User:Kevin Baas

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Politics & Society
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no
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Self
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no
nazis
This user opposes fascism in all its forms
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My Wikistress level
Little 'ol me.

Critical thinking[edit]

Critical thinking consists of a mental process of analyzing or evaluating information, particularly statements or propositions that people have offered as true. It forms a process of reflecting upon the meaning of statements, examining the offered evidence and reasoning, and forming judgments about the facts.

Critical thinkers can gather such information from observation, experience, reasoning, and/or communication. Critical thinking has its basis in intellectual values that go beyond subject-matter divisions and which include: clarity, accuracy, precision, evidence, thoroughness and fairness.

The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal awards the Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking.

Overview[edit]

Within the framework of skepticism, the process of critical thinking involves acquiring information and evaluating it to reach a well-justified conclusion or answer. Part of critical thinking comprises informal logic. Given research in cognitive psychology, educators increasingly believe that schools should focus more on teaching their students critical thinking skills than on memorizing facts by rote-learning.

The process of critical thinking responds to many subjects and situations, finding connections between them. It forms, therefore, a system of related modes of thought that cut across fields like science, mathematics, engineering, history, anthropology, economics, moral reasoning and philosophy.

One can regard critical thinking as involving two aspects:

  1. a set of cognitive skills
  2. the ability and intellectual commitment to use those skills to guide behavior.

Critical thinking does not include simply the acquisition and retention of information, or the possession of a skill-set which one does not use regularly; nor does critical thinking merely exercise skills without acceptance of the results.

Methods of critical thinking[edit]

Critical thinking has a useful sequence to follow:

  1. Itemize opinion(s) from all relevant sides of an issue and collect Logical argument(s) supporting each.
  2. Break the arguments into their constituent statements and draw out various additional implication(s) from these statements.
  3. Examine these statements and implications for internal contradictions.
  4. Locate opposing claims between the various arguments and assign relative weightings to opposing claims.
    1. Increase the weighting when the claims have strong support especially distinct chains of reasoning or different news sources, decrease the weighting when the claims have contradictions.
    2. Adjust weighting depending on relevance of information to central issue.
    3. Require sufficient support to justify any incredible claims; otherwise, ignore these claims when forming a judgment.
  5. Assess the weights of the various claims.

Mind maps provide an effective tool for organizing and evaluating this information; in the final stages, one can assign numeric weights to various branches of the mind map.

Critical thinking does not assure that one will reach either the truth or correct conclusions. Firstly, one may not have all the relevant information; indeed, important information may remain undiscovered, or the information may not even be knowable. Second, one's bias(es) may prevent effective gathering and evaluation of the available information.

Overcoming bias[edit]

To reduce one's bias, one can take various measures during the process of critical thinking.

Instead of asking "How does this contradict my beliefs?" ask: "What does this mean?"

In the earlier stages of gathering and evaluating information, one should first of all suspend judgement (as one does when reading a novel or watching a movie). Ways of doing this include adopting a perceptive rather than judgmental orientation; that is, avoiding moving from perception to judgment as one applies critical thinking to an issue. In the terminology of Edward De Bono's Six Thinking Hats, use white hat or blue hat thinking and delay black hat thinking for later stages.

One should become aware of one's own fallibility by:

  1. accepting that everyone has subconscious biases, and accordingly questioning any reflexive judgments;
  2. adopting an egoless and, indeed, humble stance
  3. recalling previous beliefs that one once held strongly but now rejects
  4. realizing one still has numerous blind spots, despite the foregoing

How does one ever eliminate biases without knowing what the ideal is? A possible answer: by referencing critical thinking against a "concept of man" (see Erich Fromm). Thus we can see that critical thinking and the formation of secure ethical codes form an integral whole, but a whole which remains limited without the backing of a concept of humanity.

Finally, one might use the Socratic method to evaluate an argument, asking open questions, such as the following:

  • What do you mean by_______________?
  • How did you come to that conclusion?
  • Why do you believe that you are right?
  • What is the source of your information?
  • What assumption has led you to that conclusion?
  • What happens if you are wrong?
  • Can you give me two sources who disagree with you and explain why?
  • Why is this significant?
  • How do I know you are telling me the truth?
  • What is an alternate explanation for this phenomenon?

