12 Critical Thinking Skills

12 Critical Thinking Skills to Target

1. Generating and evaluating inferences

Why do you have a headache? Is it stress? Allergies? A nascent cold? The flu? A trapped insect? A voodoo curse? Too many gummy bears? Too few gummy bears? The beginning of a slow but excruciating descent into madness? One of these has to be true, otherwise, you wouldn’t have a headache.

2. Identifying bad inferences (Logical fallacies)

That cat scratched me, therefore all mammals scratch humans, including other humans.

3. Identifying why we make bad inferences (Biases)

I was never afraid of sharks until I watched Jaws on a plane while it was crashing.

4. Identifying sources of evidence

Not to worry, the internet has them all.

5. Identifying bad evidence (Logical fallacies)

Lincoln believed in ghosts, so I’m perfectly justified in building a blanket-fort to protect myself.

6. Identifying values and anti-values as motivators

I value success, which means I will exact bitter revenge on all who have wronged me and stand laughing over them as they lay whimpering and begging for mercy. I also value friendship and a good sense of humor.

7. Analyzing value conflicts

Comfort and achievement often conflict, as embodied in the nightly war between television and reading, television and yardwork, television and going on a nice walk, television and talking to your friends, and television and taking a rejuvenating nap.

8. Analyzing values, value systems, ideologies, and extremism

One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. But even if you’re really sure that you’re a freedom fighter, you might consider some passive resistance stuff first.

9. Identifying rhetorical techniques (Logical fallacies)

The art of making people feel something, anything, while talking about politics, or soda, or sensible cars.

10. Understanding the role of status in history, literature, and life

Some people think they are climbing up the ladder by pushing others further down. One of my students told me that, and she must have learned it from me because I’m an amazing teacher and she’s merely a student.

11. Identifying social norms and biases

Breaking out of the man box and the woman box and the race box, and all the other boxes that are only real because we keep on building them and putting each other in them.

12. Understanding the architecture of learning

100% of babies are stupid. We are not born smart; we become smart. (Link under construction. See summary)

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