Webinar Q&A Sessions in the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online


Upcoming Webinars

The Prevalent Role of Concepts in Human Thought and Action
Dr. Gerald Nosich

December 15, 2022
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Concepts (also known as ideas) are ideas we use in thinking. They enable us to group things in our experience into different categories, classes, or divisions. They form the basis for the labels we give things in our minds. They represent the mental map (and meanings) we construct of the world, the map that tells us the way the world is. Through our concepts we define situations, events, relationships, and all other objects of our experience. All of our decisions depend on how we conceptualize things, and all subjects or disciplines are defined by their foundational concepts.


For instance, a fundamental concept in ecology is that of an "ecosystem," defined as a group of living things dependent on one another and living in a particular habitat. Ecologists study how differing ecosystems function and how they interrelate with other ecosystems. They are concerned with "ecological succession" — the natural pattern of change occurring within every ecosystem when natural processes are undisturbed. This pattern includes the birth, development, death, and then replacement of ecological communities. Ecologists have grouped communities into larger units called "biomes," regions throughout the world classified according to physical features, including temperature, rainfall, and type of vegetation. Each of these is a seminal concept that cannot merely be seen (or memorized) as just one of many equally important details, but as fundamental for thinking one’s way through virtually any ecological issue, such as imbalance, energy, nutrients, population growth, diversity, habitat, competition, predation, parasitism, adaptation, coevolution, and conservation.


When we master foundational concepts at a deep level, we are able to use them to understand and function better within the world. In this webinar, Dr. Nosich will discuss in further detail how concepts shape and function within human reasoning. We will explore ways of identifying fundamental concepts in our thinking, of determining whether they meet the relevant intellectual standards, and of taking greater command of these concepts as we reason.


Because this webinar Q&A partially depends upon your questions as participants, we recommend completing as many of the following activities as you can beforehand.


1. To see how concepts fit in with the other elements of reasoning, and to see some of the most important intellectual standards to which we should hold the elements of our reasoning (including concepts), review pages 12-20 in the partial copy of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools found in the Community Online.


2. Read the article, “The Elements of Reasoning and the Intellectual Standards.”


3. On pages 11 and 12 of A Glossary of Critical Thinking Terms & Concepts, read the entry on “concept.”


4. View Dr. Elder’s discussion of concepts in the video, “Elements of Reasoning by Dr. Linda Elder – Part 2 of 2.”


5. Complete the activity, “Analyze the Logic of a Concept or Idea.”


6. Advanced: If you would like to explore concepts at a deeper level, consider viewing episode 11 of the Critical Thinking: Going Deeper podcast. This discussion on concepts may help you develop useful questions to ask at the webinar.


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online, and some clips may also be posted on other platforms. If you do not want your person or voice recorded, you can submit your questions via text chat.


Thinking Critically About the Earth’s Preservation
Dr. Linda Elder

December 29, 2022
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

It is essential that we do all we can, each of us, to make the world healthier and less endangered by human pollution (including artificial noise and light, solid garbage, industrial runoff, and greenhouse gases), wilderness encroachment with resulting habitat loss, and flagrant disregard for other species – including those on which our survival depends. A recent United Nations report warns that humans must act now if we are to avoid catastrophe.


We simply cannot afford to continue shortsightedly placing money before sustainability of the earth’s limited resources. The devastation humans have inflicted upon other sentient creatures, and upon ourselves, has been clear for many generations. But we humans are skilled at deceiving ourselves in all kinds of ways, including that our precious desires and whims are more important than the health of the earth, the health of our families, and the future of the planet. This is why critical thinking is so important – because it helps us see through our self-deception to the real facts before us.


But what can we do to help mitigate the problem? First, we need to put our support behind only those leaders and politicians committed to drastically reducing and reversing ecological destruction, and we need to hold them responsible to follow through on their promises. Second, we need to do all that is within our individual power to reduce our impact on the earth and to enrich nature. One way of doing this is to reconsider how we think of nature itself and our responsibilities toward it. When we are educated about nature, and about the relationships between humans, plants, and other animals, our values should change according to the new information we internalize. Consequently, we should then have a far better chance of dealing with the vast sustainability problems we face, having learned to value nature more highly as an asset to be protected and supported. All of this requires critical thinking.


In this webinar, Dr. Elder will discuss ways that critical thinking can improve our chances of a healthy, sustainable future on earth. Because this webinar Q&A partially depends upon your questions as participants, we recommend completing as many of the following activities as you can beforehand.


1. Read pages 5, 6, 8, 9, 17, and 18 in The Thinker’s Guide to Asking Essential Questions.


2. On pages 23 & 24 of A Glossary to Critical Thinking Terms & Concepts, read the entry for egocentricity (also known as egocentrism).


3. On page 67 of A Glossary to Critical Thinking Terms & Concepts, read the entry for sociocentricity (also known as sociocentrism).


4. Read about speciescentrism on pages 72-76 in Liberating the Mind: Overcoming Sociocentric Thought and Egocentric Tendencies.


5. Consider these questions:


a. What reasons do people tend to give for flagrant disregard for the rights and needs of other sentient creatures?


b. Do any of these reasons serve as valid excuses for the behavior? Why or why not?


c. If you see any of these reasons as valid excuses for the behavior, do you believe your view would change if you were being treated in the same ways humans treat other sentient creatures when disregarding their rights and needs?


6. Considering your reading in assignments 1-3 above, write out some connections you see between egocentrism, sociocentrism, and speciescentrism. Consider whether any of these seem to emerge as byproducts of one or both of the others.


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of the Community Online, and some clips may also be posted on other platforms. If you do not want your person or voice recorded, you can submit your questions via text chat.



Past Webinars

How Sociocentricity, or Groupthink, Pervades Human Societies
Dr. Linda Elder

November 30, 2022
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Living a human life entails membership in a variety of human groups. These groups typically include one’s nation, culture, profession, religion, family, and peer group. We begin participating in at least some of these groups before we are even aware of ourselves as living beings, and throughout life we find ourselves in groups in nearly every setting in which we function as persons.


Every group to which we belong has some social definition of itself, as well as some oft-unspoken “rules” that guide the behavior of its members. In other words, each group to which we belong imposes some level of conformity on us as a condition of acceptance. This includes sets of beliefs, sets of acceptable behaviors, and sets of taboos that entail consequences (social or otherwise) when broken.


For most people, conformity to group restrictions is largely automatic and unreflective. Most conform with minimal effort, without even recognizing they are doing so. They internalize group norms and beliefs, take on group identities, and act as they are expected to act with little or no sense that what they are doing might be reasonably questioned. They function within social groups as unreflective participants in a range of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that are analogous – at least in the structures to which they conform – to those of urban street gangs. Conformity of thought and behavior is the rule in humans, with independence the rare exception. And for those who do push back against group norms, the penalties can be severe.


This webinar will focus on how sociocentric thinking reinforces itself among humans, how it stands as a barrier to the development of fairminded critical societies, and how we can recognize and intervene in our own sociocentric tendencies.


Because this webinar Q&A partially depends upon your questions as participants, we recommend completing as many of the following optional activities as you can beforehand.


1. On page 67 of A Glossary of Critical Thinking Terms & Concepts, read the entry on sociocentricity.


2. Complete the activity, “Distinguish Between Reasonable and Unreasonable Ideas Within a Group.”


3. Watch the video, “Human Sociocentricity & Critical Thinking – Part 1.”


4. Watch the video, “Human Sociocentricity & Critical Thinking – Part 2.”


5. Complete the activity, “Identify the Impact of Group Influence.”


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online, and some clips may also be posted on other platforms. If you do not want your person or voice recorded, you can submit your questions via text chat.


Open Critical Thinking Q&A: November 2022
Dr. Linda Elder

November 16, 2022
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

What are your questions?


Together we ponder or answer them.


Thinking is driven by questions. The quality of your thinking is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Fruitful questions, when properly addressed, lead to knowledge. Knowledge leads to important understandings. Important understandings, when actively employed by the mind, can lead to increasingly more fulfilling, satisfying, and joyful lives. In teaching and learning, the quality of our teaching can largely be captured in the questions students ask in our classes and the questions they ask when they leave our tutelage (not on how much information they have stored in short-term memory). 


Despite these insights, the importance of questions in thinking is – and always has been – largely ignored in human conversations, relationships and societies. The role of questions in thinking is rarely discussed in human life (though in academia, of course, there are some few classes on how to pursue questions, and some faculty do explore the role of questions in thinking). Theory about questions is still in its infancy. While Socrates believed the most effective way to teach was through questioning, 2,400 years later, his insights seemed to be little valued. Each of us needs to improve our ability to ask productive and rewarding questions.


In our regular (roughly monthly) question-and-answer webinars, led by one of our Fellows or Scholars, we open the floor to your questions about critical thinking and its unlimited applications to human life. Join us in this forum where you can practice asking questions similar to how we want our students to practice asking them – to improve their ability to ask powerful questions in everyday life. Some questions we will be able to answer easily; those that do not lend themselves to definitive answers, we will explore with you.


We will largely structure this Q&A webinar with the entire group together in one room, but on some occasions, we may break into smaller groups to explore a given question. We look forward to lively, convivial, and enlightening discussions based on your questions.


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online. If you do not want your person or voice recorded, you can submit your questions via text chat.


Teaching Students to Think Critically About and Within the Subject Matter of a Course or Class
Dr. Gerald Nosich

October 27, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

There are a number of connections we must make conceptually and pragmatically to successfully guide our students’ learning in our courses. Most school practices still cluster around or emerge from either a didactic conception of learning, or group-centered activities void of proper standards, both of which make the dominance of lower-order learning inevitable.


To get beyond this, students must learn to understand your subject matter as a mode of thinking that they will need to learn to think about and within, using critical thinking concepts and principles. For instance, substantial improvements can only occur by restructuring math classes so students learn to think mathematically, history classes so students learn to think historically, science classes so students learn to think scientifically, and so on. In other words, we must approach our disciplines not as bodies of content to be delivered and consumed, but constellations of concepts to be reasoned through and internalized. By so doing, we provide a toolkit of actionable knowledge that can continue elevating our students’ thinking and learning long after they have completed our courses.


This webinar will discuss practical approaches for kindling students’ reasoning faculties, enabling them to internalize (not just memorize) important ideas in your courses, and focusing the educational process upon learners’ engagement rather than the instructor’s “delivery” of content.


Because this webinar Q&A partially depends upon your questions as participants, we recommend completing as many of the following optional activities as you can beforehand.


1. Read the article, “Distinguishing Between Inert Information, Activated Ignorance, and Activated Knowledge.”


2. Watch the video, “How to Teach Students to Seek the Logic of Things.”


3. After reading the content at the top of the page, complete the activity, “Analyze the Logic of a Profession, Subject, or Discipline” using the discipline or subject that you teach.


4. Review the entire transparency pack, “Content as Thinking.”


5. Read the article, “An Overview of How to Design Instruction Using Critical Thinking Concepts.”


6. Read this two-page document on teaching for depth of understanding and strategies that foster student engagement.


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online. Some clips may occasionally be posted on other platforms. If you do not want your person or voice recorded, you can submit your questions via text chat.


