Jamie Hale

Jamie Hale

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Critical Thinking is Rational

The sub title of In Evidence We Trust is The need for science, rationality and statistics. The subtitle could have been The need for critical thinking. Critical thinking / rational thinking includes scientific thinking, and statistical / probabilistic thinking is a component of scientific thinking. Critical thinking as conceptualized by cognitive scientists has been examined in an array of contexts, and the work of various cognitive scientists led the Stanovich Research Lab to develop the first comprehensive measure of rationality: Comprehensive Assessment of Rationality (CART- 2016).

Rationality consists of two broad categories- instrumental and epistemic rationality. Rational thinking skills are important. They are as important as intelligence. Intelligence and rationality are often dissociated. Research demonstrates that intelligence is often a weak predictor of rationality. This has been shown over a wide range of studies. Intelligence is important, but there is more to good thinking than intelligence. Intelligence reflects reasoning abilities across a wide variety of domains, particularly novel ones. In addition, intelligence reflects general declarative knowledge acquired through acculturated learning. Rationality reflects appropriate goal setting, goal optimization, and holding evidence-based beliefs.

Myths About Critical Thinking

Critical thinking (rational thinking) is good thinking; it involves forming appropriate goals, goal optimization and forming evidence based beliefs. Two common myths associated with critical thinking are emotion prevents critical thinking and critical thinking is synonymous with formal logic. Full article  

Critical Thinking in Modern Society

Educators often pay lip service to the idea of teaching “critical thinking.” But, when asked to define critical thinking, answers are often weak and ambiguous. Common responses to the defining critical thinking include: “teaching them how to think,” “teaching them formal logic,” “teaching them to be thinkers,” “teaching them how to think for themselves,” or “teaching them how to solve problems.” They already know how to think; logic is only a portion of what is needed to increase critical thinking, independent thinking doesn’t necessarily imply critical thinking and teaching them how to solve problems are hard to measure assertions. Full article 

Chapter 2 from In Evidence We Trust features short articles on critical thinking. Some of the articles focus on the rationality intelligence dichotomy. Also included in this chapter are interviews with Keith Stanovich and the Stanovich Research Lab (Keith Stanovich, Richard West and Maggie Toplak). In the interviews with Stanovich, he discusses the development of an RQ Test. In the interview with the Stanovich lab, rationality and intelligence are discussed.

Purchase In Evidence We Trust 2nd Edition (Hale 2019)