Thursday May 16 , 2013
Lecture 2- Part 1: critical thinking
Underlying Questions of How We Know
What is there? - Ontology (the metaphysical study of the nature of being and
existence). Ex, realism vs. idealism
How do we know? –Epistemology (theory of knowledge/knowing). Ex,
positivism vs. social constructionism (the idea that groups construct one another).
How do we explain what we find? –Theory (organized system of accepted
knowledge that applies to a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of
phenomena). Ex, gravity, evolution, racism.
What should we do? –Ethics/morals, values, beliefs.
Critical thinking helps us differentiate between facts and opinion.
Critical thinking is NOT
Making everyone think the same way about an issue
Looking at „both sides‟ of an issues and „splitting the difference‟
Thinking negatively and obsessively looking for flaws
A retreat to subjectivity or cynicism.
How to think critically
1. Attitude- being open, skeptical and humble
2. Pitfalls- limits, language, faulty logic
3. Identify arguments- looking for indicators, deductive vs. inductive
4. Evaluate Sources- credible, biased, accurate
5. Evaluate argument- assumption, reasoning (relevant & sufficient?) and omissions.
Argument = claim + evidence
Claims from the Story of Food video
Food has changed over the last 50 years. It‟s less healthy; there is sick soil and
polluted water. The loss of crop diversity, stuffed and starved, and travels long distances.
Solutions? Buy local, organic and fair trade, support small-scale farmers, join the
There needs to be broader choices for everyone. Buying local and organic is
expensive, leaving those without as much money eating processed crap.
The Geographical Approach
“The essence of geography is an integration of spatial variation over the Earth
surface with the distinctiveness of places and interactions between peopl