Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process 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. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.

That is the definition of critical thinking propounded by the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking (NCECT)

Merriam-Webster defines criticism as

the act of expressing disapproval and of noting the problems or faults of a person or thing : the act of criticizing someone or something.

Criticism is easy to do. “Those shoes you are wearing do not go well with the rest of your outfit.” Oh, what a bonehead play that was by the baserunner.” “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi”.

None of those criticizing statements reflect any depth of thought nor are they demonstrably objective.

And therein lies the problem with so much public discourse, both in spoken rhetoric and what emanates from our keyboards.

The problem is manifest in chain emails and infographics or memes posted on Facebook.

It is equally evident in our national media. Fox News is notorious for giving voice to any number of lunatics with unfounded conspiracy theories, pure unadulterated hate for President Barack Obama and ANYTHING he does, or outrageous and completely debunked claims as to how the universe works including down to how people live their private family lives.

Fox News cousins, the world of right wing talk radio, also comes up with fantastical postulates that are so frequently the antithesis of the exact postulate they spewed from their quivering, mouth breathing lips only the day or week before.

The hell of it is that millions of people accept all this blithering foolishness as gospel. (Of course they believe the blithering foolishness in the Gospel is literally true, too).

Now the so-called mainstream media, which is generally viewed by the wingnuts as exclusively liberal, ( never true in any sense of the word) does not get off scot free. This has been emphatically clear with the very recent news from Iraq which spawned a reaction by the immoral, non-critical thinking war hawks who wrongly put our troops in harm’s way in the first place and who now want to put more of our troops in harm’s way again. And how do we know these war hawks have not learned a thing? Easy, watch the Sunday morning news talk shows where these same war hawks, long ago having been proven totally wrong about the Iraq War, are invited to sit and utter their nonsense as “experts”.

Meet The Press” with David Gregory is particularly notorious for accepting the views of such as Paul Wolfowitz as valid without any in depth or critical approach to express doubt. David gregory needs to grow a set of journalistic balls.

The NCECT has established seven intellectual standards to be used in applying and evaluating critic thinking.


The standard I find to be most frequently and appallingly lacking is ACCURACY. If I had established this list accuracy would be first as it is my belief that it is paramount among all the other standards, for if you purport to be critically thinking about an issue, you must first have verifiable facts.

In my blog I express strong views on a variety of topics. When writing I most definitely try to ascertain the truth of whatever evidence I am presenting in defense of my position. The world is not perfect and I do not have access to every source of every nature, but I do not recall being called out for not presenting facts accurately.

I may not be as faithful to the other standards to be applied to critical thinking. Often two or more people can analyze the same material and come to different conclusions, all using these standards. Life is not  facile and uncomplicated.

However it galls me that so much of what is presented in the aforementioned Facebook posts or in comments to innumerable news stories, letters to the editor, editorials, and op-ed pieces, or what is presented deliberately on and by Fox News or given unquestioned opportunities to present opinions on mainstream media simply has no basis in fact.

Our public buys into this crap with disgusting regularity and unpalatable naivete.

Indeed, this infidelity to accuracy leads to notable lapses in logic.

These deviations from critical thinking standards make it palpably clear why there is so much friction…nay blatant hostility between parties who may have more in common than they will admit to.

Our country is worse off for this situation.




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  • toadsly  On June 18, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    The mob enjoys consuming what it’s fed.

  • Devildog  On June 18, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    So, my friend, on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the “best”, where would you rate yourself in terms of critical thinking/seven intellectual standards? Don’t be modest-it’s not becoming to you.

    • Anonymous  On June 18, 2014 at 10:16 PM

      You’ve asked a question I can’t answer..

    • toadsly  On June 18, 2014 at 10:20 PM

      You’ve asked I question I can’t answer.

  • Devildog  On June 18, 2014 at 10:24 PM

    Sorry Toadsly, it was meant for UMOC. But you’re my friend too. I once said your one sentence posts are appreciated.

    • toadsly  On June 18, 2014 at 10:32 PM

      It’s nice to have friends.

  • Richard Russell Wood  On June 19, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    Our friend Nell would probably like this link. (She tries to teach her students toi think and write critically). Are you going to / have you posted this on FB?

