Blog - by Linda Elder with Richard Paul Archives

Welcome to the interactive blog of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. The chief contributor is Dr. Linda Elder, President and Senior Fellow of the Foundation. We also post articles and interviews from the Richard Paul Archives, featuring seminal work and ideas from throughout Dr. Paul's life and career. There may also be occasional contributions from other Foundation for Critical Thinking Fellows and Scholars.

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.

Lastly, this blog will occasionally feature articles by community members that are exemplary in advancing critical thinking. If you would like to submit an article for consideration, please send them to us at
Richard Paul Archives
May 20, 2022 • 2d ago
[Part 3] The Critical Thinking Movement in Historical Perspective

{"ops":[{"insert":"Missed Part 2? "},{"attributes":{"underline":true,"bold":true,"link":""},"insert":"Read It Here"},{"insert":"]\n\nIn 1860 the average North American spent little more than a year in school, and by 1900 spent little more than 2 years. In 1880, 17 percent of the population still could not read or write. Increasingly in this time period the question of empire was before the public and the electorate was expected to decide, for example, whether or not it was justifiable to “rule a people without their consent”. Those, like Senator Beveridge, who favored imperialism, as did the majority of voters, easily formulated a logic whose fallaciousness as not penetrated by the voting majority:\n \nThe opposition tells us that we ought not to govern a people without their consent. I answer: The rule of liberty, that all just government derives its authority from the consent of the governed, applies only to those who are capable of self-government. I answer: We govern the Indians without their consent, we govern our territories without their consent, we govern our children without their consent . . . Shall we save them . . . to give them a self-rule of tragedy? It would be like giving a razor to a babe and telling it to shave itself. It would be like giving a typewriter to an Eskimo and telling him to publish one of the great dailies of the world. (US Senator Albert Beveridge, 1899.)"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nSenator Beveridge could link, without fear of significant dissent from an electorate of thinking people. The voice of liberty, Christ’s gospel, and our profit:\n \nAh! as [sic] our commerce spreads, the flag of liberty will circle the globe and the highways of the ocean – carrying trade to all mankind – will be guarded by the guns of the republic. And, as their thunders salute the flag, the benighted peoples will know that the voice of liberty is speaking, at last for them; that civilization is dawning, at last, for them, - liberty and civilization, those children of Christ’s gospel, who follow and never precede the preparing march of commerce. It is the tide of God’s great purposes made manifest in the instincts of our race, whose present phase is our personal profit, but whose far-off end is the redemption of the world and the Christianization of mankind."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nIt should be no surprised therefore that William Graham Sumner, one of the founding fathers of anthropology, was appalled by the manner in which history was taught and the level of uncritical thinking that followed it:\n \nThe examination papers show the pet ideas of the examiners . . . An orthodoxy is produced in regard to all the great doctrines of life. It consists in the most worn and commonplace opinions . . . It is intensely provincial and philistine . . . (containing) broad fallacies, half-truths, and glib generalizations. (We are given) . . . orthodox history . . . (so) . . . that children shall be taught just that one thing which is “right” in the view and interest of those in control and nothing else . . . “Patriotic” history . . . never can train children to criticism. ("},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Folkways"},{"insert":", 1906)"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nHigher education was little better. It began in the 17"},{"attributes":{"script":"super"},"insert":"th"},{"insert":" and 18"},{"attributes":{"script":"super"},"insert":"th"},{"insert":" centuries in primarily upper class “seminaries”, providing a classical education though not, of course, in the Socratic sense. Students were drilled in Latin and Greek and Theology. Inculcation, memorization, repetition, and forensic display were the order of the day. Not until the latter half of the 19"},{"attributes":{"script":"super"},"insert":"th"},{"insert":" Century was higher education possible for someone not in the upper class, and then only at the new Land Grant Colleges (150 new colleges opened between 1880 and 1900), established to promote “education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and progressions in life”. Their emphasis was “agriculture and the mechanic arts”. Students graduated with an agricultural, commercial, technical, industrial, scientific, professional, or theological focus. Higher education turned out graduates fit to enter farms, businesses, professions, and the clergy. Their “civic” education was not fundamentally liberal but nationalistic, not fundamentally emancipatory but provincial.\n \nThe history of teaching fits into this picture like a perfectly carves puzzle piece. In the early days teachers were selected from those who had no other job and could read, write, and cipher. From the start teaching was a low prestige, low paying job. Normal schools did not begin springing up until after 1830, and then their curriculum mainly consisted of a review of the subjects taught in elementary school, such as reading, writing, arithmetic, and spelling. Eventually, and in the spirit of industrialism, science, and technology, education – still conceived fully within the traditional U.S. world view – came to be considered, and is still largely considered, a “science” of methods of “delivery”. At no point along the way, even to this day, were, or are, prospective teachers expected to demonstrate their ability to lead a discussion Socratically, so that, for example, students explore the evidence that can be advanced for or against their beliefs, note the assumptions upon which they are based, their implications for, or consistency with, other espoused beliefs. Neither were, or are, they expected to demonstrate ability to think analytically or critically about the issues of the day. The state of affairs (circa 1920-35) is satirically suggested by H.L. Mencken:\n \nThe art of pedagogics becomes a sort of puerile magic, a thing of preposterous secrets, a grotesque compound of false premises and illogical conclusions. Every year sees a craze for some new solution of the teaching enigma, an endless series of flamboyant arcana. The worst extravagances of "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"private dozent"},{"insert":" experimental psychology are gravely seized upon; the uplift pours in its ineffable principles and discoveries; mathematical formulae are marked out for every emergency; there is no sure-cure so idiotic that some superintendent of schools will not swallow it. The aim seems to be to reduce the whole teaching process to a sort of automatic reaction, to discover some master formula that will not only take the place of competence and resourcefulness in the teacher but that will also create an artificial receptivity in the child. Teaching becomes a think in itself, separable from and superior to the thing taught. Its mastery is a special business, a sort of transcendental high jumping. A teacher well grounded in it can teach anything to any child, just as a sound dentist can pull any tooth out of any jaw. (Baltimore Sun, 1923)"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"}]}

