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Thinking critically The key to success in Oxford and Cambridge University interviews Session 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Thinking critically The key to success in Oxford and Cambridge University interviews Session 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Thinking critically The key to success in Oxford and Cambridge University interviews Session 1

2 Awareness video Play awareness video

3 Transition from Learning to Thinking Technique used in video called ‘Misdirection’ Personal Development coaches also use the idea of Misdirection to illustrate how our minds filter out information that might be important but we have been directed away from In school you are taught to absorb information and perform the tasks in the way the teacher expects In higher level education, you need to look at problems from many different perspectives. This may lead you to change the very question you have been given! Most importantly, you need to be constantly aware of not being misdirected by a set of assumptions you either make yourself.......or others wish you to make This is where Critical Thinking comes in...

4 What is Critical Thinking?

5 Formal definition from National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking at http://www.criticalthinking.org –an intellectually disciplined process of actively and skilfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action Oxford Dictionary definition –The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement

6 Simon's and my definition Treating all information, however received, with scepticism until such time as we understand the reliability of the processes, and the probable veracity of the people, upon which its supposed truth is based In other words –Routinely and rigorously testing the consistency of all information received with other reliable sources and everything else we know –Relying on all information only as much as can be justified by the outcome of the above processes –Being sceptical....but never cynical!

7 Four lies and one truth Not necessarily in that order! There is an infinite number of places on the Earth where you can walk north for a mile, then west for a mile, then south for a mile, ending up in the same place Evolution produces creatures perfectly adapted to their environment In a thunderstorm, you are always safer standing out in the open than under a tree You should drink eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy Taking vitamin C helps you avoid catching a cold

8 And the true statement is... There is an infinite number of places on the Earth where you can walk north for a mile, then west for a mile, then south for a mile, ending up in the same place!

9 What's wrong with the other statements? Evolution produces creatures perfectly adapted to their environment? In a thunderstorm, you are always safer standing out in the open than under a tree? You should drink eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy? Taking vitamin C helps you avoid catching a cold?

10 Think about it...

11 Why is Critical Thinking so important?

12 Because –progress towards a better world can only be made by constantly seeking deeper truths and disseminating these more widely and effectively –in a world of constant change and global competition, your careers will inevitably depend on your ability to discover flaws in existing information and new and deeper truths in order to deliver benefit of others –the top universities need to recruit and train the best thought leaders in order to maintain their reputation....they need outstanding critical thinkers! Critical Thinking is based on rational and autonomous thought, which since the Age of Enlightenment starting in late 17th-century Europe, commands the highest respect in Western civilisation

13 Misinformation is everywhere - Why?

14 Most people are not experts. They have flawed understandings of the subjects they talk and write about Even the world's leading authorities disagree on many things - perfect truth is very elusive Much information is just passed on uncritically by people with limited critical thinking abilities Much truth is more complex and layered than simple representations might suggest e.g. the benefits of democracy or the structure of matter Lots of money to be made and power to be won in peddling misinformation Lots of people lie to cover their ass Even when they are not intentionally lying, many people prefer to blame others for the world's ills and for their own failures Fiction is often a lot more sensational than fact and can easily be made to appeal to prejudices, especially in politics!

15 The Media has a lot to answer for!

16 Let's test your critical thinking skills! A female patient with no symptoms of disease participates in a routine screening. She tests positive, is alarmed, and wants to know whether she has the disease for certain or if the test may have given a false result. She is 50 years old. Her doctor is aware of the following statistics –The probability that any 50 year old woman has the disease is 1% ("prevalence") –If a woman has the disease, the probability that she tests positive is 90% ("sensitivity") –If a woman does not have the disease the probability that she nevertheless tests positive is 9% ("false alarm rate") The doctor tells her she has a 90% chance of having the disease. Is he right?

17 Let's test your critical thinking skills! He is wrong! The correct answer is 10%! Most of the positive results are false This is because out of 1000 women 98 will test positive but only 9 of these will actually have the disease. 89 are false positives. Therefore the chance of a true positive is 9 in 89 or 1 in 10!

18 Let's test your critical thinking skills! This question is based a real questionnaire given to a group of 160 practicing gynaecologists in the USA. The disease was breast cancer In the experiment more than half of the specialist doctors responded that the woman's chance of having cancer was 90%! Of course this is no reason to avoid medical testing. (A great deal more on this topic can be found by searching on the BBC website under ‘do doctors understand’)

19 Misinformation is one thing...... Disinformation is quite another Now let's get really scary...... And talk about........