    • umoc193  On June 22, 2014 at 1:59 AM

      You may not have noticed but all blog posts automatically go to Facebook now.

      • Richard Russell Wood  On June 22, 2014 at 8:53 AM

        I thought so but I generally review FB posts in the A.M. with my tea while getting ready for work and depending on what the number of posts in FB and how hectic my mornings are I often don’t see everything. (Or, as with this post, I get to things late. 😦 )

  • umoc193  On June 19, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    If you look at me on a scale applying the NCECT standards I probably fall around 75%. If you look at me on a scale in comparison to just about any political hack and most of our media, I am at the top.

    • Devildog  On June 19, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      Both Toadsly and UMOC answered my question. Does how they answered the question say something about them?

  • Devildog  On June 19, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    Well then UMOC, either you are wasting your time or you have to bring your ability to communicate up to par with your ability to critically think. You might start by distinguishing better between your opinion and what you too often claim to be a fact. You’re not alone in that but considering your stature, you shouldn’t take comfort in that.

    • Anonymous  On June 19, 2014 at 4:11 PM

      It’s nice to have friends.

    • toadsly  On June 19, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      It’s nice to have friends.

    • umoc193  On June 22, 2014 at 2:26 AM

      If you can offer concrete examples I would be interested in reading them. But I take pains to present factual material and to emphasize the basis for my opinions.

      To me my main fault, among the 7 standards at least, is lack of clarity. I occasionally revisit an old post and have been disappointed in some in which I felt I could have made my point(s) clearer. And some of the better comments made here have made it evident that clarity is sometimes lacking.

      Perhaps your comment reflects more your disagreement with me on most issues, i.e. you don’t like my conclusion based on the facts presented. But I would assert that I usually make it pretty definitive as to what I present as fact and what I present as opinion.

      I have good friends who have not commented but who have told me personally that they do not agree with me, but cannot dispute that I do my research and present factual material.

      • Devildog  On June 22, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        I don’t think you have a problem with clarity. That’s for sure and is a fact. Thought not one of the fab 7, I would suggest you consider hyperbole as an area we you might be able to improve. It’s like politicians appealing to their base. A little less of that may increase your influence beyond your base though it might decrease your pleasure at what you wrote.

        You want an example? How about “immoral, non-critical thinking war hawks” and your tirade against Fox News (MSNBC?).

        You’re a very bright guy but if your objective with this blog is to convince anyone other than your base of anything, I think you are failing. If it is to make you feel better, only you can answer that. Anyway, I am still here. Sorry Minx. But where is Tourist? Are you still alive?

        • umoc193  On June 26, 2014 at 3:45 PM

          I’m not trying to get into a fight over this and your objections and comments have been civil and thoughtful.

          The phrase you consider to be hyperbole does not merit that label because I intended the statement to be taken literally and not as an exaggeration. You may disagree with the statement itself but it is not hyperbole and, really, to determine hyperbole one need look to the intent of the writer. I spoke honestly and directly expressing my judgment of the objects of my scorn.

          I literally believe the war hawks to be immoral and that they are not using critical thinking (especially because they are not operating from fact.)

          The larger issue here, to me anyways, and that illustrates the difference between our writing in this space, is that I put my thoughts through a creative process and produce something original (or at worst with well-sourced citations of others’ work).

          Of course I am free with my comments in other forums as you are here. For the most part what I write there comes from a different part of me than do my blog entries.

          That does not mean I believe my blog writing to be superior in quality, only that I have chosen to open my mind to the criticism of others. And you and others on here vigorously disagree with what I have written.

          For the most part responses to my entries have been fairly presented with some very brilliant writing on occasion.

          At times I have had some questions about the quality of my work and re-reading some earlier entries I realize I could have stated my position better in other ways. I am pleased that some folks who I respect for their work have commented favorably on mine in private.

          In my estimation it is somewhat easier to respond to writing than to be the originator of writing intended to draw responses.

          That said I appreciate your remarks and, during my absences from the fray, you and others have commendably continued on topic or even created your own thread on a separate theme.

          That you do so enhances my product whether you offer praise or criticism. Otherwise this blog would exist in a vacuum and have value only to my ego.

