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Foundations of Critical Thinking: Analyzing Arguments

Using the material on reasoning, reasoning mistakes, and argumentation covered in previous sessions, this installment of our series will explain how to analyze and evaluate the arguments we read and hear in our daily lives.  The session will be highly interactive and is likely to have participants spend time in small groups, analyzing arguments.  We will be using the handout on "Argumentation" distributed at last month's session, so bring it if you have one.

The Humanists of Minnesota is pleased to sponsor an integrated series of sessions--in essence, a course--entitled “Thinking Critically, Thinking Effectively.” Conducted by Jerry Smith, a professor at the University of Northern Iowa, this course consists of multiple sessions, to be offered one per month September 2012 through July 2013. It is based on a course he teaches to undergraduate business majors at UNI. As suggested by its title, the course covers traditional “critical thinking” topics, but it also addresses topics like creativity, problem solving, and decision making. Thus, broadly understood, it’s about “effective thinking.”

Sessions are held on the second Saturday of the month at the St. Anthony Park Public Library. The formal presentation will begin at 3pm but participants are encouraged to come any time after 2:30pm to socialize.

Critical thinking is an essential skill for the humanist lifestance, and many of us are quick to credit ourselves with that attribute.  But critical thinking is also a habit that needs to be  practiced and reinforced.  This in-depth "course" that emanated from the Habits of Humanism series last spring will help attendees foster good mental habits more consistently. While there is some “content-dependency” across sessions—later sessions might refer to material covered in earlier ones—interested participants can benefit from and are welcome to attend any sessions that fit their interests and schedules.

For more details on this course and a brief synopsis of each of the ten sessions, check out the Habits of Humanism page on our website at:


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  • Jo M.

    Appreciated the careful review of how to deconstruct arguments. Jerry had great organization, energy, and was a very good facilitator of the group question and answer. I liked his specific examples we could use to practice analytical skills. It got me to think more about the need to provide good evidence to make good arguments. I do wonder if the caution against appealing to emotion is based in the white culture. African American culture is much less afraid of loud emotional arguments and I wonder if what we consider "reasonable" techniques is culturally based. Thanks for the great presentation, Jerry!

    April 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am sorry, I have to attend a funeral.

    April 12, 2013

  • Stephanie

    I am working.

    April 12, 2013

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