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


Upcoming Webinars

Open Critical Thinking Q&A: July 2024
Dr. Linda Elder

July 31, 2024
2:00 pm EDT (11:00 am PDT)
60 Minutes
Register Here

What are your questions?


Together we ponder or answer them.


We record webinar Q&A's for later viewing by members of this website, and some clips may also be posted on other platforms. By participating in this webinar, you give your approval for the Foundation for Critical Thinking (“the FCT”) to use these recordings in any of the FCT’s work or on any of the FCT’s online platforms.


In our regular 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 ask deep and probing questions as well as basic questions of clarification on the theory and application of critical thinking. Some questions we will be able to answer easily; those that do not lend themselves to definitive answers, we will explore with you.


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.


The quality of the questions you ask and pursue every day - at work or in personal life - largely determines the quality of your life.


Similarly, in instruction, the quality of student learning can be largely captured in the questions students ask in our classes and as they go out into the world (not on how much information they have memorized).


Despite these insights, emphasis on questions in thinking is mainly missing from human conversations, relationships, and societies. The role of questions in thinking is rarely discussed in human life. 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 seem to be little valued. Each of us needs to improve our ability to ask productive and rewarding questions.


Bring your questions on critical thinking to this session, whatever they may be.



Past Webinars

Webinar Workshop: How to Foster Critical Thinking in Students on a Typical Day
Dr. Gerald Nosich

June 27, 2024
2:00 pm EDT (11:00 am PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

This is an interactive online workshop in which participants, with Dr. Nosich’s facilitation, will work as a group or in breakout rooms to explore and apply critical thinking concepts and processes. 


Webcams are required and must remain on throughout the session.


We record webinar workshops for later viewing by members of this website, and some clips may also be posted on other platforms. By participating in this webinar, you give your approval for the Foundation for Critical Thinking (“the FCT”) to use these recordings in any of the FCT’s work or on any of the FCT’s online platforms.


In this webinar workshop, we will focus on strategies for engaging students’ intellects as a means of empowering them to internalize course content. 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 learn it. Many of the strategies offer students methods for asking useful questions about the ideas they “receive” in class, as well as for appropriately analyzing and assessing those ideas. These strategies represent a shift of responsibility for learning from the instructor to the students; each suggests at least one way of helping students learn to do the often hard work of learning.


Because this webinar workshop partially depends upon your questions as participants, we recommend completing as many of the following activities as you can beforehand. These require an account in The Center for Critical Thinking Community Online, where a 30-day free trial is available for new users. You are not required to complete the activities to join the webinar workshop, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


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


2. 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.)


3. Read pages 3-11 and page 29 in the partial copy of How to Improve Student Learning found in the Community Online.


Please note that webcams must remain on throughout the webinar workshop, which will also be recorded for later viewing by members of this website, with clips potentially posted to other platforms.


Webinar Workshop: Creating Study Groups for Intellectual and Personal Development
Dr. Linda Elder

June 5, 2024
2:00 pm EDT (11:00 am PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

This is an interactive online workshop in which participants will work as a group or in breakout rooms to explore the concepts under Dr. Elder's guidance.  


Webcams are required and must remain on throughout the session.


We record webinar workshops for later viewing by members of The Center for Critical Thinking Community Online, and some clips may also be posted on other platforms. By participating in this webinar, you give your approval for the Foundation for Critical Thinking (“the FCT”) to use these recordings in any of the FCT’s work or on any of the FCT’s online platforms.


Studying critical thinking alone is limiting due to its complexities, and due to the likelihood of misunderstanding its theory and application. Even the highest-level critical thinking theoreticians need to regularly discuss important ideas with other serious critical thinking scholars or students. This is true for serious thinkers in any field of legitimate study and growth, and it is true for every profession. Without thoughtful others to discuss and practice with, learners are far more likely to, for example, make unrecognized errors that go on to mar many or all their efforts thereafter; struggle slowly through concepts where interaction with others could provide time-saving clarity; and give up on their efforts, temporarily or permanently, in the face of difficulties and frustrations. Studying alone also limits your potential exposure to others’ enlightened thinking.


However, studying in community on a regular basis can considerably broaden your perspective. It can help you better identify and correct for mistakes and problems in your thinking. It introduces you to literature you would likely never have considered before. When conducted well, it offers an ongoing supportive community where everyone in the group aspires to committedly embody intellectual virtues, including one rarely mentioned: intellectual civility. It also offers a rare place in human life where you are allowed to speak any and all of your thoughts – always, of course, in a spirit of responsibility, intellectual discipline, and confidence in reason.


All of this naturally presumes that the focus of one’s study is deep, broad, and significant. It also presupposes a skilled facilitator well-versed in critical thinking foundations. Thirdly, it assumes deep and broad content beyond critical thinking theory on which to focus your studies.


In this webinar workshop, Dr. Elder will discuss the methodologies she has developed in the two long-term study groups she leads for members of the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online, one of which has now lasted five years, the other, two. These are in the tradition of those rare classical study groups, such as those led by Benjamin Franklin and John Stuart Mill, but with emphasis on learning critical thinking and applying it to core classical texts that have clear connections to our living experiences today. Our primary goal in these groups is to achieve self-development at the highest level by internalizing and using critical thinking. Accordingly, we become increasingly self-actualized over time, with important implications for all parts of our lives.


