Critical Thinking: A Cheatsheet

  1. What would it take to convince me that I am wrong? (Falsifiability)

  2. How could I empirically prove the exact opposite of what I suspect to be true? (Null hypothesis)

  3. How could someone else argue that my position is illogical or irrational? (Self-debate)

  4. Who benefits the most when I hold this belief? (Critical discourse analysis)

  5. How would a rational person who holds an opposing viewpoint explain and justify their position? (Empathy)

  6. Can I conceptualize an alternative position that does not yield a binary ‘true or false’ dichotomy? (Non-dualism)

  7. How does my position and experience in society inform my assumptions and perspective? (Reflexive intersectionality)

  8. What unconscious mental shortcuts can I identify in my reasoning and rationale? (Cognitive bias mitigation)

  9. How can I guard myself against the illusion that I am reasoning objectively? (Skepticism)

  10. What beliefs have I already unconsciously accepted in order to arrive at my present position? (Presuppositions, tacit assumptions)

  11. What do the words that I use to express my beliefs connote implicitly that they do not denote explicitly? (Semantics, pragmatics)

  12. What are the psychological, social, institutional, or cultural costs of changing my mind? (Motivated reasoning)

  13. How would my identity be threatened if my beliefs or reasoning were shown to be flawed? (Externalize epistemology)

  14. If faced with sufficient counter-evidence, would I care about truth enough to abandon my present beliefs? (Ideological commitments)

  15. Who is framing, shaping, and informing the questions that I can even think to ask? (Social influence)

  16. What questions am I most afraid to ask? (Courage)

4 thoughts on “Critical Thinking: A Cheatsheet

  1. @frankm Framing the capacity for self-awareness as a characteristic of maturity is such an interesting idea. What would you say are the roots of this devaluation of maturity? And does maturity in this context align with something like the concept of ’emotional intelligence’?

  2. @jamesshelley I think the roots are multi-faceted, but in general relate to our tendency in the U.S. to favor youth over age. I know that I am at risk to over-generalizing because there are some very mature (more mature) young people. However, I think if you look at the entertainment industry (singers/Americon Idol), the sports industry (college and professional), business (Zuckerberg et. all) I think there is a tendency to value success in terms of wealth more than the ability to handle that success.

    And of course the advertising industry, from newspaper to Internet sharing, is optimized to take full advantage of this immaturity by influencing emotions. Internet sharing is basically viral advertising and I think we are learning that adversaries are taking full advantage of the viral advertising model.

    I thiink this might bring back to emotional intelligence, if by that you mean whether one is fully aware they are being manipulated and can innoculate themselves from it.

    For me, at the end of the day while the guns in the gun control debate are bad, the emotions and the conseqeuenting inability to make decisions for the greater good is the biggest threat, in fact our biggest threat yet to our republican democracy.

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