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COGNITIVE SKILLS OF CRITICAL THINKING person to share thoughts, ideas and to think

beyond the logical.

Cognitive Skills of Critical Thinking
 To clarify something is to make it clear or
Divergent Thinking
 It is the ability to analyze many opinions, ideas,  Assumptions are identified, and similarities and
and judgments. This type of thinking is a skill to differences are noted. Identification of
be developed by practice and is accomplished assumptions and beliefs, and how these can
by evaluating many types of data, distinguishing affect actions, is an important aspect of critical
relevant from irrelevant data, drawing thinking.
inferences, presenting and analyzing
Critical Thinking Processes: Good Critical Thinking
arguments, and recognizing the value of
opposing viewpoints.  Good critical thinking clarifies the meaning of
 An inference is a conclusion that was arrived at terms central to the discussion. Even at the
by data collection. To analyze something is to start of a conversation/argument, the individual
evaluate or study based on the data collected. who possesses this skill should be able to
establish the meaning of a particular term
appropriate to the subject matter at hand.
 It is another cognitive component of critical  Good critical thinking requires an individual to:
thinking. The ability to reason means that a o refine generalizations and avoid
person is able to apply logic to a given situation. oversimplification,
Critical thinkers have the ability to tell the o listen critically, seriously considering
difference between fact and fiction and come to views with which one disagrees,
a logical conclusion based on facts that are o generate and assess solutions to
presented. problems,
 There are two types of reasoning that critical o read critically, seeking out information
thinkers use: that disagrees with one’s perspectives,
o Inductive reasoning – goes from and
particular to general. o compare perspectives, interpretations
o Deductive reasoning – goes from or theories.
general to particular.
Tries to find and Always ensures that
 To reflect on data that you have gathered and subscribe to the easiest factors and problems
to think objectively about information requires and most attainable involved are properly
time and is often the result of experience. solution. analyzed before
Reflective thinking is the ability to integrate proposing solutions.
past experiences with the situation at hand and Discriminates reading Has indiscriminate
make a critical judgment. materials/ sources that appreciation of reading
disagree with his views. materials/sources even if
Creativity these are contrary to his
 Critical thinkers are usually very creative
Emotionally unprepared Anticipates objections to
thinkers. for possible objections their positions.
 Creative thinking is not always purposefully or concerning his position.
necessarily goal-directed; it is sometimes called
“brainstorming.” This type of thinking allows a Incapable of identifying Can easily identify faulty
fault arguments. arguments.
 God exists.
 From the given examples, we may notice that
there are two kinds of claims, one is objective
Argumentation claim and the other one is subjective claim.
What is the difference between them?
 Argument refers to “a set of statements in
o Objective claim – a kind of claim that
which a claim is made, support is offered for it, involves factual matters.
and there is an attempt to influence someone in
o Subjective claim – as opposed to
a context of disagreement.”
objective claim, it involves matters of
o The foregoing definition has two
pure opinion.
contexts: argumentation is a claim and
argumentation as disagreement. Compositions of Evidence
 Argumentation as a claim – in
 Facts and conditions – must be objectively
this context, we consider an
argument as a reasoning
 Beliefs or statements – generally accepted as
true by the recipients.
Example: Pedro made an argument  Conclusions – the result of an outcome or
in support of his proposal for the process.
new marketing plan.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
 Argumentation as a
disagreement – in this context,  Problem solving involves giving a thorough
we consider argument as part attention to a specific problem while finding
of man’s relation with other solutions to resolve such problem.
people.  Most experts suggest that critical thinking goes
beyond problem solving. Instead of finding
Example: Pedro and Pablo were available and accessible solutions to resolve the
having an argument about the color problem, critical thinking aims to raise
of their car. questions on all aspects of the situation and
critique the solutions.
 Argument = Attempt to Convince
 Perhaps one reason why confusion exists
o The attempt to convince is also known
around the differences between problem
as the process of argumentation.
solving and critical thinking is because critical
 Differentiating argument from other forms of
thinking needs to be understood as a process.
For example, an important step in problem
o Greetings, issuing commands,
solving and decision making is the need to
expressing emotions, and making
utilize critical thinking abilities to reframe a
promises are not examples of
problem or situation. Too often, problem
argumentation. It is said that in order to
solving is used in its pure scientific term, as in a
be considered as an argument, the
recipe – follow the steps and an outcome will
statement should carry a claim.
be achieved.
o A claim refers to an expressed opinion
or conclusion that the arguer wants
 Examples of claims:
 Mango-flavored ice
cream tastes better
than vanilla ice cream.
 Abortion is morally
CRITICAL THINKING AND COMMUNICATION The Nature and Basic Functions of Language