Participants in this webinar will be invited to join our next study group to be held through our Community Online.


Because the workshop partially depends upon your questions as participants, we recommend completing as many of the following activities as you can beforehand. These require an account in the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online, where a 30-day free trial is available for new users. You are not required to complete the activities to join the webinar workshop, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


1. In writing, paraphrase the first three prompts in the activity “Paraphrasing Short Quotes With Specimen Answers.”


2. Find a partner – any person willing to perform a critical thinking exercise with you. Then, separately paraphrase the remaining four prompts in the activity “Paraphrasing Short Quotes With Specimen Answers.” Do this in writing.


3. When you and your partner are finished writing your paraphrases, compare them one at a time. Look for differences as well as similarities: where did one of you detect meaning that the other did not? Were there cases where your interpretations were largely or entirely different? Did one of you articulate the same meaning in a more insightful way than the other?


4. Compare your experience with completing the activity alone to that of completing and discussing it with a partner. Write down any benefits and challenges that were specific to your work with your partner.


Please note that webcams must remain on throughout the webinar workshop, which will also be recorded for later viewing by members of The Center for Critical Thinking Community Online, with clips potentially posted to other platforms.


Webinar Workshop: How Critical and Creative Thinking Depend on One Another
Dr. Gerald Nosich

May 7, 2024
2:00 pm EDT (11:00 am PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

This is an interactive online workshop in which participants will work as a group or in breakout rooms to explore the concepts under Dr. Nosich’s expertise. Webcams are required and must remain on throughout the session.


We record webinar workshops for later viewing by members of this website, and some clips may also be posted on other platforms.


To the untutored, creative and critical thinking may seem to be opposite forms of thought — the first based on irrational or unconscious forces, the second based on rational and conscious processes; the first non-directable and unteachable, the second directable and teachable. In truth, when we understand critical and creative thought truly and deeply – comprehending how they overlap and interact with one another – we recognize them as inseparable and integrated.

That minds create meanings is not in doubt. Whether they create meanings that are useful, insightful, or profound is another matter. To critically assess our thinking, we must internalize and use universal intellectual standards. At the same time, generating the thinking to be assessed requires creative acts of the mind. Hence, imagination and reason are a coordinate team. They function in tandem, like the right and left legs in walking or running. Studying either one separately only ensures that both remain mysterious and puzzling, or that they are reduced to stereotype and caricature.


In this webinar workshop, Dr. Nosich will facilitate helping participants understand and explicate some of the most important connections between critical and creative thinking. Participants will together explore ways of learning and teaching for both types of thinking simultaneously.


Because the workshop partially depends upon your questions as participants, we recommend completing as many of the following activities as you can beforehand. You are not required to complete the activities to join the workshop, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


1. Read pages 4-10 in The Thinker’s Guide to Critical & Creative Thinking.


2. Consider a work of fiction you have read. Look at the template for analyzing a book of non-fiction at the top of this page. Note that while the template deals with a work of non-fiction, the questions are adaptable to a work of fiction.


After reviewing the template, apply the eight elements of reasoning to the work of fiction you have chosen. You may have to be flexible as you do so. Notice which elements apply straightforwardly in your view and which seem more elusive. In the work of fiction you have chosen, you may apply the elements to the author’s reasoning as you understand it, or to the reasoning of an important character. (For example, in Moby Dick, you might analyze Herman Melville’s reasoning or Captain Ahab’s reasoning.)


Be aware that analyzing an author’s reasoning requires a great degree of intellectual humility. Fictional works may not represent the author’s own reasoning (for example, an author might intentionally write the book from a biased point of view.)


3. Reflecting on exercise #2 above, choose any three elements of the novel’s reasoning and evaluate them using one or more universal intellectual standards. For example, did the author or character appear to hold accurate or inaccurate assumptions? Did the author or character seem to form logical or illogical conclusions? Does the novel suggest that the author or character possessed, or lacked, sufficient relevant information?


Please note that webcams must remain on throughout the webinar workshop, which will also be recorded for later viewing by members of this website.


Why a Thriving Democracy Requires Critical Thinking
Dr. Linda Elder

April 10, 2024
7:00 pm EDT (4:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

In this webinar, Dr. Linda Elder will begin to explore how and why critical thinking is essential to flourishing democracies and will discuss some of the intrinsic barriers to cultivating and maintaining democracies.

 

Democracy (government of the people, by the people, and for the people) contrasts with other forms of government such as oligarchy (government of the few, by the few, and for the few) and plutocracy (government of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy). As such, democracy presupposes institutions and laws which prevent “the few,” and that includes “the wealthy,” from controlling the decision-making apparatus of the government. Yet it is clear that big money does play a significant, and some say a decisive, role in elections and decision-making in government. Should we then conclude that the government of the United States is, in fact, a democratic plutocracy or, if you prefer, a plutocratic democracy? Can a case be made that the people at large are significantly manipulated by powerful vested interests in society? 

