kindle How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New AgeAuthor Theodore Schick Jr. –

This Brief, Affordable Text Helps Students To Think Critically, Using Examples From The Weird Claims And Beliefs That Abound In Our Culture To Demonstrate The Sound Evaluation Of Any Claim It Explains Step By Step How To Sort Through Reasons, Evaluate Evidence, And Tell When A Claim No Matter How Strange Is Likely To Be True The Emphasis Is Neither On Debunking Nor On Advocating Specific Assertions, But On Explaining Principles Of Critical Thinking That Enable Readers To Evaluate Claims For Themselves The Authors Focus On Types Of Logical Arguments And Proofs, Making How To Think About Weird Things A Versatile Supplement For Logic, Critical Thinking, Philosophy Of Science, Or Any Other Science Appreciation Courses

10 thoughts on “How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age

  1. says:

    I ve often wondered how my life might have been different if I had been given a good course in critical thinking skills in high school or college Had I been so fortunate, this book would have been the best text I could imagine for such a course A lot of the information covered here was familiar to me from other reading I ve done in the last few years, but this book is by far the most comprehensive collection of all of the things one needs to know to effectively evaluate the ideas we are exposed to about the world around us and how it works It covers everything from the basics of possibility and logic, what makes an argument good or bad, different ways of knowing and perceiving, cognitive biases that can skew our objectivity and the foundations of scientific thought processes Interspersed within the technical portions of the text are sidebars applying the principles at hand to various popular extraordinary claims such as instances of apparent ESP and things like the Amityville haunting.This book is an actual textbook Though the authors do a fairly good job of making it readable by using these sidebars and other interesting examples for much of what they cover, there are still a few sections that were rather on the dry side Though this made parts of the book a bit of a slog, what I learned from it was than valuable enough for me to keep going Among the sections that I personally found most useful were the discussions of how quirks in our perceptual systems can cause us to misinterpret what s happening around us, the problems with appealing to mystical experience as a way of knowing, and the discussion of just how damaging it can be to believe things on insufficient evidence In a chapter called Case Studies in the Extraordinary, the critical thinking processes outlined earlier are applied to the juicy topics of homeopathy, dowsing, UFO abductions, communicating with the dead, near death experiences, ghosts and conspiracy theories The authors are careful to refrain from saying definitively whether these things are or aren t real, but instead show the reader how to evaluate the evidence and come to their own conclusions about which ideas are genuinely worthy of consideration Highly recommended for anyone who thinks.

  2. says:

    How to Think about Weird Things Critical Thinking for a New Age Theodore Schick, Lewis Vaughn UFO 1 .2 3 .

  3. says:

    I m still fuming a little over this book, though I think that has a lot to do with where I am in my relationship with science and critical thinking it can be very hard to read texts that say things that you have only just recently abandoned in yourself That being said, I believe that there are things that are very weird to think about, that can distort our sense of where the boundaries of reality are, things that seem irreconcilable with other things we believe, great internal and external paradoxes I think that letting yourself embrace a paradox, letting yourself kind of believe two things at once, is a worthwhile experience This doesn t even necessarily mean that you have to reject reason, or think that magic exists, or anything, but even admitting to yourself that it might, or understanding how a rational vocabulary is not always the best type of vocabulary for every situation I think these are good endeavors So if I thought this was actually a guide to cool ways to think about weird things, I d be excited But and I admit I didn t read very much of this book before rejecting it that s not what it is It s How to discredit weird things Which whatever, having critical thinking skills is essential, and learning to separate the weird chaff i.e most conspiracy theories or fad diets from the weird grain i.e the strange duality of the human mind, the feeling of god is important But in their effort to be critical, rational debunking teachers, they took a lot of short cuts that are essentially fallacious, and overlooked a lot of actually weird stuff to talk about not actually weird stuff, thereby offending my sensibilities BOTH as a rational thinker AND as mystical woo woo thinker Grrrr.

  4. says:

    Fantastic book, read this as part of a university paper at the University of Canterbury The class itself completely changed how I think about all things in life in fact was the most life changing moment I think in my life so far and I m sure this was also due to this book in some ways A great introduction to critical thinking and would recommend.

  5. says:

