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That said, Bowling Green professor Browne insists that “even a fourth-grader” can master some of the basics of critical thinking.The first step is to recognize that all of us have biases that are bound to affect our judgment.
Logical fallacies, or just “fallacies,” in philosophy, are not false beliefs; to oversimplify, they are logical errors in argumentation, reasoning, explanation, rhetoric, or debate.
But their precise definition is elusive and controversial; we’ll come back to that. Without being able to identify bad reasoning, humans can be sold all kinds of harmful beliefs, with dreadful consequences.
Former CNN anchor Frank Sesno, author of the new book , believes the problem lies in education.
“Nobody is teaching people the art of asking thoughtful, skeptical questions,” Sesno says.
“We’ve become less critical in the face of information overload,” he writes over email.
“We throw up our hands and say, it’s too much to think about.” According to Levitin, this sense of being overwhelmed makes us more vulnerable to unsubstantiated stories from suspect sources and “alternative facts” served up by spin doctors.Neil Browne, an economics professor who teaches critical thinking at Bowling Green State University.“It is very common for someone to believe, ‘Those who disagree with me are biased, but I am not.’ It is one of the biggest obstacles to critical thinking.”Being fair-minded and objective has never been easy.Thus, we must continually question our own assumptions and beliefs.Or, as Sesno puts it, “You almost have to start by asking, ”Having considered one’s biases and assumptions on a given issue, the critical thinker then goes to work evaluating statements and claims coming from others.Browne maintains that if we become accustomed to rigorously asking these kinds of questions in everyday situations, we’ll all be better critical thinkers.But he acknowledges that the process can be tedious.Politics, advertising, and human manipulation in general are full of fallacies; personal and societal health might depend on being able to spot them.Example If we elect leaders whose policies are founded on fallacious arguments (logical errors), the consequences could include economic recession, war, or environmental disaster.On an individual level, advertisers are constantly trying to persuade us to spend money on their products; you have to be critical of their claims (look for the fallacies) if you don’t want to waste your income.On the other hand, logical fallacies are also an acceptable method of persuasion in most contexts outside of academia.