 

Democracy also requires that the people be educated, which means they have command of their mental capacities through critical reasoning. But are the people becoming educated so that they can make reasonable decisions through the democratic process? Where are the failures in our educational systems in terms of helping students develop as critical-minded citizens who can and do make logical, ethical political decisions? What societal failures more generally impede thriving democracies? How can critical thinking concepts and principles help humans advance and support thriving democracies? These and related questions will be explored in this webinar.


Because the webinar partially depends upon your questions as participants, we recommend completing as many of the following activities as you can beforehand. You are not required to complete the activities to join the webinar, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


1. Watch the video “Using the Tools of Critical Thinking for Effective Decision-Making.”


2. Read the article “Complex Interdisciplinary Questions Exemplified: Ecological Sustainability.”


3. Complete the activity “Analyze the Logic of a Problem or Issue.” Instead of using a personal problem or issue for this activity, select one that applies to society more broadly – for example, “How can we best ensure that all citizens have access to proper nutrition?”


Note: For the prompt “The key question that emerges from the problem is . . . ,” you will almost certainly need to list numerous questions across many domains of thinking as seen in the article above.


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of this website, 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.


How Your Thinking Can Imprison You or Free You
Dr. Gerald Nosich

March 13, 2024
2:00 pm EDT (11:00 am PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

The meeting link will arrive with your registration confirmation email.

 

Whatever you are doing right now is strongly influenced by the way you are thinking. Whatever emotions you feel are strongly influenced by your thinking. Whatever you want – all your desires – are strongly influenced by your thinking. If your thinking is unrealistic, it will lead you to many disappointments. If your thinking is overly pessimistic, it will deny you due recognition of the many things in which you should rejoice. 

 

Since few people realize the powerful role that thinking plays in their lives, few gain significant command of it. Many people are frequently victims of their thinking; that is, they are hurt rather than helped by it. On the other hand, those who have cultivated the tools of critical thinking within themselves have learned to leverage their minds as a means of creating opportunities, managing their emotional states, and clearing obstacles where others feel discouraged, upset, and stymied.


This Webinar Q&A will discuss how you can use the tools of critical thinking to enhance your freedom by generating important questions, revealing useful possibilities, maintaining appropriate emotions, and determining reasonable solutions. Because the webinar partially depends upon your questions as participants, we recommend completing as many of the following activities as you can beforehand. You are not required to complete the activities to join the webinar, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


1. Read pages 4-13 in The Thinker’s Guide to the Human Mind.


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


3. Read pages 8-9 in The Thinker’s Guide to Asking Essential Questions.


4. Read pages 12, 14, and 19-21 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of this website, 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: March 2024
Dr. Linda Elder

March 8, 2024
1:00 pm EST (10:00 am PST)
60 Minutes

What are your questions?


Together we ponder or answer them.


In our regular 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 ask deep and probing questions as well as basic questions of clarification on the theory and application of critical thinking. Some questions we will be able to answer easily; those that do not lend themselves to definitive answers, we will explore with you.


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.


The quality of the questions you ask and pursue every day - at work or in personal life - largely determines the quality of your life.


Similarly, in instruction, the quality of student learning can be largely captured in the questions students ask in our classes and as they go out into the world (not on how much information they have memorized).


Despite these insights, emphasis on questions in thinking is mainly missing from human conversations, relationships, and societies. The role of questions in thinking is rarely discussed in human life. 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 seem to be little valued. Each of us needs to improve our ability to ask productive and rewarding questions.


Bring your questions on critical thinking to this session, whatever they may be.


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of this website, 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.


The meeting link will arrive with your registration confirmation email.


Strategies for Intervening in Your Own Worst Thinking and Behavior
Dr. Linda Elder

February 28, 2024
1:00 pm EST (10:00 am PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Most people have little sense that within each of us are significant self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors, and that many of these are habitual. We therefore tend to have limited understanding of how these pitfalls affect our learning, work and lives.


It is important to deeply explore and probe the patterns of thinking and acting that impede our functionality. For instance, it is important to see that all people tend towards intellectual arrogance, and that this tendency impedes learning, working, teaching, and living. It is important to see that all people frequently fail to persevere through difficulties when learning complex ideas or solving difficult problems – and that this tendency can have drastic implications for not only us as individuals, but for the wellbeing of society and earth at large. It is important, in short, to understand the often-unconscious problems in thinking experienced by all humans that lead to self-defeating attitudes and behaviors. We can then use these understandings to uncover and actively intervene in our own dysfunctional patterns of thought to live more happy and free lives.


This Webinar Q&A will focus on practical ways of intervening in our flawed thoughts and behaviors. Because it partially depends upon your questions as participants, we recommend completing as many of the following activities as you can beforehand. You are not required to complete the activities to join the webinar, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


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


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


3. Read the one-page article, “Natural Egocentric Dispositions.”


4. Read about intellectual virtues on pages 24-26 of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


5. 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.


6. 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.)


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of this website, 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.