Defense Mechanisms as Barriers to Critical Thinking
Dr. Linda Elder

October 13, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

By nature, humans are highly compartmentalized thinkers. This results, at least in part, from two major factors: 1) humans are naturally inclined toward selfish and vested interests, and 2) at the same time, we feel a strong need to protect our egos and defend our social groups, and we are therefore highly resistant to acknowledging our own pathological reasoning and unethical behaviors.


When people have a selfish interest in not seeing the truth in a situation or context, or when people want more for their group than is their fair share, they can quite naturally employ any number of defense mechanisms such as rationalizing, projecting, or stereotyping to justify their actions; in this way, they can hide from themselves what they are actually thinking and doing (hence keeping knowledge which they know to be true in one domain of their thinking – their conscience – from another domain of thought in which they are selfish or groupish).


Through commitment to critical thinking concepts, principles, and dispositions, and through lifelong practice, we can learn to integrate critical thinking ideas and character traits across the areas of our lives. We can learn to recognize when we are tricking ourselves into ignoring the failures in our reasoning, and this leads to higher and higher degrees, over time, of intellectual integrity.


In this session, Dr. Linda Elder will discuss how defense mechanisms impair our reasoning, as well as practical ways in which we can identify and intervene in these mechanisms to prevent or minimize their harm (to ourselves and others).

Because this webinar Q&A partially depends upon your questions as participants, we recommend completing as many of the following optional activities as you can beforehand. These require an account in the Community Online, where a 30-day free trial is available for new users. You are not required to complete the activities in order to join the webinar.


1. On pages 23-24 of A Glossary of Critical Thinking Terms & Concepts, read the entry on egocentricity.


2. On page 67 of A Glossary of Critical Thinking Terms & Concepts, read the entry on sociocentricity.


3. On page 41 of A Glossary of Critical Thinking Terms & Concepts, read the entry on intellectual integrity.


4. Complete the activity, “Reconstructing Arguments in Good Faith.”


5. Think of a time when you failed to demonstrate intellectual integrity because you wanted to benefit yourself or members of your social group. What negative effects did this have on you? What negative effects did it have on others?


6. Staying with the example you chose for assignment 5: if the situation were reversed, and its negative outcomes affected you or someone in your social group, how would this influence your view of the person who failed to demonstrate intellectual integrity? How might it have affected your behavior towards and around that person afterwards?


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online. Some clips may occasionally be posted on other platforms. If you do not want your person or voice recorded, you can submit your questions via text chat.


Using Critical Thinking in Relation to Issues of Emotional Health and Well-Being
Dr. Gerald Nosich

September 21, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

To develop emotional intelligence is to achieve command of the workings of our minds, for it is our minds that generate our thoughts, feelings, and desires. It is our minds that give us influence over how we learn, make decisions, and conduct our lives. To develop as emotionally intelligent persons, we need to understand the relationship between thoughts and emotions. To be in command of one’s emotional life is to have control over the faculties of mind that guide it: thoughts, emotions, and desires working, as they do, in concert.


The emotions we bring to a situation (connected with the thinking that gives rise to these emotions) largely determine the level at which we function in that context. When we bring learned indifference, irrational fears, acquired hostility, and inflexible ideas into any circumstance, our ability to learn is limited to the superficial; our ability to see useful solutions is constrained; our decisions become increasingly likely to harm rather than help us and those around us.


This webinar provides concepts and approaches for helping us to improve the quality of our emotional experiences – in all parts of life – by commanding the thoughts and feelings which shape that quality. The theory to be explored will focus on the relationship between cognition and affect, and the importance of commanding one’s egocentric and sociocentric tendencies while working to cultivate emotional intelligence within oneself.


Because this webinar Q&A partially depends upon your questions as participants, we recommend completing as many of the following activities as you can beforehand:


1. Read pages 4-10 in The Thinker's Guide to the Human Mind.


2. Complete the activity, "Understanding the Relationships Between Thinking, Feeling, and Emotions.”


3. Read pages 11-17 in The Thinker's Guide to the Human Mind.


4. Think of a time in your life when egocentric and/or sociocentric thinking played a role in experiencing unnecessary, unproductive negative emotions. Answer the following questions:


a. How was your subsequent reasoning and decision-making impacted by these emotions?


b. Knowing what you know now, how might you direct your thinking differently in a similar situation today, in order to reduce or prevent similar negative emotions from occurring?


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online. If you do not want your person or voice recorded, you can submit your questions via text chat.


Share Your Stories, Frustrations and Victories in Advancing Critical Thinking
Dr. Linda Elder

September 8, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

For this webinar, we invite all of you in the community to come together to share your experiences with critical thinking. We will work both as a large group and in breakout rooms; we will share our stories, frustrations, and successes in fostering and advancing fairminded critical thinking in instruction and other professions, as well as in our personal lives. No homework is required for this session, other than to roughly sketch out in advance your experiences to share with us, with the hope that we will all learn and grow from one another through our discussions. Dr. Elder will offer feedback and answer your questions as they emerge throughout the webinar. If you are new to critical thinking and don’t think you have a story yet, please join us anyhow. All of our webinars are open to you, wherever you are in your development in learning and applying critical thinking.


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online.


How to Develop Your Inner Voice of Reason
Dr. Linda Elder

August 24, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Most people are trapped in their beliefs. They use ideas in their thinking that they are unaware of and have never examined for quality. They have developed a world view which influences much of their behavior, but of which they have little or no understanding. They are using assumptions accumulated throughout their lives, which lead to their inferences and conclusions, but which they themselves have little or no awareness of. They are trapped in egocentric narrow-mindedness and sociocentric vested interests.


In short, the mind can be trapped in unexamined beliefs, concepts, assumptions, and world views, or it can be freed through intellectual self-discipline and cultivation. This webinar will focus on practical ways that we, over time, can become more reasonable thinkers. It will explore ways of advancing our abilities to apply intellectual standards to the elements of our thinking, in the pursuit of developing intellectual virtues, whilst working to overcome their own sociocentric and egocentric thinking.


Because this webinar Q&A partially depends upon your questions as participants, we recommend completing as many of the following activities as you can beforehand:

  

1. Read page 9, page 12, and page 14 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


2. Complete the activity, “Analyze the Logic of a Problem or Issue” after reading the text at the top of the page. Try to choose a problem or issue that you know you have been unreasonable about in the past.


3. Read pages 19-20 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


4. Complete this activity on fairness, after reading the text at the top of the page.


5. Read the article, “Valuable Intellectual Traits.”


6. Complete the activity, “Reconstructing Arguments in Good Faith.”


7. Review again the diagram on page 12 of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools. In light of your work to this point, what insights have you developed into this diagram that you lacked upon first seeing it?


8. On pages 23-24 of A Glossary of Critical Thinking Terms & Concepts, read the entry on egocentricity.


9. On page 67 of A Glossary of Critical Thinking Terms & Concepts, read the entry on sociocentricity.


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online. If you do not want your person or voice recorded, you can submit your questions via text chat.


Intellectual Traits of Mind
Dr. Gerald Nosich

August 4, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Critical thinking does not entail merely intellectual skills. It is a way of orienting oneself in the world. It is a way of approaching problems that differs significantly from that which is typical in human life. People may have critical thinking skills and abilities, and yet still be unable to:


• enter viewpoints with which they disagree,


• analyze the beliefs that guide their behavior,


• distinguish between what they know and what they don’t,


• persevere through difficult problems and issues,


• think fairmindedly,


• stand alone against the crowd, or


• do countless other things that require more than an inventory of skills.


Thus, in developing as a thinker, it is important to develop intellectual traits (also known as intellectual virtues or dispositions) – traits such as fairmindedness, intellectual humility, intellectual perseverance, intellectual courage, intellectual empathy, intellectual autonomy, intellectual integrity, and confidence in reason.


These traits of mind are essential to learning any subject and excelling in any field. Students and professionals alike cannot think well through lessons, tasks, and projects without acknowledging what they don’t know or having the intellectual courage to question how things have been done traditionally. In all fields, we need to engage through intellectual empathy with other thinkers and envision new ideas; we also need to develop the intellectual autonomy and intellectual perseverance to work through deep and challenging issues without easily giving up or gravitating to group-think. We need to develop fairmindedness in order to appreciate new theories and alternative viewpoints; we need to cultivate within ourselves the confidence that we can, with work, come to understand ourselves and the world in a deeper way.


Intellectual traits go beyond having or exercising a given set of skills. They define a person's intellectual character, and that character influences not only the thinker and his or her social circle, but also the society in which the thinker lives. The success or failure of any society or organization will largely depend upon the degree to which persons embody intellectual traits of mind.


In this Webinar Q&A, Dr. Nosich will discuss the centrality of intellectual traits, and will explore practical ways of developing them in the classroom as well as in daily life. Because the session partially depends upon your questions as participants, we recommend completing as many of the following activities as you can before the webinar:


1. Review page 12 of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


2. Read page 14 and pages 19 & 20 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


3. Read the article, “Valuable Intellectual Traits.”


4. Watch Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of “Intellectual Virtues by Dr. Linda Elder.”


5. Complete the activity, “Articulate Your Own Definitions of Intellectual Virtues.” (You will see it after scrolling down below the first activity on the page.) If you find yourself having trouble, review the reading and/or viewing assignments above as needed.


Regular Open Critical Thinking Q&A: July 2022
Dr. Gerald Nosich

July 13, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

What are your questions?


Together we ponder or answer them.


Thinking is driven by questions. The quality of your thinking is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Fruitful questions, when properly addressed, lead to knowledge. Knowledge leads to important understandings. Important understandings, when actively employed by the mind, can lead to increasingly more fulfilling, satisfying, and joyful lives. In teaching and learning, the quality of our teaching can largely be captured in the questions students ask in our classes and the questions they ask when they leave our tutelage (not on how much information they have stored in short-term memory). 


Despite these insights, the importance of questions in thinking is – and always has been – largely ignored in human conversations, relationships and societies. The role of questions in thinking is rarely discussed in human life (though in academia, of course, there are some few classes on how to pursue questions, and some faculty do explore the role of questions in thinking). Theory about questions is still in its infancy. While Socrates believed the most effective way to teach was through questioning, 2,400 years later, his insights seemed to be little valued. Each of us needs to improve our ability to ask productive and rewarding questions.


In our regular (roughly monthly) question-and-answer webinars, led by one of our Fellows or Scholars, we open the floor to your questions about critical thinking and its unlimited applications to human life. Join us in this forum where you can practice asking questions similar to how we want our students to practice asking them – to improve their ability to ask powerful questions in everyday life. Some questions we will be able to answer easily; those that do not lend themselves to definitive answers, we will explore with you.


We will largely structure this Q&A webinar with the entire group together in one room, but on some occasions, we may break into smaller groups to explore a given question. We look forward to lively, convivial, and enlightening discussions based on your questions.


What Critical Thinking Can Do for Human Societies
Dr. Linda Elder

June 30, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

A critical society is a community of people who value critical thinking and those who practice it. It is a society continually improving. Its most distinguishing characteristic is its emphasis on thinking as the key to the emancipation of the mind, to the creation of just practices, and to the preservation and development of the species.


Unfortunately, there are no critical societies in the world. There is no culture on earth where critical thought is characteristic of everyday personal and social life. On the contrary, the world is filled with superficiality, prejudice, bias, distortions, lies, deception, manipulation, short sightedness, closed-mindedness, righteousness, hypocrisy, and so on in every culture and country. These problems in thinking lead to untold negative implications: fear, anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, pain, suffering, and injustices of every imaginable kind.


