Sep 26, 2023
Sep 20, 2023
One of the major ways in which sociocentric bias is introduced into social studies texts is through the fostered illusion of “scientific” objectivity. Nothing suggests that the authors are taking a position on issues about which reasonable people could disagree, or at least that they are taking such a position only when they explicitly admit to to.
The textbook American Democracy In World Perspective, written by four professors at the University of California for use in college political science courses, is an exemplary case in this regard. Virtually everything in its 700-plus pages is oriented toward persuading the reader that he United States has the best form of government, comes closest to “perfect” democracy, and that the fate of freedom in the world depends on the United States: “As democracy fares in the United States, so will it, in the long run, fare throughout the world.”
The text divides all governments into two basic types, democratic and non-democratic, the non-democratic ones are divided into authoritarian and totalitarian ones, in accord with the . . .
Sep 13, 2023
Aug 31, 2023
Once students consider conflicting perspectives, they should actually argue the cases for them, role playing the thought of those who insightfully hold them. This requires students to learn how to collect the “facts” each side marshals to defend its views and analyze their divergent use of key terms. For example, what exactly differentiates those we label freedom fighters from those we label terrorists? How can we define them without presupposing the truth of someone’s ideology? These crucial terms and many others current in social disputes are often used in self-serving ways by nations and groups, begging most of the crucial social and moral issues. Students need skills in breaking down ideologically biased uses of language. This requires them to develop concepts that do not presuppose specific national ideological slants. This, in turn, requires them to engage in the argumentation for and against their application in key cases.
Unfortunately, even when critical thinking becomes an explicit instructional objective and significant attention is given to formulation of curriculum, unless teachers and curriculum specialists have internalized the concept of strong sense critical thinking, instruction usually fosters sociocentric weak sense critical thinking skills rather than strong sense skills. Consider the following critical thinking writing prompts from a series of . . .
Aug 24, 2023
Three disturbing, but hardly novel, facts still impede the advancement of ethical critical thinking across human cultures:
• Most teachers and faculty at all levels lack a substantive concept of critical thinking.
• Most teachers and faculty 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.
The struggle of critical thinking to find an independent home in academia has led to predictable consequences for human societies: the average person has little or no idea how to analyze reasoning, appropriately assess reasoning, or systematically improve reasoning. The average person has no idea of the importance of explicitly aspiring to intellectual virtues such as intellectual humility, intellectual empathy, and confidence in reason. Because most people lack the skills and dispositions of the fairminded critical person and don’t understand the underlying conceptual frameworks for these processes, they neither understand nor value reasoning, despite its dominant role in the quality of their lives. Accordingly, most businesses, as well as most government . . .
Aug 16, 2023
When students cover a conflict between two countries – especially when one is their own – they should hear the case not just for one but both countries’ perspectives. Often other perspectives are also relevant.
U.S. textbook writers canvassing the Cold War, for example, do not identify themselves as arguing for one selective representation of it. They do not identify themselves as having a pro-U.S. bias. They do not suggest that they represent only one out of a number of points of view. They imply rather that they give an “objective” account, as though the issues were intrinsically monological and so settleable by considering merely one point of view. They imply that the reader need not consider other points of view on the Cold War. They imply that the facts speak for themselves and that they (the textbooks) contain the facts, all the facts, and nothing but the facts. There is nothing dialogical about their modes of canvassing the material nor in the assignments that accompany the account the student is inevitably led to believe.
That some of the most distinguished historians have concluded that the United States bears a large share of the blame for the Cold War Is never, to my knowledge, even casually mentioned. It would seem bizarre to most students in the United States, and their teachers, to hear a distinguished historian like Henry Steele Commager speak of the Cold War as follows:
How are we to explain our obsession with communism, our paranoid hostility to the Soviet Union, our preoccupations with the Cold War, our reliance on military rather than political or diplomatic solutions, and our new readiness to entertain a possibility what was long regarded as unthinkable – atomic warfare?
