How Can I Improve My Critical Thinking Skills

Old beliefs may cling stubbornly to their prior position, even once you’re shown to be wrong.

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The argumentative theory of reason suggests that reason doesn’t work very well alone.

However, it does work brilliantly when combined in public debate.

The argumentative theory of reason, which I covered in depth here, suggests that the seeming failure of many types of human reason are misinterpreted because they don’t recognize reason’s true function.

Instead of a general-purpose way of making better decisions, reason is a faculty for generating explanations and evaluating those of others.

The first problem was actually resolved over a hundred years ago by psychologists Edward Thorndike and Robert Woodworth.

The popular view of learning of their day was the idea that human brains contained large, distinct “faculties” such as logic, memory and judgement, and that by practicing them on subjects, regardless of their relevance to the real world, would strengthen these faculties just like lifting weights in the gym improves your muscles.

Given what we know about how reason works, there’s a few things you can do: Since reason tends to be more to justify than to generate the right judgement, one way to avoid making mistakes is to reason about the same problem in a lot of different contexts.

The modular theory of mind says that rather than a single coordinated function, the brain consists of a lot of semi-autonomous modules that all “vote” their preferred action into the brain.

Depending on which module is more strongly activated by the context around you, its vote will get higher weight.

So if you’re hungry, scared, angry, sleepy, joyful or sad you may get different inputs into which decision is correct.


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