Michael Daniel 9-11-2006 ARQ Chapters 1-2 We should not believe everything that we see and hear, even if it comes

from an expert. We should think critically about everything we see and hear. Our conclusions should be a product of critical thinking. Critical thinking means that we are aware of a set of interrelated critical questions, we have the ability to ask and answer critical questions at appropriate times and we have the desire to actively use critical questions. This book will present the critical questions to us one at a time. There are two approaches to thinking that can be used when being exposed to new information. The first approach is the sponge method. In the sponge method we absorb as much information as possible but we make no value judgment about the information. The second method is the panning for gold method where we constantly interact with the material and question it. The panning for gold method is more about thinking critically and making a judgment about the material than the sponge method. To pan for gold we need to first find what the authors background and reasoning are. If we don’t know what the reasoning is then we can’t question their argument effectively. We need to understand that for many questions there is no ‘right’ answer. This is especially true for social issues. We must be aware of our own prejudices and be willing to revise opinions that we have sometimes formed emotional attachments to. A critical question to ask about something is, “Who cares?” We should not spend much time critically analyzing things that nobody cares about. For example, we should spend more time thinking critically about global warming than we spend on deciding what our favorite color is.

Critical thinking can be described as weak sense or strong sense. Weak sense critical thinking is when critical thinking is used as a method for debate in which your beliefs are protected and opposing beliefs are attacked with the intent to silence dissent. Weak sense critical thinking is not concerned with truth or virtue. Strong sense critical thinking requires us to apply the critical thinking questions to everything, even our own ideas. Strong sense critical thinking is concerned with truth and protecting ourselves from all deception, including self-deception. We must identify an authors reasoning before we critically analyze it. The first critical question that the book examines is, “What are the issue and the conclusion?” The issue is the question that the author is trying to answer. There are generally two kinds of issues that an author or speaker will work with. The first are descriptive issues that raise questions about how we see the world. The second are prescriptive issues that answer questions about ethics and what should be done. In order to find the issue sometimes it is helpful to find the conclusion and work backwards from that point. The conclusion is the message that the author wants you to accept. We can not think critically about something until we have both the issue and the conclusion. Conclusions must be inferred from reasoning. There are many ways to find the conclusion. Sometimes we can find the conclusion by finding the issue and working forward from that, there are indicator words that we can scan for, we can look carefully at the beginning and at the end of the piece since many times conclusions are located there. Remember that conclusions are not examples. Sometimes the author’s background will help us find the conclusion.