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Daniel Dennett's Most Useful Critical Thinking Tools

Occam’s Razor

The main idea: Don't fabricate a complicated theory when you have a simpler one that handles a phenomenon just as well.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Daniel Dennett's Most Useful Critical Thinking Tools

Daniel Dennett's Most Useful Critical Thinking Tools

https://fs.blog/2016/07/dan-dannetts-thinking-tools/

fs.blog

8

Key Ideas

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.”

Making mistakes

Mistakes are opportunities for learning and for creating something truly new.

And the trick for making good mistakes is not trying to hide them. Be honest with yourself and really know your own mistakes, so that you learn from them and that you'll never repeat them.

Reductio ad absurdum

It's a mode of argumentation or a form of argument in which a proposition is disproven by following its implications logically to an absurd conclusion. 

Take an assertion and see if you can inquire about any contradictions out of it. If you can, that proposition has to be discarded.

A successful critical commentary

  1. Re-express your target’s position so clearly and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
  2. List any points of agreement.
  3. Mention anything that you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Occam’s Razor

The main idea: Don't fabricate a complicated theory when you have a simpler one that handles a phenomenon just as well.

Occam’s Broom

It describes the process in which inconvenient facts are whisked under the rug by intellectually dishonest champions of one theory or another.

Jootsing

It stands for “jumping out of the system.”It can be applied to science, philosophy, and arts.

Being creative is not about searching for something new, but about making the novelty jump out of some system, a system that has become somewhat established, for good reasons.

The “Surely” Operator

Often the world “surely” is as good as a blinking light in locating a weak point in the argument.

Because it marks the very edge of what the author is actually sure about and hopes readers will also be sure about

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Critical thinkers need the knowledge first

Employers need critical thinkers, but they cannot find them.

Focussing on knowledge only in college does not seem to help. Neither does it help to only focus on intellectual and cognitive sk...

The focus of skills over knowledge

Considering the K-12 system, we see that the emphasis on skills over content has changed the curriculum. Students increasingly focus on learning skills, but they may not learn too much history or science.

Critical thinking is not enough on its own. It needs to be used to gain insight from studying meaningful subject matter, like history or economics or physics or chemistry.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a disciplined activity. It is not something we can acquire without intensive study and practice, nor can we isolate it from knowledge. Knowledge is foundational to provide the structure to do deep thinking.

Only with some background knowledge, can we apply the skills of critical thinking to problems and texts, understand the strengths and weaknesses of arguments, and offer creative solutions.

Community Is Vital

Loneliness is not a problem in traditional societies. For 99% of human existence, we lived in small tribes. We were constantly surrounded by family and friends. 

Research links loneli...

"Mens sana in corpore sano"

Having a healthy body is essential to having a sound mind. Exercising is a habit that’s been shown to lead people to create other, often unrelated, good habits. Exercising is also a proven way to improve the rate of learning.

"Know Thyself"

Knowing yourself allows you to seize opportunities and make better decisions as well as know what you and others should expect from you and how to counteract your personal flaws.

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The critical window of childhood
The critical window of childhood

There is an assumption that in the first years of life the vast majority of the brain’s development occurs, and after this period, the trajectory of human development is more or less fixed.&...

The idle-brain theory

Irrespective of what a person is doing, the entire brain is generally active and, depending on the task, some areas are more active than others. 

People can always learn new ideas and new skills, not by tapping into some unused part of the brain, but by forming new or stronger connections between nerve cells.

The left/right brain hypothesis

The theory that most people are either dominantly analytical (and left-brained) or creative (and right-brained) is false.

The two hemispheres of the brain are linked and communicate extensively together; they do not work in isolation. 

Recent studies suggest that engaging all the senses in a variety of ways (for instance, audiovisual and tactile) can help employees retain new content.

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”

Abraham Lincoln
Powerful Persistence

Abraham Lincoln is most celebrated for his role in keeping the nation together during the Civil War and signing the Emancipation Proclamation, which helped to end slavery in the United States.

His leadership exemplified determination and is a reminder that great leaders must remain persistent, even when others do not believe in their vision.

“In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every r...

“In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity.”

Sandra Day O’Connor

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous
  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Ma...
You Cannot Avoid Making Mistakes

Mistakes are really a demand for order and continuity. But the world and everything in it is constantly changing. 

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. 

Benefits of Making Mistakes
  • Mistakes point us to something we did not know
  • Help us see what matters and what does not
  • Inform us more about our values
  • Teach us more about others
  • Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work
  • Remind us of our humanity
  • Spur us to want to better work which helps us all
  • Promote compassion for ourselves and others
  • Help us to pace ourselves better
  • Invite us to better choices
  • Can suggest new options we had not considered
  • Prompt us to learn more about ourselves
  • Make us more humble
  • Expose our true feelings
  • Point us in a more creative direction
  • Can hasten change
  • Reveal our blind spots

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Fan Fiction Writing
Fan Fiction Writing

... is found in the old and popular communities of the internet, working mostly on science-fiction and fantasy literature, with new story arcs of old worlds and characters.

The premise and ...

Familiar Worlds

As the content is based on an existing book, TV show, movie, video game, or something they already love, the participants have a genuine interest and personal identification with the topic.

Distributed Mentorship

Websites specializing in fan-fiction are using the existing bodies of work, playing and tinkering with it, while providing feedback to each other. In this process, the participants are learning and teaching each other to write well. The continuous, constructive feedback helps make fanfiction writing a collective effort, which is sometimes better than the original, in which only one mind was involved.

This kind of vast, community-based learning is called distributed mentorship.

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Learning Drives Adaptability

A learning mindset makes it less likely you’ll be thrown off or immobilized when a project changes the scope or a job function undergoes a transformation, especially if you have soft skills. Whi...

Companies Want Avid Lifelong Learners

The skills gap is often defined as the difference between the skills future workers have and the skills employers seek in new hires. But the skills gap also exists for the already employed workers and can keep growing unless they keep their skills up to date.

Curiosity Is Career Fuel

Understanding how your efforts fit into the bigger picture will give your work more meaning and give you new ideas to apply, so you don’t burn out or stagnate. Learning about something you’re curious about, even if it’s not useful to your job, expands your thinking, and impacts everything you do.

The Lost Art Of Reading

In the digital age, where reading material is abundant, sustained and deep reading is falling out of favor. Readers have lost the 'cognitive patience' that they had reading complex works i...

Reading In The Digital Age

New readers, especially children have reduced deep-reading skills.

Digital media is consumed differently in a 'skimming' time-bound way, as opposed to the profound, thoughtful reading associated with print books.

People have become addicted to digital devices, as the content they see and read may not be deep and immersive, but is engaging and conversation like, rendering it more alive than the printed word.

Rewiring The Brain

The Internet is training our brain to adapt and work differently than in the last century, as the changing technological landscape requires different cognitive skills.

The new digital mediums mostly do not have the quality, as most of the stuff online seems uninteresting, but it has the quantity, making it even more discordant and chaotic.

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