Sonoma State University

Philosophy 101: Critical Thinking


Critical Thinking Community: CThink

One of the major learning steps of young scientists is to think critically. This fascinating site offers insight into the various aspects of critical thinking. Supported by the educational nonprofit Foundation for Critical Thinking, CThink targets two levels: the college and university, and the primary and secondary education communities. The site is further organized into Library, Resources, and Events sections. Within the Library section, users may choose to browse examples of the basic elements of critical thinking, the role of questions, the critical thinking process, or a (modest) glossary of critical thinking terms, among others. Resources contains guidelines and lessons on how to integrate critical thinking into the curriculum, and Events offers information on upcoming conferences, seminars, and academies, and gives information on CThink inservices. [LXP of Scout]


Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names

Philosophy is at times considered inaccessible to many individuals, and some people have a distinct aversion to the entire subject. Garth Kemerling, who holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Iowa, has done a fine job of offering a remedy to this problem by creating this online dictionary of philosophical terms and names. While Mr. Kemerling makes it clear that not every single philosophical term is included in his dictionary, the site contains literally thousands of entries, along with rather effective hyperlinks to additional essays and resource material. For many of the major philosophers, Mr. Kemerling provides a brief discussion of the major philosophical tenets and contributions to the field, along with providing a bibliography of primary and secondary works and Internet links. For students and persons with an emerging interest in philosophy, this site will serve as a good starting point for understanding the discipline, its concepts, and its practitioners. [KMG]


A New Invention Theory: The Four Invention Methodologies And Logical Analysis As An Invention/Innovation Tool

The secret of Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers and many great inventors has been uncovered. Their methodology is called logical analysis. I shall demonstrate that this same methodology may be applied in helping us solve one of our more serious problem, such as "why are identical twins alike?". The reader will have three practical problem solving exercises to practise what he/she has learned. Every creativity book says you do not need to possess high level of academic knowledge in order to make an important discovery. Today we can demonstrate how this is done.


NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts [.pdf]

The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) is a truly remarkable site about some of the most compelling technology concepts and ideas. The NIAC's aim is to foster creative thinking and support research that could turn today's science fiction into tomorrow's science fact. Numerous projects, both from past efforts and from current investigations, are profiled on the institute's Web site. For example, one project outlines a potential method to make life on Mars possible. Others examine novel forms of propulsion for spacecraft. The studies span a wide range of disciplines, and their diversity is what makes this site so interesting. [CL]


Stephen's Guide to the Logical Fallacies

Stephen Downes, an information architect with a background in philosophy, created this site with the aim of identifying, indexing, and describing "all known logical fallacies." A logical fallacy can be defined as an error in reasoning in which a conclusion appears to follow from a set of premises but in reality does not. Downes groups the fallacies into thirteen categories, such as Fallacies of Distraction, Inductive Fallacies, and Syllogistic Errors. Each fallacy (over 50 in all) is described with its name, definition, examples of how it might be used in an argument, and how the argument can be proven fallacious. The How to Use this Guide section of the site provides a helpful introduction, and a robust bibliography offers possibilities for further study of logic. In addition, users may register at the site (no fee) to gain access to discussion boards on the topic. The author notes that his Guide "is intended to help you in your own thinking, not to help you demolish someone else's argument." Regardless of how a reader uses the information, however, the site remains an interesting and fun investigation of how logical arguments are constructed. [SW of Scout ]



"The notion of 'group-think' refers to a process of group dynamics. When we work together in groups we sometimes suffer illusions of righteousness and invincibility. Irving Janis in his book "Victims of Group-Think" described his observations of a phenomena of group leadership and member interaction characterised by inward-looking, self-regulating and stereotypical behaviours that lead to distorted decision-making."

Further Readings (mostly from the site above):

Janis, Irving , 1972, Victims of Groupthink: psychological study of foreign-policy decisions and fiascoes (2nd edition). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Janis, Irving, 1982, Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decision.

Janis I and Mann L, 1979, Decision Making : A Psychological Analysis of Conflict, Choice and Commitment, The Free Press Houghton Mifflin.

Moorhead, G., Ference, R., & Neck, C. P. (1991). Group Decision Fiascoes Continue: Space Shuttle Challenger and a Revised Groupthink Framework. Human Relations. 44(6), 539-550

Herek, G, Janis I, and Huth, P, "Decision Making during international crisis", Journal of Conflict Resolution 2, June 1987

Michael De Lemos - Groupthink Goes Bowling Alone

GroupThink and Managing Agreement

GroupThink - an antidote for the Managerial Embrace of Teamwork

Groupthink: Theoretical Framework

Groupthink Quiz

Groupthink slide presentation

"Political Communication in Decision-Making Groups", Michael W. Mansfield, in New Directions in Political Communication:  A Resource Book, edited by David L. Swanson and Dan Nimmo, Newbury Park, CA:  Sage Publications, Inc., pp. 255-304. download (MS Word)

Alan Brady, GOUPTHINK -- Dealing with Conflict or Maintaining the Status Quo: Implications for Higher Education

Virginia Commonwealth University: Lecture Notes: Decision Making in Groups

Group Decision Making and Problem Solving

Lessons from the ValuJet Crash

Risky Decisions, Sociologist says NASA's culture led to Challenger disaster


Sources on How to Improve a Draft
Traditional Grammar: An Interactive Book ****

Do you know the difference between a demonstrative and descriptive adjective? When do you use affect and effect? This website can help writers of all ages clean up their act. Use specific sections for just in time learning, or review the entire site and quiz yourself on what you've learned.

