Presentation on theme: "Asking the Right Questions: Chapter 1"— Presentation transcript:
1Asking the Right Questions: Chapter 1 Dr. Alan Haffa
2Sorting out Opinions and Facts How do you find out the Truth about something?Consult Experts?But how do you know who is an expert?And what if the experts disagree?“You need to build skills and attitudes that will enable you to decide for yourself which opinions to make your own (1).”
3Method: Asking Questions Asking questions as we read and listenBut what kinds of questions?How do we evaluate the answers to the questions to discover the most reasonable position?
4Learning like a Sponge Suck up information like a sponge absorbs water Requires concentration and memoryGood for learning a large set of established factsGood when you can be absolutely certain of the source of informationGood where there is agreement among experts
5Limits of Sponge Learning No method for deciding which information and opinions to believeInformation overloadWould lead to believing whatever you heard or read last
6Panning for Gold Method Separate the gold from the gravelEmpowers you to form your own judgmentsInteractive: you engage with the text or lecture in active way by asking questions
7Mental Check: Basic Questions WHY does someone want me to believe something?Did I take notes?Did I evaluate?Did I form my own conclusion about the topic based on what seemed most reasonable?
8Contrast Panning for Gold vs. Sponge Reads sentences carefully, trying to remember as much as possibleUnderlines or highlights key words or sentencesChecks notes to be sure he didn’t miss anything importantMemorizes facts, but doesn’t evaluateReads carefully also, but goes beyond basic comprehensionAsks key questions as he or she readsConsiders authorial background and motiveLooks for omissionsEvaluates logic of argumentsEvaluates the scope of claims and their support
9Consider Argument for Banning Guns (4) Read text (p. 4-5)Circle words that appear judgmental or loosely definedPut a question mark in margin if an argument is not clearWrite “Source ?” in margin if an unsupported claim is madeWrite “Fallacy” in margin if there appears to be something wrong or uncertain in the logic of an argumentCircle words that imply the writer is fudging their claim—usually this is an adjective or adverb that is vague.At the end, ask yourself what the core points of support for the argument are.
10Questions for Evaluating What words are ambiguous or confusing?How adequate were the cited research studies? Were the samples large enough, random, and diverse?Was anything omitted that might have helped the opposing viewpoint?Were there any logical fallacies in the reasoning?Does the writer’s tone appear balanced and neutral or do they appear to have an ideological bias?
11Myth of “Right Answer”Scientific World: Physical science and mathematicsSocial Sciences and Humanities are more ambiguousHuman behavior and morals are so complex and difficult to study that finding a single “right” answer isn’t always possibleSeek a “Reasonable” answerResult of a thoughtful evaluation of facts and arguments from multiple points of view
12Weak-Sense and Strong-Sense “Weak-sense critical thinking is the use of critical thinking to DEFEND your current beliefs. Strong-sense critical thinking is the use of the same skills to evaluate all claims and beliefs, ESPECIALLY YOUR OWN.” (8)“Strong-sense critical thinking requires us to apply the critical questions to all claims, including our own. By forcing ourselves to look critically at our initial beliefs, we help protect against self-deception and conformity.” (8)
13The Value of Strong-Sense “He who knows only his side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may have been good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side he has no ground for preferring either opinion.” (9) John Stuart Mill
14The Right Questions (10) What are the issues and conclusions? What are the reasons?Which words or phrases are ambiguous?What are the value and descriptive assumptions?Are there any fallacies in the reasoning?How good is the evidence?Are there rival causes?Are the statistics deceptive?What significant information is omitted?What reasonable conclusions are possible?