6 Views     Write a Comment

Linda Elder
May 16, 2022 • 6d ago
Prejudice, Bias, Murder, Victims, Sadness, and the Immediate Need for Gun Control

{"ops":[{"insert":"Our hearts go out to the victims of the mass shootings in Buffalo, NY, Laguna Woods, CA, and all the places in which innocent people have been murdered by ideologues, or by mentally ill people, throughout the past few years. These murders have now become so routine that we seem to become numbed to them, unless of course we are directly affected by them. The families of those killed in these mass shootings systematically call for us to do away with the bias, prejudice, hatred that underlies these crimes. Though we know that mass murderers act for differing reasons, based in differing assumptions and world views, we also know that "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"their reasoning which leads them to these heinous crimes is fundamentally and dangerously flawed"},{"insert":".\n \nIf we lived in a world where fairminded critical thinking were advanced and actively cultivated, rather than being given lip service, we would be able to better address this problem at a foundational and systemic level. But egocentric and sociocentric thinking, the opposites of rational, reasonable thinking, remain the norm in human societies, as has been the case throughout human history. Group think is rampant at all levels of human society, from which prejudice and bias emerge. Distorted views keep us from seeing things as they are, and many social networking sites deliberately or inadvertently encourage these distorted views. Supremacist forms of thinking seem to be on the rise across the world. How sad that it is taking humans so long to understand and embrace basic ethical principles that all reasonable persons should readily give assent to.  \n \nTo learn more about the problems of prejudice and bias running through human life, see excerpts from Liberating the Mind: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n \nUntil we do begin to actively foster, throughout schooling and society, understanding and embodiment of intellectual virtues such as intellectual empathy, intellectual autonomy, confidence and reason, and fairmindedness, we will not be able to address the root problem of prejudice in human cultures. It is this prejudice, through distorted thinking, that frequently leads some imbalanced people to take the lives of innocent persons due to their skin color, religious creed, or country of origin.\n \nUntil we do achieve fairminded critical societies, which appears to be a long way into the distant future for the human species if it ever is to occur, we can address the problem of mass murderers, to a large degree, through reasonable gun legislation. It is the responsibility of our politicians to protect the public interest. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"By refusing to pass reasonable gun laws, politicians reveal that they are not concerned with protecting innocent people"},{"insert":". "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"They themselves are therefore implicated in these crimes"},{"insert":". We the people are also to blame for failing to elect and support politicians concerned to act according to the common good who would pass reasonable laws in our common interest. How sad it is that, after the imbalanced murderers complete their sick, distorted “missions,” and the politicians once again fail in their duty to protect innocent people, the grandmothers, the parents, the young people stopping off at the store for a few items, or those attending church, lose their lives, and their families are left with grief, torment and anguish. This pattern we are now witnessing again and again, with the same calls for change, and with nothing changing. It is beyond time to enact preventative gun laws which will not bring back the innocent victims of sick people with cart blanche to weapons of mass destruction. But it will greatly reduce the chances of further such atrocities and further sadness.\n"}]}