Communication Language

 It is a process that allows organisms to  It is the systematic coordination of grammar

exchange information by several methods. and vocabulary used to convey meaning. (Inch
Exchange requires “feedback.” (Wikipedia) and Warnich)
 It is defined as a process by which we assign and  It is a systematic way of combining a group of
convey meaning in an attempt to create shared words that are arbitrary and similar to us all.
understanding. This process requires a vast  It is a method exclusively used by human beings
repertoire of skills in intrapersonal and in order to express opinions, and different kinds
interpersonal processing, listening, observing, of emotions and to provide a material (or
speaking, questioning, analyzing, and spoken) equivalent of a specific abstract
evaluating. (Professional Education and concept.
Certification)  It is the primary tool for human thought. There
 Communication plays an important role in are three specific features of human language.
delivering professional/industry services The main purpose of providing such features is
effectively notwithstanding the existence of to distinguish human from animal language.
cultural diversity and other elements that could o Syntax - It refers to how we present the
disrupt the provision of industry services. words (tangible representation of
 Mutual understanding and clear constructs) to convey a meaningful and
communication are the two prerequisites to comprehensible message. Furthermore,
achieve harmony in every form of human it involves a set of general rules and
interaction. However, harmony is elusive in an principles. Because language is
interaction where there are cultural diversity dynamic, these sets of grammatical
and barriers. In order to achieve a harmonious principles may be enhanced through
relationship with individuals from other the course of time.
cultures, one must evaluate the other’s level of o Symbol - It refers to the essential
understanding. Broadly speaking, component of language. Symbols may
communication is a human activity that involves be in the form of numbers, letters,
an exchange process. Thus, it does not entail a pictures, ideas, events, etc. Again, the
one-sided conversation for it would only result dynamic characteristic of language
to misunderstanding and dispute. enables us to develop other sets of
 Oral language (verbal communication) is symbols constantly.
popularly used by professional workers in o Abstraction- Language represents the
sharing their knowledge with regards to the past, the present and the future, and
ways on how to perform their tasks in the things that will never happen.
Characteristics of Language
 Body language, on the other hand, utilizes non-
verbal communication which involves gestures  Governed by rules. Language is governed by
and body movements. In addition, body rules in order to avoid confusion. The language
language is more complicated than oral convention developed a shared set of patterns
language because though the latter may vary in and schemes to form meaningful and
every territorial area, the message conveyed grammatically sound words.
using a particular language may be translated  Communicative. The primary function of
into another one. The meaning of body language is to facilitate communication so as to
language also varies from culture to culture. express one’s thoughts and emotions.
Understanding and expressing thoughts are two blocks of ideology. In addition, ideology
of the essential elements to promote social serves as a common frame of reference
harmony. of the members of a society for
 Dynamic. Language is a continuous process. understanding the world around them.
 Multiple Levels. It is considered as one of the
Elements on How Humans Understand a Simple
wonders of language. Language can be
Symbol to a Concept
understood even if we change the
pattern/order of symbols.  Mental image (representation) - result of direct
 Spontaneously acquired. Language is naturally experience or imagination.
acquired through constant social interaction.  Referent - actual material object referred to in
 Productive. Language teaches us how to be language.
creative. We are in a continuous process of  Symbol - refers to the one created by humans
inventing symbols (or words) that are intended (either through sound or symbol).
to represent newly discovered objects such as  Reference - the association that the language
cellular phone, laptop, iPad, etc. Furthermore, it user makes between the symbol and the
is composed of different ideas that can be referent.
expressed in any other kind of language.
 Arbitrary. Human language is composed of a Connotations, Denotations and Euphemism
shared system of arbitrary symbolic reference.  Denotation refers to the objective
This system is composed of symbols that were interpretation of meanings; the dictionary
arbitrarily picked to represent various meaning of the word.
objectives. Symbols may be in the form of o Characteristics of denotative meanings:
images, sounds, etc. Ideas/concepts may be  Words that have denotative
