Here are some of the errors and bad habits which can lead to shallow or uncritical decisions instead of careful judgments (from Ruggiero):
It is the attitude that everything is simple, black and white, definite. Every problem is someone else's fault.
There is a basic tension in life between security and freedom. A good example is drunk drivers. Security says we should stop all cars and check for drunks. Freedom says that doing so would constitute unwarranted search and an invasion of privacy.
Tradition and social patterns are often created to give security, and to resist change. And they can be worthwhile. A good example is everyone driving on the right side of the road.
Tradition, in fact, can be used to your advantage.
There are, however, some major problems with resistance to change:
Conformity can be good...
Conformity can also be very hard to escape. There are many pressures to conform...
But, conformity can cripple your thinking...
GROUP THINK is probably the most severe example of conformity. It is the strong desire to concur in a group decision.
Face saving is self-protection, ego protection, and sometimes compensation for feelings of inferiority.
Ego, within limits, is important...
THE PROBLEM WITH EGO...
The process for reaching a rational decision is to start with evidence and then move to a conclusion.
With rationalization you start with the conclusion you want, and then you gather evidence to support that conclusion.
What is black and brown and looks good on a lawyer?
How can you tell when a lawyer is lying?
What do you call two thieves in a rented office?
What is the difference between a dead dog on the highway
and a dead lawyer on the highway?
Why are lawyers buried twenty feet deep?
What do you call two lawyers in a Mercedes going off a cliff?
The personality of lawyers is one of the favorite and most common targets of stereotyping. Stereotyping is a form of generalization which attributes traits or characteristics to everyone in a large group.
People who stereotype tend to have fixed and unbending opinions. They respond to challenges by distorting reality rather than reconsidering the assumptions and conclusions which they have labeled truth.... What happens is that the facts are compared to the stereotype and then rejected because they do not fit the stereotype.
Stereotyping is usually caused by ethnocentrism.
Ramifications of stereotyping:
THE PROBLEMS WITH STEREOTYPING:
To avoid stereotyping:
How to avoid:
(Discuss, as an example, the use of the term "conspiracy theorist.")
(see Brzezinskiís book, Out of Control at http://www.accd.edu/pac/philosop/phil1301/outofcon.htm -CG]
The question, of course, is how much evidence is ENOUGH evidence. This question, in turn, brings up the necessity of discussing the difference between inductive and deductive thinking.
In deduction you have ALL the evidence. For example, if you are discussing the data from a census. A census counts EVERYONE. So any statement about the data from a census is complete and correct as long as the rules of logic are not broken.
Inductive thinking, which is much more common, involves dealing with only partial evidence. As a result, any discussion of induction must include the concept of PROBABILITY. The more evidence is gathered, the greater the probability that you will be correct in your conclusions.
Also, remember that correlation does NOT equal causation. For instance, in the same time period the number of women working outside the home increased and the number of divorces increased. This fact alone does not mean that either trend caused the other. They may be completely unrelated.
Unwarranted assumptions are unexamined conclusions which we take for granted.
To avoid resistance to change, set aside your negative reactions and use your reason.
To avoid conformity and group pressure, base your thinking on EVIDENCE.
To avoid face-saving mistakes, be honest with yourself.
To avoid rationalization, base your thinking on EVIDENCE.
To avoid stereotyping, avoid neat categories--they don't exist.
To avoid faulty common sense, always demand evidence and facts.
To avoid oversimplification, compare everything to reality, to verifiable facts.
To avoid hasty conclusions, fully explore both sides of the issue or question.
To avoid unwarranted assumption, get in the habit of looking for ideas which are not spelled out, but are hidden in the verbiage.
NOTICE THAT THE REAL KEY TO EACH PROBLEM IS YOUR BEING CONSCIOUS OF YOUR TENDENCY TO DO THEM.
Next, let's look at the
characteristics of critical thinkers.