Finally, a book I can read cover to cover in the short time provided to devour books. This is good for my obsessive/compulsive nature and my need to have a sense of closure. Do you have any idea how long the list of books I will feel compelled to go back and ‘finish’ is likely to be after two years with Jason Clark? My OCD is causing new levels of anxiety just thinking about it.
In our hyper-polarized existence that promotes a fractured society based on every conceivable physical, intellectual, economic, ideological, and political difference; training in the process of rational, reasonable thinking must surely provide a much needed environment in which unity of thought can be encouraged.
Even for those of us who operate at a higher than average academic level (we are, after all, studying toward doctoral degrees) critical thinking requires discipline, effort, intentionality, purposefulness, discernment, time, and energy. While some may have honed this skill to a greater degree than others, it is still not something that occurs by chance. A ‘pocket guide’ (or in some cases a very brief kindle text) of Critical Thinking-Concepts and Tools, is just the ticket for those who desire to seek continual refinement of this skill. It represents the consistent development of the ability to utilize skillful judgement to ascertain truth or merit and corresponding effort to diminish the effects of prejudice, biases or distorted thinking.
Most people have a natural tendency to view things from their unique point of view which frequently privileges their position at the expense of those who think differently. In utilizing this short text an effort can be made to eliminate that tendency, promoting a considered and balanced approach, thus fostering more universally applied standards that do not inherently favor one perspective over another.
The assumption in all of this is, of course, the weakness of this text. Critical Thinking as a discipline is purported to be the epitome of development of an Enlightenment based, rationalist perspective, as though it were genuinely possible to approach any subject unhampered by myopic, biased or insular thinking. While the effort to attain distortion-free thinking is admirable, the quest is ultimately impossible, as even our reading of a text about Critical Thinking cannot be accomplished without filtering through one’s own perspective.
There is ultimately no possibility of applying any universal intellectual standard that provides some assumed inherent quality assurance. In the end, it must be recognized that; “…critical thinking turns out to be another form of ideological thinking, beset with the same sort of internal contradictions as any other ideology.” Further, it has the tendency to become nothing more than “a restatement of the scientific method in a manner intended to be applicable to non-scientific problems and accessible in various versions to pupils in grade five and to people pursuing a Ph.D.” This is not altogether bad, if one is willing to accept that the scientific method is not always useful in addressing problems within the social sciences.
This does not mean Critical Thinking is completely without merit, but this criticism is intended to be cautionary, warning against assuming that simply applying one of the provided templates is sufficient to ensure unbiased and universally applicable thought. Strength can be found in utilizing several of the key concepts in particular situations. The ability to analyze logic, evaluate reasoning, work at problem solving, and assess research can bring significant benefit if one remains conscious of the limitations. For those of us pursuing a terminal degree this text may have come just in the nick of time. At least making the effort to recognize one’s own bias laden perspectives will heighten awareness of the possibility that alternative ways of looking at the world exist and are just as meritorious as one’s own. Keeping the Critical Thinking guide handy can do little harm if one is aware of the potential misuses and consistently seeks to make use of the components most likely to produce open-mindedness in any given situation.
 Paul, Richard, and Linda Elder. The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools. Dillon Beach, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2009.
 Doughty, Howard A. “The Limits of Critical Thinking.” The Innovation Journal 11 (2006): 1-10.
 Paul, Richard. Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools (Thinker’s Guide Library) (Kindle Location 85). Foundation for Critical Thinking. Kindle Edition.
 Doughty, Howard A. “The Limits of Critical Thinking.” The Innovation Journal 11 (2006): 1-10. P. 4.
 Ibid p. 5