Scribe 2.5

Scribe 2.5 is a free note-taking program designed specifically for historians. Essentially a computer based record management system, Scribe allows users to manage research notes, thoughts, contacts, digital images, timelines, and other material that will be useful when composing extended pieces of scholarship. Specific features include the ability to create very long notes (up to 64,000 characters); storage of published and archival sources (up to 22 types); the creation of bibliographies; linking sources to notes; and the ability to search notes and sources by author, title, keyword, note, comments, and other fields. The Scribe program will be extremely helpful to persons performing in-depth social science research and for those who seek to add more clarity and organization to their notes and preliminary writings.


Xrefer for Definitions

Most librarians know the best way to begin research is to fully define what you are searching for. Xrefer can give you that definition, or show how your term is used in other definitions. Searches encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri, books of quotations, and a number of subject-specific titles.


The Five Paragraph Essay ****

One of the ways to communicate clearly is to write a clear and concise essay. This website will give you multiple ways to achieve that goal. Some of the resources involve getting stated, all about getting organized, and knowing exactly what you need to do. How to write an essay tells you exactly which each paragraph contain, and offer tips for transitions and other tricky ideas.



Ad Dissection 101

High school students take on the roles of scientist and media consultant to learn about advertising and how a print ad can affect and persuade readers. Students then apply their knowledge to design an ad to help consumers (and their classmates) recognize manipulation.


Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920 (EAA)

This new, collaborative, effort between the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History and Duke University's Digital Scriptorium contains images of over 9,000 advertising items and publications dating from 1850 to 1920. The site is designed to chronicle the rise of consumer culture in America in the late nineteenth century as well as the development of a professionalized advertising industry. The images are grouped into eleven collections, each of which offers background information and may be browsed or searched. Users may also search the entire database by keyword or illustration content. Each collection is browsed via a long list of subjects which expand into a list of items when selected, not unlike many American Memory collections. Each item is offered as a thumbnail with two choices of resolution size. Information provided includes title, year of publication, company, product, illustration type, and notes. A solid resource for historians or anyone interested in the history of American consumer culture. [MD of Scout ]


Online Dictionary of the Social Sciences

From "aboriginal peoples" to "xenophobia," the Online Dictionary of the Social Sciences provides concise definitions for approximately 1,000 entries. Disciplines covered include sociology, criminology, political science, and women's studies with a particular focus on Canadian examples, events, and names. The project is the online version of a dictionary created by Gary Parkinson and Robert Drislane and a product of Athabasca University, Canada, and the International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publication (ICAAP). The dictionary can be browsed using an alphabetically arranged index or searched using key words; references are also included to guide users to other related entries. [REB of Scout]


The Science of Emotions: Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

This new Website presents news and information about the research and activities of the HealthEmotions Research Institute at the UW-Madison School of Medicine. The Institute is nationally recognized for its cutting edge research into the connections between brain chemistry and human emotional experience. The Website offers a review of current research projects, professional biographies of the researchers, and an archive of news stories related to recent research. This last makes available stories about research suggesting child abuse alters brain development, the links between brain chemistry and impulsive violence, the measurable power of a positive outlook, and many others. There is also a recently-posted feature on the visit this month of the Dalai Lama to the center to participate in discussions about this subject from his perspective as a Buddhist spiritual leader and author of several books on the links between spirituality and the management of emotions. [DC of Scout] [QuickTime] reports on the labor issues and working conditions of those people who make many of the clothes sold by major retailers. Among's initial sponsors are UNITE (the US and Canadian clothing workers' union), AT Media, United Students Against Sweatshops, and the Progressive Religious Partnership. The site has a range of resources including news stories, analysis, bulletin boards, scheduled chats, op/ed pieces, photos, video, and links to additional resources. A special holiday season feature lets users select one of four cards to send to the Gap, Ann Taylor, Target, or Abercrombie & Fitch, asking them to please pay their workers a living wage. Note that we could not access all of the site's features using Netscape on a Mac, but we had no trouble using Internet Explorer or using Netscape on a PC. [TK of Scout]


Newseum: Today's Front Pages

The Newseum, housed in Washington D.C., has an online feature that involves
the voluntary participation of hundreds of newspapers around the globe.
Each morning, newspapers with the requisite technology, send the front page
of their newspaper to the Newseum and get posted online. Many of these
front pages are also displayed in the physical museum. Near the top of the
"Today's Front Pages" link of the website the visitor can choose to view the
front pages as a "gallery", "list", or "map". The gallery view is the
default view. Viewing them as a list shows the papers alphabetically by
state, and the list continues alphabetically by country. When the visitor
rolls over the name of a paper, a small image of the front page appears on
the right side of the screen. Clicking on the name of the paper brings the
front page into a larger view. Clicking on "Readable PDF" at the top of the
page, makes it readable, and "Print Page" allows you to print the front page
out. Also at the top of the page is a "Web Site" link to the newspaper's
website. Clicking on map view allows the visitor to see maps of nine
regions of the world, which have orange dots on them indicating a paper is
available. Rolling over the dot will show the front page for that city.
Visitors should not miss checking out the "View Archived Pages" link near
the top of the page, to see the front pages of events of historical
significance. Some of the front pages offered here include those that deal
with the presidential election of 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies recent
World Series victory, and the 2008 Summer Olympics. [KMG]