The notion that U.S. citizens might be obsessed or the victims of “paranoid hostility” completely contradicts how textbooks in the U.S. characterize the country, its philosophy, behavior, and values.
Or consider Arnold Toynbee’s . . .
Aug 01, 2023
The Sociocentrically Critical Person and the Ideal of a Critical Society
We can assess any school program for its educative value by determining the extent to which it fosters rational as against irrational belief formation. To the extent that students merely memorize what the teacher or textbook says, or presuppose the correctness of one point of view, and so develop no sense of what would justify rational belief, to that extent the school fosters irrational learning and irrational belief.
Social studies instruction is an excellent area to canvass in this regard because societies naturally inculcate an uncritical monological nationalistic perspective, despite the multilogical nature of the major issues in the field. The tendency is natural because people within a country or culture naturally ego identify with it and hence assume rather than question the policies of its leaders. Thus, the history of those policies and of the social representation of them continually gravitates in a self-serving direction. Reason inadvertently serves an intellectually dishonorable function: the rationalization of the prevailing structure of power and the idealization of national character. Karl Mannheim identified this as the inevitable development of ideology. Lois Wirth suggests the practical . . .
Jul 23, 2023
You are likely aware that Dr. Nosich and I are developing the video library in your community through our new video series: Critical Thinking: Going Deeper. In our discussions we explore the interrelated concepts in critical thinking and the challenges we all face in incorporating these concepts into our thinking. I invite you to view and study our recent dialogue on intellectual virtues and deeper discussion on one virtue: intellectual empathy.
We invite and welcome your comments.
The Sociocentrically Critical Person and the Ideal of a Critical Society
In my view, Piaget rightly identifies uncritical thought with a tendency toward egocentrism, and critical thought with a tendency toward reciprocity. He recognizes, but does not explore, how egocentricity develops into and partially merges with sociocentricity:
The child begins with the assumption that the immediate attitudes arising out of our own special surroundings and activities are the only ones possible. This state of mind, which we shall term the unconscious egocentricity (both cognitive and affective) of the child is at first a stumbling-block both to the understanding of his own country and to the development of objective relations with other countries. Furthermore, to overcome his egocentric attitude it is necessary to train the faculty for cognitive and affective integration: this is a slow and laborious process consisting mainly in efforts at ‘reciprocity’, and at each new stage of the process, egocentricity re-emerges in new guises farther and farther removed from the child’s initial center of interest. There are the various forms of sociocentricity – a survival of the original egocentricity – and they are the cause of subsequent disturbances and tensions, any understanding of which must be based on an accurate analysis of the initial stages and of the elementary conflicts between egocentricity and understanding of others (Reciprocity).
One manifestation of the irrational mind is to uncritically presuppose the truth of beliefs and doctrines embedded in social life or values. We intellectually and affectively absorb common frames of . . .
Jul 05, 2023
Jun 27, 2023
The Egocentrically Critical Person
Piaget’s basic model for the egocentric mind, developed by studying the thinking of children, has significant application, with the appropriate translation, to much adult thinking and therefore significant application for the design of critical thinking instruction. Few adults have experience in reciprocal critical thought, that is, in reasoning within their antagonists’ point of view. Few have experience in making the structure of their own thought conscious. Few, as Socrates discovered, can explain intelligibly how they came to their beliefs, or provide rational justifications for them.
The egocentrism of most adult thought parallels the egocentrism of childish thought, as Piaget characterized it in Judgment and Reasoning in the Child:
Egocentrism of thought necessarily entails a certain degree of unconsciousness with the egocentric thinker ‘in a perpetual state of belief’. (p. 137)
[The egocentric thinker:]
We naturally tend to think egocentrically, especially in domains of significant personal or social interests. Egocentrism is, in some sense, as typical of adult as childish thought. It takes a special cultivated discipline to recognize and. . .
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 because they lack 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 my recent webinar, I explored from a critical thinking viewpoint the now widely used terms inclusion, diversity, and social justice. 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 – or, perhaps worse, they may be abused in opposition to the spirit of their most reasonable and ethical interpretations.
