Discovering Intellectual Dishonesty – Part 8/10

February 2, 2012

That “Dirty Secret” that Associate Professor of Philosophy Kevin deLaplante talked about in the Part 6 video was one of the five Essential Components of Critical Thinking, which are:

1. Logic

2. Argumentation

3. Rhetoric

4. Background Knowledge

5. Attitudes and Values

Professor deLaplante says, “While logic and argumentation are essential components of critical thinking, they are not sufficient—not by a long shot. What’s missing is the importance of background knowledge.

“Background knowledge informs critical thinking at multiple levels… but you cannot learn this in a critical thinking class or from a textbook. One of the most important elements of critical thinking cannot be taught—at least not in the way you can teach formal logic and fallacies.

“Background knowledge comes from living in the world and paying attention to what is going on.

“Mastering this component of critical thinking requires a dedication to life-long learning, a genuine openness to different points of view and a certain humility in the face of all that we don’t know.  This isn’t a set of skills you can master with worksheets and work examples. This is a philosophy, a lifestyle choice. Textbooks don’t talk about this or at last as much as they should.”

How to Write a Good Argumentative Essay: Logical StructureSource: The Critical Thinking Academy

“The ability to evaluate the premise of an argument cannot be taught in a critical thinking class,” Professor deLaplante says. “The reason is obvious. This is a question of background knowledge. Lack of background knowledge causes one to believe in a hoax. All the logic in the world won’t make up for ignorance.… The easy way is to set out looking for weaknesses in an argument. The danger here is the desire to refute another position than to understand it. This is the wrong motive, which is a desire to win an argument.”

In fact, Sid was only interested in winning the argument or making it appear that he had won, and he took advantage of my ignorance of logical fallacies in his attempt to achieve this goal.

Sid did not consider that lifelong learning was more important than my ignorance of logical fallacies.  Lifelong learning never ends unless you shut your mind to it. Even now, I may not know as much about logical fallacies as Sid, since he appears so skilled at using them, but I know more now than when I started the debate.”

Continued on February 3, 2012 in Discovering Intellectual Dishonesty – Part 9 or return to Part 7


Meet the real Sid and learn about him from his own words and the opinions of others



Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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