Drawing Conclusions Review Help
Introduction to Drawing Conclusions Review
"I've been thinking Hobbes—"
"On a weekend?"
"Well, it wasn't on purpose. …"
—Calvin and Hobbes, comic strip characters created by Bill Watterson (1985–1995)
This lesson puts together a review of strategies and skills. You'll review the key points of these lessons and practice both your inductive and deductive reasoning skills. See Critical Thinking and Reasoning Skills Review Help for a review of deductive reasoning skills.
You learned that people will often try to convince you to accept their claims by appealing to your emotions rather than to your sense of reason. They may use scare tactics, flattery, or peer pressure, or they may appeal to your sense of pity.
You learned about four logical fallacies that pretend to be logical but don't hold water. No in-betweens claims that there are only two choices when, in fact, there are many. The slippery slope fallacy argues that if X happens, then Y will follow, even though X doesn't necessarily lead to Y. Circular reasoning is an argument that goes in a circle—the premises simply restate the conclusion. And two wrongs make a right argues that it's okay to do something to someone else because someone else might do that same thing to you.
You learned how to recognize three common logical fallacies that divert your attention and distort the issue. An ad hominem fallacy attacks the person instead of attacking the claims that person makes. A red herring distracts you by bringing in an irrelevant issue, while the straw man distorts the opponent's position so that the opponent is easier to knock down.
You practiced evaluating explanations for validity. You learned that explanations must be relevant and testable and that you should reject explanations that are circular. You also learned the importance of being wary of explanations that contradict your existing knowledge or accepted theories.
You learned that inductive reasoning is the process of drawing logical conclusions from evidence. You also learned that a good inductive argument is one in which it is very likely that the premises lead to the conclusion.
You learned to distinguish between good inductive reasoning and inductive fallacies like hasty generalizations, which draw conclusions from too little evidence. Biased generalizations draw conclusions from biased evidence, and non sequiturs draw conclusions that don't logically follow from the premises.
You learned the two inductive reasoning approaches to determining cause: looking for what's different and looking for the common denominator. You learned to look for other possible differences and common causes and to watch out for the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy—assuming that because A came before B, A caused B. You also learned how to avoid the "chicken or egg" causal argument.
You learned that numbers can be very misleading. You practiced checking statistics for a reliable source, an adequate sample size, and a representative sample. You also learned how to recognize statistics that compare "apples and oranges."
You put your critical thinking and deductive and inductive reasoning skills to work on the kind of questions you might find on a logic or reasoning skills exam. You solved logic problems designed to test your common sense, ability to recognize good evidence, and ability to draw logical conclusions from evidence.
If any of these terms or strategies sound unfamiliar to you, STOP. Take a few minutes to review whatever lessons remain unclear.
Putting all of these elements together may seem intimidating or even overwhelming, but with practice, it will get easier. It is a lot like learning to ride your bike or drive a car. At first, it feels like you have to keep endless factors in mind and it seems impossible. But, as you do it more often, it becomes habit and gets easier. Using good reasoning skills can be just the same!
Exercises for this concept can be found at Drawing Conclusions Review Practice.
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