Asking the Right Questions : A Guide to Critical Thinking

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  • Edition: 10th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-06-29
  • Publisher: Longman
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Used in a variety of courses in various disciplines, Asking the Right Questions helps bridge the gap between simply memorizing or blindly accepting information, and the greater challenge of critical analysis and synthesis.  Specifically, this concise text teaches how to think critically by exploring the components of arguments--issues, conclusions, reasons, evidence, assumptions, language--and on how to spot fallacies and manipulations and obstacles to critical thinking. 

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
The Benefit and Manner of Asking the Right Questionsp. 1
Introductionp. 1
Critical Thinking to the Rescuep. 2
The Sponge and Panning for Gold: Alternative Thinking Stylesp. 3
An Example of the Panning-for-Gold Approachp. 4
The Myth of the "Right Answer"p. 6
The Usefulness of Asking the Question: "Who Cares?"p. 7
Weak-Sense and Strong-Sense Critical Thinkingp. 7
The Satisfaction of Panning for Goldp. 8
The Importance of Practicep. 8
The Right Questionsp. 8
Critical Thinking Is a Social Activityp. 9
Values and Other Peoplep. 9
Primary Values of a Critical Thinkerp. 11
Thinking and Feelingsp. 12
Keeping the Conversation Goingp. 13
Creating a Friendly Environment for Communicationp. 15
Wishful Thinking: Perhaps the Biggest Single Obstacle to Critical Thinkingp. 16
What Are the Issue and the Conclusion?p. 18
Kinds of Issuesp. 19
Searching for the Issuep. 20
Searching for the Author's or Speaker's Conclusionp. 21
Using This Critical Questionp. 22
Clues to Discovery: How to Find the Conclusionp. 22
Critical Thinking and Your Own Writing and Speakingp. 24
Narrowing Your Issue Prior to Writingp. 24
Cluing Your Reader into Your Conclusionp. 25
Practice Exercisesp. 25
Sample Responsesp. 26
What Are the Reasons?p. 28
Initiating the Questioning Processp. 30
Words That Identify Reasonsp. 32
Kinds of Reasonsp. 32
Keeping the Reasons and Conclusions Straightp. 33
Using This Critical Questionp. 34
Reasons First, Then Conclusionsp. 34
Critical Thinking and Your Own Writing and Speakingp. 34
Exploring Possible Reasons before Reaching a Conclusionp. 35
Identify Major Publications That Cover Your Issuep. 35
Helping Your Readers Identify Your Reasonsp. 36
Practice Exercisesp. 36
Sample Responsesp. 37
What Words or Phrases Are Ambiguous?p. 39
The Confusing Flexibility of Wordsp. 40
Locating Key Terms and Phrasesp. 41
Checking for Ambiguityp. 42
Using This Critical Questionp. 43
Determining Ambiguityp. 43
Context and Ambiguityp. 45
Using This Critical Questionp. 45
Ambiguity, Definitions, and the Dictionaryp. 46
Ambiguity and Loaded Languagep. 47
Limits of Your Responsibility to Clarify Ambiguityp. 49
Ambiguity and Your Own Writing and Speakingp. 50
Keeping Your Eye Out for Ambiguityp. 50
Practice Exercisesp. 51
Sample Responsesp. 52
What Are the Value and Descriptive Assumptions?p. 55
General Guide for Identifying Assumptionsp. 57
Value Conflicts and Assumptionsp. 58
From Values to Value Assumptionsp. 59
Typical Value Conflictsp. 60
The Communicator's Background as a Clue to Value Assumptionsp. 60
Consequences as Clues to Value Assumptionsp. 61
More Hints for Finding Value Assumptionsp. 62
Finding Value Assumptions on Your Ownp. 63
Using This Critical Questionp. 64
Values and Relativismp. 64
Identifying and Evaluating Descriptive Assumptionsp. 65
Illustrating Descriptive Assumptionsp. 65
Clues for Locating Assumptionsp. 66
Avoiding Analysis of Trivial Assumptionsp. 69
Assumptions and Your Own Writing and Speakingp. 69
Practice Exercisesp. 70
Sample Responsesp. 71
Are There Any Fallacies in the Reasoning?p. 73
A Questioning Approach to Finding Reasoning Fallaciesp. 75
Evaluating Assumptions as a Starting Pointp. 75
Discovering Other Common Reasoning Fallaciesp. 78
Looking for Diversionsp. 83
Sleight of Hand: Begging the Questionp. 85
Using This Critical Questionp. 85
Summary of Reasoning Errorsp. 86
Expanding Your Knowledge of Fallaciesp. 87
Fallacies and Your Own Writing and Speakingp. 87
Practice Exercisesp. 87
Sample Responsesp. 89
How Good Is the Evidence: Intuition, Personal Experience, Case Examples, Testimonials, and Appeals to Authority?p. 91
The Need for Evidencep. 92
Locating Factual Claimsp. 94
Sources of Evidencep. 94
Intuition as Evidencep. 96
Personal Experience as Evidencep. 97
Case Examples as Evidencep. 97
Testimonials as Evidencep. 98
Appeals to Authority as Evidencep. 100
Problems with Citers Citing Other Citersp. 103
Using This Critical Questionp. 103
Evidence and Your Writing and Speakingp. 103
Anticipating Critical Readersp. 103
Determining Whether You Need More Evidencep. 104
Your Academic Writing and Evidencep. 104
Practice Exercisesp. 105
Sample Responsesp. 106
How Good Is the Evidence: Personal Observation, Research Studies, and Analogies?p. 108
Personal Observation as Evidencep. 108
Research Studies as Evidencep. 109
Problems with Research Findingsp. 110
Generalizing from the Research Samplep. 114
Biased Surveys and Questionnairesp. 115
Critical Evaluation of a Research-Based Argumentp. 117
Analogies as Evidencep. 118
Identifying ahd Comprehending Analogiesp. 119
Evaluating Analogiesp. 120
Using Evidence in Your Own Writingp. 122
Research and the Internetp. 123
Practice Exercisesp. 124
Sample Responsesp. 125
Are There Rival Causes?p. 127
When to Look for Rival Causesp. 128
The Pervasiveness of Rival Causesp. 128
Detecting Rival Causesp. 130
The Cause or A Causep. 130
Rival Causes for Differences between Groupsp. 131
Confusing Causation with Associationp. 133
Confusing "After This" with "Because of This"p. 134
Explaining Individual Events or Actsp. 135
Evaluating Rival Causesp. 136
Rival Causes and Your Own Communicationp. 137
Exploring Potential Causesp. 137
Narrowing Down Your List of Potential Causesp. 138
Practice Exercisesp. 138
Sample Responsesp. 139
Are the Statistics Deceptive?p. 141
Unknowable and Biased Statisticsp. 142
Confusing Averagesp. 143
Concluding One Thing, Proving Anotherp. 145
Deceiving by Omitting Informationp. 146
Risk Statistics and Omitted Informationp. 147
Using Statistics in Your Writingp. 148
Practice Exercisesp. 150
Sample Responsesp. 150
What Significant Information is Omitted?p. 152
The Benefits of Detecting Omitted Informationp. 153
The Certainty of Incomplete Reasoningp. 153
Questions That Identify Omitted Informationp. 155
The Importance of the Negative Viewp. 157
Omitted Information That Remains Missingp. 158
Missing Information in Your Own Argumentsp. 158
Using This Critical Questionp. 159
Practice Exercisesp. 159
Sample Responsesp. 160
What Reasonable Conclusions Are Possible?p. 162
Assumptions and Multiple Conclusionsp. 163
Dichotomous Thinking: Impediment to Considering Multiple Conclusionsp. 163
Two Sides or Many?p. 164
Searching for Multiple Conclusionsp. 165
Productivity of If-Clausesp. 166
Alternative Solutions as Conclusionsp. 166
The Liberating Effect of Recognizing Alternative Conclusionsp. 167
All Conclusions Are Not Created Equalp. 168
Summaryp. 168
Practice Exercisesp. 169
Sample Responsesp. 170
Final Wordp. 171
Indexp. 173
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