Yet humans have great capacity for rationality and reasonability. The history of human accomplishments, achievements, and contributions well documents this fact. But for the most part this capacity must be developed, actively, by the mind. It is our second, not our first, nature.


In this session, Dr. Linda Elder will explore with you the concept of fairminded critical societies, and discuss how critical thinking can help us resolve problems of all scales found throughout human civilization, up to and including extinction-level threats. We highly recommend completing as many of the following assignments as possible beforehand.


1. Read page 45 of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


2. Read pages 9, 12, 14, and 19-20 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


3. Read the introductory text, template, and example at the top of the activity page for Analyze the Logic of a Problem or Issue. Then, complete the activity using a large-scale problem (e.g. systemic injustice, climate change, the risk of nuclear conflict, declining biodiversity, etc.)


4. Read the article, “Critical Societies: Thoughts from the Past.”


Teaching Students to Use Critical Thinking in Advanced Classes
Dr, Gerald Nosich

June 15, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Whether K-12 students in traditional gifted programs or college graduates earning master’s degrees or doctorates, learners in advanced classes are not exempt from innate human barriers to critical thinking. In fact, such students often come to us with extensively-developed studying techniques which they believe have aided their academic achievements, but which nevertheless minimize the role of critical thinking – or even violate its concepts and principles. These students can be wary of moving beyond habits that seem to have served them well; sensitivity to such hesitation is an important asset to helping advanced students develop as thinkers.


Moreover, some students in advanced classes are accustomed to finding coursework “easy,” and have heard for years that they are intellectually exceptional. It is important to create an environment where such learners feel safe in recognizing the current limitations of their reasoning skills, in making mistakes, and in growing together through processes that can otherwise feel discouraging or embarrassing. It is also essential to help students in advanced courses deal with native intellectual arrogance that may impede their development as learners, no matter how accomplished they may be, or may seem to be.


In this webinar Q&A session, Dr. Nosich will discuss useful approaches to incorporating critical thinking in advanced classes, and will answer your questions surrounding this topic. Because a significant portion of the meeting relies on your questions as participants, we highly recommend completing as many of the following assignments as possible beforehand:


1. Read page 12 and page 14 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


2. Complete the activity, “Analyze the Logic of a Problem or Issue” (be sure to read the introductory text at the top of the page first). For the prompt, please focus on either a) a recurring challenge you’ve noticed that is seemingly specific to teaching advanced students, or b) one such difficulty among those described in the webinar description above.


3. On pages 23 and 24 of A Glossary of Critical Thinking Terms & Concepts, read the entry for egocentricity (also known as egocentrism). Then, on page 67 of the same guide, read the entry for sociocentricity (also known as sociocentrism).


4. On pages 24 and 25 of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools, read the descriptions of the intellectual traits and the relevant sample questions in each. Also notice the intellectual vices listed therein, such as intellectual arrogance and intellectual narrow-mindedness.


5. Given your reading to this point, consider how you might introduce this information to your students as a non-threatening way of helping them see their own innate barriers to critical thinking – and how these barriers are not unique to them, but shared by their classmates and instructors.


If you find it difficult to establish a starting place, begin by considering how the questions from activity #4 above might be used in, or adapted to, your classes.

Please remember that you need a Center for Critical Thinking Community Online account to participate in this discussion. If you are new to our subscription community, a 30-day free trial is available.


Regular Open Critical Thinking Q&A: June 2022
Dr. Linda Elder

June 2, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

What are your questions?


Together we ponder or answer them.


Thinking is driven by questions. The quality of your thinking is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Fruitful questions, when properly addressed, lead to knowledge. Knowledge leads to important understandings. Important understandings, when actively employed by the mind, can lead to increasingly more fulfilling, satisfying, and joyful lives. In teaching and learning, the quality of our teaching can largely be captured in the questions students ask in our classes and the questions they ask when they leave our tutelage (not on how much information they have stored in short-term memory). 


Despite these insights, the importance of questions in thinking is – and always has been – largely ignored in human conversations, relationships and societies. The role of questions in thinking is rarely discussed in human life (though in academia, of course, there are some few classes on how to pursue questions, and some faculty do explore the role of questions in thinking). Theory about questions is still in its infancy. While Socrates believed the most effective way to teach was through questioning, 2,400 years later, his insights seemed to be little valued. Each of us needs to improve our ability to ask productive and rewarding questions.


In our regular (roughly monthly) question-and-answer webinars, led by one of our Fellows or Scholars, we open the floor to your questions about critical thinking and its unlimited applications to human life. Join us in this forum where you can practice asking questions similar to how we want our students to practice asking them – to improve their ability to ask powerful questions in everyday life. Some questions we will be able to answer easily; those that do not lend themselves to definitive answers, we will explore with you.


We will largely structure this Q&A webinar with the entire group together in one room, but on some occasions, we may break into smaller groups to explore a given question. We look forward to lively, convivial, and enlightening discussions based on your questions.


Why the Concept of Critical Thinking is in Danger and Why It Needs to Be Established as an Independent Academic Field of Study
Dr. Linda Elder

May 18, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

It is essential for a valid field of critical thinking studies to emerge if we are to properly advance a robust conception of critical thinking that can be actively employed across cultures, persons, subjects, disciplines, and professions. However, many substantial and pervasive variables work against this development to expect its realization in the present or near future.


To put this problem another way, the development of a field of critical thinking studies and the further cultivation of rich critical-thinking theory are severely hampered by a number of complex variables and influences. Though there are indeed many such variables, this session will focus on four primary barriers:


1. the perspective and worldview through which philosophers tend to view and treat critical thinking as a conceptual construct, and how this leads to an insufficient conception of critical thinking that fails to address many common problems inherent in human thought and action;


2. the fact that most teachers and faculty, at all levels of education, tend to see themselves as fostering critical thinking in their courses when little evidence supports this notion;


3. the fact that even educators dedicated to learning a substantial conception of critical thinking tend to have great difficulty internalizing it, given its inherent complexities, and given that we are rarely taught the requisite intellectual skills for comprehending intricacies within a rich theory of mind and of critical reasoning; and


4. the fact that freedom of thought and the cultivation of the liberally-educated mind, both of which are intimately connected with a rich conception of critical thinking, tend to be little discussed or valued in human cultures or educational systems today.


A significant portion of this discussion will depend upon your questions as participants. To prepare, we strongly recommend completing as many of the following assignments as possible before the webinar:


1. Read the article, "Richard Paul's Contributions to the Field of Critical Thinking Studies and to the Establishment of First Principles in Critical Thinking."


2. Read the article, "Reflections on the Nature of Critical Thinking, Its History, Politics, and Barriers, and on Its Status across the College & University Curriculum - Part I."


3. Read the article, "Reflections on the Nature of Critical Thinking, Its History, Politics, and Barriers, and on Its Status across the College & University Curriculum - Part II."


Reasoning from Within Different Points of View
Dr. Brian Barnes

May 5, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Each of us naturally thinks from our own point of view, i.e., from a perspective that tends to privilege our own position, needs, and desires. Realizing this, skilled reasoners keep in mind that different people have different points of view (especially on controversial issues), consistently articulate other points of view and reason from within them to adequately understand them, seek other points of view (especially when the issue is one they believe in passionately), confine their monological reasoning to problems that are clearly monological, recognize when they are most likely to be prejudiced, and approach problems and issues with a richness of vision and an appropriately broad perspective.


The failure to consider all relevant viewpoints often results in harm – not only to others, but to oneself. The social, economic, legal, and other consequences of disregarding others’ points of view can be severe. But how can we determine which points of view are relevant in a given context? How do we consider those viewpoints in good faith? When considering a question or problem, how do we know when we’ve reasoned “enough” within other relevant points of view?


In this Webinar Q&A, Dr. Brian Barnes will explore these questions on point of view, as well as those raised by attendees. Because this session relies heavily on your questions, it will be helpful to familiarize yourself with certain critical thinking concepts ahead of time. We recommend completing as many of the following exercises as you can before the session:This Webinar Q&A will focus on understanding the bad habits of thought common to all humans, so participants can begin to see how their own habitual attitudes and behaviors serve as formidable barriers to self-development and self-realization. You should familiarize yourself with certain critical thinking concepts ahead of time; please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the webinar as you can: 


1. On pages 55-56 of A Glossary to Critical Thinking Terms & Concepts, read the entry for “point of view.”


2. Watch this video of Dr. Richard Paul, in which he provides a brief overview of the elements of reasoning. Note in particular the questions he raises about point of view.


3. On page 9 of the Thinker’s Guide to Intellectual Standards, read the entry for “breadth.”


4. Complete the activity, “Thinking Broadly About an Issue.” If you find the prompt difficult to work with fairmindedly, choose another issue, but preferably one surrounded by some degree of controversy.


5. In your own words, describe the relationship between point of view and breadth.


Regular Open Critical Thinking Q&A: April 2022
Dr. Gerald Nosich

April 20, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Thinking is driven by questions. The quality of your thinking is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Fruitful questions, when properly addressed, lead to knowledge. Knowledge leads to important understandings. Important understandings, when actively employed by the mind, can lead to increasingly more fulfilling, satisfying, and joyful lives. In teaching and learning, the quality of our teaching can largely be captured in the questions students ask in our classes and the questions they ask when they leave our tutelage (not on how much information they have stored in short-term memory). 


Despite these insights, the importance of questions in thinking is – and always has been – largely ignored in human conversations, relationships and societies. The role of questions in thinking is rarely discussed in human life (though in academia, of course, there are some few classes on how to pursue questions, and some faculty do explore the role of questions in thinking). Theory about questions is still in its infancy. While Socrates believed the most effective way to teach was through questioning, 2,400 years later, his insights seemed to be little valued. Each of us needs to improve our ability to ask productive and rewarding questions.


In our regular (roughly monthly) question-and-answer webinars, led by one of our Fellows or Scholars, we open the floor to your questions about critical thinking and its unlimited applications to human life. Join us in this forum where you can practice asking questions similar to how we want our students to practice asking them – to improve their ability to ask powerful questions in everyday life. Some questions we will be able to answer easily; those that do not lend themselves to definitive answers, we will explore with you.

We will largely structure this Q&A webinar with the entire group together in one room, but on some occasions, we may break into smaller groups to explore a given question. We look forward to lively, convivial, and enlightening discussions based on your questions.


How to Defeat Your Self-Defeating Habits of Thought
Dr. Linda Elder

April 6, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

We do not begin our respective critical thinking journeys as blank slates. We begin with already-established views of the world, of our minds, and of what constitutes reasonability. These views have unfortunately emerged from a largely impoverished world culture that tends not to highlight problems in thinking, nor to offer substantive approaches to those problems. Most people have little sense that within each of us are significant self-defeating attitudes and behaviors, and that many of these attitudes and behaviors are habitual. We therefore tend to have limited understanding of how these bad habits of thought affect our learning, and therefore our abilities to live, work, and teach rationally.


For these reasons, it is important to deeply explore and probe the habits of mind that impede our functionality. For instance, it is important to see that all people tend towards intellectual arrogance, and that this tendency gets in the way of our learning, teaching, and living. It is important to see that all people frequently fail to persevere through difficulties when learning complex ideas or solving complex problems – and that this tendency can have drastic implications for not only our lives and work and individuals, but for the wellbeing of society and earth at large. It is important, in short, to understand the general (often subconscious) problems in thinking experienced by all humans that lead to self-defeating attitudes and behaviors. We can then use these understandings to uncover our own particular dysfunctional patterns of thought.


