Critical Thinking, The Rhetoric of CNN vs Joe Rogan, and Rethinking Higher Ed with Jonathan Haber

The following is a YouTube-generated transcript for the episode. 

Here is a link to the episode from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dBX159mUM0 

00:01
[Music]
00:23
welcome to the neutral ground
00:25
critical thinking is not something that
00:27
is easily defined or taught trust me
00:31
sometimes people say you know it when
00:33
you see it
00:34
however my guest this week author
00:37
jonathan haber has written a fantastic
00:40
book entitled critical thinking
00:42
and it explores what it is where it came
00:44
from and how we can continually hone
00:47
this
00:48
vitally important skill
00:50
as someone who is in the profession of
00:52
teaching critical thinking
00:54
i definitely recommend this book
00:56
especially if you're interested in a
00:58
little bit of history you know how we
01:00
came to critical thinking and also in
01:02
having a practical guide for how we can
01:05
engage in more critical thinking
01:08
now we don't just discuss the book we
01:10
actually put it into practice
01:12
we engage in a bit of a discussion of
01:15
the
01:16
rhetorical
01:17
back and forth that took place between
01:19
cnn and joe rogan
01:22
trust me you're not going to want to
01:23
miss this conversation
01:25
now before we dive into it
01:27
just a quick note
01:30
please hit the subscribe and or follow
01:32
button on whichever platform you're
01:33
currently listening to me on
01:35
and if you're on apple or spotify please
01:38
consider leaving a kind rating and or
01:40
comment as well that will help get our
01:43
message of civil discussion in front of
01:45
more eyes
01:47
now without further ado
01:49
enjoy my conversation
01:51
with jonathan haber
01:54
jonathan welcome to the neutral ground
01:56
how are you doing today good i'm good
01:57
joseph thanks for uh having me on
02:00
great well let's dive into the
02:01
conversation you dedicate your book
02:03
critical thinking to mom and dad for
02:06
teaching me to think so how did they do
02:09
that and when did it actually hit you
02:11
that that's what they were trying to do
02:14
yeah well you know my parents are both
02:16
academics my father was an english
02:18
professor uh
02:20
like you he taught at uh university of
02:22
lowell in massachusetts for many years
02:24
my mother was a librarian at uh
02:27
radcliffe and you know i think uh we
02:30
just took for granted to sort of we
02:32
always had dinner together and dinner
02:34
would be full of conversations about
02:37
things we were reading you know things
02:39
we were working on in school
02:41
and so i think uh without it being a
02:44
sort of formal
02:46
process you know i just sort of
02:49
understood thinking discussing
02:51
argumentation would be uh kind of
02:54
was part of my life i didn't have the
02:56
vocabulary for it then but you know it
02:58
continued uh into adulthood when you
03:01
know uh my parents were
03:03
readers of material um in fact you know
03:06
my dad is probably was probably one of
03:08
the best editors uh i've ever seen so he
03:12
was a person who edited a great deal of
03:14
this work i should say it was her
03:15
poignant when i
03:18
made that dedication because uh by the
03:20
time the book was coming out my dad was
03:23
was very ill and was was dying and
03:27
i wanted to surprise him with that
03:29
dedication and
03:30
mit press the publisher of the book very
03:33
kindly
03:34
sent me a early release copy that they
03:37
had for marketing purposes i was able to
03:39
kind of read him the dedication before
03:41
he passed so
03:43
it was uh particularly poignant that um
03:46
this this book was was dedicated to to
03:49
both my parents but especially to him
03:52
wow
03:53
yeah that was really nice of the press
03:54
to to give you that advanced copy
03:57
look you know the whole press mobilized
03:59
it was uh it was really a wonderful
04:01
moment of kind of we've got a
04:03
professional relationship with uh
04:05
people and it's a fabulous press a
04:08
fabulous group of people to work with
04:09
but that really sort of
04:11
cemented on top of all that what
04:13
wonderful people they are so um
04:14
enormously and we'll forever be
04:16
appreciative of that
04:18
you know we hear so many times uh
04:19
negative stories uh in the media and
04:22
whatnot it's just nice to hear that
04:23
someone just did something you know
04:25
really kind
04:26
well i think you do a really good job of
04:28
pushing back against what must have been
04:32
quite an urge right to cement a
04:33
definition for critical thinking in fact
04:36
you spend quite a bit of time in the
04:38
early parts of the book discussing how
04:40
critical thinking is defined by others
04:43
i think this works to your favor
04:45
actually because the reader leaves with
04:47
a really firm
04:49
grasp of what critical thinking is but
04:51
they aren't necessarily
04:53
pinned down by just one viewpoint
04:56
because as you point out in the book
04:58
critical thinking is somewhat broad in
05:01
how we approach it so rather than ask
05:04
you a question like how do you define
05:06
critical thinking i'm going to ask you
05:09
instead how do you think about critical
05:12
thinking
05:13
well i think you know the the
05:15
definitional issue came up all the time
05:18
i mean the fact that you're kind of not
05:20
asking a question makes me unique
05:22
because when i would tell people i'm
05:24
writing a book on critical thinking a
05:25
lot of them were asking oh you know i
05:28
hope you can come up with a definition
05:29
because there's so many of them out
05:30
there and um you know and in fact i did
05:33
start by thinking well maybe not
05:35
necessarily coming up with my own to add
05:37
to the pile but to distill and
05:39
synthesize
05:40
um which is sort of of you know what i
05:42
do
05:43
um but as i kind of plow through it i
05:46
realized you know a lot of these
05:47
definite definitional
05:49
issues a lot of debates about definition
05:51
we're getting in the way
05:52
there was a lot of conversations i've
05:54
had over the years before starting this
05:56
book that we can't teach critical
05:58
thinking until we know what it is that's
06:00
a very familiar line you get when you're
06:03
sort of trying to convince people to
06:05
work on critical thinking specifically
06:07
as part of a curriculum for example so
06:09
you know you realize there is this
06:11
debate over definitions but then when i
06:14
started digging into that debate
06:16
you know it's very typical of um
06:19
of kind of academia that there is a
06:21
discipline committed to critical
06:23
thinking it's a branch of philosophy the
06:26
critical thinking organization's part of
06:27
the apa american philosophical
06:29
association and you know academics do
06:32
what they do they research and try to
06:34
come up with um
06:37
angles definitions in some cases there's
06:39
there's um
06:42
commercial sort of need to own a
06:44
definition because if you're creating a
06:46
test or a curriculum
06:48
you do need some kind of definitional
06:50
construct to work with so i understand
06:52
those imperatives but they're just i i
06:54
realize they're just not
06:56
necessary to move forward with a
06:58
critical thinking project does it cite
07:00
an
07:01
you know the the field of biology has
07:03
transformed significantly over the last
07:06
several decades it's moved from
07:08
something that when i was learning
07:10
biology in high school was almost like
07:11
learning a language um
07:14
the
07:15
you know but over time it's become much
07:17
more computational with
07:19
dna and dna sequencing you know so the
07:21
definition of biology is up for grabs
07:23
but we're not halting the teaching of
07:25
the subject while we wait for these the
07:27
definitions to settle down there's still
07:29
a body of knowledge to to
07:31
teach and move forward so my message was
07:33
that the critical thinking project can
07:35
move forward without
07:37
what people are really asking for when
07:39
they ask for definition
07:40
is a definitional wording some some
07:44
definitional words that we can all agree
07:46
to and um you asked how i think about
07:49