[Guided Study Group] Critical Thinking for Life, Learning and Work
Dr. Gerald Nosich

February 15, 2024
4:00 pm EST (1:00 pm PST)
1.5-2 Hours Per Meeting

Runs February 15 - May 9


Webcam Required


This study group will explore ways to improve the quality of your thinking and, therefore, help you achieve your goals and ambitions, make better decisions, and understand where others are trying to influence your thinking (for better or worse). It will help you take charge of what you do in your professional and personal life, how you relate to others, and even what emotions you feel. If you are an educator, it will help you to improve the quality of your students’ thinking and learning.


The problems we increasingly face in teaching and learning, business, society, and daily life require thinking that is complex, adaptable, and sensitive to divergent points of view. The modern world requires that we continually re-learn, routinely re-think our decisions, and regularly re-evaluate the ways in which we work and live. In short, the reality we now face is one in which the power of the mind to command itself, to regularly engage in competent analysis and evaluation, will increasingly determine the quality of our learning, our professional endeavors, and our lives.


Since few people understand the powerful role that thinking plays in their lives, few ever gain significant command of their thoughts. Therefore, most people are frequent victims of their own thinking, harmed rather than helped by it. They are often their own worst enemies; their reasoning acts as a continual source of problems, preventing them from recognizing opportunities, keeping them from exerting energy where it would do the most good, poisoning their relationships, and leading them down blind alleys.


Through this study group, discover and leverage the power of thinking to achieve more significant goals in your work, your teaching and learning, and your personal life – to live a fuller, happier, more secure life. 


Register early as space is limited!


Critical Thinking in Everyday Life
Dr. Gerald Nosich

January 25, 2024
2:00 pm EST (11:00 am 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 effectiveness in daily life, we cannot overstate the importance of 1) learning the explicit tools of critical thinking; 2) using them to understand your immediate circumstances, the trajectory of your life, and the complex and rapidly-changing world we live in; and 3) forging the best path forward for self-fulfillment and achievement at the highest level of which you are capable.


This webinar will discuss practical ways of leveraging critical thinking insights and tools in day-to-day pursuits. Dr. Nosich will then respond to your questions on the topic.


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. You are not required to complete the activities to join the webinar, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


1. Read pages 10-13 in The Thinker's Guide to the Human Mind.


2. Read pages 12, 14, 30, and 19-21 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


3. Watch “Using the Tools of Critical Thinking for Effective Decision-Making.”

For those who wish to delve deeper into the concepts discussed in this webinar, we recommend the following activities:


3. Complete the activity “Analyze the Logic of a Problem or Issue,” focusing on a challenge you are currently facing. 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.


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of this website, 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.


How Society Determines or Influences Most of What We Do
Dr. Linda Elder

January 3, 2024
1:00 pm EST (10:00 am PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Human life entails membership in multiple human groups, such as one’s family, peer group, profession, and religion. We begin participating in at least some of these groups before we are even aware of ourselves as living beings, with each group imposing some level of conformity on us as a condition of acceptance. For most people, compliance with group rules is largely automatic and unreflective. Conformity of thought and behavior is the rule in humans, with independence the rare exception.


Society can be conceptualized as a sort of “super-group” under whose umbrella other groups exist. As such, regardless of your family, friends, subculture, and so forth, you are influenced in nearly all of your behaviors by the society in which you live. This webinar will explore the extent of said influence, illuminate important examples thereof, and discuss how you can begin recognizing and relieving this societal pressure so as to act more independently – wherever doing so makes sense.


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. You are not required to complete the activities to join the webinar, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


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


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


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


For those who wish to delve deeper into the concepts discussed in this webinar, we recommend the following activities:


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


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


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of this website, 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.


Teaching Students to Use the Tools of Critical Thinking to Write Well
Dr. Gerald Nosich

December 7, 2023
1:00 pm EST (10:00 am PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Educated persons skillfully and routinely engage in substantive writing. Substantive writing consists in focusing on a subject worth writing about, then saying something worth saying about it. Remarkably, many students – even in higher education – have never written in a substantive way. Instead, they have developed the habit of getting by with superficial and impressionistic composition which obscures the purpose of writing itself. The result is that many are blind to the ways in which writing can enrich their learning and lives.


This webinar will begin to explore ways to help students develop substantive writing through the tools of critical thinking as a means of fulfilling, deep learning and communication. It will be especially helpful for instructors using Dr. Nosich's Critical Writing: A Guide to Writing a Paper Using the Concepts and Processes of Critical Thinking, and/or Paul and Elder’s The Thinker’s Guide to How to Write a Paragraph. However, everyone looking to help students improve their writing can greatly benefit from attendance.


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. You are not required to complete the activities to join the webinar, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


1. Read pages 5-13 in 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 information at the top of the page first.


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


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of this website, 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 2023
Dr. Gerald Nosich

November 15, 2023
1:00 pm EST (10:00 am PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

What are your questions?


Together we ponder or answer them.


In our regular 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 ask deep and probing questions as well as basic questions of clarification on the theory and application of critical thinking. Some questions we will be able to answer easily; those that do not lend themselves to definitive answers, we will explore with you.


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.


The quality of the questions you ask and pursue every day - at work or in personal life - largely determines the quality of your life.