          • Devildog  On June 26, 2014 at 8:54 PM

            UMOC, you brought me to tears. Just kidding. Thanks. I am well aware that it is easier to respond that to be the originator of the writing. I could not do what you do without my having to take more time here than I want.

            Btw, if it’s not hyperbole, consider my comment about whether you do it to vent or to influence more than your base.

            • umoc193  On July 5, 2014 at 11:23 AM

              Oh, I will own up to venting. But I think that is true of any writer who puts his/her work out in public. It is also true of the folks making comments. I’m sure you have read something of mine, react to it wand vent your displeasure. Venting is not necessarily ranting, after all. And I am also sure you see the value of expressing yourself when you have a reaction to something you have read.

              As to “influencing my base”? Eh, not really. I have some readers who generally agree with my views. but even they have objected to my arguments at times. Others, like you, generally hold a contrary view. I would like to influence you, but other than on minor points I don’t recall any seas change in your own thinking due to my writing. (I’ll keep trying, though, just like a preacher attempting to save your soul! LOL)

              • Devildog  On July 5, 2014 at 2:31 PM

                As I posted on June 25th, this blog is an entertainment medium to be enjoyed. When you “vent”, it doesn’t seem as if you are enjoying yourself. I don’t vent, even though it might seem as such in my post of “fucking pathetic” on your latest blog. It’s what came to mind with a smile on my face-feeling somewhat sorry though for you and the guy who wrote it.

  • Little_Minx  On June 19, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    “The Seven Signs You’re in a Cult”:

    “[S]even ways to recognize the difference between a religious community and a cult. Written down, the signs seem clear:
    1. Opposing critical thinking…”

  • Devildog  On June 19, 2014 at 5:51 PM

    Thanks Minx for the info. I took the trouble to look at 2-7. They are considerably more objective guidelines than is 1. Opposing critical thinking, which is analogous to what is said about beauty. Determining what is or is not critical thinking often depends on whether the reviewer agrees with the author-don’t you think. But, I’m going to discuss the matter with my fellow cult members-do some critical thinking on the subject.

  • Little_Minx  On June 21, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    Just what our UMOC needs in order to attain the widespread recognition his work deserves — “Why Content Goes Viral: What Analyzing 100 Million Articles Taught Us”: (looking forward to your 10-question quiz 😉 )

    • umoc193  On June 22, 2014 at 2:19 AM

      Minx, I read the article and found a couple of surprising things. The most significant was that long form content got more shares. I have tried to control my verbosity and have just learned I should just type away until exhausted and the public will love me!

      Well, maybe not quite. I’ll acknowledge that the writer of the article seems to have the numbers on his side but I still think that is both counterintuitive and contrary to my own experience on Facebook. I find most of my best writing…and most of what I enjoy reading, is not very lengthy. Indeed, I often edit myself to keep my total verbiage under 1000 words and often wish I had been even more succinct.

      There are some tricks there that I may try to adapt to.

      Thanks for the tip.

      • Little_Minx  On June 22, 2014 at 12:53 PM

        I too was surprised at the advocacy of longer-form, and suspect that it doesn’t apply in every instance (e.g., where space is a consideration, like in print media). Still, there were some doubtless useful tips in the piece.

        • Devildog  On June 22, 2014 at 2:16 PM

          Why is anyone posting and commenting on this social science type study that has no meaning. Most people would think a shorter, more succinct article would get more widespread recognition. This guy decides to do a study on the matter (and he wants recognition). If his study concludes that the common belief is true, ho hum. If it concludes the opposite, recognition and Minx posts it. Voila! Am I being too cynical?

          Toadsly, please don’t change your MO on the basis of this study because if you do, we might no longer be BFF. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that-you might change because of that.

          • toadsly  On June 22, 2014 at 5:58 PM

            BFF, Devildog!

  • Tourist  On June 22, 2014 at 8:35 PM

    Devildog, from the article:

    “If you look at the chart below, the longer the content, the more shares it gets.”

    “Our findings were consistent with what researchers discovered about the most emailed posts in The NY Times: longer articles were more likely to be emailed than shorter articles.”

    Chart. Data. Numbers.

    According to you, those facts (more on the word in a minute) are counterintuitive. This makes the conclusion – rather than informative and useful – fraudulent. And you have divined the motivation for the fraud.