represented by various kinds of symbols. meanings can be found in
Language may be changed based on the dictionaries.
purpose and location of representation.  Dictionary - a collection
Language as Communicative Tool of words presented in
alphabetical form with
Vocabulary – a list of words and phrases, usually corresponding
arranged alphabetically. definitions,
Grammar – set of rules setting forth the current
pronunciations, and
standard of usage for reference purposes.
other related
Michael Calvin McGee - an American rhetorical theorist, information.
claimed that language also serves as an important tool  Also, these words are
that unifies a society. universally understood and
established in the culture as a
McGee on Language
 McGee assumed that people who share a  Relatively stable.
language also share a set of cultural o Examples of denotative meanings:
assumptions and a way of thinking.  “Snake” - a cold-blooded,
 Based on this assumption, language is a tool legless reptile (little emotional
that helps shape the culture, ideology and content)
norms of the society.  “Fraternity” - brotherhood,
o For instance, words like equality, social organization for higher
transparency and accountability are education or secondary
some of the identifiable words in a students.
democratic society. McGee emphasized  “EDSA” - a Philippine national
that these words serve as the building highway.
 Connotation refers to the subjective
interpretation of meanings; the emotional or
cultural meaning to a word.
o Characteristics of connotative
 Have something to do with
emotions (emotive
 Every connotative meaning is
unique for the individual.
 Connotative words are unstable
because connotative meanings
are unique or shared by a small
number of individuals.
o Examples of connotative meanings:
 “Snake” - cold, slimy, yucky
monster/an individual who is a
traitor (strong emotional
 “Fraternity” - gang, violent
 “EDSA” - name of the two
peaceful uprisings in the
 Euphemism is to substitute a negative word or
statement with a rather agreeable or
inoffensive one to avoid the occurrence of
conflict between the speaker and the hearer.
 Examples of euphemism include:
o Restroom as opposed to toilet room
o Sanitary landfill as opposed to garbage
o Pre-owned/pre-loved vehicles as
opposed to used/second hand cars
o Custodian as opposed to janitor
o Sanitation worker as opposed to
garbage man
o Informal settlers as opposed to
FACTORS AFFECTING CRITICAL THINKING a particular item/concept from
the other items (i.e. multiple
choice). The combination of
Factors Affecting Critical Thinking Skills recall and recognition memory
is called cued recall. “Fill in the
Memory missing letters” is one of the
 It is an active system that receives information examples of this kind of recall
from the senses, organizes and alters for it commands the subject to
information as it stores, and then retrieves the produce an item based on the
information from storage. given clues (letters). For
 Psychologists have developed different instance, the subject will be
techniques to evaluate individual’s skill in asked to give the first name of
memorizing things. These methods are normally the 13th president of the
objective in character (the likes of objective Philippines. This should be
examination format such as fill in the blanks, followed with a clue, let us say
multiple choice, true or false test, etc.). The J_s_ph (Joseph for “Joseph
aforementioned exam formats are some of the Estrada”).
examples of recall and recognition memory. o Memory can also be viewed as
o In recall memory, the subject is tasked procedural and declarative.
to produce a remembered set of items  Procedural memory works as
which have been previously given or implicit memory because it
reviewed. Moreover, recall memory involves recognition and
comes in three variations namely, awareness of techniques and
paired associates, serial recall, and free procedures as to how to ride a
recall. bicycle, how to setup an
 In paired associates recall, the internet connection, etc.
subject is presented with a list  Declarative memory, on the
of paired words (i.e. bookpencil, other hand, involves
car-boat, needle-house, bread- recognition and understanding
mayo). After storing these of the content of an article,
words in memory, the subject speech or any form of factual
will be tasked to recall an item information.
based on a given word. For Explicit Memory
instance, he is given a stimulus
(word) needle; the subject is  It refers to a kind of memory in which the
expected to state house instead subject is aware that he performs a particular
of mayo, pencil or boat. memory task (either recall or recognition).
 In serial recall, the subject is
Implicit Memory
presented with a list of items
(can be numbers, words or  It refers to a kind of memory in which the
names). He is also expected to subject is not aware that he performs such
recall these words based on its memory task. This includes activities that
original arrangement. require skills such as reading, riding a bike and
