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Critical Thinking. Critical Thinking. Session Objectives To relate the concept of “critical thinking” to work performed by legislative auditors and evaluators To provide a definition of “critical thinking” To introduce elements of “critical thinking”

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Critical Thinking

Session Objectives

To relate the concept of “critical thinking” to work performed by legislative auditors and evaluators

To provide a definition of “critical thinking”

To introduce elements of “critical thinking”

To provide classroom exercises for the application of “critical thinking” elements

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Critical Thinking

Legislative evaluators and auditors must have the ability to assess and evaluate information and make intelligent decisions or conclusions based on that information.

To assist them in doing their jobs, legislative evaluators and auditors must have good critical thinking skills.

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Critical Thinking

A definition:

“…the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” (Michael Scriven and Richard Paul)

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Critical Thinking

Critical thinking can be seen as having two components:

A set of skills to process and generate information and beliefs

The habit, based on intellectual commitment, of using those skills to guide behavior

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Critical Thinking

Critical thinking of any kind is never universal in any individual; everyone is subject to episodes of undisciplined or irrational thought.

elements of critical thinking

Elements of Critical Thinking

Inference vs. observation

Faulty thinking

Thinking creatively

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Elements of Critical Thinking

Inference vs. observation

Analyze assumptions and biases

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Elements of Critical Thinking

Deciding the difference between inference and observation

For the following fifteen statements, decide which are based on OBSERVATION versus INFERENCE (or interpretation)

inference vs observation

Inference vs. Observation

The man in the drugstore fell to the floor clutching his chest and the other customers turned in his direction when he screamed.

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Inference vs. Observation

The pigeon which had been pecking at the disk was distracted by the sound of the door slamming, and it hesitated while it considered whether to keep pecking or not.

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Inference vs. Observation

When the dinner with her husband’s parents was over, she was so anxious to leave and go home that she left her coat behind.

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Inference vs. Observation

The old man looked both ways several times before he stepped off the curb and slowly walked across the street.

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Inference vs. Observation

Shoppers in the mall assumed that the man talking loudly to himself was crazy, and they walked quickly around him, avoiding eye contact.

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Inference vs. Observation

He beeped the horn several times in rapid succession, turned into the oncoming lane, and sped around the stalled car.

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Inference vs. Observation

During the lecture, Daren stared at the ceiling for minutes at a time, took no notes, and looked at the clock twelve times.

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Inference vs. Observation

Karen’s grief was apparent as the tears began to moisten her cheek as she spoke about her recently deceased grandmother.

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Inference vs. Observation

When Ken confronted Barbie about seeing her with another man, she paced back and forth with her arms folded and her head down.

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Inference vs. Observation

Even though Jennifer didn’t say anything, I could tell by her expression that she was having a good time.

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Inference vs. Observation

Chad drank his beer slowly, stopping every two or three sips to pop some peanuts in his mouth, but never said a word to anyone around him.

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Inference vs. Observation

Melanie cleared her throat, pushed the hair back from her eyes, and sighed before beginning her presentation to the school board.

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Inference vs. Observation

John became more agitated with Sarah the more she talked about having her mother come to stay for a week.

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Inference vs. Observation

When Chandra left Reggie’s car to go inside, he sat silently in front of her house for awhile, daydreaming and pondering their future.

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Inference vs. Observation

Jason stared at the computer screen for two minutes, opened his eyes wide, and started typing on the keyboard very rapidly.

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Elements of Critical Thinking

Faulty thinking

Avoid oversimplification, overgeneralization fallacies

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Elements of Critical Thinking

Faulty thinking: Common fallacies

Appeal to ignorance—argues that some claim is true because it cannot be proven to be false, or the opposite; that some claim must be false because it cannot be proven to be true.

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Elements of Critical Thinking

Faulty thinking: Common fallacies

Slippery slope—If the first step in a “possible” series of events occurs, the other possible steps in the series must inevitably occur.

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Elements of Critical Thinking

Faulty thinking: Common fallacies

False alternatives—This involves “either/or” thinking in which some classification is presumed to be exclusive or exhaustive, such as when we overlook the alternatives that exist between the extremes of two poles.

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Elements of Critical Thinking

Faulty thinking: Common fallacies

Hasty generalizations—If we tend to form a general conclusion based on an exceptional case, or on a very small sample, or on a biased sample, we may have overgeneralized.

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Elements of Critical Thinking

Faulty thinking: Common fallacies

Questionable analogies—We may sometimes try to compare apples to oranges, or try to make two situations seem more similar than they are.