20 Misinformation is one thing...... Disinformation is quite another Now let's get really scary...... And talk about........ The Arch-Manipulators ! The really scary people responsible for most of the misinformation and disinformation in the world!

21 The Arch-Manipulators Who are they?

22 The Arch-Manipulators Governments Companies The Media The Intelligence Services Religious leaders (some) Corrupt and incompetent scientists Criminals/confidence tricksters Girlfriends and boyfriends Parents and teachers

23 Anyone else?

24 You and me!

25 You don't believe me? Need two Boards of Directors each comprising –Chief Executive –Finance Director –Sales Director –Chief Scientist

26 Role play exercise You are all members of the Board of an international baby food company

27 Role play exercise You are all members of the Board of an international baby food company You have just been informed that major new research has shown that one of your main ingredients, Ingredient X, is probably a major cause of ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in children

28 Role play exercise You are all members of the Board of an international baby food company You have just been informed that major new research has shown that one of your main ingredients, Ingredient X, is probably a major cause of ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in children It may already have caused over 10,000 cases of it!

29 Role play exercise You are all members of the Board of an international baby food company You have just been informed that major new research has shown that one of your main ingredients, Ingredient X, is probably a major cause of ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in children It may already have caused over 10,000 cases of it! A leading journalist from a international newspaper is going to call you in 10 minutes to get your reaction

30 Role play exercise You are all members of the Board of an international baby food company You have just been informed that major new research has shown that one of your main ingredients, Ingredient X, is probably a major cause of ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in children It may already have caused over 10,000 cases of it! A leading journalist from a international newspaper is going to call you in 10 minutes to get your reaction What do you plan to say?

31 It gets worse! Your advertising agency advises you that if you admit there may be a problem, you will lose 3/4 of your market overnight because no parents want to take risks with their baby's food

32 It gets worse! Your advertising agency advises you that if you admit there may be a problem, you will lose 3/4 of your market overnight because no parents want to take risks with their baby's food Your finance director says this will mean you will go bust within 3 months and everyone will lose their jobs

33 It gets worse! Your advertising agency advises you that if you admit there may be a problem, you will lose 3/4 of your market overnight because no parents want to take risks with their baby's food Your finance director says this will mean you will go bust within 3 months and everyone will lose their jobs The new research into Ingredient X has been done by a very reputable company

34 It gets worse! Your advertising agency advises you that if you admit there may be a problem, you will lose 3/4 of your market overnight because no one wants to take a risk with their baby's food Your finance director says this will mean you will go bust within 3 months and everyone will lose their jobs The new research into Ingredient X has been done by a very reputable company Ingredient X is what gives most of your products a winning taste

35 However Previous reputable independent research has always shown Ingredient X to be safe

36 However Previous reputable independent research has always shown Ingredient X to be safe It turns out that the new research has been led by your ex-Chief Scientist, Joe Feinstein, who left your company three years ago after expressing unease about Ingredient X

37 However Previous reputable independent research has always shown Ingredient X to be safe It turns out that the new research has been led by your ex-Chief Scientist, Joe Feinstein, who left your company three years ago after expressing unease about Ingredient X Your current Chief Scientist has known Feinstein a long time. He/she is absolutely convinced that Feinstein's reservations about Ingredient X are ill-founded. He/she strongly suspects that the real reason Feinstein left the company was that he was not selected for the Chief Executive position when it became vacant. He/she thinks Feinstein has been seeking revenge on your company ever since

38 However Previous reputable independent research has always shown Ingredient X to be safe It turns out that the new research has been led by your ex-Chief Scientist, Joe Feinstein, who left your company three years ago after expressing unease about Ingredient X Your current Chief Scientist has known Feinstein a long time. He/she is absolutely convinced that Feinstein's reservations about Ingredient X are ill-founded. He/she strongly suspects that the real reason Feinstein left the company was that he was not selected for the Chief Executive position when it became vacant. He/she thinks Feinstein has been seeking revenge on your company ever since You have been advised by lawyers that if anyone suggests publicly that Feinstein's motives may be unworthy, they will be sued for millions