critical thinking my approach was
07:51
essentially
07:52
genealogical you know where
07:55
does the idea originate that there's a
07:57
form of thinking
07:58
distinct from knowledge and wisdom
08:00
unique enough to be called critical and
08:02
if you read the book you'll see that's
08:03
where i sort of started the exploration
08:06
and ended up at a place where i think
08:09
there is a consensus even amongst all
08:11
the definitions we can't agree with what
08:13
critical thinking is enough to move
08:16
forward with a critical thinking project
08:19
you know what i really enjoyed here
08:21
whether you meant it or not actually
08:24
is you is that the reader essentially
08:27
practices critical thinking
08:29
you know through analysis through
08:31
synthesis while they're reading about
08:33
all of these different thinkers like
08:35
aristotle and dewey
08:37
this prompts the the reader to
08:41
develop his or her own kind of language
08:43
for maximizing comprehension of critical
08:46
thinking and that's very empowering to
08:49
the individual because it also prompts a
08:52
creative process as well
08:56
that's something that i i actually
08:59
try to do with my students as well is to
09:01
get them to have ideas take them in and
09:04
then give them language to be able to
09:06
maximize that kind of comprehension now
09:08
something you wrote in the book
09:11
also i wanted to ask you about here and
09:13
that is in the first chapter you write
09:15
about the distinction between philosophy
09:18
and science
09:19
did not exist in the ancient world
09:22
now i think there are some individuals
09:25
like
09:27
angus fletcher and maybe
09:29
jonathan height i think there are some
09:31
people who are trying to meld philosophy
09:34
and science together again a little bit
09:36
here but my question for you is
09:39
has that loss or the weakening of the
09:42
connection between philosophy and
09:44
science has that impacted the way that
09:47
we think critically today
09:50
well you know i i'd say you know if a
09:52
lot of you ask a philosopher especially
09:53
they
09:54
will indicate that philosophy is not
09:56
just the sort of
09:58
uh father of science but father of all
10:00
disciplines and he could certainly make
10:02
the case that um
10:04
certain disciplines you know science
10:06
psychology grew out of a philosophical
10:08
tradition and it's not just ancient
10:10
right uh until you know the sort of
10:13
later part of the 19th century people
10:15
didn't call themselves scientists they
10:17
call themselves
10:18
natural philosophers right so um the the
10:21
connection is that
10:24
you are making inquiries about
10:27
the world
10:28
and some of those inquiries are about
10:30
nature
10:31
science some of the inquiries about the
10:33
human mind um
10:36
psychology you know some of them are
10:38
about the soul or religious matters
10:41
right so i would say you know
10:43
the philosophical toolkit is utilized in
10:46
all those fields right you know the the
10:49
the discipline of philosophy will apply
10:51
a set of tools the
10:54
you know logic being first and foremost
10:56
but other sort of tools to an inquiry
10:58
and if you look at what scientists do if
11:01
you look at what scholars do in any
11:03
field they are in fact still using logic
11:07
and argumentation to sort of
11:09
point people towards a conclusion so i
11:11
would say you know the the elements that
11:14
i bring up a book from philosophy yeah
11:16
that go back to aristotle you know logic
11:19
argumentation um
11:21
persuasive communication rhetoric etc
11:23
those do underpin all those fields
11:25
certainly when they are communicating
11:28
coming up with theories testing them
11:30
communicating them to others so um yeah
11:33
i would say you know this is sort of
11:35
probably a kind of
11:37
separate tangent but i would say one of
11:39
the reasons the
11:41
debates we have between sort of science
11:43
and religion for example are so empty
11:46
and sort of
11:47
both hostile and vacuous at the same
11:49
time as i often describe it as
11:52
it used to be you know science religion
11:55
and philosophy formed three legs of a
11:58
stool right but nobody knows philosophy
12:00
anymore so we've kicked that leg out so
12:03
and we wonder why the stool is still
12:04
unstable you know philosophy provides
12:07
language for
12:09
if not resolving at least for people of
12:11
differing opinions to
12:13
argue things out and i think
12:16
in a way my work and then the work of
12:17
other people
12:18
including yourself to sort of bring
12:20
critical thinking back into the
12:22
discussion in all matters is to sort of
12:24
stabilize our discussions i think
12:27
why are we shouting at each other
12:29
rather than trying to convince each
12:31
other well we don't know how to convince
12:32
each other because we are not taught the
12:34
sort of critical thinking tool set and
12:36
that's what i'm trying to bring back
12:38
into education
12:40
well i'll just take a moment here and
12:41
expose
12:43
uh you know something from my own
12:45
experience teaching here
12:47
like you i thought
12:49
i'm going to bring in some philosophy
12:52
into my class here because i want to
12:53
engage the students
12:55
in in some higher level kind of critical
12:57
engagement critical thinking
13:00
and
13:02
you know i i brought in people like
13:03
frederick douglass
13:05
a little bit of nietzsche as well
13:08
but to your credit what you did quite
13:10
well in the book here that i didn't do
13:13
so well this past semester
13:16
is that
13:17
we had our discussions
13:20
and they were great discussions in a in
13:22
a vacuum essentially because we modeled
13:25
how do we engage higher level thinking
13:28
while we were having those discussions
13:31
but the problem that i ran into
13:33
is that
13:35
we had our discussions and then we
13:37
talked about
13:38
what critical thinking entails and my
13:41
students
13:43
without me knowing at the time my
13:45
students ended up separating those two
13:47
things out
13:48
so they
13:50
they looked at the discussions we had as
13:52
simply interesting discussions
13:55
and then they were done
13:56
and then we moved on to critical
13:57
thinking
13:59
and we did critical thinking as opposed
14:01
to thinking about how the two things
14:03
synthesize together
14:05
so
14:07
something that i took away from from
14:08
your book
14:10
that i found to be quite useful as an
14:12
educator
14:13
was how we can use
14:15
philosophy
14:17
as a better means of organizing
14:21
how we think about critical thinking
14:23
right because i i can definitely tell
14:25
that i would need to
14:26
put those two things closer together in
14:29
order for the students to understand
14:30
that they work hand in hand
14:33
i think you also discovered something
14:34
that critical thinking researchers have
14:38
been uh studying for the last
14:40
30 years there was a important paper uh
14:43
written by professor enos
14:45
in the 80s where he proposed there are
14:48
three different ways to teach critical
14:50
thinking skills and then you read about
14:52
these in the book but one could do what
14:54
we're doing in higher ed and teach a
14:56
critical thinking course right that's
14:58
called the general approach
15:00
you can
15:01
teach your own subject matter be it
15:03
english or philosophy or science or
15:06
um
15:07
or
15:08
mathematics or whatever and assume that
15:11
you know
15:12
well-taught complex material
15:15
students will be will be absorbing the
15:17
critical thinking skills by osmosis
15:19
right that's called the immersion
15:21
approach um but there's a third approach
15:23
which is called the infusion approach
15:25
where you still teach
15:27
critical thinking skills in the context
15:29
of a discipline in english or
15:32
science or what have you but you
15:35
explicitly bring out that you're
15:37
teaching them critical thinking skills
15:38
right so when you were teaching
15:40
uh students um or presenting them with
15:44
aristotle nietzsche or philosophers
15:47
you were using an immersion approach
15:48
which is typical actually i would say
15:50
most education
15:52
in the world is done through that that
15:54
immersion approach um but you know
15:56
