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The goal of critical thinking is to arrive at the most reasonable beliefs and take the most reasonable actions. We have evolved, however, not to seek the truth, but to survive and reproduce. Critical thinking is an unnatural act. By nature, we're driven to confirm and defend our current beliefs, even to the point of irrationality. We are prone to reject evidence that conflicts with our beliefs and to attack those who offer such evidence.
The items below are listed in alphabetical order. For someone new to the subject, I suggest the following order of reading:
1) several essays I've written on the difficulty of changing minds: Belief Armor, Evaluating Personal Experience, Why Do People Believe in the Palpably Untrue?, Defending Falsehoods, and Why Woo-woo Wins.
topical index: critical thinkingA
ad hoc hypothesis
ad populum fallacy
affirming the consequent
appeal to authority
appeal to tradition
argument to ignorance
begging the question
Clever Hans phenomenon
clever Linda phenomenon
continued influence effect
control group study
denying the antecedent
face on Mars
ignorance as a hindrance to critical thinking
law of truly large numbers
Littlewood's law of miracles
post hoc reasoning
straw man fallacy
testimonials (anecdotal evidence)
Wason Card Problem
Presentation on Teaching Critical Thinking
Free downloads of chapters from my textbook on Critical thinking, Becoming a Critical Thinker, 2nd ed.
Using The Skeptic's Dictionary for courses in
- Critical Thinking about the Paranormal
- General Critical Thinking Courses
- Science and Pseudoscience
- Science and the Supernatural
- Critical Thinking about New Age Ideas
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (2011)
The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons (Crown 2010)
by Jerome Groopman, M.D. (Houghton Mifflin 2007)
Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine
by R. Barker Bausell (Oxford 2007).
The March of Unreason: Science, Democracy, and
the New Fundamentalism
by Dick Taverne (Oxford 2006).
Power of Persuasion - How We're Bought and Sold
by Robert Levine (John Wiley & Sons 2003),
Don't Get Taken! - Bunco and Bunkum Exposed - How to Protect Yourself
by Robert A. Steiner (Wide-Awake Books 1989), and
The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading (third edition)
by Ian Rowland (Ian Rowland Limited 2002).
for Memory - the brain, the mind, and the past
by Daniel L. Schacter (Basic Books 1996).
Demon-Haunted World - Science as a Candle in the Dark
by Carl Sagan (Random House 1995).
The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together by Charles T. Tart, Ph.D. (New Harbinger 2009)
The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death by Gary Schwartz (Atria 2003)
Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality by Dean Radin (Paraview Pocket Books 2006)
The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena by Dean Radin (HarperOne 1997)
Ghost Hunters - William James and the Hunt for Scientific Proof of Life After Death by Deborah Blum (Penguin Press 2006).