Thining critically and creatively about psychology

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THINING CRITICALLY AND CREATIVELY ABOUT PSYCHOLOGY

Most people know that you have to exercise your mind, something that requires effort and practice, to be a clear thinker. All around us there are examples of flabby thinking. Sometimes people justify their mental laziness by proudly saying they are open minded. Its good to be open minded, as many scientist have observed, but not so open thatyour brains fall out.
In this book, you will gain practice in distinguishing scientific psychology from pseudoscience y thinking critically. Critical thinking is the ability and willingness to asses claims and make objective judgments on the basis of wel-supported reasons and evidence, rather than emotion and anecdote. Critical thinkers are able to look for flaws in arguments and to resist claimsthat have no support. Critical thinking, however, is not merely negative thinking. It includes the ability to be creative and constructive, the ability to come up with alternative explanations for events, think of implications of research finding, and apply new knowledge to social and personal problems.
One prevalent misreading of what it means to be open-minded is the idea that all opinions arecreated equal and that one person´s beliefs are as good as the next person´s. on matters of personal preference, that is true; if ypu prefer the look of a Ford Taurus to the look of a Honda Accord, no one can argue with you. But if you say, “the Ford is a better car than the Honda”, that is more than mere opinion. Now you have to support your belief with evidence of the car’s reliability, trackrecord, and safety. And if you say, “Fords are the best in the world and Hondas do not exist; they are a conspiracy of the Japanese government”, you forfeit the right to have your opinion taken seriously. Your opinion, if it ignores reality, in not equal to any other.
Some people do not use critical thinking skill until they are in their mid-20s, or until they have had many years of highereducation. Yet even young children have the basic capacity to think critically, although they may not get much credit for it. We know one fourth-grader, who, when told that ancient Grece was the “cradle of democracy”, replied, “but what about women and slaves, who couldn’t vote and had no rights? Was Greec a democracy for them?” That’s critical thinking!

Many educators, philosophers, and psychologistsbelieve that contemporary education short-changes students by not encouraging them to think critically and creatively. Too often, say these critics, teachers and students view the mind as in a bin for storing “the right answers” or a sponge for “soaking up knowledge”. The mind is neither a bin not a sponge. Remembering, thinking, and understanding require judgment, choice, and the weighing ofevidence. Many high schools, college, and university graduates have learned to memorize the “right” answers; without the ability to think critically, however, they are unable to formulate a rational argument or see through misleading advertisements that play on their emotions. They may not know how to assess a political proposal or candidate, decide whether or when to have children, or come up withconstructive solutions to their problems. Many spend huge amounts of money on medical remedies that lack any evidence of effectiveness and that can even be life-threatening.

Critical thinking is not only indispensable in ordinary life, but also fundamental to all science, including psychological science. By exercising critical thinking, you will be able to distinguish serious psychology frompsychobabble. To do so, you will need to employ logical skills, but other kinds of skills are also important:

1- Ask questions; be wiling to wonder.
What is the one kind of question that most exasperates parents of young children? “why is the sky blue, mommy? “why doesn’t the plane fall?” ”why don’t pigs have wings?” questions.
“the trigger mechanism for crative thinking is the disposition...
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