This Webinar Q&A will focus on understanding the bad habits of thought common to all humans, so participants can begin to see how their own habitual attitudes and behaviors serve as formidable barriers to self-development and self-realization. You should familiarize yourself with certain critical thinking concepts ahead of time; please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the webinar as you can: 


1. In The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking, read pages 24 and 25. Then review page 12 to see how our use of intellectual standards forms our intellectual habits (traits) of mind.


Note that while the page-12 diagram lists desirable intellectual standards and traits, there are also undesirable standards and traits; as such, the way we use (or don’t use) intellectual standards can lead to either intellectual virtues or vices.


2. On page 2 of the article “Valuable Intellectual Traits," read the brief section on fairmindedness. This is an important trait not detailed in the reading from assignment #1 above.


3. Complete the activity, “Distinguish Intellectual Humility from Intellectual Arrogance.” (Be sure to read the text at the top of the page first.)


When completing this activity, use examples from your own thinking, rather than hypothetical thinking or thinking by other people.


4. Complete the activity, “When Have You Been Intellectually Autonomous? When Have You Lacked Intellectual Autonomy?” (Be sure to read the text at the top of the page first.)


5.Read the short article, “Natural Egocentric Dispositions.”

 

6. On pages 11 and 12 of Liberating the Mind, read the section on “Primary Forms of Sociocentric Thought.”


7. Review your responses in the activities you completed in assignments #3 and #4 above. In light of your reading on egocentrism and sociocentrism, is there any way you would amend or elaborate on your answers?


Using the Standards of Critical Thinking in Your Life, and Teaching Students to Use Them
Dr. Gerald Nosich

March 23, 2022
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Effectively assessing reasoning is essential to critical thinking. While everyone at least sometimes uses appropriate standards for assessing thinking (such as clarity, accuracy, precision, depth, breadth, logicalness, significance, fairness, and sufficiency), often without consciously realizing it, do they adhere to the most relevant and important intellectual standards in every context? And how often do they fail to use any appropriate standards at all? For example, have you ever failed to think through the complexities of a problem before making a decision? Are you living your life in a way that is most significant to you, or are you being ensnared by a superficial lifestyle? When you make decisions, do you consider all the relevant and significant information needed to make those decisions? How frequently do your belief systems or ideologies impede your ability to adhere to intellectual standards? If you teach, to what degree do you explicitly foster command of intellectual standards, so that your students learn to think through content in your classes via appropriate application of standards to the elements of reasoning?


Insufficient adherence to intellectual standards will frequently lead to poor decisions, and hence a poor quality of life. It can also create enormous impediments to both teaching and learning. This Webinar Q&A focuses on how intellectual standards can be integrated into daily life, and for those who teach, it will discuss ways that they can be incorporated into your courses.


Because the session relies heavily upon your questions as participants, you will need to familiarize yourself with certain critical thinking concepts ahead of time. Please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the webinar as you can: 


1. Review the diagram on page 12 of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools to see how intellectual standards fit into a larger framework for critical thinking.


2. In A Glossary of Critical Thinking Terms & Concepts, read the entry on intellectual standards on page 42.


3. Read the short article, “Universal Intellectual Standards.”


4. Complete the activity, “Convert Unclear Thoughts to Clear Thoughts.” (Be sure to read the content at the top of the page first.)


5. Complete the activity, “Target Significance in Thinking.” (Be sure to read the content at the top of the page first.)


6. Watch the short video clip, “Critical Thinking - Standards of Thought - Part 1.”


7. Watch the short video clip, “Critical Thinking - Standards of Thought - Part 2.”


Regular Open Critical Thinking Q&A: March 2022
Dr. Linda Elder

March 10, 2022
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

What are your questions?


Together we ponder or answer them.


Thinking is driven by questions. The quality of your thinking is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Fruitful questions, when properly addressed, lead to knowledge. Knowledge leads to important understandings. Important understandings, when actively employed by the mind, can lead to increasingly more fulfilling, satisfying, and joyful lives. In teaching and learning, the quality of our teaching can largely be captured in the questions students ask in our classes and the questions they ask when they leave our tutelage (not on how much information they have stored in short-term memory). 


Despite these insights, the importance of questions in thinking is – and always has been – largely ignored in human conversations, relationships and societies. The role of questions in thinking is rarely discussed in human life (though in academia, of course, there are some few classes on how to pursue questions, and some faculty do explore the role of questions in thinking). Theory about questions is still in its infancy. While Socrates believed the most effective way to teach was through questioning, 2,400 years later, his insights seemed to be little valued. Each of us needs to improve our ability to ask productive and rewarding questions.


In our regular (roughly monthly) question-and-answer webinars, led by one of our Fellows or Scholars, we open the floor to your questions about critical thinking and its unlimited applications to human life. Join us in this forum where you can practice asking questions similar to how we want our students to practice asking them – to improve their ability to ask powerful questions in everyday life. Some questions we will be able to answer easily; those that do not lend themselves to definitive answers, we will explore with you.


We will largely structure this Q&A webinar with the entire group together in one room, but on some occasions, we may break into smaller groups to explore a given question. We look forward to lively, convivial, and enlightening discussions based on your questions.


Why Critical Thinking Is Not a List of Skills
Dr. Linda Elder

February 24, 2022
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Some attempts to describe critical thinking mischaracterize it as simply a list of skills to be practiced. While intellectual skills are an important aspect of critical thinking, they do not represent the whole. Critical thinking is a constellation of concepts, principles, and habits which cannot be reduced to a mere inventory of abilities.


Fairminded critical reasoners cultivate not only intellectual skills but also intellectual dispositions. These attributes are essential to excellence of thought. They determine with what insight and integrity you think. For example, as we develop the basic intellectual skills that critical thinking entails, we can begin to use those skills in a selfish or in a fairminded way. We can develop in such a way that we learn to see mistakes in our own thinking, as well as that of others, or we can merely develop some proficiency in making our opponents’ thinking look bad. The latter approach is known as weak-sense critical thinking, which can have serious consequences not only for others, but for weak-sense critical thinkers themselves.


This Webinar Q&A focuses on understanding critical thinking not as a skillset, but as an integrated, comprehensive framework for better learning, teaching, working, and living – indeed, for improved reasoning and action in all aspects of human life. Because the session relies heavily upon your questions as participants, you will need to familiarize yourself with certain critical thinking concepts ahead of time. Please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the webinar as you can:


1. Read pages 12-21 in the partial copy of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools found in the Community Online.


2. Complete the activity, “Articulate Your Own Definitions of Intellectual Virtues.” You will find it by scrolling roughly halfway down the page.


3. Read the article, "Valuable Intellectual Traits." (Keep in mind that "valuable intellectual traits" is used in this context as a synonym for "intellectual virtues.")


4. Watch the video, “Intellectual Virtues by Dr. Linda Elder - Part 3 of 3.”


5. Return to the activity, “Articulate Your Own Definitions of Intellectual Virtues.” In light of the reading and viewing in assignments 3 and 4, try refining and elaborating upon the definitions you articulated earlier in assignment 2.


Using the Elements of Reasoning in Any Class
Dr. Gerald Nosich

February 10, 2022
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

The elements or parts of reasoning are those essential dimensions of human thought that are present whenever and wherever reasoning occurs —independent of whether we are reasoning well or poorly. Working together, these elements shape our reasoning and provide a general logic to the use of thought. They are presupposed in every subject, discipline, and domain of human thought.


  • There is a predictable set of relationships that hold for all subjects and disciplines, since every subject has been developed by those who had:shared purposes and objectives (which defined the subject focus),


  • shared questions and problems (whose solutions they pursued),


  • shared information and data (which they used as an empirical basis),


  • shared modes of interpreting or judging that information,


  • shared specialized concepts and ideas (which they used to help them organize their data),


  • shared key assumptions (that gave them a basis from which to collectively begin), and


  • a shared point-of-view (which enabled them to pursue common goals from a common framework).


Each of the elements represents a dimension that can be identified, explored, and questioned within the context of any academic discipline or subject. We can inquire as to goals and purposes. We can probe into the nature of questions, problems, or issues at hand. We can ask whether or not we have relevant data and information. We can consider alternative interpretations of the data and information. We can analyze key concepts and ideas. We can evaluate assumptions being made. We can ask students to trace out the implications and consequences of a line of thinking. We can consider alternative points of view.


This Webinar Q&A focuses on practical ways that the elements of reasoning can be explicitly used to strengthen students’ grasp of a discipline or subject area, and Dr. Gerald Nosich will answer your questions on the topic. Because the session relies heavily upon your questions as participants, you will need to familiarize yourself with certain critical thinking concepts ahead of time. Please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the webinar as you can:

 

1. Read the article, “The Elements of Reasoning and the Intellectual Standards.”


2. Complete the activity, “Analyze the Logic of a Profession, Subject, or Discipline” for your own discipline or subject area. (Be sure to review the preceding text and diagram first.)


3. Watch the video, “Critical Thinking and the Basic Elements of Thought.”


4. Identify any important concept within your discipline or subject area. Using this idea, complete the activity, “Analyze the Logic of a Concept or Idea.”


Regular Open Critical Thinking Q&A: January 2022
Dr. Gerald Nosich

January 26, 2022
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Thinking is driven by questions. The quality of your thinking is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Fruitful questions, when properly addressed, lead to knowledge. Knowledge leads to important understandings. Important understandings, when actively employed by the mind, can lead to increasingly more fulfilling, satisfying, and joyful lives. In teaching and learning, the quality of our teaching can largely be captured in the questions students ask in our classes and the questions they ask when they leave our tutelage (not on how much information they have stored in short-term memory). 


Despite these insights, the importance of questions in thinking is – and always has been – largely ignored in human conversations, relationships and societies. The role of questions in thinking is rarely discussed in human life (though in academia, of course, there are some few classes on how to pursue questions, and some faculty do explore the role of questions in thinking). Theory about questions is still in its infancy. While Socrates believed the most effective way to teach was through questioning, 2,400 years later, his insights seemed to be little valued. Each of us needs to improve our ability to ask productive and rewarding questions.


In our regular (roughly monthly) question-and-answer webinars, led by one of our Fellows or Scholars, we open the floor to your questions about critical thinking and its unlimited applications to human life. Join us in this forum where you can practice asking questions similar to how we want our students to practice asking them – to improve their ability to ask powerful questions in everyday life. Some questions we will be able to answer easily; those that do not lend themselves to definitive answers, we will explore with you.


We will largely structure this Q&A webinar with the entire group together in one room, but on some occasions, we may break into smaller groups to explore a given question. We look forward to lively, convivial, and enlightening discussions based on your questions.


Thinking Critically and Creatively About Your Unique Abilities to Reach Your Potential
Dr. Linda Elder

January 13, 2022
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Gaining command of your life requires, first and foremost, gaining command of the thinking that commands your life. Using explicit concepts in critical thinking helps you gain control of your reasoning, emotions, and desires, and realize all of which you are capable as a unique person.


