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Summary of Week 1

Let's recap the important concepts covered in Week 1. This conclusion video is supplemented with an article below to summarise the main ideas.

So what have we done in this first week?

Essentially, we saw that logical and critical thinking aims to ensure that we have good reasons for our beliefs. And, we’re called upon to exercise these skills constantly – to adopt and assess beliefs at every turn. However, we are prone to make logical and critical thinking errors. We looked at some examples of the obstacles and reasoning mistakes which lead us into those errors:

  • Common obstacles
  • Confirmation bias
  • Time-saving bias
  • Framing problems
  • Common fallacies

Some of these obstacles appear to be deep seated psychological tendencies to reason in certain ways. Our reasoning is infused with ‘affect’ or emotion. Our positive or negative affective reactions to people, things or ideas arise much more rapidly than our conscious thoughts, getting in first, to establish a framework in which subsequent reflection takes place. That sub-conscious affective response both ‘frames’ our subsequent cognitive processing, and generates initial hypothesis or attitudes which we then tend to give a privileged status when considering supporting or challenging evidence.

So it’s not surprising that those sorts of obstacles are hard to avoid – at least if we’re relying just on our own cognitive skills. We need systems – like logic – and perhaps institutional practices – like science – to help us overcome them. We aim to develop good logical and critical thinkers so in the coming weeks we will give you the tools (eg logic) to meet that responsibility.

You can check your progress on the course so far.

This article is from the free online

Logical and Critical Thinking

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