Critical Thinking


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Instructor slide deck for teaching an introductory workshop on critical thinking. This session is focused on business applications of these skills in entrepreneurship. Featured are the nine tools from Carl Sagan's "The Fine Art Of Baloney Detection." Also included are challenging supplemental learning materials: Here Be Dragons, Marooned, Inquiring Minds, Word Circle, and Connect the Dots. Designed for a three-hour workshop teaching adult learners.

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  • Need to give more background on Sagan and principles involved – Some humor will help! Use the BILLIONS info!
  • This got a laugh.
    Encourage them to begin thinking about what baloney they are accepting in their lives now.
  • How do we do this in product research?
    How do we do this in market research?
    Do you find that direct EXPERIENCE matters?
    How can we personally verify facts? By direct experience.
    This is a primary lesson of entrepreneurship. Experience and knowing.
  • Juan Nelson’s adage: You may have feelings, but feelings are not facts.
  • We can’t possibly experience everything. What’s reliably recommended? In business, we find it in business journals. We examine our competitors. We examine our ideas by testing, reading the bottom line on a balance sheet, obtaining feedback as to levels of employee and customer satisfaction-- and we measure our condition again others in similar situations or against benchmarks we set for ourselves. You must identify for yourself who has the standards and reputation for veracity in your field. Identify trusted sources.
  • Avoid narrow-minded decision-making
    Confirmation Bias
    Limiting thoughts
    Peer Group Pressure

  • Risks
    Confirmation Bias
    Limiting thoughts

  • Y2K – cost?
    WMD? – cost
    Scientific proof of authority theories.
  • Consider other opinions, but know that we are all generally flawed!
  • Our sun orbits around Earth
    Earth is flat
    The US moon walk was a fake
  • Critical Thinking Exercise: 9 dots. Please connect them using 4 straight lines and without picking up your pencil
    Sq up your dots!
  • Attached to scrap exchange at Kauffman!
  • Who has data skills and would be willing to track data on this project?
  • Qualitative – Pick out some of the qualitative words used in the initial objects to the hypothesis of the E-Waste Project
    Recycling is too difficult.
    Old computers are worthless junk.
    There is no money to be made in e-waste.
    You have to do it on a large scale to make it viable financially.
    Electronics contain many toxins and are expensive to dispose of.
    Big money can be made if and only if you discover a new process for recycling e-waste
    Recycling is bad because it uses more energy than it saves
  • Logic 101.
    Process and design thinking will be vital here. Who can answer this question?
  • This is where the rubber hits the road in personal relationships!
    Feelings are not facts.
    You are entitled to your feelings as long as they are logical!
    Personally, it is not my advice to ever argue with someone’s feelings. However, I do not accept emotional arguments as fact.

  • The most valuable contributions engineers make to humanity are probably not high-tech electronics, but, rather, they are simple and inexpensive solutions that work!
    We use this principle in bootstrapping a business. Keep it simple and inexpensive while testing to see if it works.
    It is simple to make things complex, but it is complex to make things simple.
    Keep working at solutions for simple solutions.
  • When faced with opposition to an idea or irrational please, explore more deeply.
    You teenaged son says he will just die if he doesn’t get an X-Box for Christmas.
    Actually, he may die because he had an X-Box and someone else used force to take it away.
    Other examples?
    Fine, I accept you at your word. However, I will not be giving you any money to buy one and there is no Santa Clause delivering an X-Box for Christmas.
    So, how can I help youfigure out what you are going to do or make to earn the money to buy that X-Box by drop dead date of Christmas?
  • Refer back to Here Be Dragons.
    I’m still confused over organics and more! Claims and counter-claims in politics, science, and in everyday business decisions!
  • Here’s what it takes
  • What have you learned from someone already in this class that sparks curiosity or a new ideas and how will you explore them further?
  • Critical Thinking

    1. 1. Critical Thinking Mary Jane Clark, Business Skills Facilitator 2014 Contact
    2. 2. Lesson Preface “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection” was developed by author Carl Sagan to reveal the many types of deception to which we are susceptible.
    3. 3. Our Purpose • This class is focused on building business skills. • We will explore critical thinking theory only as it relates to business decisions. • We are intentionally limiting the scope of this tool, though it has wider implications.
    4. 4. Sagan asserts that his Baloney Detection Kit isn’t merely a tool of science — rather, it contains invaluable tools of healthy skepticism that apply to everyday life. By using it, we can shield ourselves against deception and deliberate manipulation.
    5. 5. What’s a Baloney Detection Kit? BDK is a set of nine cognitive tools and techniques that strengthen one’s mind against penetration by falsehoods.
    6. 6. The BDK is brought out whenever new ideas or information are offered for consideration.
    7. 7. FACTOID: The BDK is extremely light-weight (3.3 Lbs.) and easily accessible. If a new idea survives close examination by the tools in our kit, we grant it tentative acceptance.
    8. 8. TOOL #1 Independent Work Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.” How can you test an idea?
    9. 9. Definition A question of fact hinges on evidence. Do you accept this definition?
    10. 10. This brings up the heated question of … Where do we find reliable and credible sources of information? Is it based on inductive or deductive logic? Process? Are you familiar with the Wiki experiment?
    11. 11. Encourage substantive debate (discussion) on the evidence by knowledgeable sources and proponents of all points of view. TOOL #2 Substance, Source & Scope The great debate!
    12. 12. Controversial issues generate strong feelings. • Be open. • Be respectful. • Be civil. • But mostly, be thorough. • Where’s the baloney? Debate
    13. 13. TOOL #3 Challenge Authority Can you think of three examples of authorities making mistakes?
    14. 14. Thinking? Theory: There is no safety in numbers
    15. 15. Thinking? Arguments from authority carry little or no weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Assertion: No one can predict the future.
    16. 16. P e r s p e c t i v e s / P r e j u d i c e s ? Where and from whom do you get your information to make decisions?
    17. 17. TOOL #4 Consider more than one hypothesis Let’s explore more ideas!
    18. 18. • If something needs to be explained, consider all of the different ways in which it can be explained. • Think of how you might generate multiple ideas and systematically validate or disprove each. • What survives among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the best answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that seemed plausible. P r o c e s s ?
    19. 19. How can we design an experiment to either prove or disprove each of these theories and objections? Our E-Waste Experiment- Here are some objections we’ve heard thus far: • Recycling old electronics is too difficult. • Old computers are worthless junk. • There is no money to be made in e-waste. • You have to do it on a large scale to make it viable financially. • Electronics contain many toxins and are expensive to dispose of. • Big money can be made if and only if you discover a new process for recycling e-waste • Recycling is bad because it uses more energy than it saves
    20. 20. Think Time: Connect all nine dots using four straight lines and without picking up your pencil
    21. 21. TOOL #5 Invite questions. Do not get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it is yours. • Ask yourself why you like the idea. Dig five levels. • Compare your idea fairly with all the competing alternatives. • See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. • If you don’t honestly and fully explore these reasons, others will. Avoid Personal Attachment
    22. 22. Quantify data if at all possible TOOL #6 Assertion: There is uncertainty in all scientific data and the best scientist finds some degree of error and uncertainty in their measurements.
    23. 23. If whatever it is you’re explaining has some measure or numerical quantity attached to it, you’ll be much better able to discern more information among competing theories. What is qualitative is vague and open to many explanations.
    24. 24. Every link in the logic chain must hold true TOOL #7 Assertion: Every progression or step must be logical.
    25. 25. If there’s a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) — not just some or most of them. Don’t accept mixed logic or verbosity. Emotion sells but truth tells. Fallacies
    26. 26. When faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well, choose the simpler. TOOL #8
    27. 27. TOOL #9 Seek to disprove. Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. When might a theory ever be conditional?
    28. 28. Propositions that are untestable are not worth very much. • Consider if an idea is not capable of disproof. • You must be able to check out assertions. • Skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments, to follow your logic, and see if they get the same result. Skeptic?
    29. 29. Summary 1. Independent Work Experience 2. Substance, Source & Scope Study source 3. Challenge Authority Devi’s Advocate 4. Consider More Than One Hypothesis Multiple ideas 5. Avoid Personal Attachment Invite questions 6. Quantify Data If Possible Metrics 7. Every Link In Chain Must Hold True All True 8. Simplify Easiest if equal 9. Seek to Disprove Invalidate
    30. 30. Discuss Brainstorming and Supplemental Learning Opportunities
    31. 31. Video for supplemental learning
    32. 32. Marooned Scenario: You are marooned on an island. Please write down your answer to this question: Based solely in present day reality, what five items would you have brought with you if you knew there was a chance that you might be stranded? PEER REVIEW AND PRIZES WILL BE AWARDED!
    33. 33. Inquiring Minds A genie has granted your wish for financial freedom and you will receive $1,440.00 daily for life! *You must spend all of it every day. • What will you do with it? We all have the exact same amount of time each day. 1440 minutes. Time is money! Focus your time, dream big, and make a firm plan. Experiment in the margins of your life.
    34. 34. Circlethewordsoncriticalthinkinginstraight-linedirections.
    35. 35. Lessons In Critical Thinking Mary Jane Clark, Certified Kauffman Foundation Ice House Facilitator Contact (Glad to connect with inquiring minds) Do the work. Examine results. Seek credible sources & input. Adjust plan. Execute. Repeat.