18 Views     Write a Comment

Richard Paul Archives
May 11, 2022 • 11d ago
[Part 2] The Critical Thinking Movement in Historical Perspective

{"ops":[{"insert":"[Missed Part 1? "},{"attributes":{"underline":true,"bold":true,"link":""},"insert":"Read It Here"},{"insert":"]\n\nLet us not forget that schools in the US were established precisely to transmit by inculcation self-evident true beliefs conducive to right conduct and successful “industry.” The best seller of 17"},{"attributes":{"script":"super"},"insert":"th"},{"insert":" Century North America was Michael Wigglesworth’s "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Day of Doom"},{"insert":", a detailed description of the terrifying fate of condemned sinners. To questions this fate was heresy. In 1671, governor Sir Williams Berkeley of Virginia could say with pride:\n \n . . . there are no free schools, nor printing in Virginia, for learning has brought disobedience, and heresy . . . into the world, and printing has divulged them . . . God keep us from both!"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \n“Free schools” were set up, as in Massachusetts (1647), “to teach all children to read and write . . . [to combat] that old deluder Satan,” or, (1675) to ensure that “children and servants” are “catechized.” In Plymouth Colony (1671) “Education of Children” was mandated because “Children and Servants” were “ . . . in danger [of] growing Barbarous, Rude, or Stubborn” and hence were becoming “pests.” This was hardly the climate in which analytic thinking and critical questioning could thrive. All questioning began and ended with a “Nil desperandum, Christo duce.” (Don’t despair, Christ is leading us.) This sense of having a mission or mandate from God has discouraged self-reflective questioning. At times it has generated arrogant self-delusion.\n \nAs late as 1840, U.S. schools taught the ordinary students nothing but the three R’s, some basic catechism, and a smattering of patriotic history. The school term was short and attendance irregular. In 1800, for example, the average American attended school only 82 days out of their entire lives. By 1840 it has increased to only 208 days.\n \nWhen the time in school increased, it was not because of a demand for critical thinking but for better reading and writing, skills increasingly necessary in the commercial and industrial activities of the day. To get a sense of the quality of reading instructions, one need only hear the assessment of Horace Mann:\n \nI have devoted especial pains to learn, with some degree of numerical accuracy, how far the reading, in our schools, is an exercise of the mind in thinking and feeling and how far it is a barren action of the organs of speech upon the atmosphere. My information is derived principally from the written statements of the school committees of the respective towns – gentlemen who are certainly exempt from all temptations to disparage the schools they superintend. The results is that more than 11/12ths of all the children in the reading classes do not understand the meanings of the words they read; and that the ideas and feelings intended by the author to be conveyed to, and excited in, the reader’s mind, still rest in the author’s intention, never having yet reached the place of their destination. (Second report to the Massachusetts Board of Education, 1838.)"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nThe increasing use of machinery, the rapid expansion of transportation, and the new waves of non-Anglo-Saxon immigrants, not a change in the basic U.S. mind set, were the main causes of expansion of schooling. For a long time the McGuffy readers, with their parables about the terrific fate of those who gave in to sloth, drunkenness, or wastefulness were as close as the average student got to reflective thinking. Of course, if they wanted, students could cogitate on their own on the higher level questions implicit in this passage:\n \nRemember, that time is money ,. . . that credit is money . . . that money is of the prolific, generating nature, that six pounds a year is but a great day . . . that the good paymaster is lord of another man’s purse. (Ben Franklin, 1770.)"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"}]}

29 Views     Write a Comment

Linda Elder
May 01, 2022 • 21d ago
Thinking Critically About War, Responsibility, and the Future

