My first degree was in physics, and I'm a philosopher of science by training, so it's a bit surprising that I've waited so long to do a series specifically on critical thinking about science. But here we are!
My goal is to present what I take to be the the core concepts for understanding what science is and how scientific reasoning works. These are foundational concepts for SCIENCE LITERACY.
The essence of science literacy is the ability to think critically about science and its role in modern life. As this series progresses I will add more videos on applied topics.
As a university professor I've assigned and graded thousands of student essays. In this video tutorial course I've collected the tips, tricks and advice that I give my own students for successful essay writing.
The videos are a mix of theoretical discussion and practical demonstration. Toward the end there are two extended case studies where I illustrate what I'm calling a "structured" approach to academic essay writing.
In the last five videos I write a real college essay from start to finish, using the tools and techniques discussed in earlier videos.
People suck at reasoning with probabilities. We suffer from what some psychologists call "probability blindness". Our natural tendency to make judgments that either ignore or run contrary to basic laws of probability is one of the primary obstacles to critical thinking and rational decision making.
In this series I look at a variety of probability fallacies. The current set includes videos on critical thinking about coincidences and the Gambler's Fallacy, but I'll be adding additional videos on small sample fallacies, regression fallacies, base rate fallacies, and others.
In a later series of videos I'll be talking about the psychological origins of many of these fallacies, and what we can do to avoid falling into them or neutralize their negative effects.
Video versions of my podcast show on critical thinking. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, there's both an audio and a video version. Just search for "Critical Thinker Podcast" in the iTunes search bar.
There is a small industry devoted to identifying and classifying fallacies of reasoning. A comprehensive list of recognized fallacies would run into the hundreds.
This course introduces the concept of a fallacy and discusses some common fallacy types, but it in no way aims to be comprehensive. Instead the focus is on how any given fallacy can be understood using the basic concepts of argument analysis introduced in earlier courses.
The only classification I use distinguishes logical or formal fallacies, fallacies that arise from false or implausible premises, and fallacies that are best understood as violations of one of the necessary conditions for having a rational argument at all.