Quiz 1

1. Critical reasoning is concerned with the truth of a statement.

Ascertaining truth is a key function of critical reasoning. It aims to determine whether the facts supporting an argument are true as well as the thinking or logic drawing conclusions from those facts.

2. Critical reasoning implies that thinking is flexible and can be improved.

One of the main goals of critical reasoning is to keep thinking flexible. When Emerson said “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” he was addressing the need for the openness of mind required by critical reasoning.

3. Assumptions must be questioned.

Questioning assumptions is key to healthy critical reasoning. Assumptions often arise from cultural or personal bias and can be misleading and need analysis and evaluation.

4. Critical reasoning requires listening to others.

To reach the truth one must consider alternative explanations and perspectives. An important way to gather this information is to listen to others. They may not always be right but they will multiply the angles from which I should view a subject.

5. Something is true if my family taught it to me.

This is an example of a need to use critical reasoning. Tradition often contains time-tested principles that are reliable but sometimes families may convey old biases or teach things that are not true. One function of a mature intelligence is to examine the assumptions we hold from our past and all its sources, including our family and religion and early schooling.

6. Something is true if I believe it strongly.

Beliefs always need scrutiny. My belief does not constitute sufficient grounds for the truth of something. Belief needs backing with evidence to make it reliable or due for revision. This is an example of the need for critical reason to reflect on cultural bias.

7. Something is true if the Pope has pronounced it.

Relying on authority for the truth does not assure we will reach the truth. Teachings need to be subject to critical analysis to assure they are grounded in the truth and are not the result of cultural bias.

8. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Critical reasoning is concerned with truth. Truth may not always be apparent at first glance. Assumptions and biases must be explored and evidence addressed before accepting a statement as true on its face.

Quiz 2

Using the answer key below, identify the function of critical reasoning required in the following examples:

A = Thinking for oneself; B = Informed Reasoning; C = Critical Self-Reflection

  1. _B__ My blood pressure is high, therefore I should be on medication.
  2. _A__ My biology professor claimed that vaccines cause autism. I shouldn’t get my baby vaccinated.
  3. _C__ I was raised as a Muslim. Islam teaches that homosexuality is a sin. I don’t approve be in favor of gay marriage.
  4. _B__ I have been a hospice volunteer for four years. Now that many of the patients admitted to hospice have AIDS, I don’t want to work for hospice any longer. I don’t want to contract the disease and need hospice care myself.
  5. _A_ Senator James Inohofe claimed that climate change is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind. He’s been in the Senate a long time and must know what he’s talking about.
  6. _C__ The Green Party advocates living a simple life and using fossil fuels as little as possible. I consider myself a Green but I commute a hundred miles a day in a minivan.
  7. _B__ Exposure to the sun causes skin cancer. If I use sunscreen when I sunbathe, I won’t get skin cancer.
  8. _A__ My religion teaches that abortion is a sin therefore I think abortion is a sin.
  9. _C_ Every time I talk to Nicole, she tells me she doesn’t understand what I mean. I must be a poor communicator.
  10. _A__ My political party is opposed to universal health care therefore I think we should not have universal health care coverage.
  11. _B__ Congressman Riley voted against immigration reform every time a bill came up. I support immigration reform therefore I will vote against Congressman Riley.
  12. _C__ An LA policeman was videoed beating up a homeless black woman along the side of the freeway. She must have been guilty.
  13. _A__ My religion teaches that I should not marry someone of a different faith therefore I should not marry someone not of my faith.
  14. _B__ Legalizing marijuana will lead to increased use of heroine and cocaine. We should not legalize marijuana.
  15. _B__ I am planning a trip to the Finger Lakes region of New York. Rte 95 will get me there faster than Rte 80. I should take Rte. 95.