{"ops":[{"insert":"Many people across the world are justifiably horrified at the destruction, murders, rapes, and other "},{"attributes":{"background":"#e2ebf5","color":"black"},"insert":"terrifying actions in Ukraine at the hands of the Russian government and soldiers operating under their direction. Unfortunately, our usual human inclination is to uncritically accept the agreed-upon story fed to us through mainstream media."},{"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"background":"#e2ebf5","color":"black"},"insert":"I just read an excellent interview of Noam Chomsky by C.J. Polychroniou entitled "},{"attributes":{"background":"#e2ebf5","color":"black","italic":true},"insert":"Noam Chomsky: Russia’s War Against Ukraine Has Accelerated the Doomsday Clock "},{"attributes":{"background":"#e2ebf5","color":"black"},"insert":"("},{"attributes":{"color":"black"},"insert":"March 30, 2022. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#5189aa","link":""},"insert":"Truthout"},{"attributes":{"color":"black","italic":true},"insert":")"},{"attributes":{"background":"#e2ebf5","color":"black","italic":true},"insert":", "},{"attributes":{"background":"#e2ebf5","color":"black"},"insert":"in which Chomsky delineates some of the complexities in this war and the lead-up to the war. In this interview Chomsky also points out some of the responsibilities of the United States government that remain unfulfilled, leading to tremendous suffering. Toward the end of the interview, Chomsky says:"},{"insert":"\n \n“We live in dangerous times. We may recall that the Doomsday Clock abandoned minutes and shifted to seconds under Trump, and is now set at 100 seconds to midnight — termination. The analysts who set the clock give three reasons: nuclear war, environmental destruction, and collapse of democracy and a free public sphere, which undermines the hope that informed and aroused citizens will compel their governments to overcome the dual race to disaster."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"The war in Ukraine has exacerbated all three of these disastrous tendencies. The nuclear threat has sharply increased. The dire necessity of sharply reducing fossil fuel use had been reversed by adulation of the destroyers of life on Earth for saving civilization from the Russians. And democracy and a free public sphere are in ominous decline."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"It is all too reminiscent of 90 years ago, though the stakes are far higher today. Then, the U.S. responded to the crisis by leading the way to social democracy, largely under the impetus of a revived labor movement. Europe sank into fascist darkness."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"What will happen now is uncertain. The one certainty is that it is up to us.”"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nI highly recommend this interview to you, which you can read here: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n \n"},{"attributes":{"align":"center"},"insert":"\n"}]}

34 Views     Write a Comment

Richard Paul Archives
Apr 27, 2022 • 25d ago
[Part 1] The Critical Thinking Movement in Historical Perspective

{"ops":[{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Abstract"},{"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"In this paper, originally published in "},{"insert":"National Forum"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" (1985), Richard Paul discusses the history of education in the United States from the standpoint of critical thinking. He stresses the traditional U.S. emphasis, evident from the earliest days of education, on passive learning, training, and indoctrination. He begins with a characterization of 17th"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"century attitudes and then traces the dominant view of education from initial European settlers to 20th century critiques of education."},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\nThe “critical thinking movement” is beginning to have a palpable effect on the day-to-day life of American schooling. California is a bellwether in this regard. Four years ago, the massive 19-campus California State University system instituted a graduation requirement in critical thinking intended to achieve:\n \n. . . an understanding of the relationship of language to logic, leading to the ability to analyze, criticize, and advocate ideas, to reason inductively and deductively, and to reach factual or judgmental conclusions based on sound inferences drawn from unambiguous statements of knowledge or belief."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nWithin two years the even larger community college system established a parallel requirement. And now, two years further down the line, the California State Department of Education is preparing to test all 8"},{"attributes":{"script":"super"},"insert":"th"},{"insert":" grade students in three areas: reading and written expression, math, and social studies. Remarkably, and representing a strikingly new testing emphasis, approximately one-third of the items were designed to test critical thinking skills. David Gordon, California’s Associate Superintendent of Public Instruction, recently said that he considered the state at the very beginning of a series of reforms in this direction, including textbooks, curriculum, staff development, and teacher education.\n \nUntil recently the movement was no more than a small scattered group of educators calling for a shift from a didactic paradigm of knowledge and learning to a Socratic, critically-reflective one. Its early stirrings can be traced back to and beyond Edward Glaser’s "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"An Experiment in the Development of Critical Thinking"},{"insert":" (1941) and his development with Watson of the "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal"},{"insert":" (1940).\n \nOf course, its deepest intellectual roots are ancient, traceable to the teaching practice and vision of Socrates 2,400 years ago who discovered by a method of probing questioning that people could not rationally justify their confident claims to knowledge. Confused meanings, inadequate evidence, or self-contradictory beliefs often lurked beneath smooth but largely empty rhetoric. Since his time, Socrates’ insight has been variously articulated by a scattering of intellectuals, certainly by the 18th, and increasingly in the 19th and 20th centuries; Voltaire, John Henry Newman, John Stuart Mill, and William Graham Sumner are a few that come readily to mind. Consider Mill:\n \n. . . since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied. ("},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"On Liberty"},{"insert":", 1859)"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nOr Newman:\n \n. . . knowledge is not a mere extrinsic or accidental advantage, . . . which may be got up from a book, and easily forgotten again . . . which we can borrow for the occasion, and carry about in our hand . . . (it is) something intellectual . . . which reasons upon what it sees . . . the action of a formative power . . . making the objects of our knowledge subjectively our own. ("},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Idea of a University"},{"insert":", 1852)"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nOr Sumner:\n \nThe critical habit of thought, if usual in a society, will pervade all its mores, because it is a way of taking up the problems of life. People educated in it cannot be stampeded by stump orators and are never deceived by dithyrambic oratory. They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probably in all degrees, without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence, uninfluenced by the emphasis and confidence with which assertions are made on one side or the other. They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices and all kinds of cajolery. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens. ("},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Folkways"},{"insert":", 1906)"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nThis view of knowledge and learning holds that beliefs without reason and the judgment of the learner behind them are for that learner mere prejudices, and that critical reflection on the part of each and every learner is an essential precondition of knowledge and of rational action. Until now this view has made little headway against a deeply if unconsciously held contrary mind-set. The everyday world – especially in the U.S.A. where the agenda has been filled with one pragmatic imperative after another, a nation with a “mission” to perform and a “destiny” to fulfill – provides little time for self-formed, self-reasoned beliefs.\n"}]}

