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This way of thinking in managerial decision-making has brought down space shuttles.I also think an interesting notion to consider is the role of heuristics in reasoning. I think you're right that there's a tendency to run theoretical and practical reason together. A good way to see that the rules governing them aren't identical is to imagine a case in which you have equally good reasons for A and B.
There's a more to say about what counts as efficient reasoning, useful truths, and effective action.
That's why we philosophers write books about this stuff!
My answers - which I came up with only as a result of studying critical thinking - are in the footnotes.
See if you come up with the same answers; and then judge the answers for yourself. It's important for us to be able to reason well about diagnostic problems ("Given a positive test for cancer or drug use, what are the chances a person has cancer or uses drugs?
") and policy questions ("How well is a social policy working? An optimistic conclusion Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding critical thinking, I think the psychological literature offers a hopeful picture.
For many practically important problems we face, a good rule for solving those problems is already in our heads. Give those 5 people the test and 4 (80% of 5) will test positive. So the chances that someone who tests positive actually has D is 4/23. The city elders haven't given you enough evidence to properly evaluate the program.
Both poison oak and poison ivy are members of the cashew family.
They also tested preschoolers and found that most children got one or two questions correct. Can it conclusively demonstrate that most professionals don't have the brains of a four-year-old? It takes 720 peanuts to make a pound of peanut butter.
I think that a seasoned critical thinker has established personal heuristics that would assist him in asking the right questions and which problems to reflect upon. If A & B are *beliefs* (the ball is red or the ball is blue) it seems like the rational thing to do is withhold judgment.
I always botch the calculations for that first Bayesian probability question you asked. After all, you have no more reason to believe A than B.