Module 6: Discussion Forum

Discussion Questions

Read:
A) Review van Cleave (2016) Chapter 3. If we need to make complex inferences, what intellectual virtues does Van Cleave argue we should employ? Discuss an example from your professional or personal life where these virtues would help strengthen your ability to make logical inferences.

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Reflect:
B) What misconceptions often rise around the idea of a scientific theory? What are the characteristics of good scientific theories?

C) Review Van Cleave (2016) Chapter 3. Look at the example of Linda the bank teller (p. 175).

Now answer the following questions:

What is the conjunction fallacy?
Where have you committed this fallacy in your professional or personal life?
What steps can you take to recognize and change your thinking?

Requirements for Discussion Boards

Use the required readings to analyze and engage the discussion board questions.
Your initial post should be roughly 200 words (plus or minus 10%). Each subsequent post should be 100 words (plus or minus 10%).
Include one or two scholarly sources that are not required or recommended for the HUM 101 course. The CSU-Global Library (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. is a good place to find these sources.
Format your discussion, including all in-text citations and references, according to the CSU-Global Guide to Writing & APA (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..
Each discussion board post (including follow-up posts) should include scholarly citations and references.

Module 6: Critical Thinking
Option #1: Using the Scientific Method to Challenge our Thinking

Directions:
Using the concepts and ideas learned in Modules 1-9 in Lau and Chan (2017), write an essay in response to the following prompts:

How does the scientific method aid human critical reasoning processes?
How and why have you made assumptions or inferences on important matters, regardless of data or evidence to the contrary? Examples here might include: fad diets, telepathy, precognition, psychokinesis, vaccinations, UFOs, magnetic therapy, apparitions, cold fusion, Bigfoot, alternative forms of medicines, genetically modified plants, etc. Describe how you have thought about this issue and analyze how you could improve your critical reasoning on this issue using the scientific method.

Requirements:

Cite all claims and ideas using scholarly sources. While it is acceptable to write in the first person, be sure to cite your sources to support your inferences.
Include at least one or two scholarly sources that are not required or recommended readings for this course. The CSU-Global Library (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. is a good place to find these sources.
Your paper should be four to five pages in length and formatted according to the CSU-Global Guide to Writing & APA (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..
Papers should be double-spaced, 12-point font Times New Roman.
Include the following in your essay: a brief introduction (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., a conclusion (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., and a reference page formatted according to CSU-Global APA requirements.

Option #2: Persuasive Letter to a Friend

Directions:
Using the concepts and ideas learned in Modules 1-9 of Lau and Chan (2017), write a letter to a close relative or friend who rejects the scientific consensus on an important issue. In this letter, address the following questions:

How would you define scientific theories and how they operate?
Why do scientists employ the idea of falsifiability?
How would you try to convince this person to examine the issue using the scientific method in order to come to clear and careful assessments?
Why would you argue for engaging scientific, peer-reviewed sources on the issue?

Requirements:

Cite all claims and ideas using scholarly sources. While it is acceptable to write in the first person, be sure to cite your sources to support your inferences.
Include at least one or two scholarly sources that are not required or recommended readings for this course. The CSU-Global Library (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. is a good place to find these sources.
Your paper should be four to five pages in length and formatted according to the CSU-Global Guide to Writing & APA (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..
Papers should be double-spaced, 12-point font Time New Roman.
Include the following in your essay: a brief introduction, a conclusion, and a reference page formatted according to CSU-Global APA requirements.

Reference

Van Cleave, M. (2016). Introduction to logic and critical thinking. Retrieved from https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/BookDetail.aspx?bookId=457

Expert Answer

Discussion

The Conjunction Fallacy

The conjunction fallacy refers to erroneous or faulty reasoning which leads to an individual inferring that conjunction is more likely or probable than just one of its conjuncts (Franco, 2009), where a conjunct represents a single idea in the sentence and the conjunction is a sentence having more than one idea. Conjunction fallacy shows the faulty assumption that two events or conditions have a higher probability of occurring that a single event or condition (Tentori et al., 2004). One assumes that detailed conditions are more likely than general conditions (Crupi et al., 2008). A good example is where one is considering two possible outcomes for a student in school:

  1. The student graduates next year.
  2. The student graduates next year and gets a good job the following year.

Conjunction fallacy would lead an individual to choose the second outcome as the most likely outcome, while, in fact, the first outcome is the most probable. A situation having only one conjunct or idea is more probable than one with two conditions.