unless you sort of pull out the fact
15:58
that aristotle and umichi are
16:01
using
16:02
uh logical arguments they're using them
16:04
in very sophisticated ways and then
16:06
explaining to people what a logical
16:08
argument is and therefore having to
16:10
explain to them what is logic and what
16:12
is an argument right that's the explicit
16:14
means of teaching and as it turns out
16:17
you know 30 years of research seems to
16:18
confirm
16:20
that this infusion approach where you
16:23
teach critical thinking in the context
16:25
of other subject matter
16:27
not necessarily as its own standalone
16:28
course but in the context of english and
16:31
science etc that but that you do so
16:34
explicitly you know that's considered uh
16:37
seems to indicate research seems to
16:39
indicate that that is the best way to
16:40
teach critical thinking skills so i'd
16:42
say you know your challenge was the same
16:45
challenge that people have when
16:48
they're thinking you know i'm um i'm a
16:50
great science teacher you know so
16:52
therefore
16:53
my
16:54
students are becoming critical thinkers
16:56
by learning chemistry for me
16:58
and then you know
17:00
12 you know five years down the road
17:03
they get a job and you know 75 percent
17:06
of employers say
17:07
kids don't have these skills right they
17:09
don't have skills after high school
17:10
after college after graduate school you
17:13
know so i think there's
17:16
one of the reasons
17:17
kind of 99
17:19
of professors say teaching my kids to be
17:21
critical thinkers is one of their top
17:23
three priorities and three-quarters
17:25
employers say
17:27
kids don't have these skills
17:28
is not lack of enthusiasm right the the
17:32
academy of whether you know everybody
17:35
from a kindergarten through graduate
17:37
school professor you know now wants kids
17:39
to develop these skills and think
17:42
they're already doing it you know so
17:45
that's the good news they just don't
17:46
happen to be using the best techniques
17:48
to do so and to sort of a lot of my work
17:51
since publishing the book is
17:53
trying to get academics to
17:56
understand that with some small
17:58
modifications to what they're already
18:00
doing that doesn't have to sacrifice
18:02
the subjects they love and even the ways
18:05
of teaching they love
18:06
but just sort of supplement them in very
18:08
strategic ways they can
18:10
accomplish what they claim that they
18:12
want to accomplish which is develop
18:15
critical thinking skills in their
18:16
students at any age level
18:18
yeah in my case i definitely think that
18:21
in the future
18:23
pulling the two ideas together critical
18:25
thinking and scaffolding critical
18:26
thinking with the philosophy the
18:29
philosophy as well i think that will
18:31
definitely help in the future here to
18:34
push them more together as opposed to
18:37
say okay let's learn this information of
18:39
the philosophers and the the great
18:40
thinkers and then let's try to use that
18:44
to think about critical thinking putting
18:46
them together at the same time would
18:49
probably have a a better effect
18:52
in the students seeing those two things
18:54
as not separate
18:56
kind of uh parts of the semester let's
18:59
say
19:00
another method that research shows
19:02
is extremely important for critical
19:04
thinking is deliberate practice yeah you
19:06
know so um
19:09
in a way critical thinking
19:11
is much more similar to
19:14
a sport or a musical instrument
19:15
mastering a sport a musical instrument
19:17
than it is
19:18
your discipline english or any other
19:20
business it's it's a relatively small
19:22
set of skills right i i can teach
19:24
students i have taught students the
19:26
critical thinkers toolkit in you know a
19:29
couple of days right it's not nearly as
19:31
vast as the world of literature analogy
19:33
but to get really good at it you have to
19:36
sort of
19:37
use it and use it for years right that
19:39
that the rules of logic let's say you
19:41
know informal logic are very
19:43
straightforward you can start using them
19:45
for what we call toy arguments you know
19:48
arguments that are designed to be anal
19:50
broken down and analyzed as part of a
19:52
logic exercise but to get good at it you
19:54
have to apply it to
19:56
increasingly sophisticated materials
19:59
like newspaper editorials political
20:01
speeches you know philosophical tracks
20:04
you know
20:05
uh um
20:07
novels you know fiction nonfiction
20:08
documents etc and that's just something
20:10
that has to kind of
20:12
develop that's a skill that develops
20:14
through
20:14
continuous and ongoing practice so i
20:17
would say you know for your students one
20:19
way to get them to get it would be
20:22
making you know
20:24
them develop
20:25
their
20:26
writing
20:27
using
20:29
argument or tools rather than a
20:32
traditional outline right and in a way
20:34
the outline is the enemy of logic
20:37
because it doesn't necessarily arrange
20:39
things as premises leading to conclusion
20:41
or at least doesn't identify them
20:43
whereas if you ask students to
20:45
map their papers logically before they
20:48
write them then they will sort of absorb
20:51
oh actually at the end of this i'm
20:53
writing a paragraph that contains an
20:54
argument because
20:56
it was planned that way so that's one
20:58
kind of
20:59
thing you may want to try next time you
21:01
want to kind of get
21:02
students to sort of internalize this
21:05
okay so let's let's model this for our
21:08
audience then a little bit here as well
21:11
you there's an example that you use in
21:13
your book and it's a good one i think
21:15
for for our use here i'm going to read
21:18
this because i want it to be as accurate
21:20
as possible
21:21
the example is based on a study by aaron
21:24
and roska from the work academically
21:26
adrift and it proposes a conclusion that
21:30
students in higher education are showing
21:32
no growth in critical thinking ability
21:35
during their time in college
21:37
now in order to believe the argument
21:40
there right invalidate it the the you
21:43
have to accept the two main premises
21:46
that come before it here's premise one
21:49
the collegiate learning assessment
21:52
which is an assessment tool of course
21:54
accurately measures a student's critical
21:56
thinking ability so you have to engage
21:58
that first assessment that this
22:01
college learning assessment tool
22:03
can accurately measure
22:05
a student's critical thinking ability
22:07
premise two
22:09
college students who took the collegiate
22:10
learning assessment early and then later
22:13
in their college years showed no
22:15
significant growth in test scores so you
22:18
have to buy the second premise which
22:19
says that this tool did in fact show
22:23
that they the the college students did
22:25
not show significant growth
22:28
now the final conclusion then from these
22:30
two premises is that college students
22:32
show no growth in critical thinking
22:35
ability during their time in college
22:38
now when you talk about this example in
22:40
your book you break down how we can
22:43
judge the validity of this final
22:44
conclusion based upon looking at these
22:47
two premises can you talk us or can you
22:50
walk us through that process of how you
22:53
engage in this judgment of validation of
22:57
the conclusion
22:59
sure yeah i mean the intro to the book
23:01
kind of brought up the academically
23:03
drift study because
23:04
it was very prominent you know
23:06
um kind of many people were talking
23:10
about it um when it first came out
23:12
because it certainly seemed to jive with
23:14
a sort of cultural sense that that
23:16
college was not preparing students for
23:20
successful careers in life and i think
23:22
um
23:23
the notion that critical thinking is
23:25
essential for a successful career in
23:27
life which was what attracted it to uh
23:29
my attention because in a way that's a
23:31
premise to that that argument as well so
23:33
i mentioned that early in the book and
23:34
then the argument you just spread
23:37
came after a section
23:39
on
23:40
whether critical thinking can be
23:42
assessed right so of sections of the
23:44
book you know how can it be defined can
