TED Conversations

Jaime Lubin

TEDx Zapopan speaker,


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Critical thinking versus opinion.

In many TED Conversations I've noticed the fear to the critical thinking that has been replace by opinions.

Why is so easy to say nonsense without the minimal aproach to knowledge

Why this simple magical fantasies in our times?

Are we in the threshold of a new dark age?

What can we do to recover one of the most precious human gifts?

How can we unmask all the liers and hoax-makers?

Why we have to believe them?


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    Apr 12 2012: Is your post a matter of opinion or have you some critical analysis to back up those opinions?
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      Apr 13 2012: I like your comment, because it goes to show that we all want to state our opiniion as a fact.

      In the end, we, individually, have to rely on our own thinking abilities.

      People all too often want others to think and feel like they think and feel...............they don't want us to be critical thinkers.......LOL

      But Jaime does raise a valid question, I hope you come back with your input Anne.
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        Apr 13 2012: It wasn't a flippant comment.

        Opinions may be passed on by others who have influenced us. To a greater or lesser degree we have exercised critical thinking in deciding to accept that influence.

        Opinions may be conclusions we have reached as a result of direct experience, in which case a degree of critical thinking has been exercised in order to determine the validity of the input data and the output conclusion.

        We can form opinions in the abstract, in which case we exercise a degree of critical thinking about the relevance and importance of the data we work with.

        As a bais for discussion, let's say that it is a matter of opinion whether any expressed view is based on sufficient critical thinking.
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          Apr 14 2012: Ann , respectfully theres no degrees in critical thinking. It is or it is'nt.

          In opinions exist a lot of dangerous variations. And the critical thinking is important "per se". For example in extreme sports you have to be critical thinker all the time. In the top of the mountain, crossing a river, in march trough the desert...when you set your backpack you have to be critical to be prepared all the time. Theres no space for opinions when you are climbing the mountain, or swimming to cross the english channel. In biking you have to be critical with your efforts to pedaling. Opinion in extreme sport are very dangerous. You cant express your opinion when you lost the track, the compass speak with the right way. And theres no room for flippant opinions.
          I know very well the extreme activities field in military situations.
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          Apr 15 2012: Hi Anne, I am interested in your definition of "critical thinking."
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          Apr 15 2012: Anne, Jaime, and Bob

          Look............. straight from the horses' mouth for your consideration:

          Critical Thinking as Defined by the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking
          A statement by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul for the {presented at the 8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform, Summer 1987}.

          Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.

          Critical thinking varies according to the motivation underlying it.

          *When grounded in selfish motives, it is often manifested in the skillful MANIPULATION of ideas in service of one’s own, or one's groups’, vested interest.

          Critical thinking of any kind is never universal in any individual; everyone is subject to episodes of undisciplined or irrational thought.

          Its quality is therefore typically a matter of degree and dependent on, among other things, the quality and depth of experience in a given domain of thinking or with respect to a particular class of questions.

          No one is a critical thinker through-and-through, but only to such-and-such a degree, with such-and-such insights and blind spots, subject to such-and-such tendencies towards self-delusion.
          For this reason, the development of critical thinking skills and dispositions is a life-long endeavor.

          Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way.

          People who think critically consistently attempt to live live rationally, reasonably, empathically.
          They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked.

          What do you think???
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          Apr 15 2012: Anne, I loved your reply.....I started to second guess the things I have written already in this conversation, so I googled critical thinking, and found the wonderful explanation above.

          This definition, is in harmony with what I have learned in my 30+ years as an educator.

          As I mentioned to Lindsay a day ago, we as educators are exposed to Bloom's taxonomy in university....this is a format for getting kids engaged in thinking for themselves, it starts with asking "knowledge" questions and ends with "evaluating" one's thinking. Skillfully using Bloom's taxonomy in formulating class discussions and assessments results in helping the student develop his critical thinking skills.......his power of reasoning......his mental faculties.....

          Life is complicated, if we are not critical thinkers, well, nothing would get fixed around the house.....we couldn't budget ourselves, traffic would always be in a jam.....etc....

          Of course, I agree that there are areas of life that appear to lack people with critical thinking skills......BUT............LOOK AT what the definition says............critical thinking in the hands of selfish individuals is used for manipulating.....that is what I personally have seen, especially in the last 10-15 years of my life on this planet.....what appears to be a LACK of critical thinking is actually done on purpose.....to manipulate.....anyways, this is what I perceive.....because let's face it, sometimes we think of people in leadership roles............"they can't be that dumb can they?"

          Well, I just wanted to share this.

          I hope there is now more solid food to sink our teeth into and discuss.
          Discuss away....I will continue to follow the conversation.
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          Apr 15 2012: Opinion is mere belief or judgment on any subject used by those that don't like to think much.
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        Apr 15 2012: Hi Mary. I think your quoted definition of critical thinking (copied below) sheds light on why there is so little evidence of critical thinking in our world today.

        “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action”

        If I read this to many of the people I work with, I would either see eyes glaze over or be confronted with the question “What the hell does that mean?”

        Actually, that question may provide a clearer insight into critical thinking. I understand it simply as a process of clarifying by asking questions that help us to see a larger picture more clearly from different perspectives.