Many business and government offices are now grappling with how to bring about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In some cases, they are grasping at straws, by, for instance, hiring comedians to deal with these ideas. In some cases, inclusion and diversity programs are leading to their opposites – employees becoming even more entrenching within their prejudices and biases. Without critical thinking at the heart of any inclusion and social equity programs, these programs simply will not take hold over the long term. To view this recent webinar, visit this link:
For more on the problem of prejudice in thinking, read Richard Paul’s essay, For Critical Thinking and the Nature of Prejudice.
Jun 06, 2023
Critical Thinking and the Socratic Ideal
The concept of strong sense critical thinking, of critical thought integrated into the personal and social life of the individual, is not new. It was introduced into Western intellectual tradition in the chronicles of the life and death of Socrates (470-399 BC), one of the most important and influential teachers of ancient Greece. As a teacher, he was committed to the importance of ideas and their critique in the conduct of everyday human life. It is to him that the precept “the unexamined life is not worth living” is attributed. It is in him that the ideal of conscientious civil disobedience and critical autonomy of thought is first to be found. He illustrated the possibility and the value of sharpness of mind, clarity of thought, and commitment to practical insight based on autonomous reason. He championed reason, the rational life, and a rationally structured ethic, the intimate fusion of reason the passion. He disclaimed authority on his own part but claimed the right to independently criticize all authoritative beliefs and established institutions. He made it clear that teachers cannot be educators in the fullest sense unless they can criticize the received assumptions of their social groups and are willing to nurture a climate of questioning and doubt among their students. He demonstrated the intimate connection between a passionate love of truth and knowledge, the ability to learn through the art of skilled questioning, and the willingness to face personally and socially embarrassing truths. He spoke often with those who had a sophistic (weak sense) command of critical thinking skills, who could, through their skills of persuasion and knowledge of the vulnerabilities of people, make the false appear true and the true false.
Socrates taught by joining in discussions with others who thought they knew or understood a basic or important truth, for example, what justice is, or knowledge or virtue. When questioned by Socrates – who probed the justification and foundation for the belief, examining its consistency or inconsistency with other beliefs – it became clear that his discussants did not know or understand what they . . .
May 17, 2023
Michael Scriven represents (strong sense) critical thinking skills as not only requiring “a whole shift of values for most of us” but also as essential for survival in a world in which “the wrong decision can mean injury or long-term commitment to a disastrous form of life such as addiction or criminality or resented parenthood.” For students to “transfer” their critical thinking skills to such situations, they need to practice fairminded thought on controversial (multilogical) issues:
The real case, in dealing with controversial issues is the case as put by real people who believe in what they are saying. But the schools – and to a varying but often equal extent the colleges – are not willing to let there be that kind of serious discussion of the argument on both sides of controversial issues. Of course, they don’t mind having the bad guys’ position represented by someone who doesn’t agree with it, in the course of dismissing it. But only the completely naïve would suppose that such a presentation is likely to make the best case for the position. The notions of a fair hearing, or of confronting your accuser which are so deeply entrenched in our system of justice obviously transfer immediately to the intellectual sphere. If you want to hear the arguments for a political position other than those of the majority parties, for example the political position that the largest countries on earth espouse, you cannot possibly assume that it will be fully and fairly represented by someone to whom it is anathema.”
Unfortunately, many teachers will naturally fear highlighting controversial issues in the classroom. It is fair to say, I believe, few teachers have had much experience working with such issues. Many know only processes for laying out and testing for . . .
Apr 25, 2023
Strong sense critical thinkers are not routinely blinded by their own points of view. They know that they have a point of view and therefore recognize on what framework of assumptions and ideas their own thinking rests. They realize they must put their own assumptions and ideas to the test of the strongest objections that can be leveled against them. Critical proponents of a socialist economic system, for example, can analyze economic events from the perspective of an insightful proponent of capitalism. Critical proponents of a capitalist economic system can analyze economic events from the perspective of an insightful proponent of socialism. This implies, by the way, that economics should not be taught in a way which presupposes capitalism, socialism, or any other economic system as the correct one. In other words, the issue as to what economic system is most justified is a multilogical issue.
