This course is designed to develop your talent for clear and careful thinking, and to improve mastery of content and logical argument in all your intellectual work, whatever your major and for whatever work you choose to do later on. Particular topics will include general problem-solving strategies, the care and feeding of good arguments, bogus reasoning and how to demolish it, the power and pitfalls of elementary statistics, science vs. pseudoscience, basic probability and decision theory, useful conceptual heuristics and dangerous conceptual biases. We'll be talking both about how people do think and how we can think better.
The aim of the course is to teach you a range of general and powerful thinking skills. Learning these kinds of intellectual skills takes real concentration and commitment, patience and practice. But if you really master them, you'll be more successful in all the thinking you do from now on.
Topics in order (Roman numerals by topics).
with readings and homeworks that you will be expected to do before we meet in lecture.
Session 1: Tuesday, Jan. 28 Welcome to the course How we think. How to think better
II. The Strategy of Visualization
Session 2: Thursday, Jan. 30 Thinking with your eyes.
Prepare by class time on Tuesday, Feb. 4: Read The Art of Reasoning, pp. 1-7 and 11-28 Do homework #1 on-line
Session 3: Tuesday, Feb. 4 Visualizing Concept and Propositions
Prepare by class time on Thursday, Feb. 6: Read The Art of Reasoning, chapter 8, 195-207 and 213-226. Do homework #2 online Session 4: Thursday, Feb. 6 Visualizing Relations Between Propositions: Aristotle's Square of Opposition
III. The Flow of Argument
Prepare by class time on Tuesday, Feb. 11: Read The Art of Reasoning, chapter 8, 233-242 and 252-259. Do homework #3 on-line
Session 5: Tuesday, Feb. 11 Iron-clad air-tight validity: The Logic of Aristotle
Prepare by class time on Thursday, Feb. 13: Review The Art of Reasoning, Chapters 8 and 9 Do homework #4 on-line
Session 6: Thursday, Feb. 13 TEST #1 Prepare by class time on Tuesday, Feb. 18: Read The Art of Reasoning, Chapter 5, 86-116 You can begin Homework #5, but it isn’t due until Thursday, Feb. 20th.
Session 7: Tuesday, Feb. 18 Graphing arguments
IV. Bogus Arguments and How to Defuse Them
Prepare by class time on Thursday, Feb. 20: Read The Art of Reasoning, chapter 6, 125-157 Homework #5 is due by the beginning of class.
Session 8: Thursday, Feb. 20 More on graphing arguments Bad arguments...bad.
Prepare by class time on Tuesday, Feb. 25: Do homework #6 online
Session 9: Tuesday, Feb. 25 Fallacies, fallacies, and more fallacies Teams chosen for the Great Debates
V. The Great Debates
Prepare by class time on Thursday, Feb. 27: Special people: Special people homework Non-special people: Homework #7 on-line
Session 10: Thursday, Feb. 27 Preparation for the Great Debates and A media event
Session 11: Tuesday, Mar. 4 The Great Debates
VI. Thinking Statistically
Session 12: Thursday, Mar. 6 How to Lie with Statistics
Session 13: Tuesday, Mach 11 Analyzing the Great Debates