Educators are constantly urged to cultivate “critical thinking.” This would be difficult even if everyone agreed what “critical thinking” is. Which they don’t. Furthermore, many of the teaching aids available on-line or in print were written by philosophers (of logic usually) which makes them hard to understand. Logic has an honored place in critical thinking, but also a big weakness because two highly educated and very intelligent people can have opposite opinions on what is “logical.” Consider the firm opinions of Democrats and Republicans on many issues, for one example, or the evidence presented by ardent proponents of different religions for another.
This essay tries to simplify commentary on critical thinking to focus on a few themes that most would agree with. Those will be:
1. Sourcing all data, and searching for multiple, independent sources.
2. Evidence based reasoning contrasted with “authority” and “credibility.”
3. Editorial frames (or “bias”) among sources, and the value of editorial processes.
4. Propaganda, Marketing and Spin Doctoring.
5. Groupthink, Politicization and “Logic.”
6. Financial and other Conflicts of Interest among sources.
8. Wisdom (ha, try defining that!) versus “facts” and “opinions.”
This short paper was produced for an intelligence organization that does not make its training documents public. But it is on a topic every university and most teachers care about, "critical thinking." They found it useful for training their analysts, so I share it with the invaluable Digital Conservancy.
Andregg, Michael M..
Critical Thinking for Ordinary People and Professional Analysts.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
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