Similarly, the strong sense critical thinker’s thought is disciplined to avoid confusing concepts that belong in different categories. For example, they do not confuse “democracy,” a political concept, with “capitalism,” an economic concept. They realize that any important connection between democracy and capitalism must be argued for, not assumed, that free enterprise should not be routinely injected into U.S. social studies texts as a neutral synonym for capitalism, any more than people’s democracy should be routinely injected into Soviet social studies texts as a neutral synonym for Soviet communism. They can recognize when terms are used in this question-begging way. A teacher who values strong sense critical thinking fosters these abilities.
The importance of. . .
Apr 17, 2023
In my last blog I emphasized the importance of being able to appropriately reason through complex questions. I focused on our recent webinar on the complex questions facing us as we attempt to effectively deal with problems of ecological sustainability and renewal of the earth’s resources.
When addressing complex conceptual questions, we cannot look to simple definitions or facts to determine answers, and we must consider all relevant sides to the issue in good faith. Standard definitions do not settle the question, but rather open the argument. Divergent points of view can be brought to bear on the definitions stretching them this way or that. Well-reasoned arguments can be devised from different standpoints. Consequently, there are better and worse answers to complex conceptual questions, but, at the present time, no “correct” or definitive answer.
Consider these examples:
1. To what extent is psychology scientific? To what extent is it not?
2. Is democracy compatible with communism? Are there different forms of democracy? Of communism? Is democracy compatible with capitalism? What does each concept presuppose and imply? What must we consider in attempting to answer these questions?
3. What is a true friend? Can you be a true friend to someone you dislike?
4. What is the difference between love, friendship, and mere emotional attachment?
5. Who is most responsible for the failure of the peace process in the Middle East?
6. What countries in the world should be considered rogue states?
7. Which of our laws are just and which unjust? And how does one decide?
To answer complex conceptual questions, we need first to analyze the ways educated persons use the concepts that guide the settling of the questions. We need to figure out the most basic meanings of the terms crucial to the questions.
Consider the question: Is it possible to attain peace in the Middle East? In addressing this question, we need to know how widely or how narrowly we are using the term “Middle East.” This should be a straight-forward stipulation (“By the Middle East I have in mind…”).
Once this is done, we can move to the more difficult analysis of the concept of “peace” intended in the question. What degree or forms of “peace” does one intend? What forms of “peace” can one imagine? What are some model cases of “peace”? By “peace”, do we mean all people living in friendship, mutual respect, and mutual security? What other concepts are intimately connected with “peace”? Suppose one country, being militarily superior, in effect fully conquers its “enemies” imposing “peaceful” conditions on them (where overt resistance is absent and imposed laws are not violated by the conquered people). Would such a state be a state of “peace”? Is “peace” consistent with mutual hatred? Or suppose an agreement is reached in which those who sign for one of the groups agree to conditions that most of its members reject? Or suppose one of the groups is forced by vastly inferior military power to accept conditions that are unjust (for example, giving up much of their land and potential development) merely to gain some level of freedom and self-government?
Would we consider any of these as achieving “peace?” To figure out what we mean by “peace” we need to consider, in addition to a rich set of cases, the context from which (and the history in which) this question emerges. We need to consider, for example, the current structure of power in the Middle East and the agendas of all the participant nations, what outcomes are possible and which of those, if any, warrant the term “peace?”
There are no easy answers to complex conceptual questions, but analyzing them helps us understand the nature and limits of our ideas. We are, for example, a long way from understanding the concept of world peace because its meaning is obfuscated by the machinations of power on the one hand, and human irrationality on the other. For the powerful, peace probably comes down to conditions under which their dominance is quietly accepted. Peace then means their group getting what they want, rightly or wrongly.