Reaching a conclusion[edit]

One useful perspective in critical thinking involves Occam's Razor. Also called the "principle of parsimony," Occam's razor states that one should not make more assumptions than necessary. In other words, "keep it simple". Given the nature of the process, critical thinking is never final. One arrives at a tentative conclusion, given the evidence and based on an evaluation. However, the conclusion must always remain subject to further evaluation if new information comes to hand.

Critical thinking in the classroom[edit]

In the UK school system, the syllabus offers Critical thinking as a subject which 17-18 year olds can take as an A-Level. Under the OCR exam board, students can sit two exam papers: "Credibility of Evidence" and "Assessing/Developing Argument". Students often regard the subject as a 'lightweight' or 'bonus' qualification, as they can achieve competence after very little formal teaching.

Quotation[edit]

William Graham Sumner offers a useful summary of critical thinking:

Critical thinking is the examination and test of propositions of any kind which are offered for acceptance, in order to find out whether they correspond to reality or not. The critical faculty is a product of education and training. It is a mental habit and power. It is a prime condition of human welfare that men and women should be trained in it. It is our only guarantee against delusion, deception, superstition, and misapprehension of ourselves and our earthly circumstances.

References[edit]

  • Paul, R. and Elder L. 2002. Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life. Published by Financial Times Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-064760-8.
  • Paul, R., Elder, L., and Bartell T. 1997. California Teacher Preparation for Instruction in Critical Thinking: Research Findings and Policy Recommendations. California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Foundation for Critical Thinking, Sacramento California.
  • Whyte, P. 2003. Bad Thoughts - A Guide to Clear Thinking. Published by Corvo. ISBN 0-9543255-3-2.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]

NPOV[edit]

I don't consider myself a NPOV arbitrator by any means. But that's another subject: my philosophy regarding "NPOV, interacting with others to achieve". That's stated in the following section. This section is my philosophy regarding "NPOV, methods to assess and work in the direction of".

Tenets of NPOV:

  • proportional representation
    this is "balance". balance does not mean assuming the conclusion that the sum total will be pov ambiguous; "grey". this is known as the grey fallacy. (this leads to mutually assured delusion) balance means that each piece of info is weighed according to the same criteria, so that if the article where a scale of pieces of info, it would be balanced. for instance, each piece of info is given sace in the article (representation) proportional to its significance, relevancy, etc. piece of info w/the same such measure should be given equal validity, regardless of their "pov". this is how one gives each pov equal validity: one makes a conscious effort to not assess validity on the basis of pov (to not say "this is leftist pov, so its less valid", or "this is rightest pov, so its less valid"). balance not in relation to the assumption of an equal total of pov (the epistemic), regardless of the empirical, but in proportion to the empirical, regardless of pov (the epistemic). That way, the article refers to the real world, not images or feelings (and possibly delusions, as they have no neccessary connection to the empirical world) in people's heads. represent the facts in proportion to their significance and relevance. (see below)
  • significance
    • "interesting"; informative. this means statistically unexpected. "joe wears shoes" shouldn't be in the article, but "joe does not wear shoes" should. by the same token, "joe does not have 6 fingers" shouldn't be, "joe does have 6 fingers" should, assuming, of course, the given statement is factually accurate.
    • important
    • not redundant. redundancy is a form of stating things out of proportion. this is a special case of interesting.
    • "Articles need to be interesting to attract and keep the attention of readers. For an entry in an encyclopedia, ideas also need to be important. The amount of space they deserve depends on their importance and how many interesting things can be said about them." - from Wikipedia:NPOV_tutorial#Space_and_balance
  • relevance
  • factual accuracy
  • straightforward presentation
    • logical simplicity (convolution is a form of evasion and/or distortion)
  • avoidance of logical fallacies

i don't consider info favoring one pov or another to be a legitimate objection. legitimate objections would be things like significance and relevancy. if it's not significant or relevant, it's usually because someone was trying to push a pov, and the fact that its insignificant or irrelevant is a form of bias, i.e., putting things out of proportion.

