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When looking for information about a particular issue, how often do you try to resist confirmation bias by seeking out sources that might contradict your own point of view?
This assignment asks you to engage in this aspect of critical thinking.
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This assignment is divided into two (2) parts.
In Part I of the assignment, you will read a book excerpt about critical thinking processes, review one (1) Website in order to gather information, and engage in pre-writing to examine your thoughts.
In Part II of the assignment, you will write an essay geared towards synthesizing your ideas. As author E.M. Forster said, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”
Part I Preparation and Pre-writing:
Follow the steps below to explore an issue through reading and writing –
1. Read “The Believing Game and How to Make Conflicting Opinions More Fruitful” by Peter Elbow at http://www.procon.org/sourcefiles/believinggame.pdf. Devise strategies for playing the “Believing Game” and the “Doubting Game,” which are discussed in the Elbow article. According to the article, “the doubting game represents the kind of thinking most widely honored and taught. It’s the disciplined practice of trying to be as skeptical and analytic as possible with every idea we encounter. The believing game is the mirror image of the doubting game or critical thinking. It’s the disciplined practice of trying to be as welcoming as possible to every idea we encounter.”
2. Select one (1) of the issues from ProCon.org that your professor has approved as a topic choice for your essay. Go to www.procon.org, scroll to the list of issues, click on the issue you selected, and read the background information section on the issue.
a. To play the “Believing Game,” read either the Pro section
or the Con section on the www.procon.org Website – whichever argument is in opposition to your position on the chosen issue. Consider at least three (3) of the premises (reasons) listed in that section. Apply the “believing” questions suggested by Elbow, such as “What’s interesting or helpful about the view? What would you notice if you believed this view? … In what sense or under what conditions might this idea be true?”
b. To play the “Doubting Game,” read either the Pro column
or the Con column on the www.procon.org Website – whichever argument is in agreement with your position. Consider at least three (3) of the premises (reasons) listed in that section. Apply the “doubting” questions suggested by Elbow, such as the journalistic questions who, what, when, where, why, how.
Synthesizing and Writing: Part II
Now that you have examined your thinking about an issue by pre-writing about your ideas –
Write a three to four (3-4) page paper in which you:
1. Present an argument on an issue by stating your conclusion and identifying your premises.
2. Identify three (3) premises of the argument in
opposition to your conclusion, and describe your reactions to these premises, based on the believing questions suggested by Elbow, such as
“What’s interesting or helpful about the view? What would you notice if you believed this view? In what sense or under what conditions might this idea be true?”
3. Identify three (3) premises of the argument in agreement with your conclusion, and explain your responses to the journalistic questions you asked in order to probe these premises, based on the doubting questions suggested by Elbow, such as the journalistic questions who, what, when, where, why, and how.
4. Examine at least three (3) types of biases that you likely experienced when you read the premises on the Pro side of the argument and the premises on the Con side of the argument. (
5. Describe whether or not your position on the issue has changed. Indicate whether or not your premises supporting the issue have changed. Explain why or why not.
The paper should follow guidelines for clear and organized writing:
Include an introductory paragraph and concluding paragraph.
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