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Common Mistakes Regarding Evidence for Our Beliefs Discussion Forum


This week’s discussion forum focuses on understanding some of the concepts discussed in Chapter 4 about how we examine evidence and some of the ways mistakes we commonly make regarding what counts as evidence for the beliefs we hold. It will ask you, based on your understanding of some of those concepts discussed, to first briefly explain some of the ways we fool ourselves; then show how one of them can be seen in the common ways we gather information and use it as evidence for our beliefs; and finally give reasons why you think it is problematic in terms of how we process that information and formulate our beliefs.

Here are step-by-step instructions on what to do:

1) Read Chapter 4, pages 109-137 in the 5th edition of the textbook The Power of Critical Thinking, or just up to the section titled “Claims in the News” (Stop when you reach this section.) Take notes regarding the 1) Fallacy of Appeal to Authority, and the sections 2) Resisting Contrary Evidence, 3) Looking for Confirming Evidence, and 4) Preferring Available Evidence.

2) Write your initial post. In your post:

  1. Choose one of the four options highlighted in step 1 of this assignment and give an explanation of what it means, the reasons it is problematic to the way we come to the beliefs we have, and some of the reasons we may fall into this trap when it comes to gathering evidence for our beliefs.
  2. Based on your own experience, how do you see the mistake you discuss manifested in the way people use the internet and/or social media in gathering information and formulating beliefs based on that information? Do you think that the problem you discuss is exacerbated through people’s internet/social media use? How so?
  3. Based on what you discuss in parts 1 & 2, do you think this problem in general is getting worse? What strategies can you or do you use to assure you don’t fall victim to this mistake?


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