It has been awhile since I posted here.
The majority of my spare time has been spent writing my book. The Psychology of Software Testing.
So for you loyal readers here is an extract from the latest chapter which has been published today.
Whilst researching critical thinking there were many examples of using arguing to become a better a critical thinker.
A set of propositions of which one is a conclusion and the remainder are premises,intended as support for the conclusion.” Boswell, Tracy - Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide
The word ‘argument’ can have negative connotations to some, including myself. Many people try to avoid conflict and argumentative situations, especially in public and can become fearful of not being a critical thinker. Arguing in the context of critical thinking does not mean you have to be loud, confrontational or aggressive. When someone presents a statement to you, they are attempting to persuade you and make you believe that their statement is factual and truthful. Critical thinking is asking questions about the statement and presenting arguments as to why the statement may not be truthful or factual. Hopefully this will allow you, the reader, to see the word ‘argument’ in a less negative way.
Gregory Bassam gives the following definition of a critical thinking argument:
“When people hear the word argument, they usually think of some kind of quarrel or
Therefore in critical thinking terms an argument is simply a claim. A claim is a statement or sentence that you can turn around and ask “Is that true?”
“One way to determine whether or not a sentence expresses a claim is to use the phrase It is true that . . . before the sentence. Notice, “It is true that the sun is in orbit round Earth” makes grammatical sense, but “It is true that turn in your homework” oes not.” Jackson, Debra - Critical Thinking a User’s Manual pp13
Claims can be of two types:
- descriptive in which they describe a situation
- evaluative where they make a judgement, normally seen as opinions.
Opinions can be harder to be seen as claims and to work out if the person is making truthful statements. In some situations opinions can appear to have no right or wrong answer. In this situation, look for other claims being made to support this opinion to see if there is anything else which upports their judgmental claim. People who offer further claims to support their opinions are treating others as rational, responsible, and most importantly, with respect.
One aspect of critical thinking that needs to be promoted is ensuring that when you are engaged in critical thinking arguments with others, there is a ‘safe’ environment in which people can freely express their thoughts and ideas and be able to challenge. This should be done without people having a fear of being unjustly treated or becoming a personal attack on those involved in the critical thinking exercise. Be mindful of this when you are engaged with others in critical thinking arguments.
A key skill for being a good critical thinker is to also be a good critical listener.
To quote Harriet Lerner:
“If we would only listen with the same passion that we feel about wanting to be heard.” - Marriage Rules, Lerner, Harriet 2012
Listening to others intensely gives you the opportunity to observe and hear what others are saying, which may give you more information than if you are talking over everybody else.
Critical thinking requires you to ask questions, listen carefully and determine the truth. Critical thinking does not mean arguments with others It could be internal with yourself. Being critical to yourself is a great way to practice being a critical thinker and in a safe environment.
Deductive and Inductive Reasoning
Taking the example of earlier that there are two types of claims we can reclassify these as either deductive or inductive claims.
Premise can be defined as:
Premises are statements in an argument offered as evidence or reasons why we should accept another statement.
The majority of our thinking is inductive in which the statements we make we feel are true, but cannot provide evidence that it is absolute truth. For example, the following statement:
“Banning people from buying guns will reduce the amount of gun crime”
Is this statement based upon deductive facts or is it based upon inductive reasoning?
We can gather statistics from gun owning countries and compare to non gun owning countries and see the statistics for gun crime. The probability that non gun countries gun crime rate is low indicates that the statement we made has a high probability of being correct. Therefore it is an inductive claim.
An example of a deductive claim is:
“The earth revolves around the sun.”
We can back this up with evidence which proves this claim to be true.
It is important when engaging in critical thinking to determine what type of claim is being made. If it is supported with facts then it is deductive else if it is based upon probability then it will be inductive.
As a bonus for taking the time to read my blog for the next 48 hours (Midnight GMT - Tuesday 10th Feb 2015) you can purchase the book for $6.99 instead of the current price of $10.99
Use the following link for this offer.