Psychological Self-Help

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What is a good thinker? Look up The Mind's Best Work by D. N.
Perkins (1981) for outstanding examples, but for ordinary, everyday
thinkers Ruggiero (1975) says: 
He/she has good ability--a vivid imagination and accurate
He/she tries to understand the issue, including noting and
questioning his/her own reaction to the issue before accepting
his/her first impressions. 
He/she carefully decides what evidence is needed to solve the
problem and gathers the data accurately. 
He/she draws a tentative conclusion based on the facts,
avoiding "pat" and emotionally appealing answers. 
In the simplest sense, one might say that the best way to win an
argument is to be right (see chapter 13). Being "on the side of truth"
gives you enormous advantage. But we can never know the truth for
sure. That is why scientists speak a special language, such as "the
data suggests...," "the difference is significant at the .05 level" and so
on. A scientist is never certain; only true believers (basing their
opinions on faith) are certain. 
If a man's actions are not guided by thoughtful conclusions, then they are guided by
inconsiderate impulse, unbalanced appetite, caprice, or the circumstances of the moment.
-John Dewey
In contrast to the poor arguments discussed in step 1, Missimer
(1986) says Good Arguments have these characteristics: 
Define your terms and the issue clearly, then state your claim--
what you believe to be true or should be done--and give your
reasons. This is the essence of an argument; it consists of an
issue, conclusions, and reasons. 
A critical thinker, listening to an argument, will look for
alternative arguments and try to improve the reasoning. Try
arguing for the opposite conclusion. Try opposing the reasons
given by the other person. Try acknowledging the validity of the
opponent's reasons, but argue that your reasons for a different
conclusion are stronger than his/her reasons. If that isn't
possible, look for exceptions, places where his/her reasoning
doesn't hold up, e.g. you say school/work is boring, but
Jane/John loves school/work. Look for big factors that have
been overlooked or for the strongest-case kind of argument.
Finally, maybe it is clear that more evidence is needed before a
conclusion can be reached, in which case suggest some fact-
finding experimentation. 
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