"Diestler has definitely written the book to be just what its cover advertisesuser friendly. It is quite easy to read and it presents difficult concepts in a basic way so that the average student has little trouble understanding them . ... A cut above many other critical thinking books." R. Natasha Mohr, Creighton University
"There are very few hooks that can introduce a beginner to the thrill of critical thinking in a way that seems fairly uncomplicated, and yet that fosters progressive competency. Diestler's book says to a potential student, 'Come and try critical thinking: it is not scary, and you will soon become better at it than you think!" Lee Loots, California State University. Hayward
"For the kind of class that I teach and the particular group of students I encounter, this text is the best I have found." Steven Benfell, Western Michigan University
From the Inside Flap
Everyone thinks. If you ask people where they stand on a particular issue, they will usually tell you what they believe and give reasons to support their beliefs. Many people, however, find it difficult to evaluate a written or spoken commentary on a controversial issue because both sides of the controversy seem to have good arguments.
The critical thinker is able to distinguish high-quality, well-supported arguments from arguments with little or no evidence to back them. This text trains students to evaluate the many claims facing them as citizens, learners, consumers, and human beings; it also helps students become more effective advocates for their beliefs.
Becoming a Critical Thinker is designed to be interdisciplinary and to be useful in courses in critical thinking, informal logic, rhetoric, English, speech, journalism, humanities, and the social sciences. It has also been used as either a required text or a supplement in nursing programs and in workshops in staff development and business management. There are important skills that distinguish critical thinkers across various disciplines; the goal of this text is to present and teach these skills in a clear and comprehensible manner.
The process of becoming a critical thinker takes place when critical thinking concepts and skills are clearly understood and put into practice. For this reason, many aspects of the text have been chosen because of their practical application for the student:
- Each concept is explained with examples, and the examples often proceed from the personal to the social or political. In this way, students can see that the same skills used in understanding arguments in daily life are used in analyzing political and commercial rhetoric.
- Graphic illustrations help students visualize important concepts.
- Exercises of varying levels of difficulty are given throughout the chapters to help students practice critical thinking skills.
- Emphasis is placed on understanding and analyzing the vital impact of print and electronic media on arguments.
- Students are taught to construct and present arguments so that they can gain skill and confidence as advocates for their beliefs.
- There is an early and primary emphasis on understanding conflicting value systems and on ethics in argumentation and decision-making.
- The articles and essays selected for use in the text are contemporary and express a variety of social and political viewpoints and ethical concerns.
- Multicultural perspectives are presented throughout the examples and articles. Many exercises and assignments encourage students to understand the perspectives of others and to broaden their own perspectives.
- There is a variety of writing and speaking assignments at the end of each chapter as well as a "Chapter Checkup" that tests students' knowledge of the information covered and provides a guideline for reviewing important concepts.
- The text is supplemented with an instructor manual and test bank in addition to a Companion Web site and an E-book that contain examples of critical thinking principles that can be used for classroom discussion.
SPECIFIC CHANGES IN THE FOURTH EDITION
As with previous editions, this fourth edition of Becoming a Critical Thinker has been updated with two priorities in mind: First, we wanted to retain and improve the user-friendly format of the first three editions. Also, we wanted to update readings and concepts so that readers will enjoy the application of critical thinking principles to current issues.
New features in the fourth edition include:
- Expanded supplementary resources for instructors. These include an instructor manual with revised tests for each chapter and an answer key, discussions of chapter exercises, and suggestions for teaching critical thinking concepts. In addition, a Companion Web site and an E-book may be referenced for supplementary lecture material and student practice exercises.
- New articles and essays. These writings include such current topics as: Ethical concerns surrounding the use of favors and of steroids in baseball, the controversy about new food regulations in schools aimed at helping children with serious allergies, an examination of the definition of "racism," new research on the use of technology to create subliminal persuasion, including the application of M.R.I. scanning to test consumer responses to brand names, the fallacies abundant in a gubernatorial debate featuring nationally known celebrities, the current young generations' viewpoints on the blending of ethnic identities, and distorted images in award-winning documentaries.
- Expanded concepts, explanations, and applications of critical thinking elements and skills. The Toulmin model is covered as a means of understanding the structure of argument and of discovering value assumptions and reality assumptions. The section on deductive reasoning has been expanded and clarified with additional examples. Several more fallacies have been included in this edition, and examples of previously covered fallacies have been expanded. A section on decision-making helps students apply the structure of argument to personal, consumer, and political decisions.
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