23:46
it be can it be defined can it be taught
23:48
and can be assessed and then my answer
23:51
is you know yes to all three or
23:53
certainly yes
23:55
to the point where we can get moving on
23:57
on the critical thinking project right
23:59
so
24:00
um
24:01
so in order to evaluate the
24:04
academically drift hypothesis that
24:07
uh critical thinking was not improving
24:10
with students you first have to
24:11
understand
24:12
what the authors are actually saying
24:15
right you have to read the source
24:17
material you have to read academically
24:18
drift and if you do so you will
24:21
understand that they had a way of
24:23
demonstrating that uh
24:26
students were not developing critical
24:28
thinking skills was not just an
24:30
observation out of the blue right they
24:32
had a measure to determine critical
24:35
thinking skills and as you mentioned was
24:36
the cla plus which they talk about in in
24:39
that section on whether critical
24:41
thinking skills can be assessed it's a
24:43
very prominent assessment it's probably
24:45
considered
24:46
you know
24:47
the best of critical thinking
24:49
assessments out there but it is an
24:51
assessment it's a commercial assessment
24:53
uh when you're dealing with
24:56
any kind of professionally designed
24:57
assessment it's based on something
25:00
called a construct which is a definition
25:02
right that that i said before you don't
25:04
need a definition of critical thinking
25:06
to move forward with
25:08
a broad general education product
25:10
critical thinking but you do need a
25:12
definition of critical thinking if
25:13
you're going to measure it right you
25:14
have to know what you're measuring it
25:16
and that definition testing lingo was
25:19
called a construct right so so now we
25:21
have one of our premises right one of
25:23
our premises is that there exists this
25:26
test called the cla and they did
25:29
a scientific experiment right they
25:31
tested a group of students at one point
25:33
in their career and they tested the
25:34
student the same students
25:36
later okay and in that study they found
25:39
no growth in test scores
25:41
right so from there you
25:43
kind of move into
25:45
another that that's that's a critical
25:47
thinking skill called background
25:49
knowledge right you need to know what
25:51
you're talking about before you can have
25:54
an argument you know you need to
25:55
understand what the academic thesis is
25:58
really saying you know and you have to
26:00
understand something about
26:02
testing the critical thinking skills
26:04
right so i've just applied background
26:05
knowledge then you have to sort of
26:07
distill that into a logical argument
26:08
which is just what you just read
26:10
right the first premise of the argument
26:12
is
26:13
the cla plus accurately measures
26:15
critical thinking skills
26:17
the second premise is
26:19
student test scores did not go up and so
26:22
therefore the conclusion is students not
26:25
improve their critical thinking skills
26:26
right now
26:28
we've just constructed an argument we've
26:30
used
26:31
i refer to generally as language skills
26:33
how do you take prose argument or
26:35
implied arguments uh that you'd see in a
26:38
book like academic drift and distill it
26:40
down to a set of premises leading
26:42
conclusion right so that's a second we
26:45
use background knowledge we've used our
26:47
language skills to take complex material
26:49
and distill it into a set of premises
26:51
leading to a conclusion now we analyze
26:53
it using the tools of logic and i tend
26:56
to
26:57
think and write in terms of informal
26:59
logic there are other forms of logic
27:00
that you use there's
27:02
diagrammatic reasoning you know
27:04
but you know informal logic is simple
27:06
and easy to explain and it basically
27:09
there's two tests you apply to it you
27:11
know one is a test for validity okay and
27:14
the test for validity says
27:16
if you accept the premises is true
27:18
are you forced to accept the conclusion
27:21
okay and in that argument that you read
27:24
from the book
27:25
it in fact is valid right if you accept
27:28
that the cla plus accurately measures
27:30
critical thinking skills and you accept
27:32
that student skills didn't improve
27:34
then it's a conclusion
27:37
it's a valid conclusion that students
27:39
think critical thinking skills do not
27:41
improve right so
27:43
there's your test for validity okay but
27:46
there's a second test for argument
27:48
strength and that is the test of
27:50
soundness right that that
27:52
you you want to test for validity first
27:54
right because um
27:56
that will often tell you
27:58
does
28:00
if if argument is invalid right if you
28:02
accept the premises
28:03
and reject the conclusion then it
28:05
doesn't matter if the premises are true
28:07
or not right so
28:08
um
28:09
you always want to test for validity
28:10
first right so but now you can check for
28:14
soundness and the tester soundness is
28:16
can you reject one of the premises
28:19
either because it's false or something a
28:22
reasonable person can uh can cast can
28:26
doubt
28:27
okay and in this case we have two
28:29
premises the second premise said student
28:31
test scores did not improve
28:33
over time right in theory we can reject
28:36
that right we can we could dig in their
28:37
data we can question their methodology
28:42
you know you can question people's
28:44
integrity but i think it was pretty
28:46
clear reading the book that they did a
28:47
good job and there's no reason to you
28:49
know think that scholars of their
28:51
caliber cook the books and there's and
28:53
especially since there's a much juicier
28:55
target which is the first premise
28:57
right because that's saying we have a
28:59
measure of critical thinking skills it's
29:01
a cla plus
29:03
and that we can make broad statements
29:05
about general student critical thinking
29:08
ability based on that test and even the
29:10
people who make the test don't make
29:12
sweeping statements that this measures
29:16
you know critical thinking full stop
29:18
right we all know critical thinking is
29:20
complex it does a very good job in
29:21
measuring what it measures okay so
29:24
if you agree that that's constitutes
29:27
critical thinking or is close enough or
29:29
enough for us to use for purpose of this
29:32
discussion which is our students
29:34
learning these skills properly
29:36
then you know you would accept that
29:39
premise and then the argument is both
29:40
valid and sound you know but if for
29:42
whatever reason you
29:44
reject that premise right you think um
29:47
critical thinking is um
29:49
uh more broad than what the set of
29:51
skills that can be measured with a cla
29:53
or any test right or you think that sort
29:56
of critical thinking encompasses other
29:58
types of thinking creativity and then
30:01
such um
30:02
then you can reject that premise and
30:04
therefore the argument is unsound and
30:07
you know people can have honest
30:08
disagreements and debate these things i
30:10
think what comes out of that argument is
30:13
you know
30:14
certainly the academically adrift study
30:16
shows that you know the sort of
30:18
systematic types of reasoning
30:21
that our core critical thinking skills
30:23
that are measured in a test like the cla
30:26
do not seem to be improving sufficiently
30:28
over someone's college career right so
30:31
you know now you'll notice that the
30:33
conclusion was not and therefore higher
30:35
education is a waste of time
30:38
right you know in fact you could point
30:40
to conclusions uh drawn from the study
30:43
that for instance
30:45
professors should spend more time
30:47
explicitly teaching critical thinking
30:48
skills right they should utilize
30:51
techniques that will um
30:53
do what they claim they want to do which
30:54
is to improve student critical thinking
30:56
skills you know so there's other kind of
30:58
linked arguments that sort of draw from
31:00
the study and that was meant to just
31:02
provide an example of how the complete
31:04
critical thinkers toolkit can be used
31:07
not necessarily to resolve a
31:09
controversial issue there's no final
31:10
answer but to argue it out and to argue