48 Views     Write a Comment

Linda Elder
Apr 15, 2022 • 37d ago
Egocentric and Sociocentric Thinking as Barriers to Critical Thinking - a podcast interview

{"ops":[{"insert":"I invite you to view the video of Simon Rilling’s recent interview with me, which you can find here in our community: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":" . This will also be made available soon with a German translation through Simon’s team.\n \nThank you, Simon, for inviting me to discuss theory of the human mind, with emphasis on egocentric and sociocentric thinking as barriers to criticality. We need more interviewers and reporters interested in advancing fairminded critical societies through their work, like Simon.\n"}]}

160 Views     Write a Comment

Richard Paul Archives
Apr 01, 2022 • 51d ago
[Part 3, Final Section] Power, Vested Interest, and Prejudice: On the Need for Critical Thinking in the Ethics of Social and Economic Development

{"ops":[{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"[Missed Part 2? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"link":""},"insert":"Read It Here"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"]"},{"insert":"\n\n\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"There Is a Need to Foster Critical Thinking in the Education of the Ordinary Citizen"},{"insert":"\n\nThere is little hope that the leaders of powerful nations and groups will of their own volition take ethical considerations seriously in formulating policies and practices that bear on the well-being and development of all. They must be pressured by those not deeply involved in the struggle for political and economic power. But such persons are traditionally ill-prepared to exercise the critical thinking necessary to address the problem of development. Though the relevant ethical principles have been formulated, ordinary people have not been taught those formulations. They have not been encouraged to seek out sources of information not readily accessible in their national public media nor in how to analyze the media critically. They have not developed the conceptual sophistication to see through the bias of their own groups’ conceptualizations.\n\nUnless educators in all countries can begin to foster genuine critical thinking in schools accessible to most people, or some other means is developed or generated for helping people free themselves from the self-serving manipulations of their own leaders, it is doubtful that “ethical reasoning” will play its appropriate role in social and economic development. Ethical reasoning, to be effective, cannot be “uncritical,” for ethical principles must be applied in the context of human actions and interest heavily polluted by distortion and one-sidedness, by vested interests portrayed in the guise of ethical righteousness.\n"}]}

72 Views     Write a Comment

Linda Elder
Mar 29, 2022 • 54d ago
Critical Thinking: Going Deeper Through our New Podcast Series

