Asking the Right Questions, with Readings

Asking the Right Questions, with Readings

by M. Neil Browne, Stuart M. Keeley

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ISBN-10: 0205649289

ISBN-13: 9780205649280

Pub. Date: 09/08/2010

Publisher: Pearson

Used in a variety of courses in various disciplines, Asking the Right Questions with Readings helps bridge the gap between simply memorizing or blindly accepting information, and the greater challenge of critical analysis and synthesis. Specifically, this concise text teaches how to think critically by exploring the components of arguments--issues, conclusions,


Used in a variety of courses in various disciplines, Asking the Right Questions with Readings helps bridge the gap between simply memorizing or blindly accepting information, and the greater challenge of critical analysis and synthesis. Specifically, this concise text teaches how to think critically by exploring the components of arguments--issues, conclusions, reasons, evidence, assumptions, language--and on how to spot fallacies and manipulations and obstacles to critical thinking.

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New Edition
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Table of Contents



Chapter 1: The Benefit of Asking the Right Questions


Critical Thinking to the Rescue

The Sponge and Panning for Gold: Alternative Thinking Styles

An Example of the Panning-for-Gold Approach

Panning for Gold: Asking Critical Questions

The Myth of the “Right Answer”

The Usefulness of Asking the Question, “Who Cares?”

Weak-Sense and Strong-Sense Critical Thinking

The Satisfaction of Using the Panning-for-Gold Approach

Effective Communication and Critical Thinking

The Importance of Practice

The Right Questions

Chapter 2: Critical Thinking Is a Social Activity

Values and Other People

The Primary Values of a Critical Thinker

Thinking and Feelings

Keeping the Conversation Going

Avoiding the Dangers of Groupthink

Chapter 3: What Are the Issue and the Conclusion?

Kinds of Issues

Searching for the Issue

Searching for the Author’s or Speaker’s Conclusion

Using This Critical Question

Clues to Discovery: How to Find the Conclusion

Critical Thinking and Your Own Writing and Speaking

Practice Exercises

Fred von Lohmann, "Copyright Silliness on Campus"

Chapter 4: What Are the Reasons?

Reasons + Conclusion = Argument

Initiating the Questioning Process

Words That Identify Reasons

Kinds of Reasons

Keeping the Reasons and Conclusions Straight

Critical Thinking and Your Own Writing and Speaking

Practice Exercises

David Horowitz, "College Professors Should Be Made to Teach, Not Preach"

Chapter 5: What Words or Phrases Are Ambiguous?

The Confusing Flexibility of Words

Locating Key Terms and Phrases

Checking for Ambiguity

Using This Critical Question

Determining Ambiguity

Context and Ambiguity

Using This Critical Question

Ambiguity, Definitions, and the Dictionary

Ambiguity and Loaded Language

Limits of Your Responsibility to Clarify Ambiguity

Ambiguity and Your Own Writing and Speaking


Practice Exercises

New York Times editoriall, "Juvenile Injustice"

Chapter 6: What Are the Value and Descriptive Assumptions?

General Guide for Identifying Assumptions

Value Conflicts and Assumptions

From Values to Value Assumptions

Typical Value Conflicts

The Communicator’s Background as a Clue to Value Assumptions

Consequences as Clues to Value Assumptions

More Hints for Finding Value Assumptions

Avoiding a Typical Difficulty When Identifying Value Assumptions

Finding Value Assumptions on Your Own

Using This Critical Question

Values and Relativism

Identifying and Evaluating Descriptive Assumptions

Illustrating Descriptive Assumptions

Using this Critical Question

Clues for Locating Assumptions

Avoiding Analysis of Trivial Assumptions

Assumptions and Your Own Writing and Speaking

Practice Exercises

Religion News Blog, "Should We Legalize Marijuana?"

Chapter 7: Are There Any Fallacies in the Reasoning?

A Questioning Approach to Finding Reasoning Fallacies

Evaluating Assumptions as a Starting Point

Discovering Other Common Reasoning Fallacies

Looking for Diversions

Sleight of Hand: Begging the Question

Using This Critical Question

Summary of Reasoning Errors

Expanding Your Knowledge of Fallacies

Fallacies and Your Own Writing and Speaking

Practice Exercises

Jacob Sullum, "Gun Control Non Sequiturs"

Chapter 8: How Good Is the Evidence: Intuition, Personal Experience, Testimonials, and Appeals to Authority?

The Need for Evidence

Locating Factual Claims

Sources of Evidence

Intuition as Evidence

Dangers of Appealing to Personal Experience as Evidence

Testimonials as Evidence

Appeals to Authority as Evidence

Problems with Citers Citing Other Citers

Using This Critical Question


Practice Exercises

Isabel Lyman, "Homeschooling Comes of Age"

Chapter 9: How Good Is the Evidence: Personal Observation, Research Studies, Case Examples, and Analogies?

