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Dwyer Critical Thinking, English 205

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  • Since the dogs didn’t bark the night of the murderer broke into the barn where Silver Blaze was stabled, Holmes concludes the dogs knew the murderer. His premise leads to an accurate conclusion.
  • Churchill was the Prime Minister of Britain during World War II, (1940-45). During that time London was under siege. It was being bombed by Hitler’s Germany and Hitler seemed to be winning. It was a frightening time for the British and the world in general. People were discouraged. Still, Churchill’s premise is that there’s no advantage in not being an optimist even in the worst of times. His conclusion, arrived at from his premise, is therefore “I am an optimist.”
  • The retina collects light and sends signals to a network of neurons that then generate electrical impulses in the brain. The brain processes the impulses and determines what we are seeing. Understanding what we see mostly happens in the brain. This is why we are susceptible to optical illusions. Do we know what the world looks like? We know approximately what it looks like.
  • What a hawk perceives when it tracks a mouse scampering across a field, is the result of the evolutionary relationship, the predator-prey dynamic that has long existed between them. Were you in your hang-glider to pace the hawk and watch the ground below, what you would see would be different. Your ocular system is not equipped to catch a mouse hundreds of feet below, nor is your brain. We assume what the human sees is the “what” of what is out there, and what the hawk sees is a deviation from that standard. In fact, what the human sees is no more standard than what the hawk sees. Both are the result of the dynamics between the brain and the environment being negotiated. We interpret more than we perceive the world.
  • There is something “out there,” but it is not what we see (or experience with our senses). What we see bears some relationship to what is “out there,” to be sure, but what we see is selective. We attend to what’s important to our survival.
  • We are a symbolic species. We engage in thought in ways no other species appear to, and we use symbolic, written languages. We live in a world no other species can access. Ours is a shared “virtual world” of thought-designed stories—stories of “real” experience, invented stories, stories that imply hidden or esoteric meaning, stories we use to explain and organize our understanding of the world, stories about the way things are.
  • There are two morals to the sea squirt story. The first is that your brain is metabolically expensive, the most demanding organ in your body. Use it or lose it. The brain is the most metabolically active organ in the body. It consumes up to ten times more energy than the average of the whole human body, can burn only pure glucose, and has little capacity to store reserves.
  • CriticalThinking

    1. 1. a storyboard presentation…
    2. 2. www.mollydwyer.comMolly has a Masters degree inEnglish, and PhD inPhilosophy & Religion. Shehas taught FreshmanComposition in communitycollege for over 15 years and isan award-winning novelist.
    3. 3. Critical Thinking English 205, Mendocino College, Ukiah, CA Instructor: Molly Dwyer, PhD.
    4. 4. The course uses one paperback, A Rulebook for Arguments. 104 pages Publisher: Hackett Pub Co 4th Edition (11/ 14/08) Price: $7.95
    5. 5. http://criticalthinking-mc205.wikispaces.comThe main text for the course is a website. Everything for the course can be found at
    6. 6. ThinkingThinking is not a naturalprocess of humanconsciousness. You may say,“Sure it is. Everybodythinks.” I have news for you:very few people think. Mostpeople react, and then passthat off as thinking.Thinking is the cause ofthings. Reaction is theeffect. —John-Roger, The Power Within You
    7. 7. How often are you actually thinking, and how often are youreacting? You are probably reacting about 90% of the time. Forthe most part, you are reacting either to your previousreactions or to someone elses reactions. Its a long chain ofeffect and effect and effect. Its like dominos: you hit one andthey all go.— John-Roger, The Power Within You
    8. 8. What is Critical Thinking?
    9. 9. Critical Thinking involves two distinct activities:Analysis: Coming tounderstand an argument.Criticism: Evaluating thetruth of an argument.
    10. 10. What is an argument? A good argument marshals reasons and organizes them in a clear and fair way.
    11. 11. An argument is built on one or more premise andarrives at its conclusion, based on those premises.
    12. 12. What is a premise?
    13. 13. An idea that pointsyou toward a conclusion
    14. 14. Sherlock Holmes: “dogs bark at strangers…”
    15. 15. “I am an optimist. It does not seem to bemuch use being anything else.” —Winston Churchill This simple argument contains a premise and a conclusion. The premise is the reason for Churchill’s conclusion that being an optimist is justifiable.
    16. 16. “I am an optimist. It does not seem to be much use being anything else.” —Winston Churchill
    17. 17. How do we decide what to think? World View, Belief Systems, & Paradigms
    18. 18. World View, Belief System & ParadigmWe use these words to talk about theintellectual structures that define the waywe think about reality. They help usdescribe and understand how we viewexistence and the world we live in. Theyare the patterns of thought that underlieour collective intelligence, and theydetermine how we make meaning. Thesestructures can change individually and/orcollectively.
    19. 19. World ViewA World View is a framework of ideas and beliefs throughwhich we interpret the world and interact with it.
    20. 20. Until sometime near the close of the 15th century (Columbus sailed in1492), the vast majority of commoners believed the earth was flat.This idea formed the common world view.
    21. 21. World View
    22. 22. Soviet Union & Communism A World View often has hidden implications.
    23. 23. Parisarchitecture isquite differentfrom what’scommonly foundin the US. And asimple thing likearchitecture caninfluence ourworld view, thatis, what we takefor granted.
    24. 24. Belief SystemsA belief systemanswers questionsabout life anddeath and aboutconsciousness andthe existence ofhigher or moreevolved forms ofpower.
    25. 25. Paradigms
    26. 26. Paradigms shift as our understanding of reality shifts.We move, for example, from an earth-centered universeto a sun-centered solar system, to a universe full ofgalaxies.
    27. 27. An optical illusion can be a visual cue for understanding theimplications of a paradigm shift. The same information looksdifferent. Is it a Duck or a Rabbit? There are three ways to see it:Rabbit, Duck, both. Those who see it only one way find it difficult toagree about the truth, about what the information means or represents.
    28. 28. Our perceptions can be fooled.
    29. 29. How do we see the world?
    30. 30. Do we know what the world looks like? We knowapproximately what it looks like.
    31. 31. Perception is a matter of relationship.
    32. 32. There is something “out there,” but it is not what we see (orexperience with our senses). What we see bears somerelationship to what is “out there,” to be sure, but what we seeis selective. We attend to what’s important to our survival.
    33. 33. What is Perception?The electromagnetic spectrum extends from low frequencies used forradio communication to radioactive gamma rays. Radiation is energythat travels and spreads out as it goes—visible light and the radio wavesthat come from a radio station are both electromagnetic radiation. So arex-rays. The electromagnetic spectrum is infinite and continuous.
    34. 34. Calling Forth the World
    35. 35. The Biology of Mind neurons — nerve cells
    36. 36. Understanding the BrainThe human brain is not like a computer, it’s morelike a lush rain forest, an organic living system, aliving jungle of dense neuron arbors.
    37. 37. NeuronsMyelin sheath
    38. 38. Information flows from one neuron to another acrossa small gap called a synapse. Communication ofinformation between neurons is accomplished by themovement of chemicals called neurotransmitters.
    39. 39. How does the humanmind work?The mind is mostlyintra-connected,mostly focusedinward on itself. Itis a process, not athing.
    40. 40. We are a symbolic species. Weengage in thought in ways no otherspecies appear to, and we usesymbolic, written languages. We livein a world no other species canaccess. Ours is a shared “virtualworld” of thought-designed stories—stories of “real” experience, inventedstories, stories that imply hidden oresoteric meaning, stories we use toexplain and organize ourunderstanding of the world, storiesabout the way things are.
    41. 41. Here’s a storyabout sea squirts.Infant sea squirtsare a little liketadpoles. Theyhave a notochord,the simplestmanifestation ofbrain tissue. It’s arod-like structurethat stiffens theirtail and allowsthem to move.
    42. 42. As the sea squirts mature, however, they began to feel avague sense of desire to find others of their kind andsettle down in one place and become part of a colony.
    43. 43. The Sea Squirt’s last decision is undoubtedly its most dramatic. One mighteven call it sacrificial. Once these little squirts are safely situated, they seem torecognize, however vaguely, that there are no decisions left to be made...
    44. 44. And having nouse for theirmetabolicallydemandingbrains, they eatthem—and, onehopes, enter intosea squirtnirvana.
    45. 45. There are two morals to the sea squirt story. Thefirst is that your brain is metabolicallyexpensive, the most demanding organ in yourbody. Use it or lose it.
    46. 46. The other moral of the story is that there is a moral. Which is tosay that we humans are symbolic creatures. We constantly engagein representations of reality, living essentially in a virtual realitydefined and created by symbols.
    47. 47. How we learnAccommodationThere are two complementaryprocesses of adaptation andlearning described by childpsychologist Jean Piaget. Existing mental constructs are changed to accommodate new concepts and external realities.
    48. 48. Assimilation New ideas and concepts are simplified to fit pre-existing mental constructs and cognitive structures. Information is interpreted in terms of existing ideas. Adults tend to stick to this kind of thinking.
    49. 49. So, what is CriticalThinking? It teachesus how to becomeaware of our mind,and its innerworkings.
    50. 50. Critical Thinking teaches ushow to respond to the worldwe live in… to the politicaland moral choices that faceus, to the events of the worldthat confuse and frighten us.It helps us explore aspects of life we may tend to ignorebecause they are difficult, even painful to address.
    51. 51. Critical Thinking teaches us to thinkconsciously, deliberately, andskillfully; to live well and to makemeaningful, powerful choices.
    52. 52. It helps usdevelop ourminds in thesame wayphysical exercisehelps us developour bodies.
    53. 53. So we canchoreograph ourown uniquedance, think forourselves, followthe beat of ourown inner drum.
    54. 54. Critical Thinking is not about settling for being one of the crowd.
    55. 55. We are here to learn how tothink better, to discover thestrings that control ourminds, and learn how toresist their tug. We are hereto discover how to take morecontrol of our own thinkingprocesses.
    56. 56. We are not here to argue,not here to convince othersthey must think like we do.Our concern in this class isnot with the claim itself.Our concern is with theargument behind the claim,the thinking that is used toconstruct the claim. Our taskis to develop reasoning thateither proves or disproves thatclaim—reasonably, rationally, skillfully, intelligently, successfully, andmost important—to the best of our ability, truthfully.