Critical Thought

Why should it be that whenever men have looked for something on which to found their lives they have chosen not the facts in which the world abounds, but myths of immemorial imagination.      
- Joseph Campbell, 1992

Critical thinking is reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do using purposeful, self-regulatory judgment of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.

Critical thinking includes a commitment to using reason in the formulation of our beliefs.

Critical thinking within the framework of scientific skepticism involves the careful acquisition and interpretation of information and use of it to reach a well-justified conclusion.  Scientific skepticism, sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry, is the practice of questioning whether claims are supported by empirical research and have reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". Specifically, all ideas must be tested and are subject to rigorous, structured community scrutiny.

Critical thinking a persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it and the further conclusions to which it tends. It calls for the ability to:
  • Raise important questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely
  • Appreciate the importance of prioritization and order of precedence in problem solving
  • Gather and assess relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively
  • Recognize unstated assumptions and values
  • Interpret data, to appraise evidence and evaluate arguments
  • Recognize the existence (or non-existence) of logical relationships between propositions
  • Draw warranted conclusions and generalizations
  • Test the conclusions and generalizations against relevant criteria and standards
  • Think open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences
  • Reconstruct one's patterns of beliefs on the basis of wider experience

Critical thinking is important in the academia because it expects one to analyze, evaluate, explain, and restructure their thinking, thereby decreasing the risk of adopting, acting on, or thinking with, a false belief.

Validating the evidence: The first critical step in the analysis after clearly defining the question.

Micheal Shermer the author of Why People Believe Weird Things and How We Believe provides ten tests to determine the scientific worthiness of any claim.  Here is our interpretation of those tests.


A fascinating exploration of how computer algorithms can be applied to our everyday lives, helping to solve common decision-making problems and illuminate the workings of the human mind
All our lives are constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of new activities and familiar favorites is the most fulfilling? These may seem like uniquely human quandaries, but they are not: computers, too, face the same constraints, so computer scientists have been grappling with their version of such problems for decades. And the solutions they've found have much to teach us.
In a dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, acclaimed author Brian Christian (who holds degrees in computer science, philosophy, and poetry, and works at the intersection of all three) and Tom Griffiths (a UC Berkeley professor of cognitive science and psychology) show how the simple, precise algorithms used by computers can also untangle very human questions.They explain how to have better hunches and when to leave things to chance, how to deal with overwhelming choices and how best to connect with others. From finding a spouse to finding a parking spot, from organizing one's inbox to understanding the workings of human memory, Algorithms to Live By transforms the wisdom of computer science into strategies for human living.

Take of Contents

Optimal Stopping: When to Stop Looking p. 9
Explore/Exploit: The Latest vs. the Greatest p. 31
Sorting: Making Order p. 59
Caching: Forget About It p. 84
Scheduling: First Things First p. 105
Bayes's Rule: Predicting the Future p. 128
Overfitting: When to Think Less p. 149
Relaxation: Let It Slide p. 169
Randomness: When to Leave It to Chance p. 182
10 Networking: How We Connect p. 205
11 Game Theory: The Minds of Others p. 229

Rating (5 stars): As author Edward Dolnick himself wrote, scientists tend to discard and ignore the follies of past researchers, except for amusement, while plucking out the best parts. In fact, Dolnick could have done that in The Clockwork Universe. Instead, he artfully describes and explains the bed which bore science– Seventeenth century London: a city of plague, filth, disease, fire, soot, and a home to an absolutely god-fearing culture. Never before have I heard of the origin of science, the “birth of the modern world” as Dolnick writes, put onto paper in quite this way. Beyond the history, though, Dolnick’s presentation of the conceptual and mathematical problems that calculus would solve is both fascinating and inspiring. Much like members of the Royal Society changed mankind’s understanding of the world, The Clockwork Universe has changed my understanding of science itself.