Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking, 12th edition

  • M Browne, 
  • Stuart M. Keeley

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Asking the Right Questions bridges the gap between blindly accepting information and the greater challenge of critical analysis and synthesis. It teaches you how to think critically by exploring the components of an argument and how to spot faulty reasoning, so that you can decide what information to accept or reject.

Published by Pearson (July 14th 2021) - Copyright © 2018

ISBN-13: 9780137501731

Subject: Composition

Category: Readers

Table of contents


1. The Benefit and Manner of Asking the Right Questions

The Noisy, Confused World We Live In
Experts Cannot Rescue Us, Despite What They Say
The Necessity of Relying on Our Mind
Critical Thinking to the Rescue
The Sponge and Panning for Gold: Alternative Thinking Styles
Weak-Sense and Strong-Sense Critical Thinking
The Importance of Practice
Critical Thinking and Other People
Primary Values of a Critical Thinker
Keeping the Conversation Going
Creating a Friendly Environment for Communication
Writing and Speaking as Critical Thinkers

2. What Are the Issue and the Conclusion?

Kinds of Issues
Searching for the Issue
Searching for the Author's or Speaker's Conclusion
Clues to Discovery: How to Find the Conclusion
Practice Exercises
Sample Responses

3. What Are the Reasons?

Initiating the Questioning Process
Words That Identify Reasons
Keeping the Reasons and Conclusions Straight
Reasons First, Then Conclusions
Writing and Speaking as Critical Thinkers
Practice Exercises
Sample Responses

4. What Words or Phrases Are Ambiguous?

The Confusing Flexibility of Words
Locating Key Terms and Phrases
Checking for Ambiguity
Determining Ambiguity
Context and Ambiguity
Ambiguity, Definitions, and the Dictionary
Limits of Your Responsibility to Clarify Ambiguity
Writing and Speaking as Critical Thinkers
Practice Exercises
Sample Responses

5. What Are the Value and Descriptive Assumptions?

General Guide for Identifying Assumptions
Value Conflicts and Assumptions
From Values to Value Assumptions
Typical Value Conflicts
The Communicator's Background as a Clue to Value Assumptions
Consequences as Clues to Value Assumptions
More Hints for Finding Value Assumptions
The Value of Knowing the Value Priorities of Others
Values and Relativism
Identifying and Evaluating Descriptive Assumptions
Illustrating Descriptive Assumptions
Common Descriptive Assumptions
Clues for Locating Assumptions
Writing and Speaking as Critical Thinkers
Practice Exercises
Sample Responses

6. Are There Any Fallacies in the Reasoning?

A Questioning Approach to Finding Reasoning Fallacies
Evaluating Assumptions as a Starting Point
Discovering Other Common Reasoning Fallacies
Looking for Diversions
Sleight of Hand: Begging the Question
Summary of Reasoning Errors
Expanding Your Knowledge of Fallacies
Practice Exercises
Sample Responses

7. The Worth of Personal Experience, Case Examples, Testimonials, and Statements of Authority as Evidence

Fact or Opinion?
The Need for Dependable Evidence
Sources of Evidence
Personal Experience as Evidence
Case Examples as Evidence
Testimonials as Evidence
Appeals to Authority as Evidence
Practice Exercises
Sample Responses

8. How Good Is the Evidence: Personal Observation and Research Studies?

Personal Observation as Evidence
Biased Surveys and Questionnaires
Research Studies as Evidence
General Problems with Research Findings
Generalizing From the Research Sample
Generalizing From the Research Measures
When You Can Most Trust Expert Opinion
Research and the Internet
Writing and Speaking as Critical Thinkers
Practice Exercises
Sample Responses

9. Are There Rival Causes?

When to Look for Rival Causes
The Pervasiveness of Rival Causes
Detecting Rival Causes
The Cause or a Cause
Multiple Perspectives as a Guide to Rival Causes
Confusing Causation with Association
Confusing "After This" with "Because of This"
Explaining Individual Events or Acts
Evaluating Rival Causes
Rival Causes and Your Own Communication
Exploring Potential Causes
Practice Exercises
Sample Responses

10. Are Any Statistics Deceptive?

Unknowable and Biased Statistics
Confusing Averages
Measurement Errors
Concluding One Thing, Proving Another
Deceiving by Omitting Information
Using Statistics in Your Writing
Practice Exercises
Sample Responses

11. What Significant Information Is Omitted?

The Benefits of Detecting Omitted Information
The Certainty of Incomplete Reasoning
Questions That Identify Omitted Information
But We Need to Know the Numbers
The Importance of the Negative View
Omitted Information That Remains Missing
Writing and Speaking as Critical Thinkers
Practice Exercises
Sample Responses

12. What Reasonable Conclusions Are Possible?

Dichotomous Thinking: Impediment to Considering Multiple Conclusions
Grey Thinking: Two Sides or Many?
Productivity of If-Clauses
The Liberating Effect of Recognizing Alternative Conclusions
Practice Exercises
Sample Responses

13. Speed Bumps Interfering with Your Critical Thinking

The Discomfort of Asking the Right Questions
Thinking Too Quickly
Mental Habits That Betray Us
Halo Effect
Belief Perseverance
Availability Heuristic
Answering the Wrong Question
Wishful Thinking: Perhaps the Biggest Single Speed Bump on the Road to Critical Thinking
Final Words

Your questions answered

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