On the other hand, if it's significant, relevant, and accurate, but you still object to it, then you need to re-evaluate your beliefs.

I'm against disputing an article in general, as it amounts to disputing the conclusion of one's interpretation of the article, a.k.a., shooting the messenger. (and putting the cart before the horse)

-begin rant- Frankly, if one does not dispute the facts or how they add up, but nonetheless disputes what they add up to, that's nothing but stubborn ignorance and denial. the part of their brain that adds what they don't dispute and comes to the conclusion, is the thinking (rational) part . that's what thinking is. The part that denies the conclusion without disputing the premises, that's the non-thinking (irrational) part. Such people need to learn to distinguish between the two and use the thinking part of their brain more often. That's what I mean by shooting the messenger: Such a person is getting angry because they don't like what's being said. They don't realize that regardless of whether or not it is said, it still is. The problem lies not with the messenger, but with the empirical world, and the disputer's refusal to acknowledge the reality, even though they can find no valid argument with which to answer. It's called the "Concrete operational stage" of thinking, and is supposed to happen between the age of 7 and 12. However, since it's been discovered, disturbingly, that only about 40% of people ever use "formal operational" thinking habitually, it is questionable how many people have substantially developed these skills, which would explain a few things. -end rant-

An article should be disputed in its particulars (the style, tone, accuracy, etc. of phrases, sentences, or paragraphs) on the basis of those particulars, on the basis of the relative significance of info included or not included, or the organization of the article. if nothing of this is disputable, and the article is still found to be "failing" in its general impression, it is by no fault of the article. Indeed, if it were by fault of the article, there would be no way to correct this fault, as all the ways in which the article can be modified without violating policy are listed above.

re: Giving equal validity: this is done by adding, not subtracting. if "the other side" doesn't have a "rebuttle", that is no fault of the original side, and no fault of the messenger. if one is to remove things for purposes of conciseness, one removes for purposes of conciseness; that is, one removes the least significant and/or most redundant info (regardless of whether it is critical or supportive of any given POV) an example of this is the recent edit by Kronius, where he removed a rather insignificant paragraph. Not because it was arguably POV, but because it was insignificant. if it was arguably POV and it was significant enough to merit that space in the article on the basis of its significance (irrespective of its POV), then so, likely, does related info supportive of a different pov likely merit space in the article on the basis of its significance (irrespective of its POV). In summary, I agree both with increasing conciseness by subtracting, and with including significant info via the principle of "giving equal validity" which involves adding. I consider them logically independent.

POV fights, be them in their purest form, can't very well manifest themselves as POV fights if progress is to be gained. I'm reminded of childish bickering: "you're stupid. no, you're stupid. no, you're stupid. no, you're stupid..." Ideally, discussions produce somewhat more sophisticated arguments than that, involving critical thinking and regarding proportion, citation, relevancy, etc, everything but "POV" - the productive ones, at least. I'll admit some discussions involve people calling other people POV-mongers and the like, but those discussions don't lead to any changes in the article.

..."Here's my take: It should do none of the above listed. Instead, we should hold it to a higher standard: We should represent the facts in representative proportion. That each, each fact will be weighted by it's informativeness (that is, unexpectedness), relevancy (that is, hamming distance), and importance (that is, its impact on the empirical world). Each fact will be given space in the article commensurate with that weighted value, so as to maximize the total value of the article.
This may result in an article very critical of a person, or very flattering to that person, but this is no objection. Balance does not mean creating a completely ambiguous article. A balanced and neutral article may support a certain pov much more than it does another. For instance, an article might support the POV that science if founded on empiricism much more than the POV that science is founded on catholicism, and thereby "creation science", which is totally invalid from an empirical philosophy, as not science. Also would a fundamental principal of science, "falsifiability", overwhelmingly support the "POV" that "creation science" is not science. Yet one could argue, from the logical fallacy that a balanced presentation of the facts results in a POV ambiguous article, that the science article should be rewritten such that the "POV" that "creation science" is science is supported in the science article as much as the "POV" that it is not science.
I hope my point is made clear by this example. One should not assume the conclusion (such as two given povs being equally supported by the facts), and select facts so as to support that conclusion. One should weigh each fact on the same scale, regardless of what pov's it supports or sheds doubt on, and let the facts, submitted to a candid world, speak for themselves. Kevin Baastalk 00:08, 2005 Apr 8 (UTC) "

cooperating to achieve NPOV[edit]

