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Asking the Right Questions / Edition 11

Asking the Right Questions / Edition 11

by M. Neil Browne


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Asking the Right Questions / Edition 11

Used in a variety of courses in various disciplines, Asking the Right Questions 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 2900321907959
Publisher: Pearson
Publication date: 01/13/2014
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 10.90(w) x 7.30(h) x 0.30(d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Chapter 1 The Benefit of Asking the Right Questions 1

Introduction 1

Critical Thinking to the Rescue 2

The Sponge and Panning for Gold: Alternative Thinking Styles 3

An Example of the Panning-for Gold Approach 4

Panning for Gold: Asking Critical Question 6

The Myth of the "Right Answer" 6

The Usefulness of Asking the Question, "Who Cares?" 7

Weak-Sense and Strong-Sense Critical Thinking 8

The Satisfaction of Panning for Gold 9

Effective Communication and Critical Thinking 9

The Importance of Practice 9

The Right Question 10

Chapter 2 Critical Thinking As a Social Activity 11

Values and Other People 11

The Primary Values of a Critical Thinker 13

Thinking and Feeling 14

Keeping the Conversation Going 15

Avoiding the Dangers of Groupthink 18

Chapter 3 What Are the Issue and the Conclusion? 19

Kinds of Issues 20

Searching for the Issue 21

Searching for the Authors' or Speaker's Conclusion 22

Clues to Discovery: How to Find the Conclusion 23

Critical Thinking and Your Own Writing and Speaking 24

Practice Exercises 25

Chapter 4 What Are the Reasons? 28

Reasons + Conclusion = Argument 29

Initiating the Questioning process 30

Words That Identify Reasons 31

Kinds of Reasons 32

Keeping the reasons and conclusions Straight 33

Critical Thinking and Your Own Writing and Speaking 34

Practice Exercises 34

Chapter 5 What Words or Phrases Are Ambiguous 37

The Confusing Flexibility of Words 38

Locating Key Terms and Phrases 38

Checking for Ambiguity 40

Determining Ambiguity 41

Context and Ambiguity 43

Ambiguity, Definitions, and the Dictionary 44

Ambiguity and Loaded Language 46

Limits of YourResponsibility to Clarify Ambiguity 48

Ambiguity and Your Own Writing and Speaking 48

Summary 48

Practice Exercises 49

Chapter 6 What Are the Value and Descriptive Assumptions? 53

General Guide for Identifying Assumptions 55

Value Conflicts and Assumptions 56

Typical value Conflicts 57

The Communicator's Background as a Clue to Value Assumptions 58

Consequences as Clues to Value Assumptions 58

More Hints for Finding Value Assumptions 59

Finding Value Assumptions on Your Own 60

Values and Relativism 62

Identifying and Evaluating Descriptive Assumptions 62

Illustrating Descriptive Assumptions 62

Clues for Locating Assumptions 64

Avoiding Analysis of Trivial Assumptions 66

Assumptions and Your Own Writing and Speaking 66

Practice exercises 67

Chapter 7 Are There Any Fallacies in the Reasoning? 70

A Questioning Approach to Finding Reasoning Fallacies 71

Evaluating Assumptions as a Starting Point 72

Discovering Other Common Reasoning Fallacies 74

Looking for Diversions 80

Sleight of Hand: Begging the Question 82

Summary of Reasoning Errors 83

Expanding Your Knowledge of Fallacies 84

Fallacies and Your Own Writing and Speaking 85

Practice Exercises 85

Chapter 8 How Good Is the Evidence: Intuition, Personal Experience, Testimonials, and Appeals to Authority? 89

The Need for Evidence 89

Locating Factual Claim 91

Sources of Evidence 92

Intuition as Evidence 93

Dangers of Appealing to Personal Experience and Anecdotes as Evidence 94

Appeals to Authority as Evidence 96

Summary 100

Practice Exercises 100

Chapter 9 How Good Is the Evidence: Personal Observation, Research Studies, Case Examples, and Analogies? 103

Personal Observation 103

Research Studies as Evidence 104

Generalizing from the Research Sample 108

Biased Surveys and Questionnaires 110

Critical Evaluation of a Research-Based Argument 111

Case Examples as Evidence 113

Analogies as Evidence 114

Summary 118

Practice Exercises 118

Chapter 10 Are There Rival Causes? 122

When to Look for Rival Causes 123

The Pervasiveness of Rival Causes 123

Detecting Rival Causes 126

The Cause or A Cause 126

Rival Causes for Differences Between Groups 129

Confusing Causation with Association 130

Confusing "After this" with "Because of this" 132

Explaining Individual Events or Acts 133

Evaluating Rival Causes 134

Evidence and Your Own Writing and Speaking 134

Summary 134

Practice Exercises 134

Chapter 11 Are the Statistics Deceptive? 137

Unknowable and Biased Statistics 138

Confusing Averages 138

Concluding One Thing, Proving Another 140

Deceiving by Omitting Information 141

Risk Statistics and Omitted Information 143

Summary 144

Practice Exercises 144

Chapter 12 What Significant Information Is Omitted? 147

The Benefits of Detecting Omitted Information 148

The Certainty of Incomplete Reasoning 148

Questions That Identify Omitted Information 150

The Importance of the Negative View 152

Omitted Information That Remains Missing 153

Practice Exercises 154

Chapter 13 What Reasonable Conclusions Are Possiblee? 157

Assumptions and Multiple Conclusions 158

Dichotomous Thinking: impediment to Considering Multiple Conclusions 158

Two Sides or Many? 159

Searching for Multiple Conclusions 160

Productivity of If-Clauses 161

Alternative Solutions as Conclusions 162

The Liberating Effect of Recognizing Alternative Conclusions 162

All Conclusion Are Not Created Equal 163

Summary 163

Practice Exercises 164

Chapter 14 Overcoming Obstacles to Critical Thinking 167

Reviewing Familiar Obstacles 167

Mental Habits That Betray Us 168

Wishful Thinking 173

Final Word 174

Index 176

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