31:13
it out thoughtfully and hopefully in a
31:15
way to
31:16
persuade or create understanding versus
31:19
closing off debate and sort of uh
31:22
leading to kind of misunderstanding and
31:24
mistrust
31:26
now what i liked about the way you
31:28
framed this discussion in the book is
31:30
you talk about
31:31
an option of
31:33
altering the conclusion a little bit so
31:35
that it becomes more precise so for
31:38
example you could say
31:40
based on the cla assessment tool
31:44
students show no growth in critical
31:47
thinking and what's so important about
31:49
that is that you can now validate those
31:52
first two premises
31:54
and say okay based on that one tool
31:58
not to say on a broad scale in college
32:02
students show no growth
32:04
in critical thinking it just simply says
32:07
based on this tool's metrics
32:10
students show very little to no growth
32:14
in their critical thinking ability
32:16
what's good about that
32:18
is you can plug in then other assessment
32:21
tools into the conclusion
32:24
and you can keep your premises
32:26
and then you can start
32:28
thinking about or refining the overall
32:32
question of
32:33
how
32:34
how we can measure
32:36
students
32:37
growth in their critical thinking and as
32:40
someone you know if you're in higher
32:42
education
32:43
you're always supposed to be having
32:45
these kind of internal discussions
32:48
and reflecting on where we are where we
32:50
want to be and what are the tools that
32:53
we're using
32:54
to get to that point so i actually
32:56
really enjoy the
32:58
the the the framing of how you walked
33:02
through the process to get to a more
33:04
accurate conclusion there at the end
33:07
well if people want to see like you know
33:09
examples of this sort of being applied
33:12
um you know i've got a website called
33:14
logic check that i created
33:16
logiccheck.net that is
33:19
applies these tools to
33:22
current events the news of the day you
33:23
know the the premise is it's meant to be
33:26
um it's modeled on fact-checking sites
33:28
but the idea is that um
33:30
facts are premises to arguments and you
33:34
can have
33:34
completely truthful facts that all check
33:37
they pass all the fact checking but
33:39
they're
33:40
leading to a false conclusion why
33:42
because they're unvalid or unsound they
33:45
they lack um some of the qualities of a
33:47
strong argument so and part of my
33:49
mission is trying to persuade the
33:51
journalism field to embrace this concept
33:53
of logic checking also which is an
33:56
interesting exercise and of itself but
33:58
uh you know but these
34:00
tools can be applied in fact i've been
34:02
writing something now about kind of
34:04
recent editorials in new york times in
34:06
the atlantic
34:07
that are kind of starting to
34:11
you could say question or think more
34:12
broadly about covent policies right
34:15
rentering the second year or entering
34:18
you know sort of
34:20
both new unknowns like new strains but
34:24
also
34:25
things we didn't know two years ago when
34:27
other policies were put in place and i
34:29
find it very interesting because to a
34:31
certain extent you're seeing a
34:32
convergence
34:34
between
34:35
um
34:36
you know sort of of people on one
34:39
of different sides of the political
34:40
divide in terms of
34:42
what we should be prioritizing right but
34:45
of course they can't admit that right
34:47
it's it's it's a lot of the responses to
34:49
these editorials are like you know see
34:51
even the new york times is admitting we
34:53
were right all along you know but if you
34:54
sort of peel back that rhetoric right
34:56
that sort of
34:58
polarized political rhetoric um that's
35:00
been really getting in the way of kind
35:02
of sound um decision making frankly in
35:06
this global crisis right you can
35:08
actually see
35:09
a convergence of views and then in in
35:12
this day and age i find that like when
35:15
people on different sides of the
35:16
political divide
35:18
agree on something there's probably
35:20
something there
35:22
right because we want to just you know
35:24
we want to disagree with our political
35:26
opponents right we're always looking you
35:28
know they say x i say not x right you
35:32
know so if there's sort of convergence
35:34
of opinion there may be something
35:36
valuable to kind of look at there
35:38
um which i think is you know you're
35:40
starting to see in in
35:42
co in covet debates you know now i don't
35:44
necessarily think that means everybody's
35:46
becoming a critical thinker or embracing
35:48
some of these ideas up and sort of
35:50
pushing but it does show signs that like
35:54
when
35:54
the states are really really high
35:57
people do sort of
35:59
run to
36:01
these toolkits and and you know it's
36:03
interesting when the book came out i did
36:04
a lot of interviews
36:06
and a lot of them were in sort of like
36:08
political shows because you know left
36:11
wing right wing because instead of
36:13
everybody you know on all sides of the
36:14
political spectrum
36:16
love critical thinking they embrace it
36:18
they think it's valuable important and
36:20
so they're always asking you know why do
36:22
the people who disagree with me not do
36:24
it you know as opposed to my side right
36:28
and i think if you sort of look through
36:30
but i'd say logic check is not
36:31
particularly um picking you know
36:34
partisan arguments primarily but
36:36
indications right to analyze arguments
36:39
and they have a kind of left-right basis
36:41
to them you can sort of see that um
36:45
you know the
36:48
political identity actually has
36:51
value right there there's a set of there
36:53
are a set of values that come with
36:55
picking a political identity just the
36:56
same way there are a set of values for
36:58
having a religious identity etc and so
37:02
they don't those things don't have to
37:03
get in the way
37:04
of kind of thoughtful argumentation
37:07
debate which leads to course the
37:09
question what is
37:11
getting in the way of thoughtful
37:12
argumentation debate if if one's
37:14
political beliefs don't necessarily
37:17
have to prevent people from engaging in
37:19
dialogue why do we refuse to engage in
37:21
dialogue again i guess i would say you
37:23
know it's a variety of factors but a big
37:26
one is we've just lost
37:28
the ability to do so we don't we don't
37:30
have the tools we don't you know these
37:32
things you and i have been talking about
37:33
for the last kind of 40-45 minutes is um
37:37
not something that students are taught
37:40
or taught enough or given the ability to
37:43
practice and get good at
37:45
so that by the time they
37:47
reach college or reach graduate school
37:50
or their first job or even later in life
37:53
they're not sort of prepared to
37:55
examine their own biases and see where
37:57
those might be distorting judgment
37:59
dissect an argument to see what's really
38:01
being said before jumping to conclusions
38:03
or deciding you know what something said
38:05
take that dissection turn it into
38:08
something you can apply
38:10
logic for the critical thinkers toolkit
38:12
to so it's um
38:14
you know it is all entangled together
38:16
but i don't want people listening this
38:17
to think this is a purely
38:20
academic debate i would say you know our
38:22
ability to get out of this mess we're in
38:24
you know as a society as a global
38:27
society and not just covet our sort of
38:29
political polarization and sort of
38:32
gridlock
38:33
ultimately boils down to bringing some
38:36
of this ability back into back into the
38:38
conversation
38:41
wow you're really doing a great job here
38:42
of actually leading into my my questions
38:46
i want to give you a scenario that
38:48
played out in my classroom and then see
38:50
how you would deal with this in terms of
38:53
critical thinking and evaluation
38:56
so i gave my students
38:57
this semester a group project where i
39:00
asked them to
39:02
think about how we
39:04
value information today specifically i
39:06
gave them four topics that i wanted them
39:09
to
39:10
come up with some kind of mechanism for
39:12
how to organize this information the
39:14
four topics were first
39:17
misinformation and disinformation