Similarly, in instruction, the quality of student learning can be largely captured in the questions students ask in our classes and as they go out into the world (not on how much information they have memorized).


Despite these insights, emphasis on questions in thinking is mainly missing from human conversations, relationships, and societies. The role of questions in thinking is rarely discussed in human life. 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 seem to be little valued. Each of us needs to improve our ability to ask productive and rewarding questions.


Bring your questions on critical thinking to this session, whatever they may be.


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.


Why Ethical Reasoning Is So Important and Why We Tend to Misunderstand It
Dr. Linda Elder

October 24, 2023
1:00 pm EDT (10:00 am PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

The proper role of ethical reasoning is to highlight acts of two kinds: those that enhance the well-being of others, and those that harm or diminish the well-being of others. Developing one’s ethical reasoning abilities is crucial because there is in human nature a strong tendency toward egotism, prejudice, self-justification, and self-deception. These tendencies are exacerbated by powerful sociocentric cultural influences that shape our lives. These innate tendencies can be actively combated only by systematically cultivating fairminded critical thinking. Further, ethical questions must be answered by the same means as all questions of judgment: by using explicit tools of reasoning to analyze information and ideas, and to evaluate them for their accuracy, precision, breadth, depth, fairness, and so forth.


In this webinar, Dr. Elder will discuss the importance of ethical reasoning and distinguish it from other forms of thinking with which it is often confused — namely, social conventions and taboos, religious belief systems, and the law.


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. You are not required to complete the activities to join the webinar, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


1. Read the partial copy of The Thinker’s Guide to Ethical Reasoning available in the Community Online.


2. Write out an example of a law that you have supported or felt inclined to support, but which is unethical in practice.


3. Write out an example of a convention within your religion, or within a social group to which you belong, that is accepted by the group but unethical in practice.


4. Complete the activity, “Are You Always Fair?” Be sure to read the language at the top of the page first.


Reading as an Essential Process for the Cultivated Thinker
Dr. Gerald Nosich

September 27, 2023
1:00 pm EDT (10:00 am PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Cultivated thinkers are skilled at, and routinely engage in, close reading. They do not read blindly, but purposely. They have a goal or objective they are pursuing as they read. Their purpose, together with the nature of what they are reading, determines how they read. They read differently in different situations for different purposes. Of course, reading has a nearly universal purpose: to figure out what an author has to say on a given subject.   


When we read, we translate words into meanings. The author has previously translated ideas and experiences into words. We must take those same words and re-translate them into the author’s original meaning using our own ideas and experiences as aids. Accurately translating words into intended meanings is an analytic, evaluative, and creative set of acts. Unfortunately, few readers are skilled at this translation. Few are able to accurately mirror the meaning the author intended; they instead project their own meanings onto a text. They often unintentionally distort or violate the original meaning of the authors they read.


Reading, then, is a form of intellectual work, and intellectual work requires willingness to persevere through difficulties. Perhaps even more importantly, it requires understanding what such work entails. And critical reading is essential to the skilled reasoner.


In this webinar, Dr. Nosich will elucidate processes for critically reading significant texts as a means of developing one’s reasoning abilities and intellectual dispositions. This will benefit your own reading and thinking, and for educators, it will help illuminate ways of bringing this process into your courses on a typical day.


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. You are not required to complete the activities to join the webinar, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


1. Read pages 1-19 in How to Read a Paragraph: The Art of Close Reading.


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


3. Watch the video, “Clarify Concepts with the SEE-I Technique.”


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


5. Complete the activity, “Paraphrasing a Text, The Declaration of Independence.”


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of this website, 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: September 2023
Dr. Gerald Nosich

September 14, 2023
8:00 am EDT (5:00 am PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

What are your questions?


Together we ponder or answer them.


In our regular 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 ask deep and probing questions as well as basic questions of clarification on the theory of critical thinking. Some questions we will be able to answer easily; those that do not lend themselves to definitive answers, we will explore with you.


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.


The quality of the questions you ask and pursue every day - at work or in personal life - largely determines the quality of your life.


Similarly, in instruction, the quality of student learning can be largely captured in the questions students ask in our classes and as they go out into the world (not on how much information they have memorized).


Despite these insights, emphasis on questions in thinking is mainly missing from human conversations, relationships, and societies. The role of questions in thinking is rarely discussed in human life. 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 seem to be little valued. Each of us needs to improve our ability to ask productive and rewarding questions.


Bring your questions on critical thinking to this session, whatever they may be.


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of this website, 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.


The State of Critical Thinking in Human Societies Today
Dr. Linda Elder

August 30, 2023
1:00 pm EDT (10:00 am PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Three disturbing, but hardly novel, facts still impede modern education:


• Most educators at all levels lack a substantive concept of critical thinking.

• Most educators don’t realize that they lack a substantive concept of critical thinking, believe that they sufficiently understand it, and assume they are already teaching it to students.

• Lecture, rote memorization, trivial exercises, and largely ineffective short-term study habits are still the norm in instruction today.


