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Thoughts on critical thinking

critical thought indoctrination

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#1 0xFACEB004

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 10:31 AM

Dr. Michio Kaku posted this article, and it turns out to be very good and directly addresses the flaw in attempting to teach critical thought.

 

As (usually) an unintentional contrarian, I have always thought this way about the way critical thought is "taught" in schools. When you think about it, this goes a long way to explain things like common core math and the 97% statistic often cited regarding scientist agreeing on anthropogenic global warming. What happened to learning and science actually being based on the idea of classical Socratean critical thought and attempting to disprove theories?

 

What are your thoughts on this?

 

http://io9.com/lets-...king-1618729143


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#2 WingedPanther73

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 10:54 AM

I think I learned critical thinking, first, when I was in an anthropology class in high school. We watched a movie about how aliens have been visiting us and shaping history (don't recall the title, but it's easy to find on History Channel in the US). The movie was presented in a very one-sided, but self-consistent manner, and I was hooked. I was an instant convert to "aliens have visited us forever", and when we were asked to write our reaction paper, I expressed that very idea.

 

My grade on that paper was abysmal. My teacher took the time to point out all the assumptions that were made, and how alternate theories that didn't involve aliens could explain all the ideas presented. I learned the difference between an internally consistent, even compelling, argument and truth. I felt like a sucker for believing what had been presented.

 

These days, I try very hard to ask not, "Does it sound good?" or "Does it make sense?" but "Is it true?" and "Does it line up with my observations of reality?" I've found that truth is often not what I'd like it to be, but I get a lot further by dealing with things as they are. :)


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#3 BlackRabbit

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 05:47 PM

Hmmm, I think nothing happened to critical thinking. I wouldn't place entertainment and mass-media as "thinking", but the opposite.

 

When it comes to opinion, since it's free and riskless, you will get any kind of "reasoning" from anyone who is asked. If you want to see critical thinking in action, put some stakes on the answer and they soon will get better thought ;)


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#4 0xFACEB004

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 10:03 PM

I actually posted this same article to an Asperger's group that I used to belong to as a test. Many people reacted to the title alone, without even reading the article. And then there was my favorite: a post about the irony of the author proving that critical thought was needed as he was arguing against it -- I mean the poster totally missed the point because they had already decided on the right answer, and was totally closed to the argument of returning to Socratean critical though. Basically, I think the authors premise went right over most of their heads, and thus, proved his point exactly. They simply were not open to something that was not their accepted position.

 

What passes for critical though these days is mostly self-serving validation of the accepted truth -- based on what ever the "thinker" already believes to be true. And this always leads to indoctrination as this truth is passed on and taught as the accepted "right" answer. But just like you guys point out, that right answer is not always the truth.


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#5 WingedPanther73

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 04:19 AM

One of the things I sometimes enjoy doing is getting into debates on social platforms (such as Facebook). My expectation going into such debates is that neither myself nor my opponent will change our minds. I usually only engage in debates when I feel secure in my position, and it seems that most who are willing to debate are like-minded. However, the chances for observers to better understand both sides, and perhaps be influenced, is worth it to me.


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#6 0xFACEB004

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 09:52 AM

I used to enjoy the same WP, but I what found was that my frustration level went through the roof most times. Especially when I go into the process with the understanding that this is only my "current" position -- which I am open to change if new data or information actually warrants that change -- but the other side does not have that same state of mind.

 

The key for me was that the new information must warrant the change -- even if it went against my current position -- or else it is rejected (such as errors in logic, false information, and so on). But what I would usually encounter were people who were entrenched in their position and not open to new information at all because they has accepted their own bias. Especially in political debates. You could show them video of their "messiah" in bed with 3 dead hookers, a kilo of cocaine, and screaming "it was me, all me, I killed them after I sold them blow!" -- and they would still find a way to blame it on the other side or play the political game with it, or choose simply not to believe the new information outright. This is where the Halo Effect really affects critical thought. And I sure that you have seen this too!


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#7 WingedPanther73

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 10:25 AM

I've seen it many, many, MANY times. I used to get frustrated when they would present "conclusive" evidence for their position, I would shred it, and they would get mad at me instead of questioning their position. Worse was when they would dismiss something because it came from one news network instead of another, as if that changed whether what was reported was a true fact or not.

 

I'm very secure that I cannot control what others think, feel, or believe. Moreover, I've spent enough time believing enough different things that I can usually understand their perspective, even if they don't believe it. My wife tried helping me in one of my debates, once, and quickly left when her frustration level went through the roof on my behalf. I hope for the best, expect the worst, and am rarely disappointed. I consider a civil discussion with those who strongly disagree with me a pleasant surprise :)


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#8 Sundance

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 11:09 AM

I never discuss something I'm not educated on and I always make sure my information is relatively new and up to date from reputable sources, I never believe anything anyone says straight away but at the same time I apply my own logic, an example would be the misconception that Crane Flies contain a deadly toxin that would kill a human, I know by logic they don't because I know they have no venom sacs, the myth is that if a crane fly could penetrate our skin it would have enough poison or venom to kill a human, which is obviously not true due to their size.


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#9 WingedPanther73

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 11:30 AM

See, I look at that myth as something that's irrelevant, true or not. The reason is simple, I don't believe their bite (assuming they bite) would be capable of piercing a human's skin. Given that, there's no concern :)


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#10 BlackRabbit

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Posted 15 August 2014 - 10:07 AM

It's weird to read people who goes to allegedly practice critical thinking and then mentions fanatics or pop culture, not exactly where I would go to exercise CT.


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#11 0xFACEB004

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 03:37 PM

I have some pretty left leaning associates WP, and I have seen the Fox news derangement syndrome...and sometimes it is down right laughable. I have also seen what I consider to be intelligent people completely disregard the opposing analysis of the paper which purportedly found the 97% of scientist agreeing on anthropogenic warming, simply because the "science is settled." When has ANY science ever been settled?? From what I remember gravity is still debated by theoretical physicist, and what can be more fundamental and accepted than gravity?

 

I think Heisenberg was onto something at the quantum level that could apply to daily life an logic as well...there will always be uncertainty. We just need to be open to it, just in case it provides something that will change our position -- like Kadence said -- after applying our own logic.

 

And BR, maybe pop culture should be a place that people exercise a bit of critical thinking -- I mean, instead of mindlessly falling for Bernaysian manipulation techniques. Or do you think that people should blindly accept what they see or hear in media without applying critical thought? Probably not. But do I see your point...most people who are fanatics or follow pop culture do not think that deeply about most things.

 

"And in conclusion..." lol

 

This is what I like the most about this forum...it's not just about solving code problems! There on some pretty great minds here, and I, for one, definitely appreciate that!


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#12 BlackRabbit

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 09:48 AM

Well, about pop culture nowadays, you can't ask for critical thinking to those who don't even make common sense.

Anyway, pop culture is mostly about entertainment, so I think it's OK if don't think much while entertaining.

Anyway, if you want to exercise CT there are always the philosophy forums (the true ones)  if you don't get too bored of every argument finishing in "there's no spoon" (paraphrasing the matrix), lol.

Fundamentalist philosophers will go all the way with nothing is settled, or what is an argument? and you know, sometimes for an argument to grow you need a couple of things being settled, you need some spoon in order to talk about spoons, if you get what I mean. lol.


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