There’s a reason they tell you to always read the instructions first.  It was only after running out of steam in the middle of the student guide to Freakonomics that I went back and, reading more carefully, found that Stephen and Rita had given us permission to not read everything. Since I had the opportunity some years ago to attend a Richard Paul two day conference, I will trust to my memory of essential questions and the like for the time being and settle in for a reread later.

The document I appreciated most was the Fisher chapter, both for its attempt to provide some historical context and its comparison of several approaches.  I found one item particularly thought provoking.  This is Fisher’s discussion of inclination , stemming from Glaser’s inclusion of “an attitude of being disposed” in his definition. Basically, Fisher argues that these skills only become truly valuable if you use them a lot.  That seems fine on the surface, but when I read it I was immediately reminded of an article I read many years ago (sorry, the citation has disappeared from the recesses of my memory) that discussed music listening.  Research cited in the article found that even those who had been trained to listen to music analytically often didn’t do so, choosing to listen “in the moment” rather than having their “critical ears” on all the time.  Does “critical” mean always skeptical, or does it mean something else?

Fisher mentions the term criticocreative, but seems to frame it in terms of imagining possible outcomes (reminding me of Cormier and Siemens’s Edfutures course and their vigorous debate about whether the two coexist  simultaneously or are distinct stages)

I found fifty scientifically proven ways to be persuasive a pretty discouraging read, the take away being “look at how many ways people can be manipulated.”  If there are that many neurological/cultural hard wires and buttons that can be pressed by those seeking to influence us, does critical thinking require us to adopt an almost perpetual, vulcan-like detachment? Now it sounds like I’m anti critical thinking.  On the contrary, I think we’d all be better off if more people were more rational more often.  Perhaps the important question is, “how does one think critically without it coming across as a baseline of distrust?”

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