    On the basis of the now-known motivation and the thus-proved fraud, you declare “no meaning” to any of it and wonder how anyone could think otherwise.

    There are two issues. One is your desire only and always to disagree and pick fights. That frustrates me because it makes “advancing the discussion” more difficult. The other bothers me, too, and I suspect UMOC, and our side generally in interactions with yours.

    Earlier in this thread you suggested that critical thinking is in the eye of the beholder. You said: “Determining what is or is not critical thinking often depends on whether the reviewer agrees with the author.” That is precisely wrong. Critical thinking (I think “thinking” should be enough) is a step toward determining what one believes – what is worthy of belief in the sense that there is a foundation for it, beyond gut or wishful thinking.

    *Beginning* with what you already believe is prejudice – prejudgment – by definition.

    Under a Tony Norman column you said: “As long as I have ‘known’ you, David, the ‘facts’ that you provide are facts only by your definition – ‘facts’ merely because you spoke them.”

    My impulse was to label that the most dishonest thing you ever wrote. But that isn’t it.

    Karl Rove: “We create our own reality.”

    Your side doesn’t understand what facts, truth, reality are.

    Yes, I’m alive. Thank you for asking.

    • Little_Minx  On June 22, 2014 at 9:00 PM

      Konnichiwa, Tourist! You really should know by now that dd brooks no challenge to his decrees, even — or especially — when one’s contradictions of him are bolstered by *gasp* facts and (critical) thinking. And as for “Karl Rove: ‘We create our own reality,’” one needs only to examine Ohio Presidential results on election night Nov. 2012, on Fox TV.

    • Devildog  On June 22, 2014 at 9:55 PM

      It was worth all your criticism Tourist to find out you’re still alive (and, it appears, well). I wish I had your talent to pull up everything someone had said but I can do without your inclination to do so.

      You take issue with my “desire only and always to disagree and pick fights” (you could have been nicer by stopping after disagree). Interesting observation since I don’t remember you ever posting to agree with me(you probably can pull up an exception to that). What do you want me to post, well done Tourist. Disagreement is what further discussion but you’re probably correct,my side and I don’t understand what facts, “truth, reality are”. Well said, great contribution.

      Back to the (worthless) study. What are to do with it, what contribution to society does it make? Should everyone lengthen their article to get greater exposure. I wouldn’t mind this waste if the study was privately funded but my guess and fear is that it received some form of government funding. That I find deplorable. Even if this study was not prejudged (assuming without conceding, it makes no worthwhile contribution and, to me at least, is not even interesting.

      What’s your point about critical thinking? I can (attempt to) use critical thinking to determine what I believe but if one doesn’t agree with my belief, one(especially on this blog) will claim that critical thinking was not employed. If I give an opinion, even if no facts are supplied, I have given thought based on everything I have heard and read trying to weigh the credibility (to the best of my ability) of the sources. Thank you!

      Was this post long enough?

      • umoc193  On June 24, 2014 at 3:01 AM

        Well, DD, you obviously chose not to read the article because it was made clear that the web site the writer is on did the study and no government influenced it.

        Mow to your last full paragraph I respond that you can claim all you want that your opinions are based on everything you have heard and read and weighing the credibility of your sources. That tells us nothing. If I tried to pass off a legal memorandum or brief on that basis I would be laughed out of court, if not tossed in the pokey for contempt.

        For, you see, the SOURCE is all-important. Without specifics your sources could be the gossip you heard at the barber shop and your criterion for credibility is that barber Perry Como is one damned fine singer.

        I, on the other hand, report my sources as faithfully as I can. I try to use sources that, even if they are an op-ed piece, for instance, they supply links to the reports or quotes or assertions they are making. I do not create facts out of whole cloth such as is popular on the right.

        I will give you a concrete example. Most polls show less than a majority of Americans favor the Affordable Care Act.

        That fact cannot be argued with no matter how much I believe the law merits overwhelming approval. But there is a good reason for those results in my mind and that is that so many lies have been told about the law that undiscerning…and non-critically thinking…Americans believe those bad things. No, I cannot provide evidence of causation but here are some of the lies most frequently spewed forth. If people believe those lies then I don’t blame them for not liking the law.