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Elements of Critical Thinking

Identifying faulty thinking

For each of the following fifteen statements, identify the type of fallacious reasoning.

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Faulty Thinking

If a child gets attention for crying, before long the child will be crying more and more and will start misbehaving in other ways to get attention.

HINT: Types of fallacious reasoning

Appeal to ignorance

Slippery slope

False alternatives

Hasty generalizations

Questionable analogies

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Faulty Thinking

We cannot conclusively prove the existence of the unconscious mind, therefore it is a fiction; it does not exist.

HINT: Types of fallacious reasoning

Appeal to ignorance

Slippery slope

False alternatives

Hasty generalizations

Questionable analogies

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Faulty Thinking

Schizophrenia is either an inherited brain disease or the result of neglectful parenting.

HINT: Types of fallacious reasoning

Appeal to ignorance

Slippery slope

False alternatives

Hasty generalizations

Questionable analogies

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Faulty Thinking

Freud, after careful and extensive analysis of five of his patients, concluded that most peoples level of anxiety in life is motivated by unconscious, repressed impulses and memories.

HINT: Types of fallacious reasoning

Appeal to ignorance

Slippery slope

False alternatives

Hasty generalizations

Questionable analogies

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Faulty Thinking

Since the therapist’s client had no memory of childhood abuse, she concluded that no abuse had ever taken place.

HINT: Types of fallacious reasoning

Appeal to ignorance

Slippery slope

False alternatives

Hasty generalizations

Questionable analogies

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Faulty Thinking

The brains of elderly rats exposed to a boring, unchallenging environment shrink in size and weight, which is good argument for not putting elderly people in lifeless, unstimulating nursing homes.

HINT: Types of fallacious reasoning

Appeal to ignorance

Slippery slope

False alternatives

Hasty generalizations

Questionable analogies

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Faulty Thinking

Parents who reward their children for good grades should recognize that bribing them won’t make them like school. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

HINT: Types of fallacious reasoning

Appeal to ignorance

Slippery slope

False alternatives

Hasty generalizations

Questionable analogies

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Faulty Thinking

If Abe Lincoln can raise himself above poverty and odd looks to become one of the greatest Americans who ever lived, anyone can do the same.

HINT: Types of fallacious reasoning

Appeal to ignorance

Slippery slope

False alternatives

Hasty generalizations

Questionable analogies

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Faulty Thinking

I don’t let any student take a make-up test, because if I let one student do it, pretty soon others are asking to make-up tests, and before long I’m giving make-up tests to almost everyone.

HINT: Types of fallacious reasoning

Appeal to ignorance

Slippery slope

False alternatives

Hasty generalizations

Questionable analogies

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Faulty Thinking

There are two kinds of people: “Type A” (workaholics and go-getters) and “Type B” (relaxed and unmotivated).

HINT: Types of fallacious reasoning

Appeal to ignorance

Slippery slope

False alternatives

Hasty generalizations

Questionable analogies

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Faulty Thinking

Why do people need to go to a psychologist? Heck, back in grandpa’s day people didn’t have any psychologists and they seemed to get by just fine.

HINT: Types of fallacious reasoning

Appeal to ignorance

Slippery slope

False alternatives

Hasty generalizations

Questionable analogies

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Faulty Thinking

Both Uncle Albert and cousin Mary Ann committed suicide, which makes me think it must run in my family.

HINT: Types of fallacious reasoning

Appeal to ignorance

Slippery slope

False alternatives

Hasty generalizations

Questionable analogies

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Faulty Thinking

I believe in reincarnation because no one can know for sure that it doesn’t happen.

HINT: Types of fallacious reasoning

Appeal to ignorance

Slippery slope

False alternatives

Hasty generalizations

Questionable analogies

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Elements of Critical Thinking

Thinking creatively

Consider alternative explanations—i.e., thinking “outside the box”

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Elements of Critical Thinking

Thinking creatively

For each of the following, think creatively to develop a solution or answer.

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Thinking Creatively

Consider an empty soft drink can. Given three minutes, list all of the things that you can think of that this can, by itself or in quantity, could be used for.

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Thinking Creatively

Traffic jams in your city, particularly at rush hours with commuters going to work, have gotten horrible. What are some ways you can think of to alleviate these traffic problems?

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Thinking Creatively

List as many improvements as you can think of for a grocery store shopping cart.

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Thinking Creatively

What can we do to reduce the amount of trash that is generated in the world everyday?

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Critical Thinking

Credit: “Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum Project”

Longview Community College

Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA