Reading Reflection #10: Overcoming Obstacles to Critical Thinking

Based on your reading of ARQ chapter 12: “What Reasonable Conclusions Are Possible?”, respond to the following prompts:

  1. Summarize your understanding of dichotomous (also called black and white) thinking. Provide an example of a well-known social issue in which this type of thinking is often used.
    • Dichotomous thinking is the assumption that there are only two potential answer. For example yes or no, right or wrong, correct or incorrect. A well-known social issue would be the idea of abortion. Many people think abortion is either a yes or not, right or wrong action.
  2. According to ARQ, what are some dangers of dichotomous thinking? How does “grey thinking” and using “if-clauses” enable you to find the best possible solution to an issue or problem?
    • One danger of dichotomous thinking is that there is no deeper thinking of a topic they only think about what is there and present. Another danger is that people can get very heated when discussing dichotomous type topics (when a topic most often has a yes or no thought behind it). Grey thinking and if-clauses help individuals to explore the options of answers deeper. They also create multiple conclusions rather than only two and you then arrive to a conclusion that is deeper in thought without pretending that more is known.

Self Reflection

  1. Based on the readings, discussions, and assignments you’ve completed for HONS 250, describe how your thinking has changed since the beginning of the semester.
    • My thinking has changed for the good. I believe that I know want to know more about the reading and find myself asking questions about what I am reading as I read. I have a greater appreciation for thinking deeper and a better understanding of what critical thinking is and how it can deepen my understanding to take full advantage of the information that is given to me. 
  2. What have you learned about yourself as a result of taking HONS 250?
    • I have learned that I need to slow down when reading in specific. I find that I would read the information so fast that I would only understand the bare minimum when I should be slowing down to understand all parts.
  3. What are some ways you will continue practicing your critical thinking skills beyond this semester?
    • I will continue my critical thinking skills to help me better understand what I am reading and evaluating. I will also use critical thinking on other papers and in other classes to evaluate the readings and information.

Reading Reflection #9: Rival Causes and Statistics

  1. What are rival causes and when how should you look for them (what questions should you use to find them)?
    • “A rival cause is a plausible alternative explanation that can explain why a certain outcome occurred” (Browne, p.120). You can detect rival causes by asking: can I think of any other way to interpret the evidence? What else might have caused this act or feelings? If I looked at this event from another point of view, what might I see as important causes? And if this interpretation is incorrect, what other interpretation might make sense?
  2. Explain the difference between causation and association/correlation. Which is more difficult to demonstrate and why?
    • Causation explicitly applies to cases when action A causes outcome B. Correlation is a relationship between A and B but action A does not necessarily cause action B to happen. “Causal arguments are the most difficult for writers to construct because they must show that the actual causal relationship exists” (Browne, p. 127). With that, people have a tendency to think that if event B followed event A, then they believe that action A caused outcome B; we have a tendency to believe when two things happen close together, 1 must have caused 2.
  3. Identify the conclusion and reason (cause) for the conclusion in the following passage. Name two potential rival causes (other possible causes) for the conclusion other than the one given.

Increased amounts of germs and bacteria on college campuses cause higher rates of illness in college students. College students are less likely to sanitize living areas and common areas on campus, which in turn creates excessive germs on surfaces and in the air leading to more sickness in students.

      • Conclusion: Increased amounts of college students are sick because they don’t clean.
      • Reason/cause: College students get sick from increased amount of bacteria.
      • Rival (other possible) causes: Students are getting sick from seasonal sicknesses that are occurring not bacteria. Students walk outside without jackets and become sick from the weather and seasonal allergies.
      • Evaluation (How strong is the original argument? What’s missing?): Facts to prove that student sickness is due to lack of cleaning and increased bacteria.

4. Based on your reading of ARQ chapter 10, “Are Any Statistics Deceptive?”, summarize how the following types of statistics can be deceptive. What are some strategies you can use to determine how reliable each type is?

    • Unknowable and biased statistics: use of statistics to impress or alarm others with large numbers, presenting them with suspicious precision. Ask them where they got their numbers form.
    • Confusing averages: there are three meanings of average: mean, median, mode. People often use average when talking about statistics to give a better and more accurate number.
    • Measurement errors: there are different ways of coming up with one answer. People often have different ways of finding an answer so asking how they got their answer can help.
    • Concluding one thing, proving another: conclude one thing with a statistic but then using claiming the statistic helped prove another thing. Ask what statistical evidence will help the conclusion?
    • Deceiving by omitting information: use a statistic that is incomplete and you can’t understand why they are using it or where it is from. Ask how does this statistic help your reasoning?

5. Read the following passage. Identify the conclusion, and reasons, and evaluate the evidence (in this case the statistics) used to support the writer’s argument.

The home is becoming a more dangerous place to spend time. The number of home-related injuries is on the rise. In 2005, approximately 2300 children aged 14 and under died from accidents in the home. Also, 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year. To make matters worse, even television, a relatively safe household appliance, is becoming dangerous. In fact, 42,000 people are injured by televisions and television stands each year. With so many accidents in the home, perhaps people need to start spending more time outdoors.

    • Conclusion: It is becoming more dangerous inside peoples homes.
    • Reasons/causes: Home related injuries are increasing.
    • Evaluate the evidence (the statistics): 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs yearly. 42,000 people per year are injured by TV’s. 2300 children died in a year from in house accidents.

Reading Reflection #8: Evidence Part 2

  • Briefly describe the scientific method (you may have to Google it). What are the main characteristics of the scientific method, as mentioned in this chapter, that contribute to the reliability and dependability of research data and results?
    • From google, the scientific method includes 7 steps: 1. Question 2. Research 3. Hypothesis 4. Experiment 5. Observe/observations 6. Results/Conclusions 7. Communicate results
    • From that, the scientific method involves seeking knowledge by testing a hypothesis and making obersavtions based on those predictions which is what us, as students, must do to ensure the research data we are looking at is reliable.
  • What are some ways that surveys or questionnaires can be unreliable? What are some things to look for to verify the reliability of survey information?
    • Surveys may be unreliable because people can choose how to answer them and some questions can be more biased. Ask questions, look at background information on the author and find the bias first.
  • What are some pros and cons of research studies? Explain how some research findings can be problematic.
    • Pros: dependable, science & fact based, ignore bias. Forms publicly verifiable data, uses control and precision in language
    • Cons: costs money, time, and resources. Finding may contradict each other, research varies in quality, facts change over time
  • What are three questions you can use to evaluate research studies? Where (in an article) should you look to find answers to these questions?
    • 1. What is the quality of the source of report? 2. How recently was the research conducted? 3. Have the findings been replicated by other studies?
    • The quality can be found by a quick skim of the information and the date published should be posted near the top or bottom of the article. As for finding replicated articles, google the topic and skim similar articles.
    • Find a scholarly, peer-reviewed research article to use for Short Formal Assignment 4: Scholarly Article Analysis. Skim through the article to prepare for Assignment 4. Write (or copy and paste) the APA citation for the article here.
      • Juschka, D. M. (Ed.). (2006). Feminism in the Study of Religion (1st ed). London: Continuum.

Reading Reflection #1: Critical Thinking

Manner of Asking the Right Questions,” think about and respond to the following questions:

  1. What are some characteristics or values of a person who is a critical thinker? Which, if any, of these themes did we suggest for our Classroom Agreement on Tuesday?
    • Characteristics of people who are critical thinkers are those who have self-confidence and open-mindedness. Critical thinkers are also flexible to other opinions while being curious. On Tuesday, we talked about being open to listen to others and to new suggestions while feeling safe and confident about sharing our own opinions in front of our peers.
  2. How do strong sense and weak sense critical thinking differ? Why is strong sense critical thinking usually so much more difficult than weak sense critical thinking?
    • According to the reading Asking the Right Questions, weak sense critical thinking is resisting opinions and thoughts that are different from your own. Those who are weak sense often disagree with others and apply their critical thinking skills only when talking to their “opponents”. Contrary to weak, strong sense is applying critical thinking whenever possible. Strong sense critical thinkers take any and all opportunities to apply their critical thinking skills to not only others but also their own beliefs and opinions. Strong sense critical thinking is often more difficult because it helps individuals to assess facts, evaluate arguments, and understand others in a deeper sense. Critical thinking helps create more open mindedness and help increase understanding.
  3. When we talk about an “argument” in this class, what do we mean? How is the book’s definition different from an argument we might have with our parents or friends?
    • An argument in Hons 250 is the reasoning behind what we think and believe and why. Asking the Right Questions defines argument as, “a combination of two forms of statements: a conclusion and the reason supporting it.” An argument with parents or friends is often the exchange of opposite viewpoints, but argument as defined in the reading is the partnership of conclusions that we have and how or why we have those reasons.
  4. Why, do you think, is it so difficult to find the “right answer” to many questions about human behavior and society?
    • I believe that it is difficult to find the “right answer” because there is no right answer. People have different values and beliefs that help form individuals into believing what creates the right or correct way human behavior should be and how a society should be or act.

Based on your reading of “Why Questioning?,” think about and respond to the following questions:

  1. How does this chapter relate to your experiences? What role has asking questions had in your life?
    • I agree with many points from the reading. I do believe that questioning is linked to innovation and that many individuals, including myself, are on autopilot when asking questions. Personally, I don’t ask as many questions as I should, and I believe that it can and does hinder mt learning. When reading, I noticed that I agreed with more than I thought I would. I often find myself wanting to ask questions but think what will others think of me? Does this make me look like I don’t know what I am doing? When at work or in the classroom the fear of being judged or viewed as lower than I am scares me, but in reality, I should be using the time to ask questions to help benefit more from class, work and personal life. When I do speak up and ask questions, I find that I understand things more and spend less time on simple tasks because I know fully what is expected and what must be done.
  2. Why do you think children stop asking questions? Why do some people (like Bezos or Jobs) keep questioning?
    • I think many children stop asking questions because adults don’t acknowledge them and answer the questions like we should. Many people get annoyed when instead we should be answering and encouraging children to ask questions. Others continue to ask questions because they are continuously curious. I also believe that individuals with higher intelligence tend to ask more questions. I do not know why, but when in class it seems that individuals who are smarter or who want to increase their learning as much as possible will always ask questions.
  3. As a college student, what role does asking questions have in your education? What role does questioning have in your future profession and work environment?
    • As a current college student, asking questions helps to understand the information deeper. When we ask questions, we are wanting to know more and want to better understand the concepts and teachings. I also ask questions when I don’t understand something or want to know more. When I am curious about something I tend to want to know more for my own enjoyment. In my work environment, questioning is very important. Asking questions can help myself and other employees do what we are supposed to and in the right way. I believe that questioning yourself and others is what helps people gain the most knowledge and understand when in any situation.