{"ops":[{"insert":"In a previous blog I offered some suggestions for those of you who are just beginning to learn critical thinking. For those of you who already have an initial understanding of the "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Paul – Elder Framework for Critical Thinking"},{"insert":", Dr. Gerald Nosich and I have initiated a podcast series entitled "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Going Deeper"},{"insert":". In the first series within these series, we are burrowing into the "},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"elements of reasoning"},{"insert":". This first series is titled: "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"The Analysis of Reasoning: Going Deeper"},{"insert":". Thus far we have posted five episodes focused on "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"purpose"},{"insert":" and "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"questions"},{"insert":" in reasoning. We hope these podcasts help you continue to internalize critical thinking and apply it in your life. We intentionally do not include visuals in these podcasts so you may listen while not looking into your computer. We do at times refer to other materials in the community which we hope you will pursue after watching or listening to the podcasts. You can find these in our new podcast section here: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"  \n\nWe welcome your comments on these podcasts.\n"}]}

73 Views     Write a Comment

Richard Paul Archives
Mar 17, 2022 • 66d ago
[Part 2] Power, Vested Interest, and Prejudice: On the Need for Critical Thinking in the Ethics of Social and Economic Development

{"ops":[{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"[Missed Part 1? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"link":""},"insert":"Read It Here"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"]"},{"insert":"\n\n\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"There Are No Practical Incentives for the Powerful to Comply"},{"insert":"\n\nIf actions speak louder than words, then the powerful nations and groups (for example, international corporations) tell us that there is no reason to limit the pursuit of their vested interests, profit, and advantage because of the demands of ethical principles.\n \nThe overwhelming majority of nations have condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, for example, but this condemnation has not persuaded the Soviets to withdraw. The overwhelming majority of nations and the World Court have condemned the U.S.-sponsored invasion of Nicaragua, but the condemnation has not persuaded the U.S. government to desist. Amnesty International and other organizations have documented the extensive use of torture, assassination and terrorism by many nations, but have failed to significantly reduce these ethical violations. Although powerful nations and groups attempt to maintain a positive image in the world press, clearly this image-fostering has little to do with ethical scruples or a willingness to respond to ethical critique. Furthermore, powerful nations spend a great deal of money on covert actions of their intelligence wings, enabling them to evade responsibility for much of their own unethical behavior. Hence the fact, for example, that Idi Amin was brought to power by collaborative efforts by the CIA, MOSSAD (Israel), and the MI6 (Britain) is not common knowledge, even though scholarly documentation is readily available. Consequently, nations can easily take a strong public stand condemning terrorism while financing it with a lot of money and technical expertise.\n \nThe amoral and immoral activities of powerful nations and groups, whether overt or covert, are often at odds with the social, political, and economic development of less powerful nations and groups, so there is a crucial link between the manner in which power is obtained and used and the problems of third-world development.\n\nDo not assume I am implying that the leaders of powerful governments and groups are self-consciously or deliberately amoral or immoral in the formulations of their policies and decisions. This I do not intend or believe. Rather my view is that many who rise to political and economic power have highly developed their capacity for rationalizing their vested interests and ignoring viewpoints or lines of reasoning which question what they do. Most discussions over pressing policy decisions focus on ways and means for advancing specific interests; to raise ethical issues in such discussions would seem to the participants “irrelevant”, “idealistic”, or “hopelessly philosophical”. If nothing else, groups vying for power would hesitate to restrict their own use of power, based on ethical considerations, while competing groups, in their view, are not so restricted. Furthermore, since competing groups, in their view, tend to drift toward considering the competing “other” as the “enemy”, restricting their activities based on ethical considerations appears to them as “folly”.\n \nJerome Frank has described this tendency with respect to the phenomenon of war in the following way:\n\nThe power of group relationships to determine how the members of groups perceive each other has been neatly shown by the vicissitudes of this image, which always arises when two nations are in conflict and which is always the same no matter who the conflicting parties are. Enemy images mirror each other — that is, each side attributes the same virtues to itself and the same vices to the enemy. “We\" are trustworthy, peace-loving, honorable, and humanitarian; “they\" are treacherous, warlike, and cruel. In surveys of Americans conducted in 1942, the first five adjectives chosen to characterize both Germans and Japanese (enemies) included warlike, treacherous, and cruel, none of which appeared among the first five describing the Russians (allies); in 1966 all three had disappeared from American characterizations of the Germans and Japanese (allies), but now the Russians (no longer allies, although more rivals than enemies) were warlike and treacherous. In 1966 the mainland Chinese, predictably, were seen as warlike, treacherous, and sly. After President Nixon’s visit to China, these adjectives disappeared from our characterization of the Chinese, whom we now see as hardworking, intelligent, artistic, progressive, and practical."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"The image of the enemy creates a self-fulfilling prophecy by causing enemies to acquire the evil characteristics they attribute to each other. In combating what they perceive to be the other’s cruelty and treachery, each side becomes more cruel and treacherous itself. The enemy-image nations form of each other thus more or less corresponds to reality."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\nOf course much of the use of economic resources is motivated today by considerations seen as crucial to the “cold war”. Economies and economic and political policies are deeply tied into the role nations and groups appear to play in relation to this struggle between the U.S. and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies. The superpowers try to prevent anyone from remaining outside of their strategic decisions and policies.\n \nMost citizens find it very difficult to make reasonable ethical judgments about questions of development, when most of their information comes from the public media which are heavily influenced (when not overtly controlled) by a perspective on development of powerful groups.\n \nThe picture I am painting is as follows. The leaders of powerful nations and groups are involved in an intense struggle for power, within the context of which ethical principles seem irrelevant or somehow intrinsically embedded in their own vested interests. On the other hand, the majority of citizens in the world are provided with information from sources that are tied, in large part, to these same powerful vested interests. Thus, neither the leaders of powerful nations and groups nor their “followers” are likely to analyze or apply the ethical principles relevant to development in a way likely to do justice to those principles. The thinking of the leaders verges toward practical manipulations, rationalizations, and narrow ways and means analysis while the thinking of the followers tends toward naivete and closedmindedness fostered by their restricted sources of information, limited access to education, and traditional ethnocentric prejudices. The misinformation and disinformation fostered by the vested interests shape the media representations making the question of development a puzzle to most.\n"}]}

