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Critical Thinking

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CRITICAL THINKING
1. Critical thinking is a set of skills that allows you to analyze and think carefully about what you read and hear, and
decide if you agree with the others’ opinions and stated facts. By connecting this information to things you already
know or have experienced, you will learn to form logical and rational opinions of your own. Here are some steps to
improve your critical thinking skills.
2. Do not believe everything you read or hear. Saying something is true does not automatically make it true. Just
because we see something on television or the Internet, or read it in a book, magazine, or newspaper, we should not
always think that it is true until we investigate and learn about it for ourselves. This also applies to what we write
and say. Are we saying or writing things that we can prove are true? Where does our information come from? Why
is our opinion correct? These are questions we must answer, before others will believe us.
3. First, we must do research to really understand the topic. We need to be able to identify and list the main
components of our subject. In addition to this, we need to be able to summarize and explain in our own words what
we have learned, and find a source we can trust. For example, who created the sandwich? A quick Google search
shows us it was the fourth Earl of Sandwich, in the 18th century. However, if we look deeper, we can find examples
in ancient Central America of meat and vegetables wrapped in thin cornbread; we can also find examples of Arabs
eating meat wrapped in pita bread hundreds of years before the Earl of Sandwich.
4. We must question everything. Asking questions is perhaps the most important critical thinking skill. If we do not ask
questions, we may never get the answers. However, it does not stop there. We must question almost everything
we read or are told. We should even question ourselves. Do we really know what we are saying? Is this an opinion,
or a fact? Of course, we do not need to question facts that everyone can agree on, things such as our sun is a star,
and our planet travels around the sun. However, it’s worth remembering that only with scientific/critical thinking
were these ideas finally proven to be facts.
5. We must consider motive and biases. Motive is the reason why we do things, or the objective or goal of doing the
things we do. Why learn about critical thinking? To get a good education. Why get a good education? To get a
good job. These are examples of positive motives, but what about the bad? If a politician wanted to hide a crime,
for example, do you think he or she would present the facts in a truthful way? Bias is a sometimes irrational feeling,
opinion, or tendency to choose one side. For example, if a person supports a specific football club he or she will not
agree that any other team is the best. Motive and bias are important to watch out for because they can help us
decide ‘why’ people want us to believe something.
6. You need to support your claims, arguments, and opinions. A claim is something that you can prove to be true. For
instance, if you claim that you can balance a pencil on your nose while standing on one foot, the only way to prove it
is to do it. An argument is something you can hopefully convince others of, by using facts and information to show
why you think it is true. In writing, especially essays and response paragraphs, we support our opinions (usually in
answer to a question) by using the details we have available to show why we believe what we believe. Statements
such as: “Everybody knows this” or, “This project will benefit everyone” might sound true, but if you cannot show
strong evidence, it’s not critical thinking.
7. You need to break down the ‘Big Picture’. In critical thinking, we must learn to see the ‘big picture’ by adding up all
the small parts. It’s very much like a jigsaw puzzle; by looking at each piece, you understand how they fit together,
in order to make one big image. Just like in the many branches of science, where scientists, researchers, and
engineers must understand a system before they can see how each small part in it works.
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8. In summary, critical thinking is not only for our schoolwork, it is a set of skills that will help us in our careers, to
become better engineers, academics, or whatever we want to be. It also helps us to understand the world in general
and the people around us.
Answer the following questions according to the text:
1. According to paragraph 1, critical thinking is…
A. the ability to think in detail about something that you read or listen to and decide whether you agree.
B. when you read or listen to information about something, and you believe it to be true.
C. how the information that we already know from our experiences determine our beliefs.
D. required in order to connect the information that you receive with the information that you give.
2. In paragraph 2, ‘this’ refers to: _______________________________________________________________
3. In paragraph 3, the history of the sandwich is used as an example to show…
A. how it is important to list the main components of our subject.
B. that we need to summarize and explain what we have learned.
C. that we shouldn’t trust every source, we should research well.
D. how we can write information we have found in our own words.
4. According to paragraph 4, the information that our sun is a star and our planet travels around the sun is…
A. a fact that has been proven and everyone agrees on it.
B. an argument that needs to be researched and proven.
C. a claim that has been proven but we should research it.
D. an opinion that everyone agrees on but it isn’t true.
Match the critical thinking skill in column A with the situations in column B. There is ONE EXTRA item in column B.
A
B
5. ___ Research to understand the topic.
