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How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass: A Critical Thinker's Guide to Asking the Right Questions [Paperback]

Christopher Dicarlo
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 26 2011
In this witty, incisive guide to critical thinking the author provides you with the tools to allow you to question beliefs and assumptions held by those who claim to know what they’re talking about. These days there are many people whom we need to question: politicians, lawyers, doctors, teachers, clergy members, bankers, car salesmen, and your boss. This book will empower you with the ability to spot faulty reasoning and, by asking the right sorts of questions, hold people accountable not only for what they believe but how they behave.

By using this book you’ll learn to analyze your own thoughts, ideas, and beliefs, and why you act on them (or don’t). This, in turn, will help you to understand why others might hold opposing views. And the best way to change our own or others’ behavior or attitudes is to gain greater clarity about underlying motives and thought processes.

In a media-driven world of talking heads, gurus, urban legends, and hype, learning to think more clearly and critically, and helping others to do the same, is one of the most important things you can do.

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How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass: A Critical Thinker's Guide to Asking the Right Questions + Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole
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About the Author

Christopher DiCarlo, PhD, (Guelph, Ontario) is an award-winning lecturer on bioethics and philosophy of science. He is a fellow, advisor, and board member of the Society of Ontario Freethinkers and the Center for Inquiry–Canada. He is a past visiting research scholar in the Stone Age Laboratory at Harvard University.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Unnecessary Pictures Jan. 23 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While the content of the book is quite good, the type and amount of pictures used seem completely unnecessary. At times you will have a sub-heading illustrated as a half-page word graphic that adds no value to the book at all.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars truth! May 9 2012
At last! Finally someone has the intestinal fortitude(guts) to tell it like it's about time thinking people come out and ask about things that we all wanted to know about when we were kids, and even as adults, butwere told just to believe and not to ask such questions!!.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Guide to Critical Thinking Nov. 12 2011
By Book Fanatic - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I consider this book a very worthwhile introduction to critical thinking for those new to the topic and a useful refresher for the rest of us. Considering the topic, the book is quite easy to read; without sacrificing quality. It is an interesting combination of instruction in the principles of critical thinking and what the author calls the "Big Five Questions". I enjoyed this approach and I think most others will as well.

The author begins by describing arguments and how to understand them. He follows that up with chapters on biases, context, and basic ideas of logic and the various types of evidence and methods of reasoning. He has an excellent chapter on the most common fallacies. The final section of the book asks the big five questions and contrasts a naturalistic answer with a supernatural answer. Make no mistake, the author is not simply splitting the difference. He comes down very heavily on the side of methodological naturalism. In providing the supernatural answers he shows how they come up short.

This book has a very good look inside content and I recommend you check that out. You will thereby get a good idea what you are getting before you buy. This book was well done and I recommend it.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent on critical thinking...less so on application May 3 2012
By J. Bristow - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found Pain in the Ass to be an interesting read: not as good as I had hoped but not a complete waste of time either. The book is divided into three parts--Pt I is a very excellent review and explanation (depending on the reader's experience and knowledge of critical thinking literature) of critical thinking, debate, persuasive discourse, and argumentation skills and principles. Fairly complete and well done. Not to deep on theory and very readable. This portion alone makes the book worth the read if this is a subject in which you are seeking more information. Pt II is a discussion of the Socratic methodology and history of the Skeptics principles. I found this section disjointed and hard to read in spite of considerable training in the subject. Its style is such that the author appears to be trying to put forth an academic import to the work and missed badly. This section is overpacked with minutae which does not flow and does not improve any of the points. This is a '1-star' section. Pt III is the application section in which the author attempts to use the framework built in parts 1 (successfully) and 2 (less so) to answer the "5 Big Questions". I was not a fan of framing the entire premise of critical thinking with the 5 Big Questions (nor are they what I consider the "Big 5"); however, the section is useful in its discussion and seems to be without glaring problems. Chapters 10 & 11 have several very minor inconsistencies in their discussions of genographics, evolution and climatology but this is not a treatise on those subjects and they do not detract from the premise. My only problem with Pt III is not liking the '5 Question' framework makes this section less interesting. I read some chapters fully, carefully and critically and found others that were barely worth a light skim.

Overall, I am glad I read the book but I would only recommend it to friends with caveats and explanations.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great beginners guide to critical thinking Sept. 18 2011
By Tiger Ridge - Published on
Dr. Dicarlo's book is very fun to read and informative. It teaches the reader how to construct and map arguments, spot logical fallacies, be aware of your own cognitive biases, and ask the right questions. While doing this, it maintains a fun tone. I wish we would have used this book in my critical thinking class.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to Become a Really Good Pain Nov. 1 2011
By dragon lady - Published on
This book is just what anyone interested in becoming a critical thinker needs to set them on the path of understanding the basis of other's arguments and what questions to ask in order to spot faulty reasons for the things they believe. Beginning answering five key questions: What can I know? What am I? Why am I here? How should I behave? What is to become of me? it is possible to learn a great deal about yourself and others. Those answers in large part determine why people believe certain "truths" even though there is no scientific basis for doing so. DiCarlo goes on to demonstrate how to argue effectively, ways of overcoming the biases we all have, what makes for sound science and so much more. Whether it is common fallacies, dealing with conflicting perceptions or belief in the supernatural, DiCarlo clearly demonstrates how a person's experiences and belief system (or lack of) color their view of themselves and the world around them.

Rather then a dry dissertation, this is a light, approachable read that can be enjoyed by anyone with an open mind and a willingness to look at their beliefs with a critical eye. Matters of the supernatural, religion, pseudoscience and philosophy are given the same insightful evaluations that tie age-old beliefs with the latest research findings. It's too bad a copy of this can't be presented to all first year college students because with the tools provided, it would be possible to develop the necessary lifelong skills to have more productive arguments and reasoned responses to those around them.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay Oct. 6 2013
By Matthew Clark - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was hoping for a little more on logic, fallacies, and biases of judgment. Too much of the book focused on ontological questions rather than epistemological questions.
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