These three facts, taken together, represent serious obstacles to essential, long-term institutional change, for only when administrative and faculty leaders grasp the nature, implications, and power of a robust concept of critical thinking – as well as gain insight into the negative implications of its absence – are they able to orchestrate effective professional development. When faculty have a vague or outright mistaken notion of critical thinking, or they reduce it to a single-discipline model (as in attempting to teach critical thinking through an academic discipline without explicit critical thinking tools, through argumentation theory, or through fallacies), students fail to learn the concepts and principles necessary for making essential connections (both within subjects and across them), connections that give order and substance to teaching and learning, and which lead to student transformation.


In some ways, these problems have worsened over the past decade, in part because the term “critical thinking” is now more popular than ever. This has partially led to a backslide to the morass of the 1970s, when the phrase was seemingly up for grabs, appearing to mean whatever a particular scholar, department, school of thought, or business wanted to believe it meant (typically without any coherent line of reasoning as to why it should be conceptualized as such). As it did then, this problem leads to extensive confusion about what constitutes critical thinking; while most agree it is important, precious few can define it, let alone explain how it is to be done or taught.


Critical thinking’s struggle to find a real home in academia has led to predictable consequences for human societies at large: the average person has little or no idea how to analyze reasoning, assess reasoning, systematically improve reasoning, and therefore how to reason at all (except rarely, and only implicitly, in extremely narrow contexts). Because most people lack these skills and don’t understand their underlying conceptual frameworks, they simply do not value reasoning, despite its dominant role in the quality of their lives. Most businesses, as well as most government and military offices, accordingly lack a robust concept of critical thinking.


This problem can be resolved. In fact, it already would be, had a robust, practical, universally-applicable conception of critical thinking – framed in natural language – been adopted throughout educational curricula when the fledgling field of critical thinking studies began taking shape decades ago, only to again be buried under a mishmash of alternative approaches that are variously dated, partial, cryptic, or outright counterfeit.


In this webinar, Dr. Elder will discuss the state of critical thinking in modern education and society, how it reached this point, and how we can begin progressing in a better direction.


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. You are not required to complete the activities to join the webinar, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


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


2. Review page 14 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


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


4. Review pages 19 and 20 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


5. Watch “Critical Thinking - Standards of Thought - Part 1.”


Also watch “Critical Thinking - Standards of Thought - Part 2.”


6. Read “Valuable Intellectual Traits.”


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of this website, 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.


Dealing with Your Bad Habits of Thought
Dr. Gerald Nosich

August 8, 2023
1:00 pm EDT (10:00 am 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 people tend towards intellectual arrogance, and that this tendency gets in the way of learning, teaching, and living. It is important to see that 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 as individuals, but for the well-being of society and the earth at large. It is important, therefore, to understand the general (often subconscious) problems in thinking experienced by 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, how these attitudes and behaviors serve as formidable barriers to self-development and self-realization, and how you can work to overcome these impediments in your own life.


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. 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 to join the webinar, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


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?


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of this website, 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.


How The Quality of Your Decisions and Your Life are Driven by the Questions You Ask
Dr. Linda Elder

July 11, 2023
1:00 pm EDT (10:00 am PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Thinking is driven by questions. The quality of your thinking, your decisions, and your life overall, all are 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 other words, the quality of the questions you ask and pursue every day - at work or in personal life - largely determines the quality of your life. Similarly, in instruction, the quality of student learning can be largely captured in the questions students ask in our classes and as they go out into the world (not on how much information they have memorized).


Despite these insights, emphasis on questions in thinking is mainly missing from human conversations, relationships, and societies. The role of questions in thinking is rarely discussed in human life. 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 seem to be little valued.


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. 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 to join the webinar, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


1. Read page 4 in The Thinker’s Guide to Asking Essential Questions.


2. Read pages 8-9 in The Thinker’s Guide to Asking Essential Questions. Then, think of several examples of each category of question outlined on page 8 (questions of fact, of preference, and of reasoned judgement).


3. Read pages 11 & 12 in The Thinker’s Guide to Asking Essential Questions. Then, think of several examples each of simple and complex conceptual questions.


4. Read pages 5 & 6 in The Thinker’s Guide to Asking Essential Questions. Then, think of a time when you were pondering a difficult question of judgment and felt “stuck”; which of the sample questions on pages 5 & 6 of Asking Essential Questions might have helped you proceed more effectively?


5. Using a complex question of reasoned judgement, complete the activity, “Thinking Through Conflicting Ideas.” (Be sure to read the complete prompt at the top of the page first.)


Open Critical Thinking Q&A: June 2023
Dr. Linda Elder

June 15, 2023
1:00 pm EDT (10:00 am PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

What are your questions?


Together we ponder or answer them.


In our regular 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 ask deep and probing questions as well as basic questions of clarification on the theory of critical thinking. Some questions we will be able to answer easily; those that do not lend themselves to definitive answers, we will explore with you.


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.


The quality of the questions you ask and pursue every day - at work or in personal life - largely determines the quality of your life.


Similarly, in instruction, the quality of student learning can be largely captured in the questions students ask in our classes and as they go out into the world (not on how much information they have memorized).


Despite these insights, emphasis on questions in thinking is mainly missing from human conversations, relationships, and societies. The role of questions in thinking is rarely discussed in human life. 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 seem to be little valued. Each of us needs to improve our ability to ask productive and rewarding questions.