There appears to be two conflicting logics at work: the logic of peace (ideally speaking) and the logic of peace (in a world of vastly unequal military and economic power).
When addressing a complex question, which entails more than one domain of thought, unpack the primary question by formulating prior questions according to domain. Does the question, for example, include an economic dimension? Does it include a biological, social, cultural, political, ethical, psychological, religious, historical, or some other dimension? For each dimension of thinking inherent in the question, formulate questions that force you to consider complexities you otherwise may miss. Make sure you include all essential questions on your lists of questions within each domain.
When focusing on domains within questions, consider such questions as:
Before articulating domains within the original question, and then the questions within each essential domain, make sure your original question is appropriately detailed for the context and exact situation.
The following example focuses on the problem of the destruction of the earth’s resources primarily through human activity, and we begin by asking this vague question: How do we save the earth? Then we bring greater precision to that question until we have clear direction (through the precise question) for our thinking. This enables us to clearly see and then effectively address the complexities in the problem.
Note that many more questions would need to be added to the domains in the example below- and other domains would be added. This is only a starting point for thinking about sustainability and about how to approach complex questions more generally.
Out of concern for the health of the earth, we might begin with a vague question like:
What can we do to save the earth?
We can detail this vague question, making it more precise as follows:
How can we best address the enormous challenge of sustaining and enhancing the earth, its resources, and its atmosphere in order to prevent mass extinction, and so the earth can be restored to the highest levels of health for all its creatures and living entities?
The following are some domains of the questions inherent within this question, and some sample questions within each domain. Note that these domains do not exist in isolation, but instead overlap with each other, sometimes extensively.
Part of this blog was modified from The Art of Asking Essential Questions, by Linda Elder and Richard Paul. See excerpts (pp. 11-18) at this link.
A full copy of this guide can be obtained here.
For a link to the sustainability questions detailed above, see:
Apr 05, 2023
Thinking Critically in the “Strong” Sense
One cannot develop a coherent concept of critical thinking without developing a coherent concept of rationality, irrationality, education, socialization, the critical person, and the critical society, as they bear on and mutually illuminate one another. This holistic approach distinguishes the mode of theorizing of most philosophers working on the concept of critical thinking from that commonly used by most cognitive psychologists concerned with the nature of thinking. Cognitive psychologists often treat cognitive processes and their “pathology” separate from any consideration of the affective, social, or political life of the thinker. The research findings of clinical and social psychologists rarely integrate self-deception, egocentricity, or ethnocentricity into the problem definitions or conclusions of cognitive psychology. Consequently, cognitive psychologists rarely focus on messy real-life multilogical problems that cross disciplines; instead they restrict their attention to artificial or self-contained monological problems, problems whose solutions can typically be found in a field-specific conceptual framework without reference to major personal or social bias. The more basic and difficult human problems, for whose solutions there are competing frameworks, and in which the problem of bias and vested interest looms large, are routinely ignored.
It is hard to go very far into the core concept of the critical person, however, without recognizing the centrality of multilogical thinking, the ability to think accurately and fairmindedly within opposing points of view and contradictory frames of reference. Multilogical problems, whose fairminded treatment requires us to suspend our egocentric tendency to confuse the framework of our own thinking with “reality” and reason within opposing points of view, are among the most significant human problems and among those most resistant to solution. The problems of human understanding, of war and peace, of economic, political, and social justice, of who our friends and who our enemies are, of what we should accept as the most basic framework of our thinking, of our own nature, our goodness and our evil, our history and that of those we oppose, of how we should interpret our place in the world, and how to best satisfy our needs and critically assess our desires - all such problems are at the heart of the basic frustrations and conflicts that plague human life and all require multi-system thinking. We cannot justifiably assume the correctness of any one point of view as the only perspective within which these basic human problems can be most rationally settled. Schooling should improve the student’s ability to distinguish monological from multilogical problems and to address each appropriately.
On this view, we distinguish two important senses of critical thinking, a weak sense and a strong one. Those who . . .
