The discussion question : The first four chapters of Is That True? (ITT) clarifies the concept of critical thinking and several underpinnings of social science, including the elements of an argument, everyday arguments, and the logic of the social sciences. We are introduced to grounds, warrants, and conclusions and why anecdotes are considered weak evidence. Best (2021) explains that facts require social agreement, which is why different facts may exist among different groups and at different times throughout history. Simply claiming something to be a fact does not end the debate. More importantly, we come to understand the logic of social sciences and causal explanations. The beauty of social science is that the search for knowledge is never-ending because “the evidence is never perfect; is it always subject to critical evaluation” (Best, 2021, p. 37). share two “big ideas” that were new or insightful for you. Explain why these were significant and how you related to them. Identify something you didn’t understand well or that you had questions about. Be sure to use in-text citations when appropriate and page numbers so others can easily find the passages you’re discussing! My answer to the discussion: Is That True? Critical thinking can be elaborated as assessing or judging an argument to see whether it is conclusive enough (Chapter 2, p. 8). Critical thinking is therefore used in evaluating a statement that asserts something to be the case since critical thinking is about evidence. Facts and evidence are important. Nonetheless, it’s similarly important to be able to recognize the evidence’s basis and the connection between the proofs, which is where critical thinking comes in. When thinking critically, it is important to consider three aspects which are the grounds that provide basic information, the warrants that justify drawing some conclusion, and the conclusion itself. It is worth noting that warrants are implicit in the sense that if the person arguing and those who hear it share the same values, it may seem unnecessary to spell out the argument’s warrants. One insightful idea that I learned after reading the book is that it is important to recognize facts from assumptions since assumptions may hinder us from thinking critically as we may be convinced that the false ‘facts’ are indeed true (Chapter 2, p.11). I found this perceptive because I realized that in most discussions people tend to assume that assumptions are facts. For instance, Christians may argue that Jesus is the son of God the creator, but Islam will think otherwise. Both would be convinced that they are right due to strongly held beliefs. Another issue I found insightful is the use of ad hominem arguments which focus on the person who has said something, rather than what has been said (Chapter 3, p. 18). I find this sensible since using ad hominem arguments poses the danger of closing off the listener from whatever ideas the person may be presenting. It is therefore important to listen and find evidence before making a conclusion, rather than disagreeing with a statement because it was said by a person with whom you probably disagree. Most people find it as a seductive line of thinking because it seems to excuse us from taking our opponents seriously, which is not right. This is similar to regarding a claim as a myth since by doing so, it gives a listener no need for reasoning. As such, critical thinking involves judging the quality of evidence. My classmates posts: 1- Betzabe Avila:There were actually many ideas in this reading that stood out to me. I think the first chapter was a great way to express in words what it means to think critically. In my college experience, professors have always put emphasis on thinking critically. This idea may come new to many but as the text mentions, it is a tool we use in our everyday life. The text states, “this book views critical thinking as a set of tools for evaluating claims…we encounter claims all the time in conversations, in what we read, in the media, indeed, on pretty much every occasion we connect with other people, and we’ve all had to learn to interpret those claims”(page 2). I also liked the idea that was mentioned that although we like to stay in the comfort of assuming we already know something, we should question. When we consider our assumptions may be wrong, we can think critically. 2- Emily Reynoso: One “big idea” that was insightful to me was that “evidence is almost never complete or perfect” (Best, 2021, p. 16). For me, I get so caught up in trying to find the best evidence that proves my argument that I forget that evidence isn’t perfect. Evidence is used to support a claim and is key to have a successful argument, but it is also important to note that evidence can change over time and might not give the bigger picture. This comment made the think about cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. We can conclude based on our observations at that time, but we can also build on the results over time.Another insightful idea that I learned from the reading was that metaphors might misdirect us (Best, 2021). This statement was insightful because I’ve always