Encouraging Critical
  Thinking Online

        Unit 1
  Checking Facts and
  Gathering Opinions
How many countries are there in
      the world today?
• Find three websites that provide an
  answer
• Fill in the boxes ...
How many countries are there in
      the world today?
• The United Nations has 192 members,
    plus one permanent observ...
How many countries are there in
      the world today?
• ‘Country’ has multiple definitions
  – Infoplease.com suggests co...
How many countries are there in
      the world today?
• For example, England, Scotland,
 Wales, and Northern Ireland are
...
Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
               entry for England




http://www.getty.edu/vow/TGNFullDisplay?find=Engl...
Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
               entry for England




http://www.getty.edu/vow/TGNFullDisplay?find=Engl...
Extract from DirectGov website




http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/LivingintheUK/DG_10012517   Ret...
Extract from DirectGov website




http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/LivingintheUK/DG_10012517   Ret...
How many countries are there in
      the world today?
• Even with an agreed definition of
  country, the situation isn’t ...
How many countries are there in
      the world today?
• Various websites give an overview
 of the situation
  – WorldAtla...
Extract from WorldAtlas.com




http://www.worldatlas.com/nations.htm   Retrieved 6 June 2008
Extract from The Geography Site




http://www.geography-site.co.uk/pages/countries/howmany.html   Retrieved 11 August 2008
How many countries are there in
      the world today?
• The answer changes as the political
 situation does – but old sou...
Ask Yahoo’s answer – from 2001, but
  still on the first page of Google results




http://ask.yahoo.com/20010105.html   R...
Ask Yahoo’s answer – from 2001, but
  still on the first page of Google results




http://ask.yahoo.com/20010105.html   R...
Summary - key things to note

• Definitions of central terms may
  affect the answer
• Even assuming a common
  definition...
Why might we find conflicting
    answers to a question?
• There may be real uncertainty
  about the answer
• Authorities ...
Why might we find conflicting
    answers to a question?
• Some sources may be more up to
  date than others
• Answers may...
Questions to ask when
        assessing sources
• Who is the author?
  – An individual or an institution?
  – What are the...
Questions to ask when
        assessing sources
• Are there reasons to doubt the
 reliability of this source?
  – Does it ...
Questions to ask when
        assessing sources
• Is the information provided
 confirmed by other sources?
  – Are referen...
Remember the three Ws

• WHO wrote this site?
  – Is the author a trustworthy source?
• WHEN was it written?
  – Is it up ...
This slideshow is part of
Encouraging Critical Thinking Online,
   a set of free teaching resources
         designed to d...
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Critical Thinking Unit 1 Question A5 Countries Slide Share

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Part of a set of university teaching materials called "Encouraging Critical Thinking Online" by Meriel Patrick of Oxford University, made openly available for adaptation and re-use in the Intute Virtual Training Suite <http: />

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Critical Thinking Unit 1 Question A5 Countries Slide Share

  1. 1. Encouraging Critical Thinking Online Unit 1 Checking Facts and Gathering Opinions
  2. 2. How many countries are there in the world today? • Find three websites that provide an answer • Fill in the boxes on the worksheet for each of them • Comment on any notable features of the sites or answers you discover
  3. 3. How many countries are there in the world today? • The United Nations has 192 members, plus one permanent observer state, making 193 • However, other possible answers vary from around 189 to over 260 – For example, 204 of the 205 National Olympic Committees were represented at the 2008 Games in Beijing
  4. 4. How many countries are there in the world today? • ‘Country’ has multiple definitions – Infoplease.com suggests countries are “self-governing political entities” – But constituent countries and dependent territories complicate the issue
  5. 5. How many countries are there in the world today? • For example, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are frequently described as countries – The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names supports this – But DirectGov views the UK as one country made up of these four
  6. 6. Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names entry for England http://www.getty.edu/vow/TGNFullDisplay?find=England&place=&nation=&prev_page=1&english=Y&subjectid=7002445 Retrieved 11 August 2008
  7. 7. Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names entry for England http://www.getty.edu/vow/TGNFullDisplay?find=England&place=&nation=&prev_page=1&english=Y&subjectid=7002445 Retrieved 11 August 2008
  8. 8. Extract from DirectGov website http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/LivingintheUK/DG_10012517 Retrieved 11 August 2008
  9. 9. Extract from DirectGov website http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/LivingintheUK/DG_10012517 Retrieved 11 August 2008
  10. 10. How many countries are there in the world today? • Even with an agreed definition of country, the situation isn’t clear cut • Some regions have declared independence, but this has not been universally recognised – for example Kosovo, Taiwan, and Tibet
  11. 11. How many countries are there in the world today? • Various websites give an overview of the situation – WorldAtlas.com – The Geography Site – About.com: Geography
  12. 12. Extract from WorldAtlas.com http://www.worldatlas.com/nations.htm Retrieved 6 June 2008
  13. 13. Extract from The Geography Site http://www.geography-site.co.uk/pages/countries/howmany.html Retrieved 11 August 2008
  14. 14. How many countries are there in the world today? • The answer changes as the political situation does – but old sources may not be updated – This Ask Yahoo answer is from 2001, but is still on the first page of results for the Google search “ How many countries?”
  15. 15. Ask Yahoo’s answer – from 2001, but still on the first page of Google results http://ask.yahoo.com/20010105.html Retrieved 6 June 2008
  16. 16. Ask Yahoo’s answer – from 2001, but still on the first page of Google results http://ask.yahoo.com/20010105.html Retrieved 6 June 2008
  17. 17. Summary - key things to note • Definitions of central terms may affect the answer • Even assuming a common definition, opinions may vary • Answers may change over time – but sources may not be updated
  18. 18. Why might we find conflicting answers to a question? • There may be real uncertainty about the answer • Authorities may disagree • There may be multiple ways of interpreting a question
  19. 19. Why might we find conflicting answers to a question? • Some sources may be more up to date than others • Answers may vary in precision • Some sources may simply be wrong
  20. 20. Questions to ask when assessing sources • Who is the author? – An individual or an institution? – What are the author’s credentials? • Is this a scholarly resource, or a more informal one? • How up to date is this source?
  21. 21. Questions to ask when assessing sources • Are there reasons to doubt the reliability of this source? – Does it include information I know to be false? – Does it contradict itself or use poor reasoning? – Is it biased towards a particular view?
  22. 22. Questions to ask when assessing sources • Is the information provided confirmed by other sources? – Are references provided? – Do other websites agree? (A major advantage of the Web is that many sources can be compared quickly and easily.)
  23. 23. Remember the three Ws • WHO wrote this site? – Is the author a trustworthy source? • WHEN was it written? – Is it up to date? • WHY was it written? – Does the author have an axe to grind?
  24. 24. This slideshow is part of Encouraging Critical Thinking Online, a set of free teaching resources designed to develop students’ analytic abilities, using the Web as source material. For the full set, please visit Intute Training: http://www.intute.ac.uk/training/
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