When it comes to reaching your potential, we cannot overstate the importance of 1) learning the explicit tools of critical thinking, 2) using them to understand the complex and rapidly-changing world we live in, 3) looking to the best thinking that has been done throughout history for insight into effective and reasonable living, and 4) forging the best path forward for self-fulfillment and achievement at the highest level of which you are capable.


Dr. Linda Elder will briefly discuss the primary points above and then answer your questions on the topic. To better prepare for the webinar, please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the webinar as you can:


1. Read through page 13 of the partial copy of The Thinker's Guide to the Human Mind found in the Community Online.


2. Read pages 12, 14-20, and 24-25, in the partial copy of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools found in the Community Online.


3. Complete the activity “Analyze the Logic of a Problem or Issue,” focusing on a challenge you are currently facing that you perceive as impeding your ability to self-actualize. Be sure to read the text at the top of the page first.


4. Complete the activity, “Target Significance in Thinking.” Be sure to read the text at the top of the page first.


5. Watch the Intellectual Virtues video series:


Fairmindedness in Life and Teaching
Dr. Gerald Nosich

December 29, 2021
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Fairmindedness is having a consciousness of the need to treat all viewpoints alike, without reference to one’s own feelings or vested interests, or the feelings or vested interests of one’s friends, community, or nation. It implies adherence to intellectual standards without reference to one’s own advantage or the advantage of one’s group.


  • To what extent do self-interests or biases tend to cloud my judgment?


  • How do I tend to treat relevant viewpoints? Do I tend to favor some over others? If so, why?


  • To what extent do I appropriately weigh the strengths and weaknesses of all significant relevant perspectives when reasoning through an issue?


  • What personal interests do we have at stake here and how can we ensure that we don’t favor our own interests over the common good?


As the above suggests, those who wish to develop as critical thinkers cannot do so without developing fairmindedness. It is not an optional trait – it is central to rational thinking and competent problem-solving, and those who neglect it compromise the wellbeing not only of others, but often of themselves as well.


For those of us who are educators, fairmindedness is a trait that we need to help cultivate in students. For all of us, it is a trait that we need to cultivate in ourselves.


In this Webinar Q&A, Dr. Gerald Nosich will answer your questions about fairmindedness. Because the session relies heavily upon your questions as participants, you will need to familiarize yourself with certain critical thinking concepts ahead of time. Please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the webinar as you can:


1. Read the definitions of fair and fairmindedness in the copy of A Glossary of Critical Thinking Terms & Concepts found in the Community Online.


2. Read the description of fairness in the partial copy of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools found in the Community Online.


3. Complete the activity, Are You Always Fair? (Be sure to read the text at the top of the page first.)


4. Open the video “40th Conference Keynote, Part 3” and watch from 15:20 through 23:11. In this clip, Dr. Elder will provide several assignments; we highly recommend working through these to develop your understanding of strong-sense vs. weak-sense critical thinking.


Regular Open Critical Thinking Q&A: December 2021
Dr. Linda Elder

December 2, 2021
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

What are your questions?


Together we ponder or answer them.


Thinking is driven by questions. The quality of your thinking is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Fruitful questions, when properly addressed, lead to knowledge. Knowledge leads to important understandings. Important understandings, when actively employed by the mind, can lead to increasingly more fulfilling, satisfying, and joyful lives. In teaching and learning, the quality of our teaching can largely be captured in the questions students ask in our classes and the questions they ask when they leave our tutelage (not on how much information they have stored in short-term memory). 


Despite these insights, the importance of questions in thinking is – and always has been – largely ignored in human conversations, relationships and societies. The role of questions in thinking is rarely discussed in human life (though in academia, of course, there are some few classes on how to pursue questions, and some faculty do explore the role of questions in thinking). Theory about questions is still in its infancy. While Socrates believed the most effective way to teach was through questioning, 2,400 years later, his insights seemed to be little valued. Each of us needs to improve our ability to ask productive and rewarding questions.


In our regular (roughly monthly) question-and-answer webinars, led by one of our Fellows or Scholars, we open the floor to your questions about critical thinking and its unlimited applications to human life. Join us in this forum where you can practice asking questions similar to how we want our students to practice asking them – to improve their ability to ask powerful questions in everyday life. Some questions we will be able to answer easily; those that do not lend themselves to definitive answers, we will explore with you.


We will largely structure this Q&A webinar with the entire group together in one room, but on some occasions, we may break into smaller groups to explore a given question. We look forward to lively, convivial, and enlightening discussions based on your questions.


Critical Writing
Dr. Gerald Nosich

November 22, 2021
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Educated persons routinely and skillfully engage in substantive writing. Substantive writing consists of focusing on a subject worth writing about, and then saying something about it that is worth saying . It also enhances our reading: whenever we read to acquire knowledge, we should write to take ownership of what we are reading. Furthermore, just as we must write to gain an initial understanding of a subject's primary ideas, so also must we write to begin thinking within the subject as a whole and making connections among ideas within and beyond it.


Quite remarkably, many students have never written in a substantive way. Instead, they have developed the habit of getting by – often while receiving passing or even high marks from their instructors – with superficial and impressionistic writing which only obscures the purpose of writing itself. The lack of connection between the writing assignments students complete and the way in which writing can be used to enrich their learning and lives can leave them resistant to, or dreadful of, their next assigned paper.


 This workshop will be especially helpful for instructors who may be using Nosich's recent book on Critical Writing: A Guide to Writing a Paper Using the Concepts and Processes of Critical Thinking.


Because the session relies heavily upon your questions as participants, you will need to familiarize yourself with certain critical thinking concepts ahead of time. Please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the Webinar Q&A as you can:


1. Read pages 5-13 in the partial copy of The Thinker’s Guide to How to Write a Paragraph.


2. Complete the activity, “Paraphrasing Short Quotes With Specimen Answers.” Be sure to read the text at the top of the page first.


3. Complete the activity, “Explicating Quotes, Set 1.” Be sure to read the text at the top of the page first.


Critical Thinking, Spontaneity, and Happiness
Dr. Linda Elder

November 4, 2021
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Many people have the erroneous idea that critical thinking merely seeks mistakes in thinking, or in other words, criticizes. Or they think of it only as a toolbox for improving their ability to reason through everyday life or professional problems. Some stereotype critical thinking as cold and calculating, having nothing to do with emotions. Some academicians conceptualize their field as the field that defines critical thinking and how it should be contextualized.

 

All these conceptions are incorrect. Instead, critical thinking is a rich set of interconnected ideas that, if internalized and systematically employed, help us live better across our lives, and in every part. The hallmark of the fairminded critical thinker is the commitment to, and embodiment of, intellectual virtues such as intellectual integrity, intellectual empathy, intellectual courage, intellectual autonomy, confidence in reason, and intellectual humility. When we steadfastly cultivate these virtues in ourselves, over time we develop intellectual and ethical character, which in turn leads to self-actualization. When we achieve self-actualization, we are more spontaneous because we are less concerned with what others think of us, and we are happier because we have greater control of both our thinking and our actions. We see ourselves as worthy, while recognizing we are fallible. We accept that we can never be perfect, while continually working toward the ideal. We recognize that a primary purpose in life is happiness. Through our critical thinking, we seek the highest and most noble paths toward happiness. This includes, for instance giving of yourself to others while also making sure to take care of yourself. It includes not beating yourself up or denigrating yourself. It includes believing in the potency of your own mind.


In this webinar, Dr. Elder will explore some of the relationships between critical thinking, spontaneity, and happiness using the tools of critical thinking. These relationships have implications for our classrooms and all parts of our lives. We hope you join us for this important and invigorating topic which is directly related to well-being and self-fulfillment.


Because the session relies heavily upon your questions as participants, you will need to familiarize yourself with certain critical thinking concepts ahead of time. Please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the Webinar Q&A as you can:


1. Review page 12 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


2. Read the article, “Valuable Intellectual Traits.”


3. Complete the activity, “When Have you Defended a Popular but Irrational Belief?” (Scroll about halfway down the page to reach this activity.)


4. Complete the activity, “Distinguishing What You Know For Certain From What You Do Not Know.” (Scroll about two thirds of the way down the page to reach this activity.)


5. Watch the three-part video series, ‘Intellectual Virtues’ by Dr. Linda Elder:


a. Part 1.


b. Part 2.


c. Part 3.


Regular Open Critical Thinking Q&A: October 2021
Dr. Linda Elder

October 21, 2021
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

What are your questions?


Together we ponder or answer them.


Thinking is driven by questions. The quality of your thinking is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Fruitful questions, when properly addressed, lead to knowledge. Knowledge leads to important understandings. Important understandings, when actively employed by the mind, can lead to increasingly more fulfilling, satisfying, and joyful lives. In teaching and learning, the quality of our teaching can largely be captured in the questions students ask in our classes and the questions they ask when they leave our tutelage (not on how much information they have stored in short-term memory). 


Despite these insights, the importance of questions in thinking is – and always has been – largely ignored in human conversations, relationships and societies. The role of questions in thinking is rarely discussed in human life (though in academia, of course, there are some few classes on how to pursue questions, and some faculty do explore the role of questions in thinking). Theory about questions is still in its infancy. While Socrates believed the most effective way to teach was through questioning, 2,400 years later, his insights seemed to be little valued. Each of us needs to improve our ability to ask productive and rewarding questions.


In our regular (roughly monthly) question-and-answer webinars, led by one of our Fellows or Scholars, we open the floor to your questions about critical thinking and its unlimited applications to human life. Join us in this forum where you can practice asking questions similar to how we want our students to practice asking them – to improve their ability to ask powerful questions in everyday life. Some questions we will be able to answer easily; those that do not lend themselves to definitive answers, we will explore with you.


We will largely structure this Q&A webinar with the entire group together in one room, but on some occasions, we may break into smaller groups to explore a given question. We look forward to lively, convivial, and enlightening discussions based on your questions.


Critical Thinking in the Arts and Humanities
Dr. Gerald Nosich

October 7, 2021
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Critical thinking provides the tools for reasoning well within any field of study, profession, or domain of thought. But these tools must be contextualized within every field, and this contextualization is frequently a nuanced process.


In this session, Dr. Nosich will briefly explore with participants how critical thinking concepts and principles have direct relevance to reasoning at a high level of skill within the Arts and Humanities. Dr. Nosich will focus specifically on examples from these fields; however, all are invited to attend, since the foundations of critical thinking will be an essential part of the discussion and because these apply, again, to all fields and subjects.


Because the session relies heavily upon your questions as participants, you will need to familiarize yourself with certain critical thinking concepts ahead of time. Please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the Webinar Q&A as you can:


1. Read the partial copy of the Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools found in the Community Online.


2. Complete the activity “Analyze the Logic of a Profession, Subject, or Discipline” for your own area of the arts and humanities. Be sure to read the content at the top of the page before you begin.


3. Complete the activity, “Convert Clear Thoughts to Unclear Thoughts,” focusing on words and phrases you read or hear within your area of the arts and humanities. Be sure to read the content at the top of the page before you begin.


Why the Human Mind Compartmentalizes and How Critical Thinking is the Key to Integration
Dr. Linda Elder

September 25, 2021
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

The human mind does not intrinsically integrate skills, abilities, or characteristics from one domain of thought to other domains of thought. This explains why someone may be, for instance, a highly skilled, disciplined engineer while at the same time being an undisciplined, irresponsible, irrational parent or citizen.

