This book is about critical and scientific thinking. You will learn what reasoning errors we all tend to make, why we make those reasoning errors, what they lead to, and how we can improve our thinking. Finally, you will learn about the importance of critical and scientific thinking, and what characterizes the sciences, i.e. what makes them distinctive (from pseudoscience and non-scientific domains of inquiry) and reliable.
This book is written for students taking a course on philosophy of science or critical thinking. The book provides content for seven lectures (the seven chapters) and one seminar (appendix). It can stand on its own for courses consisting of seven lectures with a study load of 3 ECTS or might be combined with a historical or thematic overview of the philosophy of science (Dooremalen et al., 2021) for courses consisting of fourteen lectures with a study load of 6 ECTS.
I use this book as part of my teaching of philosophy of science for students at Tilburg University. Hopefully, it will also find its way to other lecturers.
Ultimately, I hope that this book finds its way out of academia to reach a wider audience. Critical thinking concerns everyone. It is of great value on both a personal and societal level. Indeed, as I discuss in Chapter 6, critical thinking is a driver of progress, both with respect to knowledge and innovation as with regards to morality.
Critical thinking is one of the biggest hiatuses in our education system. Learning to distinguish sense from nonsense is of great importance in the information age that we live in. In a systematic way, this book helps you to gain insight into, and subsequently eliminate, the most important reasoning errors that we all tend to make. It also helps you to debunk weak and fallacious arguments and unreliable information.
In addition to understanding what critical and scientific thinking entails, you will learn more about what makes science reliable. In times of skepticism regarding science, where (sometimes dangerous) pseudoscientific and conspiracy theories run rampant, this is particularly important.
Critical thinking, as I conclude in Chapter 6, is not a matter of intellectual preference or even self-interest (although one certainly benefits from thinking critically). It is first and foremost a matter of moral and social responsibility. Better thinking leads to a better world. With this book I hope to contribute to that important goal and you, dear student or reader, can do the same!
Enjoy your reading!