In my personal life, I find myself making assumptions that are based on the conjunction fallacy. For instance, if a friend told me that they went for shopping and bought vegetables only, I find myself assuming that they love shopping and they must be vegetarian since they bought vegetables, which may not be the case. They may only be people who enjoy shopping. In order to deal with the fallacy, I try as much as possible to discuss situations with other people in order to come up with the most probable outcome.

References

Crupi, V., Fitelson, B., & Tentori, K. (2008). Probability, confirmation, and the conjunction fallacy. Thinking & Reasoning, 14(2), 182-199.

Franco, R. (2009). The conjunction fallacy and interference effects. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 53(5), 415-422.

Tentori, K., Bonini, N., & Osherson, D. (2004). The conjunction fallacy: a misunderstanding about conjunction? Cognitive Science, 28(3), 467-477.

Critical Thinking

Using the Scientific Method to Challenge our Thinking

Critical thinking refers to the ability of the mind to analyze claims in order to find truth or facts in them. Critical thinking forms the intellectual basis of the scientific method (Serrat, 2017). The scientific method refers to a lengthy or extensive, structured method of critical thinking that aims at finding truths or disapproving claims. It involves three major stages, a hypothesis formation stage, experimentation, and conclusion. Critical thinking is usually an analytical thought that is aimed at evaluating the validity of a claim (Serrat, 2017). Critical thinking may be a simple thought process, such as a young boy questioning a claim by their father that when people die, they go to heaven. It may also be complex, such as a college student studying physics questioning the relationship between time and space. Critical thinking starts with an individual’s mind turning in opposition to a generally accepted claim and starting to analyzing the claim’s underlying premises (Jackson, 2015). The scientific method is used in critical thinking to ascertain or disapprove claims. The scientific method provides a systematic method of evaluating the validity of a claim.

The scientific method, therefore, supports critical thinking in the process of finding factual information by posing a challenge to general reasoning (Serrat, 2017). The scientific method begins with a hypothesis, which can be simply defined as a theoretical claim or the initial supposition that is based on observation or question. Critical thinking asks a certain question about a particular claim or general assumption. The hypothesis in the scientific method is an attempt to provide an answer to the question posed by critical thinking. For example, if a child questions the claim by their father that people go to heaven when they die, the scientific method would come up with a hypothesis such as “do people go to heaven when they die?” or “when people die, they do not go to heaven”. The hypothesis is not a final conclusion since the scientific method demands some form of the verification process. The scientific method applies formal experimentation as a way of analyzing the hypothesis.

The process of experimentation is usually rigorous and utilizes a certain methodology that is specially designed to collect empirical and unbiased evidence which either contradicts or supports the initial claim or the hypothesis (Elder & Paul, 2002). In experimentation, there are usually controlled variables that are used to provide an objective basis for comparison purposes. The main role of the experimentation stage in the scientific method is to find evidence that ascertains the hypothesis as either true or untrue (Hitchcock, 2017). After complete experimentation, the scientific method ends with a conclusion. The conclusion is drawn after adequate testing to ensure that the conclusion is supported by evidence that is verifiable. The conclusion provides the truth from the initial claim. In order to ascertain the conclusion arrived at through the scientific method, the conclusion drawn after experimentation is often subjected to review (peer reviewing) and retesting (further testing). Peer review and further testing result in the reaching of a consensus about the issue or topic under investigation.

