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  • Coffee is better than tea.

  • That's an opinion.

  • It's not an argument in academic terms,

  • although you might want

  • to argue with the opinion.

  • Now this is an academic argument:

  • Statement one: Caffeine stimulates

  • the brain and nervous system.

  • Statement two:

  • Coffee contains more caffeine than tea.

  • And statement three is the conclusion:

  • Therefore coffee is

  • more stimulating than tea.

  • An argument is a collection

  • of statements which,

  • when you consider them together,

  • allows you to make

  • another statement or a conclusion.

  • Making and evaluating arguments is one of the key functions of critical thinking.

  • We'll come back to this.

  • You've probably heard

  • this term 'critical thinking' before.

  • But what exactly does it mean?

  • It's what you do

  • when you evaluate information

  • and make decisions.

  • And it's crucial if

  • you want to become

  • an independent thinker:

  • if you want to think for yourself.

  • And if you want to get good grades.

  • You can defend your opinions

  • and evaluate theories,

  • finding their weaknesses and strengths.

  • So, it sounds like a good thing, doesn't it?

  • But how do you do it?

  • Back to our argument.

  • If you're a critical thinker and

  • someone tells you coffee

  • is more stimulating than

  • tea, what do you do?

  • First, examine their argument.

  • Is there a logical connection between the statements?

  • I think so.

  • Then you'd examine their sources.

  • Ask questions like these:

  • whose work is it?

  • When was it written?

  • How was the research funded?

  • What methods were used to find the evidence?

  • Is it objective

  • what's fact and what's opinion?

  • What has been left out?

  • What other perspectives or

  • points of view could there be?

  • Ask questions to analyse these sources,

  • compare them with other sources,

  • and synthesise your findings.

  • And it's important to try

  • to put your own biases to one side.

  • We all have them:

  • "I have to say I prefer coffee,

  • so I'll look for evidence

  • that supports my view."

  • And look out for any assumptions.

  • "Well, coffee's good for you, isn't it?"

  • And critical thinking can be applied to more than just reading,

  • you can write critically too.

  • Phrases like these are

  • a great way to introduce sources and evidence:

  • 'It can be argued that…'

  • 'There is evidence to suggest that…'

  • 'This supports the conclusion that…'

  • So, go out,

  • find out more about

  • this huge topic

  • and try it out for yourself.

  • Critical thinking is like a muscle:

  • it gets stronger the more you work at it.

  • Of course, you'll need

  • a fully alert and stimulated mind

  • in order to get down to work.

  • Which leaves one question:

  • which is better:

  • coffee or tea?

Coffee is better than tea.

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A2 UK critical thinking argument critical tea statement evidence

Study Skills – How to think critically

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    Samuel posted on 2018/02/27
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