Mar 14, 2023
Written for Thinking: The Second International Conference (1987), this paper explores a series of themes familiar to Richard Paul’s readers: that most school learning is irrational rather than rational, that there are two different modes of critical thinking and hence two different kinds of critical persons, that strong sense critical thinking is embedded in the ancient Socratic ideal of living an examined life, and that social studies instruction today is, in the main, sociocentric. Paul illustrates this last point with items from a state department of education critical thinking test and illustrations from a popular university-level introductory political science text. Paul closes with an argument in favor of a new emphasis on developing the critical thinking abilities of teachers: “If, in our haste to bring critical thinking into the schools, we ignore the need to develop long-term strategies for nurturing the development of teachers’ own critical powers and passions, we shall surely make the new emphasis on critical thinking into nothing more than a passing fad, or worse, into a new, more sophisticated form of social indoctrination and scholastic closedmindedness.”
As the clarion call for critical thinking instruction from kindergarten to graduate school grows louder, those responsible for classroom instruction, heavily overworked as they typically are, naturally look for simple answers to the question, “What is critical thinking?”, answers that generate routine and simple in-service strategies. Few see, in fact many resist seeing, how much of what is deeply ingrained in standard instructional procedures and theory needs serious reformation before students truly become critical thinkers in their daily personal, professional, and civic lives.
This chapter clarifies and develops some of the theoretical and practical implications of the . . .
Mar 07, 2023
Feb 21, 2023
We do not now teach for the intellectual virtues. If we did, not only would we have a basis for integrating the curriculum, we would also have a basis for integrating the cognitive and affective lives of students. Such integration is the basis for strong sense critical thinking, for moral development, and for citizenship. The moral, social, and political issues we face in everyday life are increasingly intellectually complex. Their settlement relies on circumstances and events that are interpreted in a variety of (often conflicting) ways. For example, should our government publish misinformation to mislead another government or group which it considers terrorist? Is it ethical to tolerate a . . .
Jan 30, 2023
Some Thoughts on How to Teach for the Intellectual Virtues
To teach for the intellectual virtues, one must recognize the significant differences between the higher order critical thinking of a fairminded critical thinker and that of a self-serving critical thinker. Though both share a certain command of the micro-skills of critical thinking and hence would, for example, score well on tests such as the Watson-Glaser Critical Appraisal or the Cornell Critical Thinking Tests, they are not equally good at tasks which presuppose the intellectual virtues. The self-serving (weak sense) critical thinker would lack the insights that underlie and support these virtues.
I can reason well in domains in which I am prejudiced – hence, eventually, reason my way out of prejudice – only if I develop mental benchmarks for such reasoning. Of course one insight I need is that when I am prejudiced it will seem to me that I am not, and similarly, that those who are not prejudiced as I am will seem to me to be prejudiced. (To a prejudiced person, an unprejudiced person seems prejudiced). I will come to this insight only insofar as I have analyzed experiences in which I was intensely convinced I was correct on an issue, judgment, or point of view, only to find, after a series of challenges, reconsiderations, and new reasonings, that my previous conviction was in fact prejudiced. I must take this experience apart in my mind, clearly understand its elements and how they fit together (how I became prejudiced; how I inwardly experienced that prejudice; how intensely that prejudice seemed true and insightful; how I progressively broke that prejudice down through serious consideration of opposing lines of reasoning; how I slowly came to new assumptions, new information, and ultimately new conceptualizations).
Only when one gains analyzed experiences of working and reasoning one’s way out of prejudice can one gain the higher order abilities . . .