There seem to be two primary reasons why the human mind has difficulty integrating ideas and understandings. One stems from the fact that the human mind does not intrinsically integrate ideas across its different domains of thought, and humans on the whole simply have not cultivated anything near their innate capacities to integrate. For most people these capacities largely lie dormant. People do not know, and generally are not taught, how to cultivate these capacities. They lack the tools of criticality to do so. However, through a commitment to critical thinking concepts, principles, and dispositions, we can learn to integrate ideas and dispositions across the areas of our lives. This leads to higher and higher degrees, over time, of intellectual integrity and requires lifelong commitment to everyday practice in critical thinking.

The second primary reason people tend to be highly compartmentalized thinkers is due to selfish and vested interests. When people have a selfish interest in not seeing the truth in a situation or context, they can rely on their innate tendency to compartmentalize. When people want more for their group than is their fair share, again they can easily rely on their propensity to compartmentalize. These phenomena come from the root twin problems of egocentric and sociocentric thinking, both of which we can learn to identify and mitigate through the tools of critical thinking.

In this webinar, Dr. Linda Elder will discuss these two barriers to achieving a mind that is integrated.

To prepare for this webinar, please complete the following activities:


1. Read the partial copy of the Thinker's Guide to the Human Mind found in the Community Online.


2. Complete the following statements in writing:

  • When I look at all of the domains or important areas in my life, I realize that I compartmentalize in the following ways . . .
  • For the most part I reason well in the following areas of my life . . .
  • However, I do not reason as well in the following areas of my life . . .
  • This is true because . . .
  • To become a more integrated person, I need to . . .

Critical Thinking in the Natural and Social Sciences
Dr. Gerald Nosich

September 2, 2021
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Scientific thinking is that mode of thinking in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking — about any scientific subject, content, or problem — by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.


A well-cultivated scientific thinker:


  • raises vital scientific questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
  • gathers and assesses relevant scientific data and information, using scientific laws, theories, and ideas to interpret them effectively;
  • comes to well-reasoned scientific conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
  • thinks open-mindedly within convergent systems of scientific thought, recognizing and assessing scientific assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
  • communicates effectively with others in proposing solutions to complex scientific problems.


Scientific thinking is, like all critical thinking, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities, as well as a commitment to developing the intellectual skills, abilities, and dispositions of the critical mind.


In this Webinar Q&A, Dr. Nosich will field questions on the application of critical thinking concepts and tools to the natural and social scientific disciplines. Anyone is welcome to join, but priority will be given to questions related to the sciences.


Because the session relies heavily upon your questions as participants, you will need to familiarize yourself with certain critical thinking concepts ahead of time. Please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the Webinar Q&A as you can:


1. Read pages 4-21, 17, 20-21, and 42 in the partial copy of The Thinker’s Guide to Scientific Thinking found in the Community Online.


2. Complete the activity, “Analyze the Logic of a Profession, Subject, or Discipline” for your particular scientific field or discipline (e.g., the logic of biology, the logic of chemistry, the logic of geology, etc.)


3. Complete the activity, “Determine Relevant Information Sufficient to Answer a Question” using an example related to science. The prompt asks you to use a news article, but you can also use claims you’ve heard in person, have seen on social media, or have found in other sources.


4. Watch Dr. Carol Tavris’ presentation from the 36th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking.


The Importance of Establishing an Independent Field of Critical Thinking Studies and Why the Emergence of Such a Field Has Little Chance in Today’s Political, Social and Academic Climates
Dr. Linda Elder

August 26, 2021
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

It is essential for a valid field of critical thinking studies to emerge if we are to properly advance a robust conception of critical thinking that can be actively employed across cultures, persons, subjects, disciplines, and professions. This we can only hope for in the distant future, if ever, since far too many substantial and pervasive variables work against it to expect its realization in the present or near future. To put this problem another way, the development of a field of critical thinking studies and the cultivation of further rich theory of critical thinking are severely hampered by a number of complex variables and influences. Though there are indeed many such variables, this session will focus on four primary barriers:


1. the perspective and worldview through which philosophers tend to view and treat critical thinking as a conceptual construct;


2. the fact that most teachers and faculty at all levels tend to see themselves as fostering critical thinking in their courses when little evidence supports this notion;


3. the fact that even teachers dedicated to learning a substantial conception of critical thinking tend to have great difficulty internalizing it, given its inherent complexities and the fact that they are rarely taught the requisite intellectual skills for comprehending inticacies within a rich theory of mind and of critical reasoning; and


4. the fact that freedom of thought and the cultivation of the liberally educated mind, both of which are intimately connected with a rich conception of critical thinking, tend to be little discussed or valued in human cultures or educational systems today. 


Prior to the discussion, please read these articles by Drs. Richard Paul and Linda Elder: 


1. "Richard Paul's Contributions to the Field of Critical Thinking Studies and to the Establishment of First Principles in Critical Thinking."


2. "Reflections on the Nature of Critical Thinking, Its History, Politics, and Barriers, and on Its Status across the College & University Curriculum - Part I."


3. "Reflections on the Nature of Critical Thinking, Its History, Politics, and Barriers, and on Its Status across the College & University Curriculum - Part II."


Teaching Strategies that Promote Critical Thinking
Dr. Gerald Nosich

July 8, 2021
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Bringing critical thinking into the classroom entails understanding the concepts and principles embedded in critical thinking, then applying these concepts throughout the curriculum. It means developing powerful strategies that emerge when we take critical thinking seriously as a means for cultivating the intellects of our students at all levels.


In this Webinar Q&A, Dr. Nosich will focus on strategies for engaging the minds of students using common critical thinking language. These strategies are powerful and useful, because each is a way to routinely engage students in thinking about what they are trying to learn – as they are learning. Each one approaches students as thinkers who must learn to reason their way through ideas using their best thinking.

These strategies offer students methods for appropriately analyzing and assessing the ideas they are exposed to in the schooling process, and suggest ways of teaching students how to do the (often) hard work of learning. Each critical thinking process represents a shift of responsibility for learning from teacher to student, which is necessary if students are to take command of their minds.


Because the session relies heavily upon your questions as participants, you will need to familiarize yourself with certain critical thinking concepts. Please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the Webinar Q&A as you can: 


1. Read the article, “Distinguishing Between Inert Information, Activated Ignorance, and Activated Knowledge.”


2. Watch the video, “How to Teach Students to Seek the Logic of Things.”


3. After reading the content at the top of the page, complete the activity, “Analyze the Logic of a Profession, Subject, or Discipline” using the discipline or subject that you teach.


4. Review the entire transparency pack, “Content as Thinking.”


5. Read the article, “An Overview of How to Design Instruction Using Critical Thinking Concepts.”


6. Read this two-page document on teaching for depth of understanding and strategies that foster student engagement.


Is It Possible to Realize Fairminded Critical Societies?
Dr. Linda Elder

June 24, 2021
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

"The critical habit of thought, if usual in society, will pervade all its mores, because it is a way of taking up the problems of life. Men educated in it cannot be stampeded by stump orators ... They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence, uninfluenced by the emphasis or 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."


~William Graham Sumner, Folkways, 1906


It is becoming increasingly clear that the survival and well-being of humans largely depends on our ability to work together successfully and productively, to reach out to one another, to help one another. Yet, problems of nationalism, ethnocentrism and prejudice are pervasive across the world. People are raised to see their country or group as better than other countries or groups. They tend to favor the groups to which they belong. This is a natural tendency of the human mind. And it is a tendency fostered within most, if not all, cultures across the world.


If we are to create a world that advances justice for the vast majority of people across the globe, we must become citizens of the world. We must denounce nationalism, ethnocentrism, bias and prejudice in all forms. We must think within a global, rather than national, view. We must take a long-term view. We must begin to relegate the interests of any given country, including our own, to that of one of many: no more worthy of the world’s resources than anyone else on the planet. We must see the lives of people in other countries as no less precious than the lives of people in our own country. We must see all skin colors, shapes, sizes and ages of people as equally worthy. We must oppose the pursuit of narrow selfish or group interests. Integrity and justice must become more important to us than national or group advantage and power.


This session will explore the question: is it possible to realize fairminded critical societies in which all people’s needs are met, and in which all people are encouraged to develop as rational, caring members of society?


Part of this session will rely on your questions, so it is important to familiarize yourself with certain related concepts before joining. Please complete the following activities in advance of the Webinar Q&A:


1. Read the article "Critical Societies: Thoughts from the Past."


2. Read page 164 in Liberating the Mind: Overcoming Sociocentric Thought and Egocentric Tendencies. For those who own the book, this is found in chapter six: "Envisioning Critical Societies."


3. Complete the two "Test the Idea" activities on page 165 of Liberating the Mind.


Helping Students Develop the Intellectual Traits of Mind Necessary for Skilled Reasoning in Any Course or Class
Dr. Gerald Nosich

June 8, 2021
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Critical thinking does not entail merely intellectual skills. It is a way of orienting oneself in the world. It is a way of approaching problems that differs significantly from that which is typical in human life. People may have critical thinking skills and abilities, and yet still be unable to enter viewpoints with which they disagree. They may have critical thinking abilities, and yet still be unable to analyze the beliefs that guide their behavior. They may have critical thinking abilities, and yet be unable to distinguish between what they know and what they don’t know, to persevere through difficult problems and issues, to think fairmindedly, to stand alone against the crowd. Thus, in developing as a thinker and fostering critical thinking abilities in others, it is important to develop intellectual traits (also known as intellectual virtues or dispositions) – traits such as fairmindedness, intellectual humility, intellectual perseverance, intellectual courage, intellectual empathy, intellectual autonomy, intellectual integrity, and confidence in reason.


These traits of mind are essential to learning the content of any field, or in other words, of thinking through any discipline or area of study. Students cannot learn to think well in the natural sciences, the social sciences, arts, humanities, or professional fields without coming to terms with what they don’t know, or without having the intellectual courage to imagine a world far more complex than the world they have taken for granted. In all fields, students need to engage through intellectual empathy with other thinkers and envision new ideas; they also need to develop the intellectual autonomy and intellectual perseverance to work through deep and challenging issues without easily giving up or simply gravitating to group think. They need to develop fairmindedness in order to appreciate new theories and alternative viewpoints; they need to cultivate within themselves the confidence that they can, with work, come to understand themselves and the world in a deeper way.


Intellectual traits go beyond knowing a given set of skills; they define a person's intellectual character. That character influences not only the thinker and his or her social circle, but also the society in which the thinker lives. The success or failure of any society in which common citizens are empowered to participate will largely depend upon the degree to which they embody intellectual virtues, or in other words, intellectual character.


In this Webinar Q&A, Dr. Nosich will provide practical ways of integrating the intellectual traits into daily instruction and respond to your questions on this topic. Because the session relies heavily upon your questions as participants, you will need to familiarize yourself with certain critical thinking concepts. Please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the Webinar Q&A as you can:


1. Review page 12 of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


2. Read page 14 and pages 19 & 20 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


3. Read the article, “Valuable Intellectual Traits.”


4. Watch Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of “Intellectual Virtues by Dr. Linda Elder.”


5. Complete the activity, “Articulate Your Own Definitions of Intellectual Virtues.” (You will see it after scrolling down below the first activity on the page.) If you find yourself having trouble, review the reading and/or viewing assignments above as needed.