    How to Think About Weird Things was recommended as a primer on diagnosing Woo by Orac over at Scienceblogs As someone who finds himself and irritated by irrational thinking despite my own gaping biases that lead to it , I was really interested in reading this book Thus, I read a text book for fun Sigh, I think there s a new level of nerdiness there.Schick and Vaughn lay out a number of key arguments for how and why one should wield the tools of critical thinking to understand the essence of arguments and ideas being offered in the public sphere I transcribe the key ideas below Much of this is verbatim from their book My commentary is in italicsThey discuss how to understand claims being made Namely, just because a claim is possible doesn t mean it s true hasn t been refuted doesn t mean it s true hasn t been proven doesn t mean it s false can t be explained doesn t mean it s supernatural is possible doesn t mean it s real In other words, people often argue that things aren t conclusively proven and are thus open to interpretation While this is true, the authors lean heavily on the idea that we must consider the best conclusions, not just the possible ones.Truth in personal experience Just because something seems feels, appears real doesn t mean it is But it is reasonable to accept personal experience as reliable evidence only if there s no reason to doubt its reliability The authors outline a lot of ways our own perceptions fool us My favorite part of this is selective attention, which gives us the idea that things like The Lunar Effect are true it isn t We look to confirm ideas we already have.Relativism, Truth, and Reality Schick and Vaughn obliterate the idea that reality is relative with incisive logic Just because you individually or a group of people believe something to be true doesn t mean that it is There is an external reality that is independent of our representations of it They critique cultural relativism by suggesting that one cannot posit the truth of cultural relativism without rising above that very phenomenon.Knowledge, belief, and evidence There is a good reason to doubt a proposition if it conflicts with other propositions we have good reason to believe, the such conflicts, the reason to doubt We should proportion our belief to the evidence when there is good reason to doubt Here s my favorite There is good reason to doubt a proposition if it conflicts with expert opinion There has always been a suspicion of expertise, but my guess is this becomes the hardest pill to swallow in the age of Google University Experts in one field are not experts in all fields Creationists, take note A PhD in Geology or Physics does not a Biologist make.Evidence and Inference When evaluating a claim, look for disconfirming as well as confirming evidence This chapter also spends quite a bit of time on Deduction, Induction, and Abduction Nothing about Conduction, sorry Ulmer.Science and its pretenders If you were to read just one chapter, this is the one to read The authors dig into the way science works and why pseudo science doesn t work and how it adopts the rhetoric of science without the rigor Schick and Vaughn create a heuristic they call the Criteria of Adequacy In short The amount of understanding produced by a theory is determined by how well it meets the criteria of adequacy testability, fruitfulness, scope, simplicity, conservatism because these criteria indicate the extent to which a theory systematizes and unifies our knowledge 172 Testability means it predicts something other than what it explains fruitfulness refers to the bonus predictions that come from it this is a plus but not a necessity scope refers to the diversity of the phenomena it explains the the better simplicity refers to the assumptions it makes the fewer new assumptions, the better conservatism means it conflicts with as little background information as possible.The Evolution vs Creation debate illustrates these principles nicely Testability Evolution can be tested against fossil records, against genetic material, and in labs with small organisms Creation can be tested in the same ways and has come up lacking E 1, C 1 Fruitfulness evolution predicted a number of novel things, including DNA Creation has not yielded such predictions E 2, C 1 Scope Both theories explain a huge swath of science study E 3, C 2 Simplicity Evolution relies solely on natural mechanisms we know exist and can observe Creationism relies on Special creation, an unrecorded and non repeating act by a supernatural diety E 4, C 2 Conservatism Evolution fits with other scientific observations about the world, such as the life span of the Earth Creationism overturns many of these as well E 5, C 2 Thus, Evolution fits all the criteria for accepting a scientific theory, while Creationism does not One of the elements of creationism, testability, actually works against it since people have attempted the tests and failed to find anything useful.The last couple chapters are devoted to case studies of miracle cures and other ideas generally not accepted by science It s a great book for people interested in the gap between science and public understanding.

  6. says:

    Excellent I wish every high school student in America would read this book but that would make life a lot harder for legions of politicians, hucksters, and scam artists I believe the single biggest failing of American education today is its focus on memorization and regurgitation, along with just enough basic arithmetic to work at WalMart, and its total neglect of critical thinking skills.If you have children or grandchildren in their teens or twenties, give them this book Research has shown that young people embrace this kind of teaching when they are exposed to it in subjects like media literacy, framed in terms of enabling them to be less gullible and easily fooled by people trying to manipulate them.

  7. says:

    I used this as a textbook when I taught critical reasoning It s about as entertaining a book on the subject as one could find, and includes a lot of epistemology, informal logic, and philosophy of science And who wouldn t want to be able to give an informed answer when asked why exactly UFO reports are unworthy of credence

  8. says:

    Definitely something I d recommend for a course on critical thinking using multiple sources, or even a textbook course of study solely by itself Three thumbs up.

  9. says:

    My wife read the previous edition in a philosophy course in college, and drew a lot from it A couple years later, as I have been looking to develop my ability to influence and convince, and to improve mental acuity, I returned to this book in the new edition.Where this text shines is in its scope and clarity It talks the reader through logic, argument, knowledge, truth, and reality Each section is explained thoroughly to the point of complete understanding.Where the book fails if failure is the right word is how the authors dive deeply into the weeds on specific claims as a means of illustrating the principles discussed throughout the book Overall not a major issue because I found some of it enlightening It was just unnecessary.As I read through the text, I have identified many of the fallacies described in the book in my thought process and the thought process of others Now the test is for me to correct myself and to act as sound thinking role model for others This is a great book I m glad I read it and I encourage you to read it as well.