The initial process of critical thinking, which begins with a particular claim, becomes a complex testing and verification process, the scientific method, whose aim is to test or evaluate the validity of a claim. Critical thinking seeks to question general assumptions and claims. In our day to day lives, we tend to make numerous assumptions about certain issues. Often, we fail to consider evidence and avoid cross-checking the provided facts, which results in making untrue assumptions. It is important that one cross-checks the facts and bases their statements on empirical evidence. The scientific method ensures that fallacies and untrue assumptions are disapproved (Jackson, 2015). In most cases, when one is faced with a situation, they do not consider primary data and end up using secondary data and common belief to base their arguments. Through critical thinking, which kickstarts the scientific method, various facts and pieces of evidence are gathered and tied together in a systematic manner that ensures that the truth is identified.

Assumptions and Inferences

In the process of critical thinking or critical reasoning, we tend to make various assumptions and inferences. An assumption can simply be defined as something that one takes for granted or presupposes (Elder & Paul, 2002). It can be something that one has previously learned or something that they do not wish to question. An assumption is part of one’s beliefs and convictions. We, therefore, use our assumptions to interpret what goes on around us (Elder & Paul, 2002). An inference can be simply explained as a conclusion that one reaches based on some related fact. One concludes that something as to be true because something else is true (Clark, 1977). An inference may be logical or illogical, inaccurate or accurate, unjustified or justified. Sometimes we use our assumption to make inferences about situations, people, and things around us. For instance, if one assumes that living in a city is very expensive, this assumption will result in them making an inference that living in Johannesburg, a city in South Africa, must be very expensive.

Human beings make judgments about various issues, form beliefs from the judgments and assumptions, and come up with conclusions that are based on the beliefs formed (Elder & Paul, 2002). In my own life, I have made various inferences based on my beliefs and assumptions. One assumption that I have is that genetically modified foods are unhealthy and not fit for human consumption. From this assumption, I find myself making inferences about any food products that are obtained from genetically modified crops and animals. For instance, when I go shopping and come across packed groceries with an indication of genetic modification in the labeling, I avoid purchasing those groceries since I infer that the groceries are not healthy food products. I formed the assumption that genetic modification results in the production of unhealthy foods after observing that my parents and some of my friends avoid them when buying food supplies. Even without questioning their decision not to use these foods, I assumed that they must be unhealthy.

In addition, I came across several social media posts criticizing genetically modified food products, which made me develop a negative attitude towards the foods. The issue of genetically modified foods has been featuring in various news platforms and media, with a group of people claiming that these food products are not fit for consumption or have adverse side effects on consumers, and another group arguing that GM foods are healthy and provide additional nutritional value to consumers. In most cases, the arguments on social media platforms and news channels do not provide proven facts or scientific data to support the claims made. The scientific method can be used to identify the truth of the matter. This may be done by first coming up with a hypothesis. In this case, the hypothesis would be “Genetically modified foods are not fit for human consumption” or “Genetic modification of crops and livestock results in the production of unhealthy food products”. After coming up with the hypothesis, I would then proceed to the experimentation stage, where I would seek scientific evidence to either approve or disapprove the selected hypothesis.

Information may be obtained through scientific research, including a literature review of the relevant scientific academic sources that speak about genetic modification of crops and animals for food production purposes. The experimentation may also involve a medical examination of people who use GM foods to identify whether they have any side effects on them. Credible sources would be applied in the research process to guarantee the truthfulness of the obtained information (Hitchcock, 2017). After research and experimentation, I would then arrive at a well-informed conclusion based on the verifiable evidence obtained during experimentation and research. This way, the scientific method would provide a fact-based conclusion on whether GM foods are healthy food or not.

References

Clark, H. H. (1977). Inferences in comprehension. Basic processes in reading: Perception and comprehension, 2433263.

Elder, L., & Paul, R. (2002). Critical thinking: Distinguishing between inferences and assumptions. Journal of Developmental Education, 25(3), 34.

Hitchcock, D. (2017). Critical thinking as an educational ideal. In On Reasoning and Argument (pp. 477-497). Springer, Cham.

Jackson, S. L. (2015). Research methods and statistics: A critical thinking approach. Cengage Learning.

Serrat, O. (2017). Critical thinking. In Knowledge Solutions (pp. 1095-1100). Springer, Singapore.

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