, distortions, and ignorance. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle:"},{"insert":" To embody intellectual humility you must actively work against the natural human tendency to be intellectually arrogant; this necessitates regularly distinguishing what you know from what you do not know. To a large degree, you must build your knowledge base through the knowledge of your own ignorance.\n \n12. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"The mind does not naturally develop "},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"intellectual courage"},{"insert":"—the willingness to examine beliefs one holds dear and which one may have protected for many long years. Most people are not naturally comfortable standing up for beliefs that, though reasonable, are unpopular. Instead the intrinsic inclination of the human mind is to protect its beliefs and to conform to group standards of acceptability. The mind innately avoids, and even fears, discovering its false beliefs. And people are often, by nature, afraid of ridicule or exclusion from a social groups. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle:"},{"insert":" To embody intellectual courage, you must be willing to challenge a given belief, whether the belief is your own or another’s. You must work past your natural egocentric and sociocentric tendencies to determine what makes most sense to believe - without regard to whether you have believed it in the past, how long you may have held the belief, or whether it is popular to hold the belief.\n \n13. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"The mind does not naturally develop "},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"intellectual empathy"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"."},{"insert":" Rather it is frequently predisposed toward its opposite -- narrowness of vision, or reasoning within its own constricted and often self-serving viewpoint. Intellectual empathy entails understanding the need to imaginatively put oneself in the place of others to genuinely understand them; it requires practice in thinking within the viewpoints of others, especially those with whom one disagrees. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle: "},{"insert":"To embody intellectual empathy, you must sympathetically enter into points of view that differ from your own and articulate those views faithfully and insightfully.\n \n14. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"The mind does not naturally develop intellectual integrity, which "},{"insert":"is manifested in the commitment to hold oneself to the same standards of evidence and proof one expects others to meet (especially one’s antagonists). Humans do not naturally embody intellectual integrity. Instead, they tend to hold others to higher standards than the standards they impose on themselves. They often say they believe one thing, while their behavior implies that they in fact believe something else. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle"},{"insert":": To exemplify intellectual integrity, consistently and systematically hold yourself to the same standards you expect others to meet. Say what you mean and mean what you say.\n \n15. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"The mind does not naturally develop intellectual perseverance --"},{"insert":" the disposition to work one’s way through intellectual complexities despite frustrations inherent in a given intellectual task. Intellectual perseverance is not natural to the mind, as it requires the mind to be flexible rather than adhering to old patterns, the latter of which is more comfortable. The mind does not easily and naturally tolerate, much less invite, confusions, difficulties, and frustrations when working through problems and issues. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle: "},{"insert":"Developing your mind to a high degree requires the cultivation of intellectual perseverance, which inherently entails working through, and even inviting, complexities and frustrations without giving up.\n \n16. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"The mind does not naturally develop confidence in reason, "},{"insert":"or in other words, the disposition to recognize that humans consistently engaging in high-quality reasoning is essential to living a rational life, and to creating a more fair and just world. Confidence in reason is based on the belief that, in the long run, one’s own higher interests and those of humankind at large are best served by giving the freest play to reason, by encouraging people to come to their own conclusions, by developing, as far as possible, the rational faculties of everyone living in a society. Those who embody confidence in reason are keenly aware of the fact that the mind does not naturally use intellectual standards to determine what to believe and what to reject. They therefore attempt at all times to adhere to intellectual standards in determining what to accept and what to reject in human thought. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle"},{"insert":": To develop confidence in reason, you must always seek to discern, and then follow, the best reasoning in a given context and situation. This means, among other things, understanding the irrational propensities of the human mind that stand in the way of your ability to open your mind to reasoning you would rather not have to consider, and actively working to minimize these irrational tendencies. It entails strict adherence to intellectual standards when determining what to believe.\n \n17. "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"The mind does not naturally develop intellectual autonomy, "},{"insert":"or in other words, the disposition to take responsibility for one’s own thinking, beliefs, values and actions. Intellectual autonomy is acquired as one increasingly takes responsibility for one’s own thinking and the quality of one’s life. It is the opposite of being dependent on others for the direction and control of one’s decisions. Intellectual autonomy is rare in human life. Most people, rather than thinking autonomously, conform to group beliefs and actions. The groups they join and within which they are born often control their thoughts. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Related Critical Thinking Principle:"},{"insert":" To develop intellectual autonomy entails taking full responsibility for your own thinking, as well as your own actions. It means having the courage to stand alone in your beliefs, against even large crowds, when your views are those best justified given the evidence.\n \nThese seventeen first principles in critical thinking are "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"some"},{"insert":" of the principles central to any substantive conception of critical thinking, or in other words, of critical reasoning. All of them entail interrelationships, and many overlap with one another. Again, all of these particular first principles arise from three conceptual sets in the Paulian approach to critical thinking: "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"the elements of reasoning, intellectual standards, "},{"insert":"and"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" intellectual virtues"},{"insert":". Importantly, these principles intimately connect with other best thinking and best theory in the field of critical thinking, originating from the time of Socrates. [For an expansion of these principles, see "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"The Thinker’s Guide to Critical Thinking Competency Standards"},{"insert":". (Elder & Paul, 2007 - "},{"attributes":{"link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":").}\n \nHowever, if these first principles are not yet intuitive to you, the reader, as first principles in critical thinking, consider this: taking together the elements of reasoning and intellectual standards, as a set of interconnected concepts at the heart of critical thinking, one must assume the theory of both in order to negate either, should one be so inclined. For instance, if one were to argue that “neither the elements of reasoning nor the intellectual standards are central to analyzing and assessing reasoning,” one would, by necessity, be "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"using"},{"insert":" the elements and intellectual standards in the very act of attempting to negate them. This is true because, in making such a statement, one would be saying something one considers to be both "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"clear"},{"insert":" and "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"accurate"},{"insert":", and one would have some "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"purpose"},{"insert":" in making the statement. By perceiving oneself to be both "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"clear"},{"insert":" and "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"accurate"},{"insert":", one proves the importance of intellectual standards in reasoning. Further, since the speaker will naturally have some purpose in making the statement, the element of purpose is proven as a theoretical construct. And where one element of reasoning can be identified, the other seven are implied.\n\nFrom an instructional viewpoint, you can look at these first principles by attempting to negate them; by so doing you should clearly see the absurdity in such an attempt. Imagine, for example, telling students you are going to teach them (your subject, for instance, psychology) but you will not teach them to:\n1.    identify primary "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"purposes"},{"insert":" in psychology,\n2.    pursue psychological "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"questions"},{"insert":" or identify key questions psychologist ask.\n3.    gather and consider "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"information"},{"insert":" relevant to reasoning through psychological questions,\n4.    make psychological "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"inferences"},{"insert":" based on information gathered,\n5.    identify "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"assumptions"},{"insert":" within different primary theoretical schools of psychology,\n6.    follow out "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"implications"},{"insert":" of psychological reasoning,\n7.    master understanding of primary "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"viewpoints"},{"insert":" within core theoretical schools in psychology,\n8.    think within psychological "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"concepts"},{"insert":" and create psychological webs of understanding using these concepts.\n \nThe same type of reasoning holds in support of intellectual standards. Imagine teaching a course in which you argue that you will not be concerned with whether students’ thinking is clear, precise, accurate, relevant, deep, broad, significant, fair, logical, sufficient, or indeed whether it adheres to any other intellectual standards relevant to reasoning well within your discipline.\n\n \nFurther, if we presuppose the importance of the ethical dimension in human life, as well as intrinsic pathologies of the human mind such as egocentric and sociocentric thinking that work against ethical reasoning, we demonstrate the essential importance of intellectual virtues as guiding theory for first principles in critical thinking, as outlined in numbers 10-17 above. Those who reason at the highest levels of human thought and understanding will embody these, and other related, intellectual virtues, to a significant degree.\n \nMany additional first principles in critical thinking can be identified from the seminal work of Richard Paul, but again, those introduced here are the most intuitive, and form a central web of foundational concepts at the heart of a future field of critical thinking studies.\n\nThese principles cannot be proved through science or research. Instead they must be accepted "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"a priori"},{"insert":" (or without the need for proof); then the question becomes how can these principles best be fostered in teaching and learning.\n\n"}]}