39:21
the second topic was confirmation bias
39:25
the third topic was how to deal with
39:27
competing opinions
39:30
and the fourth topic was how do we deal
39:32
with competing facts
39:34
now this last one the competing facts
39:37
one
39:38
was the one that was most interesting to
39:40
them and also at times the more most
39:43
difficult one because we tend to think
39:45
of facts
39:47
as something that stands on their own
39:49
merit right they're uh you can't really
39:51
push back against a fact you know people
39:54
say you can you're entitled to your
39:56
opinions your emotions but you're not
39:58
entitled to your your facts so
40:01
when somebody puts a fact out there they
40:04
tend to stand behind it and feel quite
40:06
good about their fact as an argument
40:10
well when we were talking about facts
40:12
and competing facts one of my students
40:14
brought up a conversation
40:17
in that he
40:18
listened to involving joe rogan and
40:22
sanjay gupta dr sanjay gupta
40:25
and what ended up happening was
40:28
cnn
40:30
came out and proclaimed that joe rogan
40:34
had taken a horse dewormer
40:37
to fight kovid now
40:39
the the drug in question and i can't
40:41
really say the name of it because
40:43
apparently if you say the name they'll
40:45
kick you off you know youtube or
40:47
platforms which is absolutely ridiculous
40:51
let's just say it begins with iv and
40:53
then
40:54
just keeps going from there
40:57
so cnn came out and proclaimed joe rogan
40:59
is taking a horse dewormer
41:01
to fight covid
41:04
now what we did is we we put arguments
41:08
aside for a second and we wanted to just
41:11
kind of look at that statement
41:13
that claim
41:15
and just kind of break down what it
41:17
actually means here is there
41:19
validity to the claim that he took a
41:22
horse dewormer all right
41:25
so
41:26
it is a fact
41:27
that this particular drug
41:29
is used as an anti-parasitic
41:32
in animals
41:34
a horse being one of those animals so on
41:37
a
41:38
purely surface level
41:42
trying to validate the claim
41:45
technically speaking
41:47
joe rogan or anybody who takes this
41:49
particular drug
41:50
has taken
41:52
a horse dewormer
41:54
sure we can go with that right okay
41:57
now in response to this joe rogan came
42:00
back and said
42:03
what i took was a nobel prize winning
42:06
drug
42:08
that won the nobel prize i believe
42:10
for its anti-parasitic usage to treat
42:14
and help cure
42:15
river blindness in humans
42:19
now
42:20
again just on a surface level looking at
42:22
rogan's claim back
42:24
is that factually correct
42:27
yeah actually it did win the nobel prize
42:30
and it is used in humans to help treat
42:33
river blindness right and it's actually
42:36
quite a considered a miraculous drug in
42:38
that way
42:40
so what i did is
42:43
i threw it out to my students i said
42:45
okay we've got
42:47
one claim that we can validate it is
42:50
used in horse deworming and we have
42:53
another claim that says it is a nobel
42:55
prize-winning drug for humans and i said
42:59
so what do we do when you have people
43:04
throwing out these two facts against
43:06
each other and what do you make of this
43:09
kind of
43:10
this approach to discussion
43:13
and i'm so proud of them
43:15
they were able to put aside
43:17
their own biases about wherever they
43:20
stood on this issue you know people tend
43:22
to like to take stands on things you
43:25
know these days especially
43:27
and they just looked at it as a
43:30
a problem of conversation and what they
43:33
said was
43:34
they determined that
43:36
both
43:37
uses of this as kind of attacks
43:41
ends up being problematic because it's
43:43
not actually addressing the underlying
43:46
argument
43:47
that they think it's addressing which is
43:50
does this particular drug help in the
43:52
treatment of covid19
43:57
yeah no i i i commend you on sort of of
44:00
inspiring that exercise i think it's
44:02
really valuable i think um
44:05
you know i
44:06
but i would say it also kind of
44:08
demonstrates i mentioned before you know
44:10
journalists and fact checking that it
44:12
often is very difficult to
44:15
have a conversation explain to a
44:17
journalist that they're in fact in the
44:18
argument business
44:20
right because they think of themselves
44:21
as producers of facts that could be you
44:24
know verified as true or false which of
44:26
course they do and
44:28
most do very very well um you know but
44:32
if you read even a news article anything
44:34
other than yesterday's weather right
44:37
there are facts in there but there those
44:40
facts are built into arguments right
44:42
even the weather report okay
44:44
predicting tomorrow's weather says based
44:46
on these facts
44:48
current barometric pressure and where
44:49
clouds are i am going to argue that
44:53
tomorrow is going to be sunny right
44:55
that's a conclusion right so
44:58
even in the simplest news stories you
44:59
know other than
45:01
reporting yesterday's sports scores
45:03
which are or yesterday's weather those
45:05
are just facts right almost everything
45:07
else facts are built into an argument
45:10
right so you do have to understand what
45:11
the argument is um
45:14
also i think there's been a disservice
45:16
in sort of talking about facts and
45:18
opinion
45:20
because and that goes back to like
45:22
kindergarten right you know i do a lot
45:24
of work with with
45:25
k-12 and you look at standards you know
45:27
there's a lot about separating facts
45:30
with opinion which is a very important
45:31
skill
45:32
but it leads to this notion that there
45:35
are two things in the world
45:37
facts that can be proven true or false
45:40
and anything that's not a fact is an
45:42
opinion or worse just an opinion
45:45
right but there's another thing in the
45:47
universe which is
45:49
reasons for belief
45:50
reasons right uh it's called warrant and
45:53
logical argumentation right so
45:56
when you're arguing that like
45:59
you know we've had lockdown in place for
46:01
six months let's say this is you know
46:03
last year year we have a lockdown in
46:05
place for six months and cova deaths are
46:07
still going up obviously mitigation
46:10
methods aren't working right that's and
46:13
invalid arguments okay and don't dissect
46:16
why probably most listeners can
46:19
instinctively disagree with it take my
46:20
word for the reason you disagree with it
46:22
it's an invalid argument right but all
46:24
the premises are true
46:26
right you know
46:27
obviously can't argue six months after
46:29
lockdown started that we've been in
46:30
block down six months and we all know
46:33
deaths increased during that period
46:35
right so there you have facts okay but
46:38
the conclusion
46:39
is not wrong it's not just an opinion
46:41
right the conclusion is is false or at
46:44
least conclusion is something you don't
46:46
need to accept but why the facts are all
46:49
true okay because there's something that
46:51
connects the facts to the conclusion
46:53
reasons okay so this falls because of
46:56
reasons now getting back to your
46:58
joe rogan argument you know they were
47:01
your students were arguing you know they
47:03
had a celebrity involved with that or
47:04
two celebrities obviously that colors
47:06
things but the basic argument is
47:09
you know is this drug effective at
47:11
fighting culvert right which is an
47:13
argument you could plug any drug
47:15
into the premise of that argument
47:17
including the new vaccines
47:19
right and in fact you know
47:22
i wrote on logic check about when
47:24
johnson johnson was bold for a few weeks
47:27
because people thought it did the job
47:30
but it had dangerous side effects right
47:32
so even the things we take for granted
47:34
and we don't get pulled off the air for
47:36
talking about themselves cures right you
47:38
know those are built into logical
47:40
arguments that say you know this drug
47:44
works and here's why and here's my
47:45
premises and all those things are facts
47:48
you know that lead to a conclusion okay
47:51
so one can do that with other
47:53
medications right including the
47:55
unspeakable you know uh iv one now but i
47:59
think there's something else going on
48:00