        12 of these 16 myths received a rating of “Pants on Fire”.

        • Devildog  On June 24, 2014 at 9:10 AM

          Thanks for responding UMOC. You cite polls as a fact and then you go on to voice the same opinion about lies that you have uttered many times citing some lies. But that doesn’t have anything to do with causation as a fact and those “lies” are someone’s opinion that they are lies. Your opinion is merely that though you may think it has more validity than mine because you cite polls and lies. As for polls, how valid and reliable are they? There are very few real facts out there! Your mention of Perry Como was perfect. There is no fact, no source, that has more credibility than if I say he was a great singer. There are opinions that do not have to based on any fact or source to accept them as such and challenge them.

          Getting back to the study about long articles, I wouldn’t waste my time reading that crap so I’ll ask you this question. Does it have any utility? Does it contribute anything? Is it even interesting enough to take up one’s time? Why would anyone do the study?

          Tourist always claims he wants to further discussion, further the debate. But when one challenges the post of someone, sometimes by asking questions rather than merely offering opinions, is that not considered an acceptable way to further debate. I would think challenging positions through asking questions is!

          What’s with Minx’s latest cite of a worthless report? She loves to do that.

          • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2014 at 3:34 PM

            Just bait for the dd, who can’t resist calling something “worthless” without basis, then expects others to believe him in the absence of — as UMOC pointed out above — reliable sources.

            • Devildog  On June 24, 2014 at 4:55 PM

              So Minx, you disagree with my “worthless” and say it is “without basis”. Well, then, why don’t you or others educate me as to the “worth”.

  • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2014 at 12:25 AM

    “Want to Suppress the Vote? Stress People Out”:

    (Using measurements of people’s cortisol levels).

    • Toadsly  On June 24, 2014 at 8:43 AM

      Hey. great read. Little_Minx. Americans should be able to vote online from phones, tablets and PCs. That would help include those with high-cortisol levels, and make voting more inclusive. Notice, I didn’t use the Oxford comma.

    • Devildog  On June 24, 2014 at 5:31 PM

      Hey. Minx. I needed a laugh and had a minute so I checked the stress voter turnout “study”. I can be brief in my comment. “I rest my case”. Thanks so much for citing these valuable studies.

  • Toadsly  On June 24, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    But after hey and read, I chose the Fombellian comma!

    • Devildog  On June 24, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      Hey. Toadsly. When a great mind writes something I don’t know, I look it up. So, after googling Fombellian (comma), I have to make sure that my wife doesn’t see that I accessed I assume that on dating sites, “they” put periods rather than commas after Hey.

      • toadsly  On June 24, 2014 at 7:43 PM

        BFF, DD!

        • Devildog  On June 24, 2014 at 8:15 PM

          To be BFF’s, Toadsly, do we have to break bread or have a drink together?

  • Devildog  On June 24, 2014 at 8:13 PM

    An article in today’s PG reporting on a study by CMU psychologists Sneed and Cohen saying that stress may bring on high blood pressure (I would kink it but sorry, I don’t know how to). Negative social interaction in older adults (I plead guilty to that) increases the risk of stress-fortunately, I don’t find the interaction here to be negative and I apologize if I cause stress to others.

    Must reading!

  • Tourist  On June 25, 2014 at 4:13 AM

    “That’s not an argument. It’s just contradiction.”

    • Tourist  On June 25, 2014 at 4:37 AM

      The script:

      The video is longer. The continuations are the links at the bottoms.

      • Devildog  On June 25, 2014 at 8:07 PM

        With a bow to my new BFF (don’t get jealous, Tourist), I will try to be brief.

        I plead innocent of “criticism”, nolo contendere to argument and guilty of questioning and challenging. That is a valid method of debate, especially when there is not an issue we discuss that can be or will be settled by so-called facts. For every fact you throw out, there is a fact to support the other side. How much weight to give is another matter. Historians fifty years later argue causes, actions, etc. You say unemployment rate down, I say drop-out rate up. I say deficit/debt up, you say not as a percentage of GDP. Where do those facts get us. No one’s mind gets changed.

        This is an entertainment medium. Try to learn something but, above all, don’t take it personally and don’t get mad at anyone or any thing.

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