critical thinking: chapter 3 clear thinking, critical thinking and clear writing

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Critical Thinking: Chapter 3 Clear Thinking, Critical Thinking and Clear Writing Slide 2 Organization and Focus You cant write well if you are not organized! Your essay should support your position or answer anticipated objections. Slide 3 Organization and Focus Use good examples! Make your point, back it up, give an example, and then move on to your next point. Slide 4 Five Good Writing Practices 1. Outlining is important. 2. Revising is very important. 3. Have someone else read your essay and make suggestions. 4. Read your essay out loud. 5. Come back to it later. Slide 5 The Principle of Focus Make clear at the outset what issue you intend to address and what your position on the issue will be. Slide 6 The Principle of Sticking to the Issue All points you make in an essay should be connected to the issue under discussion. Slide 7 The Principle of Logical Sequencing Make a point before clarifying it and make sure your reader can discern the relationship between any given sentence and your ultimate goal. Slide 8 The Principle of Completeness Support fully and adequately whatever position you take on an issue. Slide 9 Five Common Problems 1. Define your terms! Any serious attempt to support or sustain a position requires a clear statement of what is at issue. Sometimes stating what is at issue involves a careful definition of key terms. Slide 10 Types of Definitions 1. Definition by example 2. Definition by synonym, and 3. Analytical definition Slide 11 Definition by Example Pointing to, naming, or describing one or more examples of something to which the defined term applies. Example: What I mean by setting a good example is not putting your feet on the table. Slide 12 Definition by Example Examples: Happiness is having your own DVD burner. A professional bureaucrat is anyone like our former Governor Davis, who spent a lifetime in government. Real property? Why, your house and land are real property. Slide 13 Definition by Synonym Giving another word or phrase that means the same thing. Examples: Poltroonery means the same thing as cowardice. Dacha is another word for Russian country house. Slide 14 Definition by Synonym Examples: Hit me means the same as Give me another card. Being an octogenarian is being in ones eighties. To fledge an arrow is to fletch or feather it. Slide 15 Analytical Definition Specifying (a) the type of thing the term applies to and (b) the difference between the things the term applies to and other things of the same type. Example: A deciduous tree is a hardwood tree that loses its leaves during the winter. Slide 16 Analytical Definition Examples: Widow refers to a woman whose husband has died. Honor means being willing to lay down your life for a just cause. Meat that contains larval worms is said to be measly. Slide 17 Five Common Problems 2. Keep your word choices simple. Good writing is often simple writing: It avoids redundancy, unnecessary complexity, and wordiness. Example: Why write armed gunmen? Gunmen are automatically armed. Slide 18 Simple Word Choices Example: Why write: They expressed their belief that at that point in time it would accord with their desire not to delay their departure when all that is necessary is They said they wanted to leave? Slide 19 Simple Word Choices Because the world is a complicated place, the language we use to describe it often has to be correspondingly complicated. Sometimes it is necessary to be complicated to be clear. But, in general, simplicity is the best policy. Slide 20 Five Common Problems 3. Avoiding ambiguity. A claim is an ambiguous claim if it can be assigned more than one meaning and if the particular meaning it should be assigned is not made clear by context. Slide 21 Avoiding Ambiguity 3. Avoiding ambiguity A. Semantic ambiguity is ambiguous due to a particular word or phrase. Examples: She disputed his claim. Did she dispute his statement or his claim to a gold mine? Slide 22 Semantic Ambiguity Example: My brother doesnt use glasses. What does glasses mean? He does not drink out of glasses or he does not have eye glasses? Avoid ambiguity by substituting an unambiguous word such as eyeglasses for glasses. Sometimes you will need several extra words. Slide 23 Five Common Problems 3. Avoiding ambiguity B. Syntactic ambiguity is ambiguous because of the structure of the sentence rather than a word or phrase as with semantic ambiguity. The words are not confusing but the word order is. Slide 24 Syntactic Ambiguity Example: He chased the girl in his car. What does this mean? Did he chase a girl already inside his car? Or did he chase a girl (perhaps in another car) with his car? Slide 25 Syntactic Ambiguity Example:Theres somebody in the bed next to me. What does this mean? Whose bed? Are you in a dorm room where there are more than one bed and in another bed there is a body, or did you wake up to find someone