"...Nor am I so arrogant, self-righteous, and logicaly inept as to consider myself neutral, or to consider neutrality a goal that can ever be achieved by an individual. So rest assured, I do not bear the pretention of being neutral, and rest assured, also, that I will work collaboratively towards neutrality, via wikipedia policy, equitable protocols, and critical thinking." - Kevin Baastalk 16:04, 2005 Apr 15 (UTC)

...The point was that noone can be an objective judge of the neutrality of the article, but if we work together and in good faith, using equitable protocols, the article will continue to approach the "mean" of empirical perception - "neutrality" - that neutrality which no individual has direct access to, as it resides in the aggregate, not the individual. This point persists regardless of individual views, indeed, it is a point regarding the interaction of such views. Neutrality cannot be arrived at, but it can be approached via the central limit theorem, in this case more commonly referred to as "synergy" or "emergence". The more agents interacting via equitable protocols, the faster the article converges to "neutrality". This process must be respected in good faith if the goal is neutrality. Kevin Baastalk 04:05, 2005 Apr 10 (UTC)

In regard to whether I think this article is neutral, I have no answer to that question. I don't claim to be Wikipedia's arbiter of neutrality or to have any special insight into this article's NPOV status. It's not up to me, or any single editor, to declare this article neutral or non-neutral; it's up to the community. My goal in editing this article is to do my part, whatever it might be, in making this the best article about George W. Bush we can possibly come up with. I didn't come here to push my personal POV. I came here to do my part, whatever it might be, in making this article the best it can be. Part of that is making sure we always strive toward a neutral point of view. The way we do that is by building consensus by reconciling all our differing points of view until they meet somewhere near neutrality. I love to see Wikipedians with diverging political views working together collaboratively in a spirit of good faith to get as close to NPOV as possible. That's the way we make an article NPOV, not by strongarming it to satisfy one user's personal view of how this article should be. / sɪzlæk ˺/ 05:08, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia: active version proposal[edit]

Click where a thumb would be to flip to thumbs up(approve), click again to flip to thumbs down(disapprove). overall rating is shown in horizontal bar. Current stable version (highest rated) is highlighted. (sorry about the bad image editing)
Article (stable-version) - URL:"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematics/stable"


active revision voting mechanism[edit]

neccessary database fields:

global
votes_per_user_per_article
min_voters
null_votes
article
article
active_revision
min_voters
null_votes
revision
article
revision
rating
votes
article
revision
user
vote
  • NEW ARTICLE CREATION:
    • article.min_voters=global.min_voters
    • article.null_votes=global.null_votes


  • USER VOTING user u CHANGES vote to v on article a, revision r:
    • update votes set vote=v where article=a and revision=v and user=u
    • update revision set rating = (select sum(vote) / max_of(count(vote)+null_votes,min_voters) from votes, article where article=a and revision=r)
    • update article set active_revision = (select revision from revision where article=a and rating=(select max(rating) from revision where article=a)) where article=a;


  • USER VOTING user u abstains on article a, revision r:
    • delete from votes where article=a and user=u and revision=r;
    • update revision set rating = (select sum(vote) / max_of(count(vote)+null_votes,min_voters) from votes, article where article=a and revision=r)
    • update article set active_revision = (select revision from revision where article=a and rating=(select max(rating) from revision where article=a)) where article=a;