 In free recall, the subject is also writing an essay.
presented with a list of items
and expected to enumerate
these items in any order.  It refers to a statement that is either spoken or
 In recognition memory, the written by other people for the purpose of
individual is tasked to recognize giving information to the issue at hand. It
should be noted that other persons’ relevance, or sufficiency of evidence put
testimonials are as liable and as flawed as our forth to support positions in that field.
own. Much skepticism is needed to avoid any
form of deception. Here are some points that
may be considered about relying on  Beliefs “represent man’s conviction about the
testimonials: reality of things and are shared ideas about how
o Most of the time, a deceptive the world operates.” (Panopio and Rolda, 2000:
testimonial appears to be a perfect 53).
argument/claim. Words are  The following can hinder one’s critical thinking
appropriately used and calculated. process:
Thus, making them appear very o The belief that intelligence is inherent,
believable. Critical thinkers should be it runs through genes.
able to identify the essence and real  People who agree to this kind
purpose of such testimony. of belief are afraid to fail. They
o Sometimes, deceptive testimonials are think that failure is synonymous
believable because people choose to with being dumb, stupid, and
believe them (either because of their weak.
beliefs or opinions).  As this saying goes, “One of the
Ignorance dumbest things people do with
the fixed view of intelligence is
 Dictionary.com defines it as “the condition of to sacrifice important learning
being uneducated, unaware or uninformed.” opportunities when those
 Ignorance, in the context of critical thinking, opportunities contain a risk of
refers to being unaware of the important points revealing ignorance or making
involved in the subject matter at hand. It should errors.” Each of us must realize
not be viewed as stupidity. that there is no such thing as
o Stupidity is the quality of being perfection and no one is all-
incompetent to apply intelligence in any knowing.
given task. o The belief that people who are placed
 Here are some tips on how to improve critical on the wrong side of intelligence usually
thinking skills and at the same time, overcome have a hard time grasping a set of
ignorance: knowledge as compared with intelligent
o One of the possible ways to improve people who can learn effortlessly.
one’s critical thinking (as well as to  This belief is called self-
overcome ignorance) is to improve handicapping. This refers to an
one’s vocabulary skills. One can do this attitude in which the individual
by learning how to appreciate the use pretends to be smart (or
of a dictionary. A dictionary is a pretends to avoid looking
collection of words presented in dumb). Normally, this individual
alphabetical form with corresponding is preoccupied with his
definitions, etymologies, reputation rather than
pronunciations, and other related working/developing on
information. something.
o Having background knowledge on the
Wishful Thinking and Self Deception
subject matter at hand is as important
as having an understanding on its  Wishful thinking is a manner of interpreting a
important points. Note that being particular thing (i.e. perception, event, report)
unaware of the basics could result to the way we want it to be (regardless of how it
failure on our end to judge the truth, occurred in reality). Self deception, on the other
hand, refers to a kind of attitude where we try “authorities” in their respective
to look at a particular thing to be true when it is fields, and they graduated from
not. a prestigious university.
However, such qualifications
Suggestibility, Conformity and Admiration for Experts
should not intimidate us from
and Authorities
validating their claim/opinion if
 Skepticism, open-mindedness, intellectual it is within the periphery of
perseverance, integrity, and empathy are not reason. Such attitude is not
enough to develop the most reasonable beliefs synonymous with questioning
in many areas of inquiry. their authority in a particular
 No one has the ability to know a wide range of subject matter.
knowledge. This is the reason why part of The Tortoise and the Hare
professionalism (and being a critical thinker too)
is to accept that our system of knowledge is A hare once made fun of a tortoise. “What a slow way
limited (even if it falls under our expertise). you have!” he said. “How you creep along!”
 It is also a good attitude to accept that we are
“Do I?” said the tortoise. “Try a race with me and I’ll beat
incompetent to make reasonable judgments.
We may seek the help of some experts and
authorities to pursue our goal to attain the “What a boaster you are,” said the hare. “But come! I
highest possible form of knowledge. It should will race with you. Whom shall we ask to mark off the
be noted, however, that it is also important for finish line and see the race is fair?”
us to use intelligently the claims of these
“Let us ask the fox,” said the tortoise.