in your bed? Slide 26 Pronouns The boys chased the girls, and they giggled a lot. Who giggled? Who does the pronoun they refer to? Slide 27 Avoiding Ambiguity The only way to eliminate syntactic ambiguity is to rewrite the claim. For example, he brushed his teeth on the carpet could be rewritten as he brushed his teeth while standing on the carpet. Slide 28 Five Common Problems 3. Avoiding ambiguity C. A grouping ambiguity means whenever we refer to a collection of individuals, we must clearly show whether the reference is to the collection as a group or as individuals. Slide 29 Grouping Ambiguity Example: Secretaries make more money than physicians. Individually, no; as a group, yes. Whenever we refer to a a collection of individuals, we must clearly show whether the reference is to the collection as a group or as individuals. Slide 30 Five Common Problems 3. Avoiding ambiguity D. The fallacy of composition means that we confuse when something holds true of a group of things individually then they will automatically hold true of the same things as a group. Slide 31 The Fallacy of Composition Example: Sampras and Agassi are the two best tennis players in the United States, so they would make the best doubles team. Is this true? Just because they can play best individually does not mean that if you put them together they would be the best couples team. Slide 32 Five Common Problems 3. Avoiding ambiguity E. The fallacy of division is when a person who thinks that what holds true for a group will necessarily hold true of all the individuals in that group. Slide 33 The Fallacy of Division Example: The Eastman School of Music has an outstanding international reputation; therefore, so and so, who is on the faculty of Eastman, must have a good reputation. Not true. Just because you go to a good school does not mean that every teacher will be good. Slide 34 Examples of Ambiguity Priestess was hooker to jury (AP headline). There will be over one hundred consolation prizes worth over $10,000. The girls played with the boys. Why you want sex changes as you age. Slide 35 Analytical Definitions Adult beverage is anything that will get you drunk and make you act like an adolescent. Slide 36 Analytical Definitions Skiingoutdoor fun combined with knocking down trees with your face. Dave Barry Slide 37 Analytical Definitions Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from a liberal, who wishes to replace them with others. Ambrose Bierce Slide 38 Five Common Problems 4. Vague claims can be confused with ambiguous claims, but they are different. Ambiguous claims can mean different things and we are unsure what to pick. Vague claims mean we are unsure of any meaning. Slide 39 Vague Claims Vagueness is not really the problem so much as an undesirable degree of vagueness. Even though a claim may be less precise than it could be, that does not mean it is less precise than is should be. It depends on what you need the information for. Slide 40 Vague Claims Example: If you want to move your car and you ask the usher how long you have until the play begins, the reply Only a minute or two is less precise than is possible, but it will work. It means you dont have enough time. But you might want a more precise time if you are the lead actor in the film. Slide 41 Examples of Vagueness Men burn off 438 calories per hour gardening. Doctor: The arrhythmia you are experiencing indicates that you should lay off jogging for awhile. Your satisfaction is guaranteed with our two-year limited guarantee. Slide 42 Five Common Problems 5. Making faulty comparisons. This is especially a problem with politicians and advertisers. Think about things like Cut by up to half. But how much really? Now 25 percent larger. Larger than what? Slide 43 Questions for Comparisons Is important information missing? Is the same standard of comparison being used? Are the items comparable? Is the comparison expressed as an average? Slide 44 Averages Statistics are notoriously slippery partially because there are three different ways of talking about averages, the mean, the median, and the mode. Slide 45 Mean Average The arithmetic mean of a group of numbers is the number that results when their sum is divided by the number of members in the group. Example: The average grade in the class is total of all the grade points divided by the number of people in the class. Slide 46 Median Average In a group of numbers, as many numbers of the group are larger than the median as smaller. Example: The average grade in the class is the halfway grade, which half the class exceeded and half the class fell short of. Slide 47 Mode Average In a group of numbers, the mode is the number occurring most frequently. Example: The average grade in the class is the most common grade given. Slide 48 Writing in a Diverse Society Part of what people have to decide when listening to you (or reading your work) is whether or not you are credible. And using poor language lowers your credibility, just as us