Red Herring

In an argument, a red herring can be any diversion that distracts attention from the main issue. The name of this distracter comes from a very strong-smelling cured fish that was once used, variously, to distract bloodhounds from the scent of escaping prisoners, or to distract hunting dogs from the trail of their prey. The diversion usually takes the form of an irrelevant topic, which is designed to lead attention away from the real issue and onto another topic. Typically, someone who is on the...

Correlation Studies

The gathering of information is not the only time during which manipulation can occur. Once numbers are obtained, they must be interpreted or evaluated. This step also has plenty of opportunities to distort the truth. As an example, let's look at comparisons between two sets of information between which there may be a connection. These types of comparisons are commonly referred to as correlation studies. Researchers use correlation studies when they want to know if there is a link between two...

The Art of Persuasion Has a Long History

In fourth century bc Greece, Aristotle studied and taught philosophy, science, and other subjects. In one of his most famous works, The Art of Rhetoric (meaning persuasion through language), he contends that the ideal form of argument was through reason (called logos). However, he also acknowledged two other powerful techniques an appeal to character (ethos) and an appeal to emotion (pathos). These same persuasion techniques are among the most successful and frequently employed ones in use...

Post Hoc Ergo Propter

We learned in Lesson 14 that to make a strong causal argument you need the cause to precede the effect. In other words, if problem A causes result B, cause A had to occur before result B. However, this is not the only factor in determining cause. Just because one event precedes another does not mean that it caused it. When you wrongly make that assumption, you commit the fallacy known as post hoc, ergo propter hoc. This fallacy, like the chicken and egg, has to do with cause and effect. Often...

Goal Setting Chart

Goal to get no grade below a B next marking period (which ends March 14) What is in my way too much socializing, poor study skills Step 1 cut back on socializing do not sit with friends during class no phone calls or computer until homework is done Step 2 improve study skills buy workbook on study skills and complete one practice exercise every day keep notebooks organized by cleaning them out every day after school make a file folder at home for each class do homework every day at desk ask...

Lesson 19 Critical Thinking for Exams

In this lesson, you learned how to apply what you have learned in Critical Thinking Skills Success to the exams you may face when applying to college or graduate school, or when entering the workforce. Critical reading questions, on tests such as the SAT and ACT, evaluate your ability to comprehend a passage, draw inferences based on the material presented, analyze information, and critique others' arguments. Other tests include sections on science reasoning, analytical writing, logical...

Lesson 9 Persuasion Techniques

This lesson examined how to recognize persuasion techniques used in speech, writing, and advertising. You learned about the three persuasion techniques described by Aristotle thousands of years ago (logos, pathos, ethos) and how they are still used today. Also explained were six common rhetorical devices including the rhetorical question, hyperbole, and comparisons. These techniques are used in persuasive 1. Librarians. They are trained professionals, who know how to find what you are looking...

Practice

The following excerpt tells of a defining chapter in the life of a budding scientist. The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event in my life, and has determined my whole career yet it depended on so small a circumstance as my uncle offering to drive (5) me thirty miles to Shrewsbury, which few uncles would have done, and on such a trifle as the shape of my nose. I have always felt that I owe to the voyage the first real training or education of my mind I was led to attend...

Pretest

You conducted a successful job search, and 4. Which one of the following is NOT an example now have three offers from which to choose. What things can you do to most thoroughly Tigress jeans are available at your local investigate your potential employers (Fill in all The very best mothers serve Longhorn b. watch the news to see if the companies are Vote for me, and I promise our schools will improve. My opponent just wants to c. research their financial situations d. speak with...

Persuasion Techniques

In this lesson, you will learn how to recognize persuasion techniques used in speech, writing, and advertising. You will also find out how to use those techniques to your advantage. What is persuasion It is the act ofusing argument,reasoning,or appeal to get someone to take a course of action or change his or her point of view. Individuals try to persuade others to do things their way, to think like they think, and even simply to leave them alone. You use persuasion techniques on a daily basis,...

Roadblock to Defining a Problem

Often the biggest impediment to defining a problem is speed. When you are busy, especially on the job, you may be tempted to simply deal with superficial evidence, especially when it comes in the form of an aggravation or irritation. In such as case, you act quickly, rather than stop to look and see if the problem is merely the symptom of a larger or more serious issue. However, what seems like a time saver (quickly resolving an aggravating situation) could actually cost you more time in the...

Inductive Reasoning

This lesson shows how to recognize and construct an inductive argument. These arguments move from specific facts to general conclusions by using common sense and or past experience. Induction is the process of reasoning from the specific (particular facts or instances) to the general (principles, theories, rules). It uses two premises that support the probable truth of the conclusion. Thus, an inductive argument looks like this If A is true and B is true, then C is probably true. How can you...