authorities and experts.
 Most of the time, suggestibility and persuasion The fox was very wise and fair. He showed them where to
through the form of these experts’ opinion start and how far they were to run.
could affect our way of thinking or could hinder
The tortoise lost no time. He started out at once and
us to think critically.
jogged straight on.
 British psychologist Robert Thouless described
how suggestibility and persuasion affect our The hare leaped along swiftly for a few minutes until he
mode of thinking. had left the tortoise far behind. He knew he could reach
o If a topic is confidently delivered by a the mark very quickly, so he lay down by the road under
professional from a prestigious a shady tree and took a nap.
university but without argument or
proof, chances are his audience would By and by he awoke and remembered the race. He sprang
accept the suggestions made by him up and ran as fast as he could. But when he reached the
even if there are no sufficient evidences finish mark the tortoise was already there!
presented before them. “Slow and steady wins the race,” said the fox.
 Professor’s “prestige” – refers
to the acknowledged dignity of Laziness and Pride
authority possessed by  Laziness is an attitude that drives us to think
senators, bishops, and others uncritically for it encourages us to conform and
who occupy key and important accept the claims made by authorities. It usually
positions in the society. emerges because of our desire to attain ready
 These experts are skillful in and accessible results. Thus, it hinders us to
convincing us to believe their think critically. Lazy people tend to think in
claims uncritically. It is as if we terms of stereotypes and slogans.
have no choice but to accept o Stereotypes – generalizations that
their claims for the reasons that people make about the characteristics
they are “experts,” they are of all members of a group, based on an
image (often wrong) about what people beliefs and values are superior to those
in that group are like. Examples are: of other cultures.
 Americans are arrogant,  Prejudice may also be derived from ignorance,
domineering, impatient. misinformation, past experiences, and fear.
 Asians are shrewd and alert, but
Confirmation Bias
 Products made in China have  Psychologists and cognitive scientists consider
substandard qualities. confirmation bias as a type of selective
o Slogan – refers to oversimplification of attention in which the individual tends to relate
things that are complex. a particular situation/ phenomenon to
 Darwin’s theory is that we all something (i.e. unusual situation, phenomenon)
come from monkeys in order to confirm/support his
 For Sigmund Freud, sex is what beliefs/preconceptions without looking at
we are as human beings. different factors that may have contributed to
 Pride, just like laziness, the occurrence of such belief.
minimizes our skill in critical  Further, it is somehow similar to the fallacy of
thinking. Pride can also be false cause in which it involves a presumption
understood as self- that the existence of something is brought
handicapping. about by the existence of another thing. Thus,
Communal Reinforcement the reasoning proceeds to the effect from the
considered cause when it is not in fact the real
 It refers to a collective behavior in which the cause. The only difference between
members of the community consider a claim to confirmation bias and false cause is that in the
be correct even if it has been poorly researched former, the individual tends to look for what
and not supported by pertinent evidence and confirms his beliefs while at the same time,
data. ignoring the relevance of what contradicts one’s
 Communal reinforcement would likely emerge beliefs.
in the society where claims are repeatedly
Physical and Emotional Hindrances
asserted to be true.
 Examples of communal reinforcement include:  Stress, illnesses and current emotional state are
o Alternative health practice – a method some of the factors that affect our ability to
of healing that has not been proven to think and act critically.
be effective, untraditional, and usually o Excessive chemical intake (i.e. caffeine,
involves unscientific principles. nicotine, and other chemical
o Existence of the “Bermuda” triangle substances)
o Existence of Santa Claus o Lack of sleep
o Exorcism – a practice of expelling o Lack of body nutrients and energy
demons or other unworldly entities boosters
Prejudice  Tips on how to overcome such factors include:
o Avoid excessive chemical intake.
 It refers to the strongly held opinion about o Get enough sleep. The average enough
some topic or a group of people. A positive sleep for adults is 7-8 hours.
prejudice often stems from a strong sense of o Avoid making judgments when upset.
ethnocentrism, that is, a belief that one’s Decisions made during this emotional
cultural group is vastly superior to the beliefs status would only produce bad
held by others. outcomes. Wait until a stable moment
o Ethnocentrism – it refers to the arrives.
individual’s belief that his cultural