        The intellectualization of critical thinking undermines the process of helping people to learn it. It creates an illusion of complexity that it can only be understood by highly trained, sophisticated, and well-paid minds. I believe my son demonstrated critical thinking at age 3. My wife once counted 37 follow-up questions that he asked on one topic until he was satisfied that he understood it clearly. I facilitated an empowerment program owned and operated by people in poverty for nine years. It was the most efficient system I have ever worked in. Participants were taught to clarify, by asking questions and seeking a better understanding of the larger picture. They learn to ask question about assumptions, sources, meanings, intent, likely effects and implications in response to one statement “Let’s clarify.”

        I believe critical thinking is natural. We simply need to model, promote, and support it. Imagine the effects that might have on our educational, political, and economic systems...
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          Apr 15 2012: Bob, you asked about my definition. I like the example you gave, and I'll use that as a basis for my definition. Critical thinking is asking 'Why?' often enough' And 'So what?'. And 'Who says?'. And 'What's missing?'.

          In summary it's not exercising mindless acceptance of the data placed in front of you.
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          Apr 15 2012: Well, Bob, I'm not sure how to interpret your reply to me.

          The part of the definition that you copied and pasted is clear and concise....and if, the people you work with asked you what it meant then that would imply that their metacognitive skills are in tact....they understand that they don't understand....and asking for clarification, is wonderful!

          I don't think that critical thinking should be intellectualize. Hey, I'm not an intellectual. I am an elementary teacher for goodness sakes. And I teach critical thinking to first and second graders....I agree with you...it is natural. But now read this:

          Like I stated in a previous comment, critical thinking starts to develop very early.....kids are naturally curious.......they ask why all the time.....and usually follow it up with 27 other questions. Most parents tell the kid to scram after the first 3..........by the time I get them, they have been told to stop asking questions so many many times that they actually, by age 7, are SCARED to question teachers.

          Hence, I will stand by my posts.....we teachers are taught in college to develop the "skill" of critical thinking in children.......most kids come to school after 4 years of being told by parents..........."now Billy, don't ask too many questions!!"...............I have to turn around and tell Billy "Please ask questions, please!!"

          Yes, I am hoping that 20 years from now some scientist will thank me, their second grade teacher with igniting their love of learning and skills of critical thinking and passion for science. I know, I have big dreams. What can I say??
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          Apr 15 2012: P.S. scroll down and read what Salim posted about Bangladesh.....it is an epidemic...this telling children NOT to ask questions....aha.....the root of the problem lies where????

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        Apr 16 2012: Mary wrote “.we teachers are taught in college to develop the "skill" of critical thinking in children.......most kids come to school after 4 years of being told by parents..........."now Billy, don't ask too many questions!!"...............I have to turn around and tell Billy "Please ask questions, please!!"”

        So let’s clarify. Billy does not seem to be aware that there are some situations where it is helpful to ask questions and others where it’s not. (Many of my previous supervisors would likely say I had the same problem.). That leads to the question how does one know when it is helpful to ask questions. Billy can probably tell us when it is not helpful to ask questions, ie when his parents are stressed, tired, frustrated, or preoccupied. So one key in asking questions is a learning to assess whether the person we are asking is receptive to the questions (the main reason I left jobs where my supervisors didn’t like questions). What about how and when questions are asked and what kinds of questions are asked? These would seem to be important considerations. Asking a complicated, abstract question is different than a question to be answered yes or no. There are lots of wonderful learning opportunities here for both Billy and his teacher.

        The term “teacher” does not include mutual exploration in its definition. A good mountain guide is exploring the mountain anew each time he or she “teaches” a group how to navigate the trails. An effective guide adapts each trip to the individual needs, interests, and concerns of the travelers. Sadly, our system of education does not leave much room for this kind of guided exploration. We remove children and young adults from life to teach them about life. The very fact that we have a concept of “critical thinking” is in some respects, evidence of our failure to develop an educational system that helps people to live effective and fulfilling lives.
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          Apr 16 2012: You know what Bob? I agre with alot of what you state here.

          You have to understand, that bad parenting is bad paenting. It is not that the parent is busy, or stressed or tired, some parents don't want to deal with the intellectual side of their child. I have seen five year olds who start kindergarten without the knowledge of how to color or even hold a crayon in their hand. And some who are afraid to say they need to go to the bathroom because of fear that opening their mouth to say they have a need is too embarassing for them. There are alot of issues involved with question asking....

          Some parents leave everything up to the teachers. I hope you understand the point I am trying to make Bob. I am not saying all, I am saying some parents.

          And, effective teachers, like effective guides, adapt each lesson to the individual student population....sometimes taking time out from whole classroom instruction to give individual attention to the less than average child........but the teacher's own critical thinking skills have to be at play to do this. She must perceive, and analyze and evaluate facial expressions, and homework answers and class participation of each child to discern which one needs the individual help.......there are so many factors at play.

          I also think, addressing now your last sentence, that education should not have the entire load of responsibility. Parents have a big role to play. Humans have lived effective fulfiiling lives without the presence of educational systems in the past, wouldn't you agree?

          Why should education alone be blamed for this lack of critical thinking?

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