Jan 26, 2023
Jan 17, 2023
Defense Mechanisms and the Intellectual Virtues
A major obstacle to developing intellectual virtues is the presence in the human egocentric mind of what Freud has called “defense mechanisms”. Each represents a way to falsify, distort, misconceive, twist, or deny reality. Their presence represents, therefore, the relative weakness or absence of the intellectual virtues. Since they operate in everyone to some degree, no one embodies the intellectual virtues purely or perfectly. In other words, we each have a side of us unwilling to face unpleasant truth, willing to distort, falsify, twist, and misrepresent. We also know from a monumental mass of psychological research that this side can be powerful, can dominate our minds strikingly. We marvel at, and are often dumbfounded by, others whom we consider clear-cut instances of these modes of thinking. What is truly “marvelous”, it seems to me, is how little we take ourselves to be victims of these falsifying thoughts, and how little we try to break them down. The vicious circle seems to be this: because we, by and large, lack the intellectual virtues, we do not have insight into them, but because we lack insight into them, we do not see ourselves as lacking them. They weren’t explicitly taught to us, so we don’t have to explicitly teach them to our children.
Insights, Analyzed Experiences, and Activated Ignorance
Schooling has generally ignored the need for insight or intellectual virtues. This deficiency is intimately connected with another one, the failure of the schools to show students they should not only test what they “learn” in school by their own experience, but also test what they experience by what they “learn” in school. This may seem a hopeless circle, but if we can see the distinction between a critically analyzed experience and an unanalyzed one, we can see the link between the former and insight, and the latter and prejudice, and will be well on our way to seeing how to fill these needs.
We subject little of our experience to critical analysis. We seldom take our experiences apart to judge their epistemological worth. We rarely sort the “lived” integrated experience into its component parts, raw data, our interpretation of the data, or ask ourselves how the interests, goals, and desires we brought to those data shared and structured that interpretation. Similarly, we rarely seriously consider the possibility that our interpretation . . .
Jan 10, 2023
Humans face many problems caused by poor reasoning that can only be solved through critical reasoning. This has always been the case. But this doesn’t mean we need to accept things as they are when it is clear they need improving. It can be more than disheartening (indeed it can be sickening) to perceive something of the almost unlimited potential of the human species while daily witnessing poverty, ignorance, bias, prejudice, incompetence, waste, selfishness, and blatant disregard for human and animal rights and the health of the planet.
To address these problems and eventually achieve fairminded critical societies requires that people work together to embrace and advance ethical critical thinking principles. And this requires that we collectively internalize an integrated, comprehensive, universally accessible concept of ethical critical thinking.
This is a primary reason for the development of our community. At the Foundation for Critical Thinking, we have known for decades that the one- and two-day workshop in critical thinking can never transform a person into a critical thinker. People take for granted that you cannot learn to play the violin or tennis in two days. And yet we are typically asked to teach all that is important to know about theory and application of critical thinking in two, or one day, or even less. Not infrequently when we ask how much time an organization has dedicated for professional development in critical thinking, they give such responses as, “We are really excited about critical thinking; we have set aside an entire hour for your presentation.”
We know that this way of thinking, this continually giving short shrift to critical thinking and its complexities, will never build fairminded, intelligent, cultivated societies for the long run. We also know that most people need to work together to advance their learning, rather than trying to learn critical thinking on their own. Therefore, we have built our community with many opportunities for you to learn directly from our senior fellows and scholars, in our regular webinars and study groups, as well as to work through our libraries and academy activities on your own time.
If we are to develop as reasoners, any one of us, it is essential that we find and regularly interact with like-minded people seeking to advance as fairminded critical thinkers who are also studying robust theory of critical thinking and regularly applying it throughout their lives.
I encourage you to frequently visit our webinars page to make sure you don’t miss any webinars or study groups led by our fellows and scholars. These provide unique opportunities to study with our international authorities on critical thinking.
You will not want to miss the January 12 webinar this week with Dr. Nosich – Reasoning Through a Problem Using Critical Thinking.
Then I hope you will join me for the February 1 webinar on Thinking Critically About the Earth’s Preservation.
You can also view the recorded videos after each webinar, in the AV library (also found in the webinars section of the community)
Read about our webinars here: https://community.criticalthinking.org/webinarsAndAnnouncements.php
Register for the upcoming study group at our sister website here: