I have read this book in the past week.And it's the 2nd book I'v read about critical thinking(another is Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking) and the 4th book I'v read in English .I highly recommend this book to those people who want to improve his/her ability to solve problems and make decisions or find an effective method to think in the right way.
The book firstly explain some conceptions relative to critical thinking like individuality, thinking, truth, knowledge, opinion and so on. Then it focus on nine common errors that often occur, singly or in combination, during the thinking process. Finally it give some tips on how to overcome our intellectual weakness and some techniques about how to become a critical thinker.
In the following part of this article, I will summarize the important
viewpoint of this book, order by the occurrence sequence of the chapters.
1. Individuality must be the habit of developing your own personal responses to people, issues, and situations, rather than mindlessly endorsing the responses you have been conditioned to make.
2. Some guidelines that can help someone to achieve individuality:
1) Treat your first reaction to any person, issue, or situation as
tentative, and refuse to embrace it until after you have examined it.
2) Decide why you reacted as you did.If possible, determine what specific experiences conditioned you to react this way.
3) Think of other reactions you might have had.
4) Ask yourself whether one of other reactions is more appropriate than your first reaction.
3. Characteristics of critical thinkers:
1) Judge the accuracy of statements and the soundness of the reasoning that leads to conclusions.
2) Challenge all ideas by asking relevant appropriate question, rather than accept their first thoughts and others' statements at face value.
3) Use questions philosophically; to wonder about issues, probe them more deeply than is customary, and look for new insights.
4) Being able to support beliefs with reasons that are good and
5) Make wise decisions, regardless of how common those decision are.
6) Are honest with themselves , acknowledging what they don't know, recognizing their limitations, and being watchful of their own errors.
7) Regard problems and controversial issues as exciting challenges.
8) Strive for understanding, keep curiosity alive, remain patient with complexity and ready to invest time to overcome confusion.
9) Set aside personal preferences and base judgments on evidence, deferring judgment whenever evidence is insufficient.
10) Are interested in other people's ideas, so are willing to read and listen attentively, even when they tend to disagree with the other person.
11) Recognize the extreme views are seldom correct, so they avoid them, practice fair-mindedness, and seek a balanced view.
12) Practice restraint, controlling their feelings rather than being
controlled by them, and thinking before acting.
4. "I know I've got limitations and can easily be mistaken. And surely I'll never find all the answers I'd like to. But I can observe a little more
accurately, weigh things a little more thoroughly, and make up my mind a little more carefully. If I do so, I'll be a little closer to the truth."
5. Knowing involves having the right answer and the realization that you have it.
6. Three mental processes that are sometimes confused with knowing are assuming, guessing, and apeculating. Yet they are quite different:
1) Assuming is taking something for granted - that is, unconsciously holding an idea about something without trying to verify it, sometimes being unaware we have the ides.
2) Guessing is offering a judgment on a hunch or taking a chance on an answer without any confidence that it is correct.
3) Speculating is making an "educated" guess, selecting an answer without any confidence that it is correct but with some evidence for believing it is probably correct.
7. Three types of people who are more prone to errors that can corrupt their opinions than others:
1) Those who seldom reason at all, but think and act as those around them do. They want to avoid the difficulty that accompanies thinking of themselves.
2) Those who are determined to let passion rather than reason govern their lives. Those people are influenced only by reasoning that supports their prejudices.
3) Those who sincerely follow reason, but lack sound, overall good sense, and so do not look at all sides of an issue.
8. Three helpful tips to ensure that your opinions will be sound:
1) Base your opinions on careful observation rather than on habit or impulse. In particular, use your critical thinking skills in forming them.
2) From time to time, reexamine old opinions in the light of new
knowledge. If you find an opinion is no longer reasonable, modify it
3) Do not mistake familiarity for soundness.
9. The problems and How to recognize and deal with them
1) "Mine is better": Preferring your own ideas for no other reason than that they are yours.
Remind yourself that all people tend to regard their ideas that way, but critical thinking demands that tou examine your ideas as you would other people's.
2) Resistance to change: Proffering familiar to unfamiliar ideas.
Expect your first reaction to new ideas to be negative. Set that reaction aside and judge the idea on the basis of your critical appraisal.
3) Conformity: Thinking the way others do because of the group or your desire to belong.
Base your thinking on the evidence and not on how others do or don't think.
4) Face-saving: Attempting to preserve your self-image or the image you project to others when some unpleasant reality threatens it.
Distinguish between what you wish were so and what is so. Be honest with yourself.
5) Stereotyping: Making fixed, unbending generalizations about people, place, or things.
Remind yourself that most things do not fit into neat categories. In
addition, resist the feeling that you know what the correct judgment is when that feeling arises early in the information-gathering process.
6) Oversimplification: Simplifying that does not merely scale down complex matters to more manageable proportion but twists and distorts them.
Be sure your views are an accurate representation of reality.
7) Hasty conclusions: Judgments made before sufficient evidence is obtained.
Withhold judgment until you have answered all important questions pertaining to the issues. If you must answer without sufficient evidence, use the "If...then" approach. If the evidence will support probability but not certainty, limit your conclusion to one that is merely probable.
8) Unwarranted assumtions: Ideas that you have in mind without your being conscious of it; ideas you take for granted.
Develop the habit of reading (and listening)between the lines for ideas that are unexpressed but nevertheless clearly implied.
9) Logical fallacies: Specific errors that occur in your reasoning about issues. Containing Illogical conclusion, Either-or thinking, Attacking the person, Shifting the burden of proof, False cause, Straw man, Irrational appeals(Appeal to Emtion/Tradition or Faith/Moderation/Authority/Common Sense)
Monitor your thinking for signs of these errors. Especially when you are planning an oral or written presentation of your views.
10. Humans are prone to avoid focusing on and coping with their problems and instead often sweep them under the rug by resorting to rationalization, denial, compensation, identification, projection, avoidance, repression, and other defensive maneuvers.
Though the challenge of imporving your thinking is great, no other kind of self-improvement can affect every areas of your life so positively.
11. Three steps of a quick yet effective way to select and clarify an issue:
1) List as many specific subheadings as you can that are included under the broad, general issue you have chosen.
2) Decide exactly which specific issue(subheading) you are concerned with.
3) Express the specific issue(subheading) you are concerned with in one or more clear, carefully focused questions.
12. If the evidence is from your own experience or direct observation, ask:
1) How accurately did I observe? What kinds of inaccuracies in perceiving could have been caused by the circumstances of the event or issue? (Did it occur quickly? Were there any physical impediments such as my distance form what happened, the time of day, or weather conditions?) What kinds of inaccuracies could have been caused by my state of mind? (Was I tired? Afraid? Distraught? Angry?) What kinds of inaccuracies could have been caused by my mood or my attitude toward the issue, the people, or the place? Was I predisposed to view the matter one way?
2) Is what I experienced or observed typical of all such cases? Is it
possible that it is more the exception than the rule? Were the circumstances unusually enough that it was different than it would usually be?
13. If the evidence is from the experience and observation of other people, ask (in addition to the questions you'd ask of your own experience and observation):
1) Did the person who reported the matter to me experience or observe the
matter herself? Or was she reporting someone else's experiences?
2) Does the reporter's reputation warrant my accepting he report at face value? (Is she regarded as a careful observer? Are her statements generally accurate the precise?)
3) If more than one person experienced or observed the matter, do their reports agree?
14. If the evidence is from your research (that is, from an article or book or television program), ask:
1) How consistent is this particular piece of evidence with other
2) If the evidence is found in a magazine article, how reputable is the magazine? Is it given to the sensational? Is it considered a responsible
3) How careful does the writer seem to be about avoiding unsupported assertions, oversimplifications, sweeping generalizations? How impartial is the writer?
4) If the article, book, or TV program refers to the results of research, does it provide important details?
15. Three kinds of distinctions that are frequently necessary in avoiding faulty interpretations:
1) Between the person and the ides
We should make a conscious effort to keep our analysis of ideas separate from our feeling for the people who hold them.
2) Between what is said and the way it is said
Our concern with a man is not with what eloquence he teaches, but with what evidence.
3) Between why people think as they do and whether what they tkink is correct
The soundness of an idea doesn't depend on the motivations of those who support it. It depends on how well it fits the realities of the situation.
16. Approach that designed to help you deal effectively with longer and more complex material:
1) After reading the article or chapter, go back and identify all the
2) Notice all qualifying words.
all/most, many, some, several, a few/always, usually, sometimes, occasionally, seldom, never
3) Notice the connections among the ideas.
adding: and, in addition, also, another, similarly, second, third
intensifying: moreover, indeed, more(most) important, more significant
contrasting: but, however, nevertheless, on the other hand, still, yet
drawing a conclusion: for this reasons, thus, consequently, so, therefore
4) Notice the conditions she includes
if, unless, as long as, until, before
5) Decide which assertions are the main ones
17. Guidelines that will help you express your judgment effectively:
1) Strive for a Balanced View
A balanced view of an issue is one that reflects all the subtlety and complexity of an issue. To achieve a balance view of the issues you address, you must be willing to look for the neglected side of the issue and, when there is good reason to do so, challenge the prevailing vies.
2) Deal With Probability
Whenever you cannot achieve certainty foucus on probability.
3) Make Your Subject Appropriately specific
4) Make Your Predicate Exact
5) Include All Appropriate Qualifications
6) Avoid Exaggeration
To sum up, reading this book and knowing about the right methods to critical thinking is merely the step zero to become a critical thinker. Practising the critical thinking in our daily life every moment when we encounter an issue, person or situation. Only by doing so, can we promote the progress of ourself.