Bring your questions on critical thinking to this session, whatever they may be.


How Inclusion, Diversity, and Social Justice Require Critical Thinking
Dr. Linda Elder

May 25, 2023
1:00 pm EDT (10:00 am PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Most of the concepts we use in our thinking are handed down to us or influenced by societal conditioning; these ideas may be developed or given new life when emerging generations discuss and apply them. Many of these concepts lack substance, coming and going as fads do; others have the potential to bring about needed change, but are ultimately ineffective for a lack of criticality.


The important ideas that remain with us – exerting positive influence across generations – are those that give us the most power to improve human conditions, the conditions of all sentient species, and the life of the planet itself. These are ideas that stand the test of time.


In this session, the now widely-used terms inclusion, diversity, and social justice will be explored from a critical thinking viewpoint. Since these notions can be approached superficially or deeply, and since each can be used for good or misused for ill, a rich conception of them is needed if they are to help transform human societies for the better. Otherwise, they will fade away as buzzwords from a passing historical era – or, perhaps worse, they may be abused in opposition to the spirit of their most reasonable and ethical interpretations.


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. You are not required to complete the activities to join the webinar, but doing so will make the session significantly more effective for yourself and others.


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


2. Complete the activity, “Analyze the Logic of a Concept or Idea” for one of the following terms:


a. Inclusion

b. Diversity

c. Equity

d. Social Justice


3. Return to The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools and read pages 19-26.


4. Return to your answers from assignment #2 above. See if you can improve your analysis in light of your reading on intellectual standards and virtues.


5. For the concept you focused on in number 2 above - inclusion, diversity, equity, or social justice - can you think of a time when you, or someone else, misused this concept? Was selfish or vested interest involved in misuse of the concept. For example, focusing on the concept of equity:


“Aubrey said something that Charles misconstrued as prejudiced. I could see the misunderstanding; but rather than explaining that I thought Charles was misinterpreting the situation, I sided with Charles and admonished Aubrey. I feared that by explaining what Aubrey actually meant, I might be accused of prejudice myself.”


6. What intellectual standards were not being considered or adhered to in your example from assignment #5 above?

Example: “My thinking failed to meet the standard of fairness when I admonished Aubrey as a means of protecting my social status. My thinking also failed to meet the standard of accuracy when I knowingly misrepresented Aubrey’s intentions.”


7. Sticking with the situation from assignments #5, can you think of ways in which the behavior may have worked against the concept you were hoping to advance?


Example: “I was hoping to be fair or equitable in the situation. But I ended up treating Aubrey unfairly, while taking Charles’ side inappropriately. Consequently Aubrey was offended by my false accusation and Charles was misled as to Aubrey’s intentions.”


Please note that our webinars are recorded for later viewing by members of this website, 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.


Bringing Critical Thinking to the Core of Teaching and Learning
Dr. Gerald Nosich

April 26, 2023
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 advance educational curricula. 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 every subject as a mode of thinking – one that they must reason within and about using critical thinking concepts and principles. 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 as constellations of concepts to be reasoned through and internalized. By doing so, 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 provide some important principles and practical approaches for kindling students’ reasoning faculties, enabling them to internalize (not just memorize) significant ideas in your discipline, ultimately focusing the educational process upon learners’ engagement rather than the instructor’s “delivery” of content. There will be time at the end for questions.


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. 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 to join the webinar, but doing so can be highly useful for your and others’ learning.


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 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, 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.


How Your Egocentricity Affects You and Others
Dr. Linda Elder

April 4, 2023
8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Egocentric thinking comes from the unfortunate fact that humans do not naturally consider the rights and needs of others, nor do we naturally appreciate others’ points of view or the limitations in our own. We become explicitly aware of our egocentric thinking only if trained to do so; we do not naturally recognize our egocentric assumptions, the egocentric way we use information, the egocentric way we interpret data, the sources of our egocentric concepts and ideas, or the implications of our egocentric thought. We rarely recognize our self-serving perspectives, and when we do, we often try to rationalize them with convoluted reasoning instead of working to correct them.


Egocentricity frequently has severe consequences for the thinker, the thinker’s social circle, and for humanity and other species at large. It results in tremendous ongoing losses of opportunity, resources, and good will, and has negative implications for one’s mental well-being. In this webinar, Dr. Elder will discuss the concept of egocentricity and how we can intervene in our irrational self-centered 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. You are not required to complete the activities to join the webinar, but doing so will help you better grasp the concept of egocentricity.


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


2. Watch the following videos on egocentricity. (Please ignore the opening frame of each video, which in some cases will use the incorrect part number in the series.)


a. Human Egocentricity and Critical Thinking – Part 2

b. Human Egocentricity and Critical Thinking – Part 3

c. Human Egocentricity and Critical Thinking – Part 4

d. Human Egocentricity and Critical Thinking – Part 5


3. Complete the activity, “Analyze a Self-Centered Person You Know Well.”


4. Review your responses to activity #3 above. Try to think of ways in the past (especially recently) that you have exhibited, to some degree, these same behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and motivations. Briefly write out a summary of each case.


