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1

Types of claim conflicts

1. Conflicts with observations
2. Conflicts with background information

2

Example of conflicts with background information

"Baby bench-presses 500 Ib" - our background information tells us that babies are weak (what we know, experienced)

3

Examples of conflicts with observations

If a news report says a building is demolished, you can go see for yourself

4

If claim conflicts with out background information, we have good reason to doubt it?

Yes - conflicts with background information

5

What is background information

- Facts about everyday things - "The sky is blue"
- Beliefs based on very good evidence - "Cigs are bad for you"
- Justified claims in regards to common sense

6

Is doubting a claim with conflicting background information the same thing as saying it is "false"

NO - But it is a reason to explore further

7

How to determine claims w/ conflicting background info?

It is a judgement call
- the more background information the claim conflicts with, the more reason we have to doubt it

8

Is common sense always right?

No!

Example: Many people believe that shark attacks are common

Example: Animals don't feel pain

9

Rule about proportioning our beliefs?

We should proportion our belief to the evidence

10

Suspension of judgement

Its not reasonable to believe a claim when there is no good reason for doing so.

-> Believing should not be your "default" setting

11

If a claim conflicts with expert opinion, we have good reason to doubt it. True or false?

True.

12

When experts show significant disagreement over a claim, we have good reason to doubt it. True or false?

True.

13

Who is an expert?

Someone who is more knowledgable in a particular subject than other people.

Ex. Mechanic is an expert in car repair

14

What good is an expert?

Because they have more information than we do on specific subjects

15

Is it OK to rely on experts?

Sometime expert opinion is all we have to go on.

Eg. in a medical emergency, taking Dr.'s advice

16

Appeal to authority

When we accept a claim from someone deemed to be an expert who in fact is not an expert.

17

To be considered an expert the must:

1. have shown that they can assess relevant evidence/arguments
2. The can do their work in an unbiased way

18

Indicators of expertise

1. Education/training
2. Experience making reliable judgements
3. Reputation among peers
4. Professional accomplishments

These are NOT GUARANTEES

19

Conflict of Interest

When someone a person in a position of responsibility abuses his or her authority for personal gain

20

Personal experience and claims

We accept many claims based on personal experiences - our own and others

21

Factors that give good reason to doubt the reliability of personal experience

1. Impairment
2. Expectation
3. Innumeracy

22

Impairment - definition

Too dark, too light, too noisy etc.
Senses can be tricked (drunk, tired, injured)
Memory can be very unreliable
Perceptions are constructed by the brain (rather than recorded)

23

Expectation - definition

Scientists work hard to make sure this doesnt' happen (experiments etc.)

24

Innumeracy - defintion

"Being really bad with numbers"

Ex. Estimates of probability ( we are bad with this)

25

Misjudging coincidence

A common error in Innumeracy - we often believe that an event is too improbable (too unlikely) to be a mere coincidence.

26

Tools to aid with Innumeracy

- Calculators
- Statistical theory

27

Innumeracy and gambling

"Gambler's fallacy":

To think that a string of random events (such as coin tosses) can influence the probabilities in the random event at hand

28

Critical thinking and probabilities?

Good critical thinkers know about probabilities.

We should not rely on intuitive sense of evaluating probabilities alone. (ie. Gut feeling)

29

Other innumeracy issues?

1. "Guesstimating" big numbers (how heavy is the earth?)