Critical Thinking Therapy for Mental Health and Self-Actualization
Dr. Linda Elder

May 20, 2021
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Critical thinking Therapy begins with the assumption that mental health depends, among other things, on reasonable thinking. Being mentally healthy implies living a reasonable life. One cannot be emotionally healthy while also being an unreasonable person, and to be a reasonable person requires critical thinking. Yet mental health professionals generally lack an understanding of critical thinking and its vital importance to effective mental health therapies.


It isn’t that mental health professionals never use critical thinking. All the best therapeutic approaches to mental health have a direct relationship with critical thinking. However, clinicians do not always choose the best mental health therapies. This is true because they don’t always know how to choose among the theories and therapies within the various schools of thought relevant to cultivating mental health. In other words, they are frequently unclear as to the standards they should use in deciding on the best counseling strategies for their clients.


In this Webinar Q&A, Dr. Elder will briefly discuss her conception of Critical Thinking Therapy and its importance to mental health and self-actualization, as well as how critical thinking can elevate existing therapies to higher levels of efficacy. She will then open the session to your questions.


Because this session relies heavily upon your questions as participants, you will need some knowledge of certain critical thinking concepts and how they interweave with mental health. Please familiarize yourself with the key ideas in the Paul-Elder Framework for Critical Thinking by completing as many of the following activities in advance of the Webinar Q&A as you can (some of these can be completed after the session as well):

 

1. Read through page 13 of the partial copy of The Thinker's Guide to the Human Mind found in the Community Online.


2. Read pages 14-21, 24-25, and 12 in the partial copy of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools found in the Community Online.


3. Watch the short video clip, “Critical Thinking and the Basic Elements of Thought.”


4. Complete the activity “Analyze the Logic of a Profession, Subject, or Discipline” for the mental healthcare profession. (Be sure to read the content at the top of the page first.)


5. Watch the short video clip, “Critical Thinking - Standards of Thought - Part 1.”


6. Watch the short video clip, “Critical Thinking - Standards of Thought - Part 2.”


7. Complete the activity “Convert Unclear Thoughts to Clear Thoughts.” Rather than targeting ‘throw-away’ phrases as the instructions suggest, try to target vague statements you’ve made or thought when you were dealing with mental health challenges, or vague statements made by others living with such challenges. (Be sure to read the content at the top of the page first.)


8. Complete the activity “Recognizing Inaccurate Statements.” Try to target false statements you’ve made or thought when you were dealing with mental health challenges, or false statements made by others living with such challenges. (Be sure to read the content at the top of the page first.)


9. Read the definitions for “egocentricity” and “sociocentricity” in the copy of A Glossary of Critical Thinking Terms and Concepts found in the Community Online.


10. Complete the activity “Identify Some of Your Irrational Beliefs.” See if you can think of any examples related to mental health specifically. (Be sure to read the content at the top of the page first.)


11. Complete the activity “Identify Beliefs Acquired Through Group Membership.”


Teaching Students to Think Critically Through Your Course Content
Dr. Gerald Nosich

May 6, 2021
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Some instructors conceptualize critical thinking as a skillset that students learn through a few weeks of lessons, or perhaps through a somewhat longer course or class, and then move on from. In fact, critical thinking is a set of understandings and skills that should be continually practiced throughout all lessons and courses.


The importance of teaching all subject matter through a critical thinking lens, at all levels of education, cannot be overstated. As educators, we all must understand two key points:


1. Most students have never learned to think critically to any significant extent (except perhaps in very specific ways and areas). This includes students who have taken courses in critical thinking.


2. Students who do not, or cannot, think critically through course content are incapable of learning it in a meaningful way – i.e., of internalizing and being able to reliably apply it in the real world.


In this session, Dr. Nosich will answer your questions about practical strategies and foundational principles for incorporating critical thinking instruction into any course or class.

 

Because this session relies heavily upon your questions as participants, you will need to familiarize yourself with certain critical thinking and instructional concepts. Please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the Webinar Q&A as you can (most are quite brief):


1. Read the article, “Distinguishing Between Inert Knowledge, Activated Ignorance, and Activated Knowledge.”


2. *Read page 37, page 12, pages 14-21, and pages 24-25 (in that order) in the partial copy of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools found in the Community Online.


3. Watch the short video clip, “Critical Thinking and the Basic Elements of Thought.”


4. Complete the activity “Analyze the Logic of a Profession, Subject, or Discipline” for your own discipline or subject. (Be sure to read the content at the top of the page first.)


5. Watch the short video clip, “Critical Thinking - Standards of Thought - Part 1.”


6. Watch the short video clip, “Critical Thinking - Standards of Thought - Part 2.”


7. Complete the activity “Convert Unclear Thoughts to Clear Thoughts.” Try to use examples related to your course content. (Be sure to read the content at the top of the page first.)


8. Complete the activity “Recognizing Inaccurate Statements.” Try to use examples related to your course content. (Be sure to read the content at the top of the page first.)


9. Complete the activity “Recognize When Precision is Needed.” Try to use examples related to your course content. (Be sure to read the content at the top of the page first.)


10. *Read pages 3-22 and page 34 in the partial copy of How to Improve Student Learning found in the Community Online.


Foster a Local Critical Thinking Town Hall or Critical Thinking Cafe
Led by Dr. Linda Elder

April 14, 2021
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

To achieve fairminded critical societies means, among other things, coming together in community to boost the resources and services made available to people in our communities. Fortunately, progressive communities across the world are increasingly focused on how they can improve and add to resources in their local areas. This gets to the heart of the mental well-being of people who live in our communities.


Here are some of the many questions that communities should be asking: What services, programs and amenities are available to people in their home communities? What choices do people have, near home, for cultural advancement? What free activities are offered for families and children? What sports activities are available? Are there community gardens? Are there community centers where people feel welcomed and invited? What art and theater programs are available? Where can people get together to play music and learn from one another? What are we doing to address sustainability issues in our community?


Many people in our communities feel disconnected, marginalized, alienated, and a sense of hopelessness. Many people are falling into depression. We cannot solve all of the problems facing people, but we can offer more support locally to help people function at higher levels, and to achieve self-fulfillment and self-actualization. This can be done through the tools of critical thinking.


In this session, Dr. Elder will discuss how to set up a Critical Thinking Town Hall using the concepts and principles in a robust, integrated, fairminded conception of critical thinking that can be taught to all community members (of all ages) as you work together to reason through the issues and concerns you face, and to develop the programs you would like to see realized in your community. Dr. Elder will also discuss how to set up a Critical Thinking Café in your community, in which people come together on a weekly basis at a local coffee shop or other meeting place to discuss current events and/or participate in an ongoing book study program. The Critical Thinking Café concept, which can be replicated across your city or town, is one program that can be made available to help support intellectual development of the people in your community.


To read more about the Critical Thinking Town Hall concept, click here.

Prior to attending the workshop, please visit the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online to read partial copies of the following publications:

  1.  The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools
  2.  The Thinker's Guide to the Human Mind

Why Intellectual Standards are Essential in Teaching, Learning and All Parts of Life
Dr. Gerald Nosich, Senior Fellow

April 1, 2021
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Effectively assessing reasoning is essential to critical thinking. While everyone at least sometimes uses standards appropriate for assessing thinking, often without consciously realizing it, do they adhere to the most relevant and important intellectual standards in every context? And how often do they fail to use any appropriate standards at all? For example, have you ever failed to think through the complexities of a problem before making a decision? Are you living your life in a way that is most significant to you, or are you being ensnared by a superficial lifestyle? When you make decisions, do you consider all the relevant and significant information needed to make those decisions? How frequently do your belief systems or ideologies impede your ability to adhere to intellectual standards (such as clarity, accuracy, precision, depth, breadth, logicalness, significance, fairness, and sufficiency)? In teaching, to what degree do you explicitly foster command of intellectual standards so that your students learn to think through content in your classes through appropriate application of standards to the elements of reasoning?


Errors in reasoning frequently lead to poor decisions, and hence a poor quality of life. They can also create enormous impediments to both teaching and learning. In this session, Dr. Nosich will address your questions on the importance of intellectual standards in teaching, learning, and life, and he will share ways of integrating intellectual standards into day-to-day living.


Because this session relies upon your questions as participants, you will need to familiarize yourself with the concept of intellectual standards. Please complete as many of the following activities in advance of the Webinar Q&A as you can:

  1. Read pages 1-6 in The Thinker's Guide to Intellectual Standards: The Words that Name Them and the Criteria that Define Them.
  2. Read pages 19-21 and page 30 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.
  3. Complete the activity, "Convert Unclear Thoughts to Clear Thoughts" after reading the text and diagrams on the page.
  4. View the video, "Critical Thinking - Standards of Thought - Part 1."
  5. Complete the activity, "Target Significance in Critical Thinking" after reading the text and diagrams on the page.
  6. View the video, "Critical Thinking - Standards of Thought - Part 2."
  7. Complete the activity, "Recognize Irrelevant Statements" after reading the text and diagrams on the page.

How Critical Thinking is Essential to Seeing Through Disinformation, False Narratives, Conspiracy Theories, and Fake News
Dr. Linda Elder, Senior Fellow

March 17, 2021
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Much has been said about the problems of disinformation, false narratives and fake news. From the point of view of critical thinking, false information masquerading as truth is easily debunked. One need only look at the facts to discern what is really happening. But if these problems are so easy to see through, why are so many people believers of ideas that make no sense, that are frequently based in slanted, narrow ideologies or irrational conspiracy theories, and therefore cannot withstand the test of reason?





In this session, Dr. Elder will address this question, as well as your questions focused on disinformation and belief in false narratives and ideologies.


Please complete the following activities in advance of the Webinar Q&A:

  1. View Dr. Elder's presentation, 'What Is Truth in a Post-Truth Political Era?'
  2. Review this partial copy of the Thinker's Guide for Conscientious Citizens on How to Detect Media Bias and Propaganda.

Why the Elements of Reasoning are Essential in Everyday Life
Dr. Gerald Nosich, Senior Fellow

March 4, 2021
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Our thinking largely determines the quality of our work, learning, and life. Those who have not yet internalized the foundations of critical thinking may view them merely as tools to be wielded on specific occasions, and then to be put away for days, weeks, or even months at a time. For example, such persons may analyze and evaluate their reasoning when making large purchases (cars, houses, etc.), but may otherwise leave their daily decision-making at the mercy of the spontaneous, associational thinking that comes more naturally to human beings.



Those who have made a greater commitment to intellectual discipline are aware that examining their reasoning throughout their waking hours, during the many hundreds or thousands of choices they make in their daily lives, can pay great dividends that accumulate over time.


In this session, Dr. Gerald Nosich will answer your questions about how the Elements of Reasoning – the building blocks of human thought – can be practically integrated into our thinking in everyday life.