This can be a challenging exercise to complete in good faith. If you find yourself struggling, remember that the idea is not to assume you exhibit egocentric traits to the same extent as the person you reflected on in activity #3. Rather, you are looking for instances in which you exhibited these traits to some extent.


5. Reflect on activity #4 above. As you worked through it, what kinds of thoughts and feelings did you experience? Did you find yourself automatically trying to justify your egocentric thoughts and behaviors? Did you find yourself experiencing negative emotions, and did these emotions impede your ability to complete the activity or reinforce your efforts toward justifying your egocentricity?


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.


Open Critical Thinking Q&A: March 2023
Dr. Linda Elder

March 16, 2023
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.


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.


Teaching Students to Think Through Complex Questions
Dr. Gerald Nosich

February 22, 2023
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Questions with more than one arguable answer are not questions of fact or preference, but of reasoned judgment. These are questions with better and worse answers. The better answers are well-supported and well-reasoned; the worse answers are poorly-supported and/or poorly-reasoned. In reasoning through complex questions, critical thinkers seek the best answer(s) within the relevant range of possibilities. They systematically evaluate potential answers to these questions using universal intellectual standards such as clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, logicality, breadth, fairness and sufficiency. These questions are prominent in the human disciplines, such as history, philosophy, economics, sociology, psychology, and art, but can be found in most primary domains of thought. Here are examples within humanities:


  • How can we best address the most basic and significant economic problems of the nation today?
  • What can be done to significantly reduce the number of people who are harmed by pharmaceuticals in the mental health profession? What about people who become addicted to dangerous illicit drugs?
  • Should capital punishment be abolished?
  • To what extent is psychology scientific? To what extent is it not?
  • Is democracy compatible with capitalism? What do these concepts presuppose and imply?
  • What are the fundamental differences between love, friendship, and mere emotional attachment?


Within the natural sciences (such as physics, biology, and chemistry) complex questions frequently emerge, including whenever natural sciences are applied to situations involving the interests of humans or other living creatures. Here are some examples:


  • How should we engineer aircraft wings to optimize safety, costs, and efficiency?
  • Medically, what is the best diagnosis for someone with this complicated array of symptoms?
  • What can be done to improve and sustain the health of the earth in all its aspects?


In approaching complex questions, students (and others) often give impulsive answers because they lack the skills to reason through difficulties in these questions. In this webinar, Dr. Nosich will discuss complex questions and offer some approaches to reasoning through them using foundational tools of critical thinking (and teaching students to do the same).


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. You are not required to complete the activities to join the webinar, but doing so will make the session significantly more effective for yourself and others.


1. Read pages 8 & 9 in The Thinker’s Guide to Asking Essential Questions. Then, think of several examples of each category of question (questions of fact, of preference, and of reasoned judgement).


2. Read pages 11 & 12 in The Thinker’s Guide to Asking Essential Questions. Then, think of several examples each of simple and complex conceptual questions.


3. Read pages 5 & 6 in The Thinker’s Guide to Asking Essential Questions. Then, think of a time when you were pondering a difficult question of judgment and felt “stuck”; which of the sample questions on pages 4 & 5 of Asking Essential Questions might have helped you proceed more effectively?


4. Using a complex question of reasoned judgement, complete the activity, “Thinking Through Conflicting Ideas.” (Be sure to read the complete prompt at the top of the page first.)


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

February 1, 2023
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

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.


Reasoning Through a Problem Using Critical Thinking
Dr. Gerald Nosich

January 12, 2023
8:00 pm EST (5:00 pm PST)
60 Minutes

Watch Recording

Due to the world’s rapid changes with increasing complexity, humans at all levels of society – down to that of the individual – now face problems far more intricate and complicated than ever before. Solving these problems effectively requires self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective reasoning. It entails skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.


When you face a problem with an understanding of how to analyze, assess, and improve thinking, you are more inclined to:


• raise vital questions regarding the problem, formulating them clearly and precisely;


• gather and assess relevant data and information, using reasonable concepts to interpret them effectively;


• recognize what assumptions he or she is making and consider their soundness (or lack thereof);


• follow out the implications of various potential solutions;


• come to well-reasoned conclusions about how best to solve the problem; and


• where applicable, communicate effectively with others in articulating a reasonable solution and how to enact it.


In this webinar, Dr. Gerald Nosich will discuss how critical thinking can be used to solve problems effectively. 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. Review pages 12 and 14 in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools.


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


3. Using a complex problem you are now facing, complete the activity “Analyze the Logic of a Problem or Issue” and save it. (Be sure to read the content at the top of the page first.)


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


5. Watch the following videos:


a. Intellectual Virtues by Dr. Linda Elder – Part 1


b. Intellectual Virtues by Dr. Linda Elder – Part 2


c. Intellectual Virtues by Dr. Linda Elder – Part 3


6. Return to your answers in the activity, “Analyze the Logic of a Problem or Issue.” Considering your reading and viewing on the intellectual standards (in assignments 4 and 5 above), how can your answers be improved or elaborated upon?


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.


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

Watch Recording

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.


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

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

Watch Recording

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 ourse