6. ___ Consider motives and biases.
7. ___ Support your claims, arguments
and opinions.
A. In America, one reason why many people consider Edison to
be a better scientist and inventor than Tesla is because he
was an American.
B. In your electrical engineering course, your class is preparing a
presentation about famous inventors such as Nikola Tesla,
Thomas Edison and Robert Metcalfe.
C. Most people think that Edison invented the light bulb;
however, an article on unmuseum.org says that it was
invented nearly 70 years earlier.
D. You are writing a project about Tesla, and you borrow a few
books from the library, as well as downloading articles about
electrical engineering.
8. According to paragraph 5, which of the following is FALSE about ‘bias’?
A. It can be an opinion that is not true.
C. It is not a rational feeling.
B. It may not be one-sided information.
D. It is when we choose one side.
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9. In paragraph 5, “Motive and bias are important to watch out for because they can help us decide ‘why’ people
want us to believe something” is closest in meaning to:
A.
B.
C.
D.
We need to keep people’s motives and biases in mind in order to understand them and believe them.
To understand the reasons behind people’s actions and words, recognizing motive and bias are useful.
Why we believe in something we have read or heard depends on our own motives and bias.
Motive and bias are the most significant reasons why we should research information and find sources.
10. In paragraph 6, ‘convince’ is closest in meaning to:
A. make someone agree with you.
B. try to find out the truth about something.
C. making an argument with no proof.
D. discourage people’s ideas and opinions.
11. What is the main idea of paragraph 7?
A. Scientists, researchers and engineers try to see how each small part works to understand a system.
B. Working on jigsaw puzzles is an effective way to develop your critical thinking skills.
C. Many branches of science have proven that critical thinking skills are required to be successful.
D. Critical thinking requires you to see the big picture by taking all the small parts involved into consideration.
Circle ‘True’ if the statement is an example of “support” for a “claim”. Circle ‘False’ if it is not.
12. “Everybody knows this.”
T/F
13. “The latest American Medical Association research report says that 77% of all people are at risk.”
T/F
14. “One reason for the author’s opinion that Turkey is one of the top tourist destinations is that the weather is
very nice for most of the year.”
T/F
Summary: Use the following words to complete the summary below. There are 2 extra words.
understanding
irrational
experience
identify
determine
evidence
balance
investigate
Critical thinking gives us the ability to analyze others’ opinions by using our own 15. ______________________
and knowledge to form our own logical opinions. We must 16. ______________________ the things we hear and see on
television and the internet before we claim it is true. The first step is to do our own research about the topic to help us
17.
_______________________the main ideas of the subject. Second we must question almost everything we read or are
told to 18.______________________ if it is an opinion or a fact. Third, we need to think about the motive or bias behind
what someone is saying to understand why someone wants us to agree with them. Fourth, we must support our claims,
arguments and opinions using facts and information to provide 19. _______________________ for their truth. Finally, we
need to break down the Big Picture into smaller parts so we can look at each piece to understand how it all fits together.
Having critical thinking skills will improve our 20. _____________________________of the world.
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Vocabulary Practice.
Match the world in bold to the best definition below. There are two extra definitions.
The first one is done as an example.
0. Because she had experienced an earthquake as a child, she knew exactly what to do when it happened again.
1. She was able to give a rational explanation for what looked like complete chaos.
2. Her belief in life long education helped her improve her knowledge and skills.
3. He expected the door to open automatically, so he crashed into the door when it didn’t open.
4. Telling the truth is a practice that applies to everything in life.
5. There are many different components of a good education.
6. That the water boils when it is heated was proven a long time ago.
7. She didn’t understand his motive for wanting to change jobs.
8. Even though it is not true, many people have a bias towards immigrants because they believe the immigrants
will steal their jobs.
9. Wanting to be near her family was the specific reason she returned to her home country.
10. The first person to claim that the earth revolves around the sun what thought to be crazy, but now we all know
it is true.
Definitions:
A. _ 0 _ The result of a person having had something happen to them
B. _____Happening without anybody doing anything
C. _____Concerned with a particular person, situation etc.
D. _____The reason for wanting to do something
E. _____Not caring what happens
F. _____To make something better
G. _____Based on good sense and reasoning
H. _____An unreasoned idea or feeling
I.
_____A part of something
J.
_____A result of doing something wrong
K. _____To say something is true
L. _____Something is accepted as true because there are facts etc. that show it to be true
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