Remember: This session depends on your questions, and Dr. Nosich will presuppose that you are reasonably familiar with the Elements of Reasoning in the Paul-Elder Framework for Critical Thinking. Even if you have learned about the elements in our written work, our online courses, or at our events, we strongly recommend you complete the following activities to prepare for this Q&A session:

  1. Read the article, “The Elements of Reasoning and the Intellectual Standards.”
  2. Watch the video, “The Elements of Reasoning by Dr. Linda Elder, Part 1 of 2.”
  3. Watch the video, “The Elements of Reasoning by Dr. Linda Elder, Part 2 of 2.”
  4. Read pages 5, 7, 22, and 23 in The Thinker’s Guide to Analytic Thinking.
  5. After reading the text at the top of the page, complete the activity “Analyze the Logic of a Problem of Issue” using a real problem from your life.
  6. After reading the text at the top of the page, complete the activity “Analyze the Logic of a Concept or Idea.” Focus on a real idea that you use in your daily life – for example, the idea that “I should put my children’s needs before my own,” or that “I should ensure my needs are met before trying to help others.”

Critical Thinking for Students: Your Questions About Critical Thinking
Dr. Linda Elder, Senior Fellow

February 17, 2021
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Critical thinking skills, abilities and traits are essential to deep learning. This Webinar Q&A session Is designed for students from middle school through higher education who are interested in developing their critical thinking abilities and who are self-motivated to learn. We ask all participants to complete the activities listed below before attending.


Students must be over 13 years of age to participate, and students aged 14-17 must have the permission of a legal guardian.


Students attending: be aware that this Q&A session focuses on your questions, so please complete the following activities and then bring your questions to the session.

  1. Read through this partial copy of The Aspiring Thinker’s Guide to Critical Thinking.
  2. Read pages 14-15 and 35-36 in The Thinker’s Guide to How to Study & Learn a Discipline.
  3. Complete this activity in the Criteria Corner after reading the section introduction near the top of the page.
  4. Complete this activity in the Wheel of Reason after reading the introduction near the top of the page.

Critical Thinking and Responsible Freedom of Speech
Dr. Linda Elder, Senior Fellow

February 3, 2021
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

People frequently misunderstand the concept of Freedom of Speech, believing they can say anything they want, whenever they want, and in any way they want to, even if people get harmed in the process. But Freedom of Speech as a universal ideal does not endorse or excuse vulgar, belligerent, quarrelsome, loud-mouthed discourse designed to destroy and damage; instead, it presupposes that one is adhering to guiding principles for reasoning. This entails engaging in disciplined reasoning using universal intellectual standards such as clarity, accuracy, depth, bread, logicalness, and sufficiency. It also presupposes that the reasoning being put forth “freely” is embodying and exhibiting intellectual virtues such as intellectual empathy, intellectual humility, intellectual autonomy, confidence in reasoning, and fairmindedness. Freedom of speech is also connected to freedom of thought, which presupposes the same guiding principles for reasoning.


How do we create societies which honor and encourage freedom of speech based in critical thinking principles? How do we create classrooms which advance freedom of speech and freedom of thought using disciplined reasoning? How do we create business and government cultures that encourage disciplined freedom of thought and speech? These are some of the questions we will explore in this session. Bring your questions and join us for what will surely be a provocative Q&A session.


Navigating a Pandemic with the Tools of Critical Thinking
Dr. Linda Elder, Senior Fellow

January 14, 2021
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
90 Minutes

Watch Recording

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a clear and painful example of how our thinking determines the quality, and sometimes even the continuation, of human life. Its widespread, largely preventable devastation, wrought from failures in reasoning at all levels of society, has provided a harrowing reminder of what can happen when we fail to sufficiently think through our choices.


Each day, we who are living through this tumultuous time face many of the same questions that arose when the pandemic began: how do I best protect myself, my loved ones, and my community? How much risk must I accept to meet the demands of day-to-day living, and how can I mitigate that risk to the greatest extent possible? When do my choices pose threats not only to myself, but to others? How do I meet my ethical obligations to those around me? How best can I address the secondary challenges manifested by this pandemic, such financial woes, loneliness, turmoil within my social circle, and depression?


While this webinar deals with critical thinking as an indispensable skillset for weathering a pandemic, its implications apply more broadly to other extraordinary challenges – especially those occurring on a massive scale, such as during natural disasters or protracted social unrest.


This session will be driven by your questions. Below, you will find several activities to complete ahead of time in the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online, all relating to critical thinking and its applications to the sort of pandemic we are facing now. Dr. Elder will presuppose that attendees have studied the subject matter through these activities, and therefore, the webinar will be based on what questions you bring to the discussion.

The following are the activities that we ask you to complete prior to the webinar:

  1. If you have not studied the Paul-Elder Framework for Critical Thinking to any significant extent, we strongly recommend that you complete the assignments listed as part of our previous webinar, ‘The Elements of Reasoning, Intellectual Standards, and Intellectual Traits.’ (At minimum, complete all of the reading and viewing activities.)
  2. Triangle of Thinking, Feeling, and Desires: Review the reading and diagrams on this page, and follow its recommendation to read pages 3-10 in The Human Mind.
  3. Think of a situation you were in recently that resulted from the pandemic, where you experienced a negative emotion such as anger, frustration, depression, insecurity, or fear. Complete the activity ‘Understanding the Relationships Between Thinking, Feeling, and Emotions’ with this situation in mind.
  4. Think of the most significant problem you now face as a result of the pandemic. Complete the activity ‘Analyze the Logic of a Problem or Issue’ with this problem in mind.
  5. Read pages 4-15 in The Thinker’s Guide to Ethical Reasoning.
  6. Strong-Sense Versus Weak-Sense Critical Thinking: Complete the reading at the top. Then, complete the activity; for questions 3 and 4 in the activity, think specifically of examples of your thinking that relate to the pandemic. Then answer question 5 with those examples in mind.

The Elements of Reasoning, Intellectual Standards, and Intellectual Traits
Dr. Linda Elder, Senior Fellow

December 30, 2020
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
90 Minutes

Watch Recording

The elements of reasoning (also known as the elements of thoughts, components of thinking, etc.), the intellectual standards, and the intellectual traits (or intellectual virtues) together form the bedrock of critical thinking theory. Understanding these conceptual sets and their relationships with each other is the first step in elevating one’s reasoning, while deepening that comprehension through continued study and practice is a lifelong journey. Most people who begin to learn the fundamentals of critical thinking stop learning before they have a chance to adequately internalize them, and therefore to use them with significant consistency and effectiveness.


  1. This webinar asks you to complete several activities ahead of time in the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online, all relating to the three concepts above, and to formulate questions that you can bring to the session. Therefore, Dr. Elder will presuppose that attendees have studied the subject matter through these activities, or previously through attending our conferences, academies, or courses. This webinar will be almost entirely based on the questions you bring to the discussion. The following readings and activities are recommended prior to the webinar: Review Page 14 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools .
  2. Watch 'Critical Thinking and the Basic Elements of Thought' .
  3. Complete the activity 'Analyze the Logic of a Problem or Issue' after reading the template and example at the top of the page.
  4. Review pages 19 and 20 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools .
  5. Watch 'Critical Thinking - Standards of Thought - Part 1' .
  6. Also watch 'Critical Thinking - Standards of Thought - Part 2' .
  7. Begin to Think About Intellectual Standards : after examining the diagram at the bottom of the page, complete the activities for at least four of the intellectual standards listed. The more you complete, the better you will understand how the various intellectual standards can be applied to the elements of thought.
  8. Read 'The Elements of Reasoning and the Intellectual Standards' .
  9. Read 'Valuable Intellectual Traits' .
  10. Watch Parts 1-3 of 'Intellectual Virtues by Dr. Linda Elder' .
  11. Complete the activity 'Articulate Your Own Definitions of Intellectual Virtues' (Activity begins halfway down the page.)
  12. Examine the diagram on page 12 of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools . Write at least four examples of how applying a given intellectual standard to a given element of reasoning can help develop a given intellectual trait over time.
  13. Example: ‘Checking my assumptions for accuracy can help me to develop intellectual humility.’

Why Intellectual Character is Essential to Strong-Sense Critical Thinking and to Reasoning Within All Fields of Study
Dr. Linda Elder, Senior Fellow

August 18, 2020
1:00 pm EDT (10:00 am PDT)
50 Minutes

Watch Recording

What is strong-sense critical thinking? What is weak-sense critical thinking? Where do you see either being played out in human life today? What is intellectual character and how do we develop it in ourselves and in our students? How do intellectual virtues interrelate with intellectual skills and abilities? Why is the development of intellectual character essential to teaching and learning, and to high-level functioning in personal and professional life? Can people develop intellectual traits partially? If so, how might this be manifest? In this webinar discussion, Dr. Elder will address these questions, as well as your questions about how to cultivate intellectual character in students and in yourself.


  1. Prior to this discussion, please complete the numbered items listed below, which are found in the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online. In this discussion, Dr. Elder will presuppose that attendees have studied the Intellectual Virtues through these activities, or previously through attending our conferences, academies, or courses. Therefore the webinar will be based on the questions you bring to the discussion. Study Intellectual Virtues by reading pages 14 & 15 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools .
  2. Read pages 37 & 38 in The Thinker's Guide on How to Study and Learn a Discipline .
  3. Study Intellectual Virtues by watching this video .
  4. Read the definitions of weak-sense critical thinking and strong-sense critical thinking in A Glossary of Critical Thinking Concepts and Terms .
  5. Complete the four activities on this page .

Bringing Analysis to the Center of Instruction Using the Tools of Critical Thinking
Dr. Linda Elder, Senior Fellow

July 9, 2020
4:30 pm EDT (1:30 pm PDT)
50 Minutes

Watch Recording

How is thought best analyzed in any field of study? What are the parts of thinking or elements of thought? How can you bring analysis of thought more explicitly into teaching and learning? In this webinar discussion, Dr. Elder will answer these questions, as well as your questions about how to bring explicit analysis to the core of instruction.


  1. Prior to this discussion, please complete the numbered items listed below, which entail video, reading, and activities in the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online. During the discussion, Dr. Elder will presuppose that attendees have studied the elements of reasoning through these activities, or previously through attending our conferences, academies, or courses. Therefore the webinar will be based on the questions you bring to the discussion. Study the elements of reasoning by reading the following pages in The Thinker’s Guide to Analytic Reasoning : pages 4- 7, 12-13, 22, 40-41, and 51-52.
  2. Study the elements of reasoning by watching these videos:
  3. Critical Thinking and the Basic Elements of Thought
  4. Elements of Reasoning Part 1 of 2
  5. Elements of Reasoning Part 2 of 2
  6. Complete the following activity: Analyze the Logic of a Problem
  7. Complete this activity in writing; write out the logic of one subject you teach, focusing on the elements of thought.

Post-Presentation Discussions with Q&A on ‘What is Truth in a Post-Truth Political Era?’: Second Session
Dr. Linda Elder, Senior Fellow

April 24, 2020
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
50 Minutes

Watch Recording

These discussions will provide an opportunity to delve more deeply into the ideas explicated in the video, ‘What Is Truth in a Post-Political Era?’ Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions of Dr. Elder, and to see them answered live.


If you have not already viewed the video, we strongly recommend doing so before participating in either of the above discussions.


Post-Presentation Discussions with Q&A on ‘What is Truth in a Post-Truth Political Era?’: First Session
Dr. Linda Elder, Senior Fellow

April 23, 2020
5:00 pm EDT (2:00 pm PDT)
50 Minutes

Watch Recording

These discussions will provide an opportunity to delve more deeply into the ideas explicated in the video, ‘What Is Truth in a Post-Political Era?’ Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions of Dr. Elder, and to see them answered live.


If you have not already viewed the video, we strongly recommend doing so before participating in either of the above discussions.

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