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2021 Critical Thinking Blog

The Foundation for Critical Thinking Blog began in 2019. The chief contributor is Dr. Linda Elder, President and Senior Fellow of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. We also post articles and interviews from the Richard Paul Archives, featuring seminal work and ideas from throughout Dr. Paul's life and career. Additionally, there may be occasional contributions from other Foundation for Critical Thinking Fellows and Scholars.

While some entries will be posted in full on this website, others are previews, and their full copies can only be found in the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online .

The copyright of each blog entry belongs to its respective author, except in the case of Richard Paul Archives posts, the copyrights for which belong to Linda Elder.

Entries from Previous Years

Entries from 2021

[FULL ENTRY] Recommended Video Series: Bolivar - Linda Elder

Dec 31, 2021

I am always on the lookout for well-produced and well-acted historical dramas that open my mind to the past and help me better understand my species and its specific struggles during important historical eras.

For some understanding of South American history from the period spanning late 18th to early 19th century, I recommend the video series Bolivar, which can be found now at Netflix. It is presented in the Spanish language with English and Brazilian Portuguese subtitles. Though of course its historical accuracy is not complete, this series gives us a good idea of Bolivar as a revolutionary and as a person, and helps us understand historical forces during this revolutionary era. Bolivar, frequently referred to as Liberator of America, was a Venezuelan military and political leader who led the current countries of Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Panama to independence from the Spanish Empire.

For those who want a more accurate sense of this historical era, I suggest the book: Bolivar: American Liberator by Marie Arana.

Critical Thinking is Essential to Good Decisions, Healthy Emotions, and Mental Health - Linda Elder

Dec 20, 2021

A significant principle running through the course of our conception of critical thinking is this: critical thinking, when taken seriously, improves the quality of the decisions you make in all parts of your life and therefore the quality of your emotions and your actions (that come from your decisions). Naturally this has important implications for your mental health.

As the foundations of critical thinking are increasingly internalized, through practice, over time, (in other words, when they are taken seriously) application to all parts of life begin to emerge. This includes, importantly, application to your own psychological well-being. For instance, consider a few intellectual virtues: when you embody intellectual courage, you are willing and able to examine your own beliefs without anxiety. In other words, you do not fear uncovering and examining your beliefs and you readily change beliefs you find to be unreasonable (via confidence in reason). When you embody intellectual empathy, you easily think within alternative viewpoints and do not become upset and irrational when other people do not agree with you. When you embody intellectual autonomy . . .

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Theme of the Fifth International Conference on Critical Thinking - Linda Elder

Dec 15, 2021

The following article appeared in the program of the Fifth International Conference on Critical Thinking (1985), and it discussed the theme of that year’s conference. The piece was titled, “Teaching Critical Thinking: Skill, Commitment, and the Critical Spirit, Kindergarten through Graduate School.”

The conference theme has been selected to give participants a central concept by means of which they can understand the basic relationships between all of the various presentations. The field of critical thinking research and instruction approaches is rich and diverse, but there are common core concepts and insights which can be used to organize that diversity and render it coherent.

There is no question, for example, that there are a body of intellectual skills presupposed in critical thinking, skills which have broad application across the full range of human thought and action. Whenever humans act or think they conceptualize or give meanings to their action and thought. These meanings or conceptualizations may be more or less clear (hence the importance of skills of clarification). These meanings organize and give expression to "information", which may be more or less accurate, well-justified, and complete (hence the importance of skills for the gathering, processing and assessing of information). They are based upon beliefs, some of which we take for granted (hence the importance of skills for locating and assessing assumptions). They build toward or entail consequences and implications (hence the importance of skills for pinning down and assessing consequences and implications). Finally, human action and thought is based upon and creates meanings within some perspective, point of view, or world view (hence the importance of skills which locate the perspective or point of view within which a given action or line of thought is developed).

But critical thinking is not just about intellectual skills, for intellectual skills can be used in a variety of ways, some of which are inconsistent with the foundation values of critical thinking . . .

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