here right then they talk about this
48:02
also why language skills including uh
48:06
rhetoric you know persuasive
48:08
communication
48:09
is important because you know by calling
48:12
that drug a horse dewormer right that is
48:15
a deliberate choice to ignore other ways
48:18
you could describe it right you could
48:19
describe it as a nobel prize winning
48:22
parasite you know
48:24
eliminator you could describe it as you
48:26
know it so but you know if you want to
48:29
make it seem like another quack remedy
48:31
and we all know there's been kind of
48:33
ridiculous flat remedies out there if
48:34
you want to lump this in with crack
48:36
remedies you pick a use for it
48:39
that will cast it in a bad light even if
48:43
that's not necessarily you know what i
48:45
mean doctors don't like what you need is
48:48
a horse deformer right they're thinking
48:50
what you need is an anti-parasitic uh et
48:52
cetera et cetera so i think there's a
48:54
bit of of um
48:57
a you know people who want to get you
49:00
to
49:01
kind of think this is a quack remedy
49:05
are going to pick language that will
49:07
sort of push you in that direction or at
49:09
least embarrass you to support such a
49:11
thing um now one can have a perfectly
49:14
reasonable argument about why this drug
49:16
is inappropriate for government right
49:18
without sort of declaring it a horse
49:21
dewormer or whatever you want to do
49:23
right because you could do that
49:25
probably with with like
49:27
many not i don't know enough about
49:29
medicine to know but like imagine many
49:31
medications that have multiple uses you
49:33
could find its most absurd use and say
49:35
why are you giving a heart patient a
49:37
drug to treat diarrhea well
49:40
possibly because it's useful for both
49:42
you know on that so i'd say probably you
49:45
get a conversation like that going again
49:46
and i think
49:48
bringing in sort of rhetoric and
49:49
connotation
49:51
is there any way you could describe this
49:52
drug other than why did you choose a
49:55
drug that has these various properties
49:57
why did you choose that was because
49:59
that's the only possible way to describe
50:01
it
50:02
you know was it because
50:04
you have a you know you're trying to
50:06
push people in one direction about
50:07
thinking
50:08
one way about this drug so you'd rather
50:10
refer to it as that as opposed to a
50:11
nobel prize winning um you know and i
50:14
think that could be a way to if you get
50:16
people to accept
50:18
more generous or charitable terminology
50:21
and still reject the conclusion that's
50:23
much more powerful
50:25
right it's like if you if you win the
50:27
arguments
50:29
and and you construct the strongest
50:31
version of your opponent's argument and
50:34
you still defeat it that's much more
50:36
long-lasting that's much more persuasive
50:38
it's much more likely to
50:41
persuade even somebody who's making an
50:43
argument you disagree with right when
50:45
you
50:46
weaken that person's argument either by
50:48
coming up with a sort of you know
50:50
a watered-down version or reinterpreting
50:53
their premises right so um i think that
50:55
the phrase for this is steel manning
50:57
versus straw manning but in uh um
51:01
philosophy circles it's a principle of
51:03
charity and the principle of charity you
51:05
don't do it just to be you know
51:07
unilaterally disarmed okay that that's
51:10
basically taking on the strongest
51:12
version of an opponent's argument
51:14
presuming
51:15
you know if one of their premises can be
51:17
interpreted in a way that would make it
51:19
weaker than it than it was meant to be
51:21
like the horse dewormer thing don't do
51:24
that you know instead you know argue
51:26
based on your opponent's definitions
51:28
construct his argument and you can still
51:30
attack it you know but it's attack a
51:32
stronger version why do that because if
51:35
well think about if if you presented an
51:37
argument and somebody argue argued
51:39
against an absurd version of us
51:42
right you wouldn't be persuaded you
51:44
would hopefully see through the fact
51:46
that somebody's not trying to take on
51:49
your argument they're trying to
51:51
avoid it or distract from it so i'd say
51:53
that's you know part of the sort of
51:55
disposition of being a critical thinker
51:58
um there's a there's a number of
51:59
thumbnails you've kind of read about the
52:00
book but one of them is to be charitable
52:02
you know to be sort of charitable to
52:05
other people's arguments as well as
52:07
being sort of
52:08
rigorous in terms of taking them on
52:12
yeah we were in the rhetoric unit for
52:15
the semester actually when we looked at
52:16
this exchange and talked about it so my
52:18
students had a bit of a of a scaffold
52:21
from which they could pull from to be
52:23
able to address this
52:24
this um
52:26
back and forth here these exchanges of
52:28
of claims
52:30
you know i teach mostly first and second
52:32
year college students in my class and
52:36
every so often when i tell somebody that
52:38
i teach you know a critical inquiry and
52:41
writing course they'll say oh that must
52:43
be you know difficult because you know
52:46
young people today they just seem to be
52:48
all over the place in terms of their
52:49
thinking but in actuality
52:52
they're quite sharp and if you simply
52:56
give them the opportunity to
52:59
to critically engage the world around
53:01
them
53:03
they can do it quite well but you have
53:06
to give them the proper
53:08
scaffold to be able to understand like
53:11
anyone else for thousands of years right
53:13
like
53:14
don't you have your biases it's your job
53:17
to acknowledge them and to try your best
53:19
to push them
53:20
aside enough to be able to evaluate a
53:24
thought or an idea just on its own merit
53:27
but they're absolutely phenomenal they
53:29
did a wonderful job this semester of
53:33
evaluating various forms of rhetoric and
53:35
even in their their critical analysis as
53:37
well
53:38
okay so i want to ask you something uh
53:41
kind of a personal question about your
53:43
own thinking habits here
53:46
as you you talk about in the book a
53:47
little bit or at least you convey this
53:48
in the book critical thinking is never
53:51
something that you stop
53:52
learning about we're always working on
53:55
our critical thinking and we're always
53:57
trying to practice it and engage it so
53:59
that we be we become stronger and
54:01
whatnot
54:03
what is something about critical
54:05
thinking that you struggle with
54:07
personally
54:09
well i think you know
54:11
i mean there's one theory that critical
54:12
thinking is one of those ten thousand
54:14
hour skills
54:15
right that to get really good like being
54:17
a
54:18
uh champion athlete or a virtuoso
54:21
musician so i mean you know as you
54:23
probably know even the person coined
54:24
that ten thousand hour was didn't mean
54:26
that like in 999
54:29
you're not but like something magic
54:30
happens but it's clearly a skill that
54:32
takes
54:33
years to develop like and and
54:36
fortunately you know you can practice
54:38
thinking and you don't need a sports
54:40
equipment you don't need an instrument a
54:41
quiet place you know we do it all the
54:43
time we don't always do it critically we
54:45
don't always do it systematically of
54:46
course
54:47
but there's always opportunities to
54:49
practice you know
54:50
when you're reading the news when you're
54:54
having a conversation when you're having
54:56
a debate or argument so i would say you
54:59
know
54:59
all of us are in a
55:02
constant like
55:03
project to improve on these skills i
55:06
think um people who have studied this
55:08
who practice at least we know
55:10
what is working on at least we have a
55:12
set of tools you know like i mentioned
55:14
before i uh tend to think in terms of
55:16
informal arguments but other people in
55:18
the community as i work in they think in
55:20
terms of argument maps and diagrams but
55:23
at least there's a tool set to work from
55:25
so i'd say you know this is one of the
55:26
reasons it's so important to give people
55:28
this tool set early on so as they
55:31
practice on their own they'll have the
55:32
