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Summary of Critical Thinking Rules
Rule 1: Engage in active information acquisition. Do not be a passive acquirer of information. Critical thinking requires questioning most information that is offered. (Examples: Is the information correct? Where was it attained from? etc.)
Rule 2: Be suspicious of individuals' self-reports of their own attitudes. Individuals' self-reports about their attitudes usually do not reflect accurately how they really feel because these feelings represent subjective desires or expectations rather thin objective evaluations based upon impartial examination.
Rule 3: Do not jump to conclusions. Three elements are important in this directive:
Rule 4: Beware of tautologies or truisms. Beware of statements that are always true or correct. This includes statements that can never be disproved by any data. These statements are used a lot in casual conversations where disagreement is not desired.
Rule 5: Correlation is not the same as causation. Correlation means that two or more things are closely related, but it does not mean that one was the cause of the other. Conclusions cannot be drawn from information that is simply correlational.
Rule 6: Avoid over-simplification by considering alternative explanations. Oversimplifications result from brief examinations of findings that are correlational and then are applied as the rule rather than the exception.
Rule 7: Look at errors in all arguments - even your own. The role of the critical thinker is to constantly question arguments, data, causal theories, correlations, generalizations, and all encompassing statements that explain how things work.
Rule 8: Realize what your value judgments are. Each person has a set of values and therefore a set of value judgments about everything considered. The many variables that have influenced these values cannot be changed, but each person can be aware that these values are being used with respect to the given subject.
Rule 9: Attempt to conquer your biases. Biases and values are closely linked and are a result of our values. Biases can many times blind us to the truth and keep us from truly understanding a situation.
Rule 10: Define your terms. Many arguments are carried on with both sides not talking about the same thing. Items such as defining key words and setting limits on the discussion need to be taken care of prior to the debate.
Rule 11: Go beyond the obvious. Find out what variables created the observed phenomenon. To truly understand am situation additional inquiry is always necessary.
Rule 12: Beware of conclusions that are not derived from the stated premises.