Personal Observation

Research Studies as Evidence

Generalizing from the Research Sample

Biased Surveys and Questionnaires

Critical Evaluation of a Research-Based Argument

Case Examples as Evidence

Analogies as Evidence

Identifying and Comprehending Analogies

Evaluation Analogies


Practice Exercises

Neela Banerjee, "Americans Change Faiths as Rising Rate, Report Finds"

Chapter 10 Are There Rival Causes?

When to Look for Rival Causes

The Pervasiveness of Rival Causes

Detecting Rival Causes

The Cause or A Cause

Rival Causes and Scientific Research

Rival Causes for Differences Between Groups

Confusing Causation with Association

Confusing “After this” with “Because of this”

Explaining Individual Events or Acts

Evaluating Rival Causes

Using This Critical Question

Evidence and Your Own Writing and Speaking


Practice Exercises

Cathy Arnst, "The World According to Disney"

Chapter 11: Are the Statistics Deceptive?

Unknowable and Biased Statistics

Confusing Averages

Concluding One Thing, Proving Another

Deceiving by Omitting Information

Risk Statistics and Omitted Information


Practice Exercises

Buddy T, Guide, "College Drinking, Drug Use Grows More Extreme"

Chapter 12: What Significant Information Is Omitted?

The Benefits of Detecting Omitted Information

The Certainty of Incomplete Reasoning

Questions that Identify Omitted Information

The Importance of the Negative View

Omitted Information That Remains Missing

Using This Critical Question

Practice Exercises

Radley Balko, "Back to 18?"

Chapter 13: What Reasonable Conclusions Are Possible?

Assumptions and Multiple Conclusions

Dichotomous Thinking: Impediment to Considering Multiple Conclusions

Two Sides or Many?

Searching for Multiple Conclusions

The Productivity of If-Clauses

Alternative Solutions as Conclusions

The Liberating Effect of Recognizing Alternative Conclusions

All Conclusions Are Not Created Equal


Practice Exercises

Maryann Bird, "Should We Stop Eating Meat to Help the Planet?"

Chapter 14: Overcoming Obstacles to Critical thinkingOvercoming Obstacles to Critical Thinking

Reviewing Famnilair Obstacles

Mental Habits That Betray Us

The Seductive Quality of Personal Experience

Belief in a Just World


The Urge to Simplify

Belief Perseverance

Availability Heuristic

Wishful Thinking

Chapter 15: Should We Protect Children from Advertising?

Rebecca A. Clay, "Advertising to Children: Is It Ethical?"

Dale Kunkel and Brian Wilcox, "Television Advertising Leads to Unhealthy Habits in Children; Say APA Task Force"

Cam Beck, "Taking Responsibility for Our McActions"

Lisa Tiffin, "How to Inoculate Your Children Against Advertising"

Susan E. Linn, "Food Marketing to Children in the Context of a Marketing Maelstrom"

Essay Questions

Chapter 16: What Is the Proper Role of Government in Improving the Quality of Families in Our Culture?

Stephanie Coontz, "Taking Marriage Private"

"Swedish Top Lawyer Wants to Legalize Polygamy..."

Peg Tittle, "We License Plumbers and Pilots - Why Not Parents?"

Lizette Alvarez, "Jens and Vita, but Molli? Danes Favor Common Names"

Malcolm Potts, "China's One Child Policy: The Policy That Changed the World"

RIchard Posner, "The Regulation of the Market in Adoption"

Essay Questions

Chapter 17: What is the Secret to Happiness?

Arthur Max and Toby Sterling, "Researchers: Choices Spawn Happiness"

Matthew Herper, "Money Won't Buy You Happiness"

Steve Ross and Olivia Rosewood, "How to Find True Happiness"

Jonathon Clements, "Down the Tube: The Sad Stats on Happiness, Money and TV"

William R. Mattox, Jr., "Does Faith Promote Happiness?"

John Lanchester, "Pursuing Happiness: Two Scholars Explore the Fragility of Contentment"

Essay Questions

Chapter 17: In What Ways Can the Media Influence Society and What Can We Do About It?

Carrie McLaren, "The Media Doesn't Influence Us...Except When It Does"

Geena Davis, "Children's Media Skew Gender"

Katie Strickland, "Media Isn't Feeding Social Ills"

Ross Gelbspan, "Snowed: Why Is the US News Media Silent on Global Warming?"

Dan Gainor and Amy Menefee, "CNN's Global Warming Special Typifies Liberal Bias of Climate Coverage"

Elmar Etzersdorfer and Gernot Sonneck, "Preventing Suicide by Influencing Mass-Media Reporting: The Viennese Experience 1980-1996"

Essay Questions

Chapter 18: What role does physical appearance play in our lives?

Keith Morrison, "Face Value Hidden Camera Investigation: Do Looks Really Matter?"

Daniel Schweimler, "Argentina: Ugly People Strike Back"

Maggie Stehr, "Study Credits Attractive People with Longer Life"

Susan Kane, "Preparing Children for Plastic Surgery"

Scott Reeves, "Good Looks, Good Pay?"

Henry Wijsbek, "The Pursuit of Beauty"

Essay Questions



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