39 However Previous reputable independent research has always shown Ingredient X to be safe It turns out that the new research has been led by your ex-Chief Scientist, Joe Feinstein, who left your company three years ago after expressing unease about Ingredient X Your current Chief Scientist has known Feinstein a long time. He/she is absolutely convinced that Feinstein's reservations about Ingredient X are ill- founded. He/she strongly suspects that the real reason Feinstein left the company was that he was not selected for the Chief Executive position when it became vacant. He/she thinks Feinstein has been seeking revenge on your company ever since You have been advised by lawyers that if anyone suggests publicly that Feinstein's motives may be unworthy, they will be sued for millions None of your competitors uses Ingredient X in its products but that is only because its precise formulation is a closely guarded commercial secret

40 Over to you! :-)

41 What is the essence of your dilemma? Uncertainty as to whether or not Ingredient X causes ADHD Knowing that most parents need to feel very confident in the safety of baby food before buying it No way of resolving the uncertainty quickly Suspecting that an enemy may deliberately be trying to create the uncertainty and destroy your company Knowing that if Feinstein is right, many more children may suffer long-term illness if you deny there is a problem Knowing that if Feinstein is wrong or malicious and you failed to assert that from the outset, your company may go out of business

42 What options do you have? A.Accept that the new research is worrying and needs to be looked into. Face the probable destruction of your company as customers decide not to take the risk of buying your products until the situation becomes clearer

43 What options do you have? A.Accept that the new research is worrying and needs to be looked into. Face the probable destruction of your company as customers decide not to take the risk of buying your products until the situation becomes clearer B.Withdraw Ingredient X immediately and again risk destruction of your company because Ingredient X is what gives most of your products a winning taste

44 What options do you have? A.Accept that the new research is worrying and needs to be looked into. Face the probable destruction of your company as customers decide not to take the risk of buying your products until the situation becomes clearer B.Withdraw Ingredient X immediately and again risk destruction of your company because Ingredient X is what gives most of your products a winning taste C.Deny there is any risk with Ingredient X and cast doubts on Feinstein's motives. Mount a campaign to undermine his research

45 What options do you have? A.Accept that the new research is worrying and needs to be looked into. Face the probable destruction of your company as customers decide not to take the risk of buying your products until the situation becomes clearer B.Withdraw Ingredient X immediately and again risk destruction of your company because Ingredient X is what gives most of your products a winning taste C.Deny there is any risk with Ingredient X and cast doubts on Feinstein's motives. Mount a campaign to undermine his research D.Deny there is any risk with Ingredient X and cast doubts on Feinstein's motives. Nevertheless commission secretly another reputable research company urgently to analyse Feinstein's research and provide you with an assessment. Urgently establish contingency plans to replace Ingredient X in the event their report supports Feinstein's conclusions

46 Questions from the journalist What is the company's reaction to the news that Ingredient X may have caused over 10,000 cases of ADHD?

47 Questions from the journalist What is the company's reaction to the news that Ingredient X may have caused over 10,000 cases of ADHD? Is it not true that Feinstein was forced out of your company after warning you of the risk 3 years ago?

48 Questions from the journalist What is the company's reaction to the news that Ingredient X may have caused over 10,000 cases of ADHD? Is it not true that Feinstein was forced out of your company after warning you of the risk 3 years ago? What does the company plan to do about the new information? Will it withdraw all its products using Ingredient X?

49 Questions from the journalist What is the company's reaction to the news that Ingredient X may have caused over 10,000 cases of ADHD? Is it not true that Feinstein was forced out of your company after warning you of the risk 3 years ago? What does the company plan to do about the new information? Will it withdraw all its products using Ingredient X? How can your company survive?

50 Questions from the journalist What is the company's reaction to the news that Ingredient X may have caused over 10,000 cases of ADHD? Is it not true that Feinstein was forced out of your company after warning you of the risk 3 years ago? What does the company plan to do about the new information? Will it withdraw all its products using Ingredient X? How can your company survive? Does the Board plan to resign over the issue?

51 Lessons? Difficulties of managing uncertainty when the consequences of being wrong are huge The risks of always telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, particularly when the consequences of being wrong are very damaging The temptations that exist to say you are sure when in reality you are not All of us under pressure can get dragged into being less than fully truthful So scepticism backed by critical thinking is ESSENTIAL in all walks of life at all times!

52 Next session - Wednesday 6 August 7.00 pm How to detect misinformation How best to prepare for interview questions But before all that..... Do you think Culture Still Matters?


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