seen metaphors as a helpful tool when making an argument. After all, they allow the audience to grasp a better understanding. However, I learned that metaphors “can discourage thinking critically about the claim being made” (Best, 2021, p.23). I never considered that there was a problem with metaphors simplifying a complex claim. I’ve seen this as helpful because they keep the audience’s attention and allows the presenter to draw similarities between claims.When reading the nonspuriousness section, I was a little uncertain about why we can never declare that a relationship is nonspurious (Best, 2021). I understand that “it is possible for a critic to argue that some other factor may explain the relationship between what we think is the cause and what we consider the effect of that cause” (Best, 2021, p. 34). However, wouldn’t that diminish the importance of evidence? If there will always be another argument to assess, then wouldn’t some evidence become insufficient? If so, then we can’t say that a claim or argument is a fact. I’m confused about the technicalities of each argument. If anyone can explain it to me, I would greatly appreciate it. write reply… For your TWO peer replies (click the reply button in the author’s post), engage with the author by elaborating, comparing or contrasting, sharing counterpoints, or drawing connections to specific sociological concepts or theories. This is an opportunity to demonstrate critical thinking, so avoid simplistic replies that mainly repeat Best or your classmate’s contributions. Try to bring something new, insightful, or provocative to the discussion! You want to further the conversation by adding new ideas, information, or perspectives. It’s OK to play “devil’s advocate”, just let others know so we’re all on the same page. Be sure to use in-text citations when appropriate and page numbers so others can easily find the passages you’re discussing! Write about 10-11 sentences paragraphs.

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1 Much What Is Critical as politicians Thinking? endorse motherhood and apple pie, nearly thinking.’Collegeprofessors agree that they want their students to become critical thinkers, but so do teachers in lower grades. I’ve heard first- and second-grade teachers declare that teaching critical thinking was one of their most important jobs. Most educators are with the program.2 But we can suspect that when virtually everyone agrees that everyone who teaches praises critical something is good, they probably define it in different ways. The word critical can take on many different meanings. I recall one stu- dent recoiling in horror when I spoke positively about critical think- ing: “Oh, I don’t want to become a critical person!” Then there are sociology professors who will boldly declare that they embrace “critical race theory” or “critical animal studies” or .. .youget the 1dea. Used in this way, oritical usually signals that their approach is aligned with some sort of liberal/progressive/radical/leftist political perspective. In effect, they use the word critical as a sort of brand name to contrast their approach with rival schools of thought that, they charge, support the status quo. While they may assume that adopting a “critical” approach makes them critical thinkers, that’s not whatIwill mean by “eritical thinking” here. Rather, this bookviews critical thinking as a set oftool. sfor evalu case. We encounter claims all the time in conversatione gto be the in what we read, in the media, indeed, on pretty much every occasion we co ating claims. A claim is any statement asserting somethin nect with other people, and we’ve all had to learn to internu claims.We classify claims as being more or less convincina , using terms like fact or information toidentify claims that seem sound d, and terms like rumor or fake to label claims that seem more duhios Learning to make these distinctions starts early: a lot of parenting ing involves helping small children become better at evaluating thin. ngs they hear (“He’s only teasing,” I’m really serious,” “That’s just a story”). At some point, kids have to learn to distinguish betweenTy programs and the content of commercials, and to understand that advertisers’ claims may not be completely truthful. As we get older, we learn that flattery and compliments might not reveal what others actually are thinking, just as most ofus learn to discount rival claims made during election campaigns. We learn to distinguish question- able claims from others that seem more likely to be true. The ability to think critically is important. Imagine a person incapable of critical thinking: this would be someone so suggest ble (and vulnerable) that he or she takes every commercial’s advice to rush out and buy the product being advertised, and finds every politician convincing. Obviously, few people are that weak. Tc while becoming skeptical or suspicious of what we’re told bypE ple who want to sell us something is a useful skill, it isn’t enou d artiWe constantly encounter claims in news stories, boOKS, a posts, in CICs Trom radio, television, and online personalities; blog we to podcasts, downloaded videos, and social media. How ae e Claims? Howcan we separate ones thatprobaoy can be accepted as true from those that we should doudtr 12 WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING People have different standards for making these judgments. One popular standard throughout history has been to assume that we already know what is true–that there is some sacred book that contains all the truths need to know and that we can simply judge all claims by whether they are consistent with this holy writ. we Or that some great thinker-Aristotle, say, or Confucius, or Marx already explained how the world works, and we can evaluate today’s claims in terms of how well they match those classic inter- pretations. Assuming you already know what’s right and true can be comforting, if only because it justifies ignoring those who hold different views. Anyone who has ever gotten into an about religion knows that people who believe some sort argument of authori tative doctrine are hard to budge. This book presents critical thinking as a more modest, alternative approach for assessing claims. Instead of simply assuming that we already know what is true, critical thinking requires that we consider the possibility that our assumptions might be wrong. At bottom, critical thinking is about evidence. Evidence is information that can help us judge whether a claim is true. When we hear a claim, we ought to evaluate the evidence for and against it. The claim may be about something small and personal (“I love your hair in that style”) or aimed at a much larger audience (today’s top news story). It doesn’t matter. Thinking critically involves examin- ing the evidence for a claim and deciding whether it is convincing. When this book refers to “eritical thinking,” then, it wil mean ways of weighing evidence and distinguishing between stronger evi- dence and weaker evidence. This sort of critical thinking has a history. It began to catch on during the Enlightenment-the centuries-long movement refuting the idea that all truth could be found in the Bible or Aristotle. WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING? 13 Instead, people started evaluating observable facts collecting and and information-i.e., evidence. For instance, they used to make observations of the planets and stars, and h. convinced them that the earth revolved around the e telescopes at they saw sun,thus tradicting theologians’ insistence that the earth was the the universe. Later, isms that to they used microscopes to identify tiny seemed to cause diseases, which led medical reluctantly reject Aristotle s imbalance of the body’s model con organ- authorities ofdisease being Caused four humors. These were tough bates. some theologians and physicians never stopped resisting the new ideas. But today, those pieces of evidence have won out: most ne peo ple accept that the earth orbits the sun, and that germs can lead to disease. Yet we continue to argue about plenty of other things. Most people now agree that evidence is important, even thoueh they may disagree about what the evidence shows Critical thinking in the sense of weighing evidence is a skill it can be learned, and one gets better at it with practice. Perhaçs you’re surprised that so many educators agree that teaching critcal thinking is important. After all, your high school probably didn? offer classes in critical thinking. You took classes in mathemanes science, language or literature, and social studies or histor Stil, your teachers probably thought that all those classes were or teaching critical thinking skills: math taught you to performnau aysa ematical reasoning, literature classes involved analyzing piay ons ot poetry, history encouraged you to assess different explaiau teac key events, and so on. Those lessons were designed to and history, Something about the substance of math, literature, ure, and ni they were also intended to make you a one more critical thinker, who not only knew something about the subjects 14 WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING but some” estiot but also could apply the analytic variety of topics and contexts. Learning to skills those lessons taught to think a critically is a major reason why there is a strong correlation betweenlevel of education and income: on average, high school graduates earn more than those who drop out; with some college make people more than those who don’t go beyond high school; those who graduate from college earn a lot more than those who don’t receive a degree; and people who on to finish graduate or professional degrees make more than go graduates. Why should this be true? Lots of high school and college college classes don’t directly relevant to most jobs. But the subject matter covered in those classes is less important than acquiringthe critical thinking skills students need to succeed in college. A college graduate should have learned to read thoughtfully enough to comprehend difficult material, to locate information and evaluate its quality, and to develop, organize, and present their own reasoned arguments. By completing coursework-doing the assigned seem reading, studying for tests, writing term papers, and so onstudents develop and use increasingly sophisticated critical think- ing skills. At bottom, it is those relatively rare and valuable skills that qualify better-educated individuals for higher-payingjobs. In other words, while the term critical thinking may seem vague, abstract, or impractical, it is actually the key to education. Consider a guestion sometimes posed to grade-school children: “There are 125 sheep and 5 dogs in a flock. How old is the shepherd?”3 Mathematics educators note that most children facing this question assume they must be being asked to produce a number, such as 25 (125 divided by s). After all, arithmetic students constantly confront “word problems” that require them to calculate the correct WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING? 5] The Basics 2 Arguments and Assumptions In this book, the word argumnent simply means an attempt to per- suade, a line of reasoning with one or more claims that lead to a conclusion. An argument doesn’t need to be dramatic, or hostile. If John says, “Since it is raining right now and we don’t want to get wet, I think we should delay going outside until it stops,” he is making an argument. The argument consists of grounds that provide basic information (it is raining), wamantsthat justity drawing some conclusion (we don’t want to get wet), and the conchusion itself (therefore, we should stay inside and wait for the rain to stop) Critical thinking refers to evaluating or assessing an argument to see whether it is convincing. For example, when considering John’s argument, you might ask whether it is still raining, whether it is raining hard enough to make going outside uncomfortabie whether you actually care about getting wet, or whether you hav some urgent reason for going outside now that makes getting wet ee unimportant. Depending on the answers, you might ag that the argument is convincing and choose to stay indoors, Oryyou seem COnsider E heading out. the argument unpersuasive and decide to risa Because all arguments consist of grounds, warrants, and conclusions, thinking critically requires evaluating each of these ele- ments. Grounds statements are claims about the way things are. In Tohn’s argument, the grounds are the straightforward claim that it is raining right now. We can evaluate this claim by looking outside to check whether it really is raining, or perhaps we might get into a discussion about just how hard it’s raining, or about what “raining” actually nmeans-is it just misting or sprinkling or lightly raining, and is that enough precipitation to make us want to stay indoors? Other claims (“Poverty is caused by discrimination and other problematic social arrangements,” say, or “Poverty is caused a culby ture that discourages effort”) may be supported by all sorts of more complicated evidence-examples, statistics, definitions, and so on-and there are various ways of approaching such grounds statements. Do the statements seem true? Do we have enough evidence to evaluate the statements? Does the evidence seem strong, or does it have weaknesses? Are there other things we’d like to know? And so on. Arguments may have elaborate grounds consisting of sev eral statements, and there may be lots of reasons to criticize those grounds. Warrants are justifications; they invoke values. The warrant that we don’t want to get wet justifies John’s conclusion. Thinking about warrants can be tricky. Sometimes, warrants are implicit: if the person making the argument and the people who hear it share the same values, it may not seem necessary to spell out the argu- ment’s warrants. That is, John might assume that no one wants to get wet if they can avoid it, and so not bother stating the warrant, but simply say, “Since it is raining right now, I think we should delay going outside until it stops.” Criticizing warrants can be uncomfortable because it might draw attention to fundamental THE BASICS [9 E SOI C VA H compelling-by, say, John asserting not just that “it’s raining,” but that “it’s pouring down rain”? Logic, in turn, attempts to evaluate the strength of arguments, whether the grounds and warrants are sufficient to convince someone who is thinking rationally to accept the argument’s conclusions. Logicians (the philosophers who study logic) identify logical fallacies-flawed forms of argument in which the conclusion does not necessarily follow. (We will have more to say about fallacies in later chapters.) Every argument depends on assumptions. Often these are unstated parts of grounds This need not that or warrants cause concern. gravity is in play, that are taken for granted. We and the routinely assume, for instance, people we’re talking to doubtless agree (unless our subject happens to be outer space). But there are plenty of assumptions that can cause mischief. When you talk to someone who holds very different religious beliefs or political opinions than you do, disagreement is to be expected. A conversation about religion between someone who confidently believes that God exists and another who simply does is likely to end up with them talking past each other. Not only is

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