  • USER VOTING user u votes v on article a, revision r:
    • if( (select count(*) from votes where article=a and user=u) = global.votes_per_user_per_article ) {
    • select min(revision) as r2 from votes where article=a and user=u;
    • delete from votes where article=a and user=u and revision=r2;
    • update revision set rating = (select sum(vote) / max_of(count(vote)+null_votes,min_voters) from votes, article where article=a and revision=r2)
    • }
    • insert into votes values (a,r,u,v,sysdate)
    • update revision set rating = (select sum(vote) / max_of(count(vote)+null_votes,min_voters) from votes, article where article=a and revision=r)
    • update article set active_revision = (select revision from revision where article=a and rating=(select max(rating) from revision where article=a)) where article=a;


method 2[edit]

neccessary database fields:

global
votes_per_user_per_article
article
article
active_revision
extra_param
revision
article
revision
voters
score
votes
article
revision
user
vote
  • USER VOTING user u CHANGES vote to v on article a, revision r:
    • update revision set score = score - (select vote from votes where article=a and revision=r and user=u) + v where article=a and revision=r
    • update votes set vote=v where article=a and revision=v and user=u
    • update article set active_revision = (select max(revision) from revision where article=a and score=(select max(score/voters)*voters from revision where article=a)) where article=a;


  • USER VOTING user u abstains on article a, revision r:
    • update revision set voters=voters-1,score=score-(select vote from votes where article=a and revision=r and user=u) where article=a and revision=r
    • delete from votes where article=a and user=u and revision=r;
    • update article set active_revision = (select max(revision) from revision where article=a and score=(select max(score/voters)*voters from revision where article=a)) where article=a;


  • USER VOTING user u votes v on article a, revision r:
    • if( (select count(*) from votes where article=a and user=u) = global.votes_per_user_per_article ) {
    • select min(revision) as r2 from votes where article=a and user=u;
    • update revision set voters=voters-1,score = score-(select vote from votes where article=a and revision=r2 and user=u) where article=a and revision=r2
    • update votes set revision=r, vote=v where article=a and revision=r2 and user=u
    • update revision set voters=voters+1,score = score+v where article=a and revision=r2
    • } else {
    • insert into votes values (a,r,u,v)
    • update revision set voters=voters+1,score=score+v where article=a and revision=r and user=u
    • }
    • update article set active_revision = (select max(revision) from revision where article=a and score=(select max(score/voters)*voters from revision where article=a)) where article=a;

stability quantifier[edit]

neccessary database fields:

global
avg_over_x_revisions
article
article
avg_over_x_revisions
avg_lifespan
avg_age
revision
article
revision
lifespan
age
stability
timestamp


  • NEW ARTICLE CREATION:
    • article.avg_over_x_revisions=global.avg_over_x_revisions
  • NEW REVISION CREATION, article a:
    • update revision set lifespan=sysdate-timestamp where article=a and revision=(select max(revision) from revision where article=a);
    • update revision set age=sysdate-timestamp where article=a;
    • insert into article (new revision, stability=lifespan=age=0)
  • CALCULATE AVG PARAMETERS for article a
    • update article set avg_lifespan=(select avg(lifespan) from(select revision from (select revision from revision where article=a order by 1 desc) where rownum<=(select avg_over_x_revisions from article where article=a));
    • update article set avg_age=(select avg(age) from(select revision from (select revision from revision where article=a order by 1 desc) where rownum<=(select avg_over_x_revisions from article where article=a));
  • CALCULATE STABILITY for article a, revision r
    • update revision set stability=(select lifespan/avg_lifespan-age/avg_age from article,revision where article=a and revision=r) where article=a and revision=r

About me[edit]

My Wiki philosophy type:

You scored as Postmodernist. Postmodernism is the belief in complete open interpretation. You see the universe as a collection of information with varying ways of putting it together. There is no absolute truth for you; even the most hardened facts are open to interpretation. Meaning relies on context and even the language you use to describe things should be subject to analysis.

Postmodernist

75%

Cultural Creative

56%

Existentialist

38%

Modernist

31%

Materialist

25%

Romanticist

25%

Fundamentalist

13%

Idealist

0%

So, apparently I'd sooner be called a fundamentalist than an idealist. Please don't call me a "fundamentalist" - I consider that very offensive.