sort of tools to work with um i i would
55:36
say you know one of the
55:38
primary reasons to do this is it's
55:40
a
55:42
counter agent to
55:43
these sort of confirmation biases
55:46
and things that are hardwired into our
55:48
brains
55:49
that we can't eliminate right we're not
55:51
going to turn into planet vulcan right
55:53
um we
55:55
are
55:56
human beings with emotions
55:58
and you know certain ways that our
56:00
brains work and that's allowed us to
56:02
survive
56:03
and are often things of great value you
56:06
know all biases are not created equal um
56:08
so but i'd say i certainly struggle with
56:11
you know my
56:13
biases like anybody else does right i
56:16
think you know i'm
56:17
uh
56:18
you know a certain age a certain gender
56:20
a certain religion i grew up in a
56:22
certain you know community um i tend to
56:24
think in certain ways and that colors my
56:26
perception
56:27
right i mean because of the work i've
56:30
done i'm sort of of
56:33
um
56:35
neither
56:37
believe that all that is is nonsense
56:39
right and that every thought that comes
56:41
into my head is is you know immaculately
56:43
conceived right i fully understand that
56:46
that you know my
56:48
environment my backgrounds etc inform
56:51
you know
56:52
what i observe and how i deal with that
56:55
so but at the same time
56:57
you can be just as it's
56:59
absurd to say
57:00
you know critical thinking makes you
57:03
like immune to all that it's equally
57:05
absurd to say that's all we are we're
57:07
nothing but a collection of our biases
57:10
and our preconceptions that derive from
57:12
our
57:13
age and our gender and our race and our
57:15
background and et cetera et cetera you
57:17
know so i'd say
57:18
you know
57:20
like most people i am um
57:23
kind of
57:24
not so struggling with this but i stay
57:26
aware of
57:27
when i'm
57:28
choosing to believe something for
57:29
example am i believing it because it
57:32
fits my my
57:34
world view
57:35
okay and if that is the case i don't i
57:38
don't automatically
57:39
embrace it you know 100 without thinking
57:42
it further but nor do i reject it
57:44
because oh that's just something anybody
57:46
of my
57:47
age and race and you know would it would
57:49
they've also i i
57:51
critique it i think about it you know in
57:54
a way that's like all any of us can do
57:57
right we
57:58
we have things we believe and
58:01
most of the time those are legitimate
58:02
but even our legitimate beliefs
58:05
are open to scrutiny you know because if
58:08
you could sort of
58:09
argue with your own beliefs
58:11
and you find a fondness that
58:15
that can shore them up right that can
58:17
potentially
58:18
make
58:19
your beliefs stronger by modifying them
58:22
you talked before about an argument that
58:24
was made stronger by weakening the
58:26
conclusion right by or qualifying the
58:28
delusion right one's own beliefs can be
58:31
made stronger
58:32
by being open to having them challenged
58:35
even by yourself right or lo and behold
58:37
you might change your mind and as we
58:40
talked about before like people are
58:42
changing their minds about vital issues
58:44
like what's the best way to deal with
58:46
the next the third year of code but
58:48
right that's not a sign of weakness
58:49
that's a sign of strength
58:51
and if we could sort of of build that
58:53
into ourselves individually build that
58:56
into our communities into our society
58:59
then
59:00
why would we have stupid fights because
59:03
we can't accept we're wrong you know
59:05
especially since
59:06
accepting we're wrong is not a sign of
59:08
weakness it's a sign of of strength and
59:11
flexibility and power and the ability to
59:13
think well and then critically so that's
59:16
really what i'm sort of of
59:18
pushing in the books and the websites
59:20
and all the curriculum work i do is how
59:22
do we get ourselves to just sort of
59:25
um take this wiring we've been getting
59:28
it's pretty fantastic wiring you know in
59:31
terms of what humans have been able to
59:33
achieve and can continue to achieve
59:35
right how do we
59:37
use what's good about it how do we not
59:40
throw away everything that gets us into
59:42
trouble but understand it reflect on it
59:45
when need be control for it
59:47
you know and that's the way we can move
59:49
forward an example i always like to use
59:51
is science right everyone's always so
59:53
science
59:54
like science is not this like thing
59:56
a certain special kind of person does
59:59
right you know science is not a single
60:01
method right science is a culture what
60:03
is that culture does it diminishes
60:06
confirmation bias
60:09
doesn't eliminate it right there's still
60:11
bad science all the time that results
60:14
from people
60:15
embracing a theory they want to embrace
60:17
for too long etc you know but it
60:20
diminishes it just enough to give us all
60:23
the marvels science has provided over
60:25
the last like 400 years right so if we
60:27
can just diminish our biases
60:30
not completely eliminated but just
60:32
enough
60:32
in other aspects of our lives you know
60:35
and how we make decisions how we you
60:37
know make political choices etc you know
60:39
could we achieve that same kind of
60:41
bounty but to solve all kinds of
60:43
problems including some of the problems
60:45
science has caused
60:48
well i think that's probably a good
60:50
place to start drawing our conversation
60:52
to a close here and i think you're right
60:54
that we need we need to be able to come
60:56
to
60:57
a place where we can have these
60:59
difficult
61:01
complex discussions through critical
61:03
thinking right because our problems as a
61:06
species it's not as if they're going to
61:08
become
61:09
easier or less complex which means i
61:11
think our thinking and our discussions
61:13
have to become more complex as well
61:16
and if you're adding complexity to a
61:18
discussion you have to be able to convey
61:21
that information to each other
61:23
as accurately
61:24
as possible and also in in
61:27
an engaging enough way
61:30
that
61:32
people
61:32
feel like they can come and have a
61:35
meaningful conversation with you and
61:36
then it's not just a one-sided
61:38
you're screaming at them they're
61:40
screaming at you and no one gets
61:42
anywhere in the actual discussion so
61:46
jonathan this has been an absolutely
61:49
wonderful conversation please tell my
61:51
listeners where can they learn more
61:53
about you and about your work
61:57
well probably best place to start is my
61:59
own kind of professional website which
62:01
is
62:02
my name jonathanaber.org
62:06
which has links to critical thinking and
62:08
other books i've written on critical
62:10
thinking and other topics um i mentioned
62:13
logic check i think uh logiccheck.net
62:17
that would be place i recommend for
62:18
people who want to see some of the
62:20
things
62:21
joseph you and i have been talking about
62:22
in action
62:23
i also have a site called degree of
62:25
freedom
62:26
that degree of freedom.org all one word
62:29
that sort of
62:30
includes things like uh a set of
62:33
teaching practices i call them high
62:35
leverage critical thinking teaching
62:36
practices that shows that some of these
62:38
ideas can be put to use in specific uh
62:42
uh educational situations so probably
62:44
start there but uh those will be on on
62:46
your show notes people have links to
62:48
those three sites
62:49
this has been an absolutely wonderful
62:51
time for me thank you jonathan for being
62:53
on the show it was a total pleasure
62:55
joseph thanks for the invite i hope you
62:57
get a chance to
62:58
talk again sometime
63:00
well i hope you enjoyed my conversation
63:01
with jonathan haber and i encourage you
63:04
to use the links in the show notes below
63:06
to check out jonathan haber's work
63:09
additionally if you enjoyed the episode
63:12
please hit the subscribe and follow
63:14
button and leave a kind rating and or
63:16
comment where applicable for the podcast
63:19
we want to make sure we get this
63:20
information in front of as many people
63:22
as possible
63:24
until next time
63:26
try to keep one foot firmly planted on
63:28
the neutral ground
63:30
and have a great day
63:32
[Music]