STEPS TO CRITICAL THINKING
1. Define the terms
Make sure that the terms being used are defined clearly, and that the
definitions remain consistent throughout.
2. Identify assumptions
Be aware of what assumptions are being made within the argument.
3. Recognize fact vs. opinion
Identify what is a fact and what is an opinion. Remember that just because
it is an opinion, that doesn't mean it's wrong. Also remember that not all
opinions are valid. No matter what you may believe, you are not entitled
to your opinion if your opinion is wrong.
4. Understand the appeal (Logos, Ethos, Pathos)
Is the appeal of the argument grounded in LOGOS (reason), ETHOS (character
or ethics of the speaker), or PATHOS (emotion).
5. Consider the source
How well supported is the argument? Not all evidence is reliable. Have
corroboration whenever possible.
Is the source of information or evidence credible? Just because a source
is well known doesn�t mean it is credible.
Is the source biased? Just because a source may be biased doesn�t mean it
6. Look for bias and fallacies
Fallacies are errors in argumentation. They may sound convincing, but are
either illogical or unsupportable upon closer inspection. Bias is when
language is used to persuade without regard to actual argument and logic.
1. Equivocation: Changing the meaning of a term or quote to suit the
2. Question Begging: Basing an argument on a questionable assumption.
3. Straw Man: setting up a false or weak argument to argue against, or
misrepresenting the arguments of the opposition to make them easier to
4. Stacking the Deck; Giving only one side of the argument while ignoring the
5. Non Causa, pro Causa (fallacy of false cause, including:
- Cum Hoc, ergo Proper Hoc: Belief that because two events occured at the
same time, one event caused the other.
- Post Hoc, ergo Propter Hoc: Belief that because one event occured after
another, that the first caused the second.
6. Loaded Words: Using words that sets up a bias in the listener.
7. Ad Hominem: Attacking the individual person rather than that person's
8. Slippery Slope: Implying that if something is allowed to occur, then
harmful events will inevitably occur as a result.