[extropy-chat] Critical Thinking

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Fri Mar 10 09:59:48 UTC 2006

On Mar 9, 2006, at 7:42 PM, Lee Corbin wrote:

> Samantha writes
>>> By their natures, it seems (speaking in the identical
>>> twin sense), some people are more judicious than others,
>>> that is, capable of more carefully and objectively
>>> weighing evidence.
>> This "seeming" seems to be stating only that we observe that some
>> people of equal training or lack of it in critical thinking exhibit
>> unequal levels of same.  This says nothing about whether critical
>> thinking is teachable.
> I was emphasizing *natures* in the essentialist sense that
> for (mostly genetic) reasons some people are more judicious
> than others (poorly written, perhaps but I thought that
> the clue "identical twin sense" would carry it).

It doesn't and my objection was not answered by this response.

>> If critical thinking can be shown to
>> be useful and the components essential to critical thinking can be
>> identified along with techniques to deploy them and this information
>> and these techniques can be learned then I see no basis for "serious
>> doubt".
> Well, that's a big *if*.  I was saying, "I don't think so."

We know critical thinking is useful.  We have identified aspects of  
critical thinking.  I have several books on my shelfs that attempt  
this and have exercise to teach such techniques.  So where is the  
basis for your doubt or claim that this is "a big if"?

>>> (Claiming that critical thinking can be taught reminds
>>> me very much of the arrogant believe that *we* are so
>>> superior that *we* can rehabilitate criminals, but not
>>> they, us.)
>> What?  Surely this adds nothing to your thesis and is at best a
>> useless diversion.
> I see a strong parallel: "teaching criminals to change their
> tendencies" is as difficult---I claim---as changing people to
> become critical thinkers. As Gibbon said, "The power of
> instruction is seldom of much efficacy except in those
> happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous."  You'll
> only succeed teaching people who want to learn.

Claims without backing beyond assertion don't make for good discussion.

- samantha

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