 One of the best ways to overcome ignorance is

to find some time to have basic knowledge of
the subject matter. The individual may check on
the available resources that could help him
obtain essential information in a particular field.
 These resources include books, published
articles, manuscripts and records, Internet, etc.

Tendency to Conform

 This particular kind of limitation is difficult to

overcome for such act involves social pressure.
As mentioned before, man’s tendency to
conform is a part of his social life. It is also his
means to bring harmony in his social relations
with other individuals.
 The best way to start is to consider such
hindrance as a problem. The individual should
be aware that it is really his problem that
discourages him to think and act critically.
 On the other hand, the individual should know
how to weigh his priorities. Sometimes, it is
unnecessary to challenge the claims/views of
others (i.e. your boss or your friend) if the
relationship with him is at risk. Awareness of
the problem would not eliminate it and
challenging one’s friends is not always to one’s

Admiration for Experts and Authorities

 Such limitation is one of the most difficult to

overcome (aside from the tendency to conform)
for it involves challenging the experts’ opinions
and judgments. It is also the usual problem of
students who are frequently exposed to the
views and academic insights of their professors.

Laziness and the Desire for Quick Results

 One should make an effort to overcome this

limitation. Learning how to prioritize and value
important things could lessen, if not eliminate,
this hindrance.

Physical and Emotional Hindrances

 The individual should make some conscientious

efforts to overcome this set of hindrances.
FALLACIES OF AMBIGUITY AND  The cause of any of the
previous errors including what
are normally referred to as
Basic Concepts “rhetorical techniques.”
 Fallacy refers to a type of
 History argument that may seem to be
o Ancient Classical Period. Given that correct, but that proves, on
Aristotle spent his life in studying things examination, not to be so.
related to science (physical, natural and  Others say that committing
argumentative), it can be said that he is fallacious statements or
the logician who discovered the arguments is also synonymous
concept of fallacy, that is, an error in with violating the usual norms
reasoning. Aristotle defined 13 of good reasoning.
typologies of fallacies.
 Aristotle’s fallacies are
enumerated in his book entitled
Topics, under De Sophisticitis
Elenchis (Sophistical
Refutations). The book was
written as early as 350 B.C.
 Definitions
o Based on its etymological definition,
fallacy comes from the Latin word fallo,
which means “I deceive.”
o In a nutshell, a fallacy refers to incorrect
form of reasoning. In a claim, if both
premises are true but the conclusion
proves to be inconsistent to one or both
premise/s, we can say that such
proposition/claim is fallacious.
o One of the major purposes of studying
logic is to study correct and incorrect
reasoning. In order to do this, students
should familiarize themselves with the
common types of fallacies.
o Some authors describe or define
fallacies as deceptive arguments. These
arguments, according to them, appear
to be valid or correct but when
examined, they turn out to be invalid or
o However, some logicians consider
fallacies as ambiguous terms. Internet
Encyclopedia of Philosophy enumerates
four definitions of fallacies.
 A kind of error in argument.
 A kind of error in reasoning
(including arguments,
definitions, explanations, etc.).
 A false belief.