Skip to main content

The Art of Critical Thinking

 

Just finished reading The Art of Critical Thinking by Vincent Ruggiero.

Summary Notes follow.

Thinking is production of ideas and judgment of ideas.

Read problems fully then decide how to begin attacking them.

Check assumptions for validity.

Think on paper for clarity: freewrite, brainstorm.

Good thinkers accept the following foundational beliefs:

1. Strict determinism and strict free-will are both false. Our ideas and actions are heavily influenced and constrained by nature/nuture but we have a strong measure of free will that we exercise to determine our course of actions.

2.There is objective truth, although we may not always be able to discern it.

3. We approach truth from direct experience, from directly observing others’ experiences, and from report by others. We are biased by our own senses, our attitudes and beliefs and the reliability of reporting.

4. Memory recall is frequently flawed.

5. Opinions can be expressions of taste/preference (which are not based on reason and cannot be argued successfully) or expressions of judgment (which should be questioned to verify solid reasoning).

6. Almost every moral system of judgment shares the following principles: relationships with other people create obligations of various kinds that should be honored unless there is a compelling reason not to; certain ideals enhance human life and assist people in fulfilling their obligations and should be served whenever possible (these are tolerance, compassion, loyalty, forgiveness, peace, brotherhood, justice, fairness); the consequences of some actions benefit people whole those of other actions harm people and the former actions should be preferred over the latter; circumstances alter cases and while generalizations have a place they should not be used as a substitute for careful judgment. When two or more obligations are in conflict, decide on action by which is the more serious obligation or which existed first. When two or more ideals are in conflict ask which is the more important ideal. When multiple consequences exist ask which are most significant and weigh them against each other.

Avoid thinking traps: the mine-is-better kneejerk prejudice (my ideas, my people, my kind), the face saving pride (blaming and rationalizing after we have exhibited poor judgment), resistance to change, desire to conform, stereotyping, self-deception.

Exercise creative thinking: be diligent in observation, look for the imperfect (opportunities for improvement!), adopt an attitude of ‘dissatisfaction is simply a challenge to improve’, search for root causes of problems, be sensitive to implications of newly revealed facts or newly adopted judgments, recognize the opportunity in controversies to find truth on both sides.

Sharpen analytical/judgment skills by increasing our reading, actively thinking and questioning while reading, discerning between ideas and the character of the people expressing them, discerning between matters of taste and judgment, learn to read sarcasm and irony, discern between fact and interpretation, discerning between the validity of ideas and the quality of their expression, learning to break down arguments into assumptions, essential arguments, conclusions and evidence. For every argument presented, summarize it, evaluate it then judge it.

Creativity does not require high IQ.

Drugs hinder creativity.

Successful creative people are dynamic (active and playful), daring in their risk taking, resourceful, hardworking, willing to show independence.

The creative process: identify problem or issue (restate the problem in multiple ways to change perspectives and give insight), investigate and further research problem or issue, brainstorm solutions.

The analytic process: critique the brainstormed solutions, narrow down and refine the best solutions (Examine solutions for clarity, safety, convenience, efficiency, economy, simplicity, comfort, durability, beauty, compatibility; find imperfections and complications and resolve; compare with market competitors; make improvements) and prepare them for dissemination.

Reasoning errors: invalid logic in the chain from assumptions to conclusion, either/or thinking, avoiding the issue, overgeneralizing, oversimplifying, double standards, shifting burden of proof to the listener, irrelevant appeals to common practice, fear, or tradition.

When communicating your ideas or solutions, be proactive and anticipate objections and negative reactions that are likely to be made (this is similar to sales principle of anticipating objectives to closing the sale so that you can prepare to overcome them). Common objections include: impractical, expensive, illegal, immoral, inefficient, unworkable, disruptive, unaesthetic, radical, unappealing, unfair. Negative reactions may stem from lack of understanding of your solution/idea, bad thinking, or because your idea has serious flaws. We want to think through the potential negative reactions to find any valid criticism of our idea as well as discover potential points of misunderstanding or bad thinking in audience in order to compensate for them.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Board Game Review: Brass Birmingham

Here’s a story of a lovely lady (spoiler: it’s me) and her pride and how it has led to the discovery of the single greatest board game I have ever played. It’s probably also a good primer for other reviewers on increasing your reach.At GenCon this year, I was perusing the wares of the various booths and my eyes caught a glimpse of two beautiful game boxes. Each had crisp metallic lettering with an old world feel and artwork that radiated European class. I made my way to the booth and waited patiently to speak to to the team manning it as there were many buyers lined up to purchase the games. I didn’t know anything about the games (Brass Birmingham and Brass Lancashire), or the publisher – Roxley Game Laboratory – but I knew I wanted to review one or both of the games. Almost every board game love story I star in in can be summed up this way: I am seduced by the artwork or theme and then I stay for the right mechanics. When the lead rep spoke with me, he gently rejected my request. He …

Board Game Review: Brass Lancashire

A few months ago, I fell in love with Brass Birmingham (you can read that review HERE). I fell hard. It was an all time top 10 best games ever kind of love and so when Roxley Game Laboratory offered to send me Brass Lancashire to play and share my thoughts, I was a bit hesitant.  Is there even a chance I could enjoy it as much as Birmingham? Lancashire was the original game designed by Martin Wallace, and while it’s been updated for the most recent release, I was concerned it might prove to be an older, tired version that couldn’t compete with Birmingham.

My concerns were unfounded. Brass Lancashire is fantastic. Playing Lancashire after playing Birmingham is a bit like dating someone and then dating their sibling. Sure, there’s a resemblance, but the kissing feels different.
The artwork for Brass Lancashire is beautiful, radiating a classic style evocative of the theme (industrial era production). The artists have shown great attention to detail such as the raised gold lettering on …

Board Game Review: The Shipwreck Arcana

We hosted a lot of small gatherings in December and they presented the perfect opportunity to bring some games to the table that we hadn’t yet played. The Shipwreck Arcana was one of these games. My husband Christopher talked me into acquiring it, promising it would be something I’d enjoy. I was skeptical because he described it as a logical/mathematical pattern building puzzle game (BoardGameGeek.com classifies it in the Math category among others) and I don’t tend to enjoy those as much as other types of games. We played several games, usually with the full count of five players. The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the game was how pretty the Arcana cards are. The artwork is is unique in style and reminds me a bit of a tarot deck. It’s a pleasure to lay out the cards for display on the table. Components include the Hours card, the Arcana cards, fate tokens, score and doom trackers, number line tokens, and a velvet grab bag. All of the components are sturdy enough to hold up to…