157 Views     Write a Comment

Linda Elder
Mar 14, 2022 • 69d ago
How Do You Begin to Learn Critical Thinking?

{"ops":[{"insert":"Many of you are new to critical thinking. There are many resources available in our libraries and in the Academy for you to develop your understanding of critical thinking. But where should you begin? You can enter critical thinking at almost any point. For an overview of our framework for critical thinking, I recommend that you view this video first:\n \n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n \nThen to deepen your understanding of critical thinking fundamentals, I suggest that you read the excerpts in these publications:\n \n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"The Miniature Guide To Critical Thinking Concepts And Tools:"},{"insert":" \n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n \n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"The Thinkers Guide To Analytic Thinking"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n \n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"The Thinkers Guide To The Human Mind"},{"insert":" \n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n \nThen you should begin to work through the activities in the academy – see the main blue menu, that you can reach from any page in the community when you click on the thinker in the top left corner.\n \nOnce you have watched the video and read the publications above, you will recognize the "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Wheel of Reason"},{"insert":" in the Academy as the elements of reasoning, "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Criteria Corner"},{"insert":" in the Academy as intellectual standards, "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Virtuous Virtues"},{"insert":" as intellectual virtues. "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"The Triangle of Thinking, Feelings, And Desires "},{"insert":"and"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" The Wall of Barriers"},{"insert":" in the Academy focuses on material found in the "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Thinker’s Guide to the Human Mind"},{"insert":". If you want to develop as a critical thinker, it is essential for you to work through activities that force you to see your thinking in a new light, to find problems in your thinking, and to find paths for correcting those problems.\n \nOnce you have watched this video, and completed these readings, as well as the activities in these sections of the academy, you are in a good position then to go anywhere in the library and the Academy to further develop your thinking. You will want to watch all of the Richard Paul videos that you find in our audiovisual library, since Richard is the originator of our work and our school of thought.\n \nI also strongly recommend that you attend our bi-weekly webinars – you will find the schedule here:\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n \nI hope that you will also attend our workshops and summer conference to learn from our scholars and fellows in a more intense setting – see "},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":" for information on these events, or email "},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":". Registration fees are required for these workshops and our conference.\n \nLearning critical thinking is like learning any complex skills set. You need integrated, sound theory that you then apply regularly in your life. Our community is designed to help you learn this skill set – you will need to do the work to incorporated the ideas into your thinking.\n\nI hope to see you soon in one of our webinars. All are welcomed.\n"}]}

92 Views     Write a Comment

Top ▲