Equivocation

The fallacy of equivocation can be difficult to spot, because both of the premises appear to be true, and sometimes the conclusion seems to follow them. However, in this fallacy, the meaning of a certain word is unclear and it causes the meaning of the entire argument to be invalid. This can occur either by using the same word twice, each time with a different meaning, or by using one word that has an ambiguous meaning. My history professor said everyone who wrote a term paper favoring the...

Syllogisms

Syllogisms are made up of two premises and a conclusion. The first, or major, premise describes all of one class or group, A, in terms of some other class or group, B All vegetarians do not eat meat . The second, or minor, premise places a third class or group, C, either within A or not within B Gorden is a vegetarian . The conclusion states that C is B Gorden does not eat meat . When a negative is used in a syllogism, it follows the same form. For instance, All vegetarians do not eat meat....

Slippery Slope

In Lesson 12, we discussed conditionals, which are one of the ways in which a deductive argument may be framed. Conditionals use an if-then premise to lead to a conclusion example if you do not pay your electric bill, then your power will be turned off . When a conditional contains a logical fallacy, it is called a slippery slope. In this type of fallacy, it is asserted that one event will or might happen, and then, inevitably, another, more serious or drastic, event will occur. The slippery...

Roadblock to Setting Goals

A common problem with goals is that they are set too large. If they cover too much ground, or are about accomplishing something that will take a long time, your goals may be difficult to reach or you may grow tired of your plan before you complete it. When you set a goal, look at the number of steps you specified as well as your timeline. Do the size and time period seem reasonable Can you picture yourself following the plan as you wrote it to its conclusion If you have a doubt, it may be best...

Scare Tactics

Here is an example of scare tactics Linda received a phone call from a stranger, asking her if she knew how prepared her local emergency response units were to handle a terrorist attack. He described the aftermath of a bombing, with all of its destruction and bloodshed, and told her that her local medical community, firefighters, and law enforcement were not ready to respond adequately. He further described the chaos that would ensue because of this inadequate response. Then, he asked for a...

Circular Reasoning

A valid deductive argument has a conclusion that follows logically from the premises. It does not infer or assume anything from the premises, but relies only on the information contained within them. In the fallacy of circular reasoning, often called begging the question, you assume as truth the premise you are supposed to be proving. In all valid deductions, the conclusion what you are trying to prove follows two premises. In an invalid argument using circular reasoning, the conclusion follows...

Checking Your Emotions

In this lesson, you will discover the role that emotions play In the decisionmaking process. When emotional responses are recognized and used appropriately they can be an effective piece of critical thinking. It is a widely held belief that emotions are an enemy of critical thinking. The theory goes that the head is rational, while the heart is emotional, and any objective thinking or decision making should be done with the head. In fact, the word objective means not influenced by emotions or...

When Emotions Take Over the Decision Making Process

Decision-making is a systematic, conscious process that seems to leave no room for feelings. But you can probably think of many decisions you have had to make recently in which you had strong feelings that influenced your outcome. Perhaps you had to decide whether to order dessert when you were out for dinner. You ordered the cheesecake because it is a favorite, ignoring the fact that you were trying to lower your cholesterol level. Or, you left work early because you had tickets to a ball game...

Venn Diagram

Diagram For Critical Thinking

A Venn diagram is an illustration of the relationships between and among a group of objects that have something in common. Like a web, it is useful when you want to find solutions to a problem with two or three symptoms or elements. To create a Venn diagram ask yourself what are the three symptoms of the problem write each element in a circle, and have each circle overlap as shown on the following page ask yourself what can I do differently to resolve each overlapping set of symptoms, or how...

Pathos

There are many variations on Aristotle's three persuasion techniques. The one seen most frequently is pathos there are numerous emotions that may be elicited in order to persuade. For instance, scare tactics are common. If you feel fear after listening to someone speak, watching an ad on television, or reading print material, or browsing a website, put aside the emotion for a minute and think logically. Was your emotional response sought after Did the speaker or writer mean to scare you in...

How to Use this Book

Generally, critical thinking involves both problem solving and reasoning. In fact, these terms are often used interchangeably. But specifically, what are critical thinking skills They include the ability to be curious, asking relevant questions and finding the resources you need challenge and examine beliefs, assumptions, and opinions against facts recognize and define problems assess the validity of statements and arguments make wise decisions and find valid solutions understand logic and...

Fact Versus Opinion

Facts are objective statements whose truth can be verified. If a fact is true, then it is always true. For example, Hawaii became a state in 1959. It is simple to do some research to verify that Hawaii did, indeed, join the United States in that year. Newspaper articles are another example of facts. They are intended to be objective reports of occurrences. The opinion of the reporter should not interfere with, or be a part of, the article. An opinion is a subjective statement based on personal...