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Gerald Nosich
Aug 01, 2020 • 79d ago
The Authenticity of Critical Thinking Issues

{"ops":[{"insert":"The following is adapted from the 4th edition of my "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Learning to Think Things Through: A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum"},{"insert":" (Pearson, 2012), p. 3-4.\n\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"Critical Thinking Is Authentic"},{"insert":"\nCritical thinking, at its heart, is thinking about real problems. Although you can reason out puzzles and brain-teasers, the essence of critical thinking comes into play only when you address real problems and questions rather than artificial ones. Artificial problems often include the questions asked in textbooks in a field or discipline. (They can usually be “answered” merely by finding the appropriate passage in the chapter.)  \n\tCritical thinking is far more about what you actually believe or do. It is about good judgment. Artificial, narrow problems may help when you want to hone or practice specialized skills, but even those skills help only if you consciously transfer them to real-life settings. (Honing your skills at guessing the endings of murder mysteries is not likely to be good preparation for becoming a criminal investigator. In murder mysteries, all the clues are provided, the murderer is one of the characters, and someone (the author) has set up the situation to make us guess the murderer’s identity. None of that is so in a criminal investigation.))\n\tReal problems are often messy. They have loose ends. They are usually unclear: clarifying and refining them are part of thinking them through. People sometimes say that such problems have “no right or wrong answers.” But that can’t be correct. They often have "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"no single right"},{"insert":" answer. But there are "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"wrong"},{"insert":" answers, even disastrous answers: there may not be any unique right person to take as your partner in life—but there are certainly people it would be disastrous to choose.\n\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"Authentic problems"},{"insert":"\nTo get the feel of authentic problems (in contrast to “textbook problems”), think of good novels you have read, or plays or movies you have seen. (Exclude contrived movies where everything automatically works out according to a formula.) Now consider the problems that are facing some character. Those will likely be"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"authentic"},{"insert":" problems. They are full of complications and other people’s cross-purposes; actions don’t work out exactly as planned; emotions and desires are heavily involved in the decisions people make.\n\tChoose an example or two like that, and try to reason through decisions that the character could make.\n"}]}

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Linda Elder
Jul 19, 2020 • 91d ago
Why Everyone is Prejudiced and Therein Lies the Problem

{"ops":[{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":"Since the Foundation for Critical Thinking has been advancing fairminded critical thinking for 40 years, it should be no surprise that we stand in solidarity with all those people working across the world to cultivate, support, and lead the way in creating egalitarian societies. It is clear that fairminded critical societies, properly so called, would not support biases, prejudices, or unethical actions based on a person’s skin color or ethnicity (or indeed any other superficial reason). Fairminded critical societies would not allow police to assault and abuse the people it is charged with protecting. It would not advance a police-state mentality designed to control the people."},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":"Going deeper, it is important to recognize that prejudice is a natural part of human thinking – indeed everyone is prejudiced in favor of many things and against others; these prejudices live in our assumptions, which we take for granted, and from which our worldview is formed. Of course, some people are more prejudiced than others; some act on their biases in egregious ways while others are more subtle in the ways they express their biases. Some people have the power to harm other people based on their prejudices and biases.  As we have now clearly (and sadly) seen, some groups, like the police, have considerable power to terrorize people based on their prejudices."},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":"While we need to address and redress the immediate illegal and unethical behaviors of the police against African American people in this country, the problem will not be solved until we as humans understand what lies at the heart of bias and prejudice. Until then, only superficial approaches will be taken to the problem, and those superficial approaches, being superficial, will not lead to a more fair and just society. Only revolutionary changes in the way we think can do that. These revolutionary changes must be based in ethical critical thinking, or they will be superficial."},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":"For an excellent treatise on the role of prejudice in all human thinking, read "},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20","italic":true},"insert":"Critical Thinking and the Nature of Prejudice "},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":"by Richard Paul, which you can find at this link in our community:"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"purple","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n"}]}

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