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This book trains students to distinguish high-quality, well-supported arguments from arguments with little or no evidence to support them. It develops the skills required to effectively evaluate the many claims facing them as citizens, learners, consumers, and human beings, and also to be effective advocates for their beliefs. Chapter topics include the foundations of arguments, reality and value assumptions and ethics, inductive arguments and generalizations, reasoning errors, the power of language, media literacy, fairmindedness, and persuasive speaking. For critical thinkers who want to be discerning about the messages they read or hear; make decisions based on careful consideration of both facts and values; be alert to distortion in reporting and advertising; and, defend their own viewpoints.
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This text with readings develops students' basic critical thinking skills by means of several fresh materials and strategies: an easy progression from familiar, social examples to more complex, political and commercial examples; strong use of graphics; incorporation of multi-cultural examples and readings throughout; and an emphasis on print and electronic media as a way of illustrating the use of critical thinking skills in everyday life. The goal of this text is to train students how to evaluate the claims that responsible citizens, consumers, and social beings confront daily and how to construct and present effective arguments for their own beliefs.From the Inside Flap:
Everyone thinks. If you ask people where they stand on a particular issue, they will usually tell you what they believe and give reasons to support their beliefs. Many people, however, find it difficult to evaluate a written or spoken ,commentary on a controversial issue because both sides of the controversy seem to have good arguments.
The critical thinker is able to distinguish high-quality, well-supported arguments from arguments with little or no evidence to back them. This text trains students to evaluate the many claims facing them as citizens, learners, consumers, and human beings; it also helps students become more effective advocates for their beliefs.
Becoming a Critical Thinker is designed to be interdisciplinary and to be useful in courses in critical thinking, informal logic, rhetoric, English, speech, journalism, humanities, and the social sciences. It has also been used as a required text or a supplement in nursing programs and in workshops for staff development and business management. The skills that distinguish critical thinkers across various disciplines are presented in a clear and comprehensible manner. UNIQUE FEATURES
The process of becoming a critical thinker takes place when ideas are clearly understood and put into practice. For this reason, many elements of the text have been chosen because of their practical application for the student:
Each concept is explained with examples, and the examples often proceed from the personal to the social or political. In this way, students can see that the same skills used in understanding arguments in daily life are used in analyzing political and commercial rhetoric. Graphic illustrations help students visualize important concepts. Exercises of varying levels of difficulty are given throughout the chapters to help students practice critical thinking skills. Emphasis is placed on understanding and analyzing the impact of print and electronic media on arguments. Students are taught to construct and present arguments so that they can gain skill and confidence as advocates for their beliefs. There is an early and primary emphasis on understanding conflicting value systems and on ethics in argumentation and decision making. The articles and essays selected for use in the text are contemporary and express a variety of political viewpoints and ethical concerns. Multicultural perspectives are presented throughout the examples and articles. Many exercises and assignments encourage students to understand the perspectives of others and to broaden their own perspectives. There is a variety of writing and speaking assignments at the end of each chapter. The text is supplemented with an instructor's manual and test bank in addition to a Web site containing examples of critical thinking principles that can be used for classroom discussion. SPECIFIC CHANGES IN THE THIRD EDITION
This third edition of Becoming a Critical Thinker has been created with two priorities in mind: First, we wanted to retain and, in the cases of explanations of philosophical concepts, to improve the user friendly format of the first two editions. Also, we wanted to update readings and concepts so that readers will enjoy the application of critical thinking principles to current issues. New features in the third edition include:
Expanded supplementary resources for instructors. These include an instructor's manual with revised tests and an answer key for each chapter, discussions of chapter exercises, and suggestions for teaching critical thinking concepts. In addition, a Web site may be referenced for additional lecture material and student practice exercises. New articles and essays address current topics. This edition retains relevant articles from the second edition and includes new editorial essays and articles on such current topics as: The ethical dilemmas doctors face when deciding whether to prescribe placebos, problems in acculturation of Vietnamese immigrants, the use of expert testimony to overturn criminal convictions, the use of suggestion by retailers, citizen reactions to the new multiracial categories in the U.S. census, and a lawyer's use of listening to persuade jurors. New user friendly elements elucidate many of the basic concepts covered in the first and second editions. The definition of critical thinking and argumentation has been expanded with an emphasis on the distinction between argument and conflict. The sections on causation and deductive reasoning have been clarified with more relevant explanations and new illustrations. Stereotyping and conformity (including groupthink) are discussed as hindrances to critical thinking. A new outline on the topic of organ donation has been added to Chapter 10. Each chapter ends with a "Chapter Checkup" that tests students' knowledge of the information covered. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
My husband, John Diestler, remains an invaluable help in many ways. He provided expertise on the "user friendly" format; he worked out preliminary designs for the original and the new logos and figures in the text; and he made useful suggestions on the manuscript throughout its production.
I thank my editor, Katie Janssen, for her encouragement and expert guidance that enabled me to complete this edition in a timely manner. I remain grateful to Maggie Barbieri for her dedicated work on the first edition. I appreciate Edie Riker for her diligence, patience, and professionalism as she supervised the production of this text.
I am grateful to students who used the text and made useful suggestions for additions and changes: Warda Javed, Marites Ayson, Stephanie Jensen, and Malik Ali. Suzanne Barton helped me with manuscript changes and Helen Kalkstein, Rafaella del Bourgo, and Connie Anderson suggested interesting and relevant additions to the text. Several presenters and participants from the annual Conference on Critical Thinking at Sonoma State University, including William Dorman, Perry Weddle, Connie Missimer, Marlys Mayfield, Betty Duffy, and John Splaine, kindly shared a variety of relevant research material.
In addition, I wish to thank the reviewers for their invaluable advice and encouragement: Connie Anderson, Contra Costa College; Eileen Smith, Shasta University; Marek Wosinski, Arizona State University; Angela M. Gulick, University of Alaska-Anchorage; and Laura Lun Inglis, Buena Vista University.
For their practical help that allowed me the time and energy to write the text, I thank my father, A1 Goldstein and John, Zachary, Jenna, Laura, and Amy Diestler.
Above all, I am grateful to the Creator of the human mind.
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