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Step 5: E is for Evidence

In this chapter, some of the key ideas involve for different types of evidence: anecdotal, legal, intuitive, and scientific. I also discussed the importance of understanding how scientific investigation proceeds. And so I look at both the scientific method and the way in which scientific studies are conducted. By understanding the importance of how evidence is attained, and distinguishing between what is considered to be reliable and unreliable resources in support of any argument, we gain a better appreciation for the rigour and structured nature of scientific reasoning.

 
Step 6: F is for Fallacies

In this chapter some of the key ideas involve defining fallacies as errors and reasoning. We then consider 13 different types of some of the most popular common fallacies that we all commit every day. These include but are not limited to the following: Ad Hominem, Ad Ignorantiam, Begging the Question, Equivocation, False Dilemma, Hasty Generalization, Post Hoc Fallacy, Slippery Slope, etc.

 

And so, in the final chapter we look at the ways in which the critical thinking skill set of the 66 steps can lead to fairer discussions about controversial topics. And the six steps will actually help people to have heated discussions, disagree entirely, but yet still get along. We consider six controversial issues:

 

(i)             Euthanasia: For/Against

(ii)           Abortion – Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice

(iii)          Gun Control – For/Against

(iv)          Capital Punishment – For/Against

(v)           Same-Sex Relationships – Liberal vs. Conservative

(vi)          God/Religion – Theist vs. Atheist

How to Disagree and Get Along
By the time you’re finished reading this very concise book on critical thinking, you should become extremely efficient at the following:

 

  • How to structure your thoughts.

  • How to develop arguments.

  • Bias Checking: learning what influences how and why you think about things.

  • Understanding Context and knowing why it is important.

  • Developing Diagramming skills so you can see what your and other arguments look like.

  • Determining what evidence counts in supporting your arguments.

  • Spotting bad reasoning and labeling it with the use of fallacies.

  • Understanding how to see the extremes of controversial issues and knowing where you are situated between them.

Step 1: A is for Argument

The key ideas found in this chapter revolve around and focus on how we attempt to make a point. Whether it’s in casual conversation or formal dialogue, being able to state your point of view clearly and efficiently is an important skill to possess.

Our points of view are called arguments.

 

In this chapter we discuss how arguments are like houses. As well, I discuss three basic types of reasoning which we use every day: Deductive (or Sherlock Holmes) Reasoning; Inductive (or Scientific) Reasoning; and Abductive (or Infering to the best explanation) Reasoning.

Step 2: B is for Bias

The key ideas found in this chapter deal with the different types of biases to which all of us are prone. These biases are broken into two distinct types: Biological and Cultural biases. In biological biases we see such influences to our reasoning as: genetics, neuropsychological influences, emotions, age, health, sex, and so on. With cultural biases we consider the influences our family upbringing had on us to our ethnicity, our religion, geographic location, our education, friends, and so on.

 

We will also learn to conduct a Bias Check on ourselves. This allows us to more fairly understand why it is we believe the information we now do. And finally, we will consider how this can lead to what is known as confirmation bias and how by better understanding human biases, we can go a long way towards treating each other more fairly which will hopefully lead to more civilized forms of disagreement.

The overall, central, or key idea found in this particular chapter deals with the manner in which we must be able to appreciate things like time, place, and circumstance when considering the context in which information is found. To take information out of context leads to an irrelevant critique lacking in merit. Hence, there is considerable need to appreciate the context of information and to treat it fairly – that is, as we would expect our points of view, our arguments, to be considered by others. With a greater understanding of context, the importance of the concept of fairness becomes increasingly apparent.

Step 3: C is for Context

In what is arguably the most boring of chapters, diagramming arguments is nonetheless an essential skill that all good critical thinkers possess. Understanding the key components of an argument leads to a greater capacity by which to dissect an argument to determine its value. In this chapter we consider in some detail, the skill set that allows us to depict the skeletal structure of any argument.

 

This, in turn, allows for greater clarity and understanding amongst those engaged in dialogue; and this further demonstrates the value of fairness and so far as to how faithfully one has diagrammed another’s argument to capture their intent.

Step 4: D is for Diagram