How to be a critical thinker, #6 of 6 (followed by optional lunch)

Instructor: Bernie Dehler
Price: Free (HGP donations accepted)

"Critical thinking" is vital to living the "good life."  Errors in thinking can lead to health loss and financial loss, as well as ruined relationships... so much unnecessary pain.  So how can we learn to think to the best of our ability?

We are studying a book that promises to teach "critical thinking" in an educational and memorable way.  The book is "How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age." We will be reading the 2004 version (not the latest, but good enough, and much cheaper.)  Click here to buy the 2004 version: (you should be able to see one listed for under $5).
(Why this book? Portland State University Philosophy Professor Joshua Fost has used this book in his critical thinking courses, and highly recommends it as one of the best books on the subject.)

People of all belief systems are welcome to attend.  The atmosphere will be religiously-neutral, so everyone can feel welcome.  Bring your thoughts and we will put them all through the "shredder of truth" to see what remains ;-)

Directions: The meeting is at "The Friendly House" Community Center.  You can click on the link above to see a Google map.  The Humanists of Greater Portland is making this room available and sponsoring this meetup class.  Their main program is from 10-11:30 am, followed by a snack time; and then this class starts at 11:45 am in their main meeting room.  Parking is free, but you may have to drive around the block to find a spot.


Critical Thinking, course schedule (6 sessions):
(The second and fourth Sun. of each month, March through May)

1. Date: Sun. [masked]  
Topic: Forward, Preface, Ch. 1 "Introduction" Close Encounters with the Strange," Ch. 2 "The Possibility of the Impossible," and Ch. 3 "Looking for Truth in Personal Experience."

2. Date: Sun. [masked]
Topic: Ch. 4 "Relativism, Truth, and Reality" and Ch. 5 "Knowledge, Belief, and Evidence."

3. Date: Sun. [masked]
Topic: Ch. 6 "Arguments Good, Bad, and Weird."

4. Date: Sun. [masked]
Topic: Ch. 7 "Science and Its Pretenders"

5. Date: Sun. [masked] (changed from[masked] to now[masked])
Topic: Ch. 8 "How to Assess a "Miracle Cure" 

6. Date: Sun. [masked]
Topic: Ch. 9 "Case Studies in the Extraordinary" and Epilogue.

Class is followed by optional lunch starting at 1:15 pm
I have reserved a space for 8 people (first come, first-serve).  The lunch is intended for those who attend the class, to continue our discussion of the material and develop relationships.  More details:
McMenamins Tavern & Pool
1716 NW 23rd Ave,
Portland, OR
Google Map link:

Classroom rules of conduct:

1.  Give everyone a chance to speak; don’t dominate the discussion.

2. Don’t be judgmental, but rather share your opinion.  For example, rather than saying “That is stupid” say “That doesn’t make sense to me because XYZ.”

The publisher says this about the book:

The course is called Critical Thinking and is found in the Philosophy and/or English departments. This text serves well as a supplemental text in critical thinking, logic, introduction to philosophy, philosophy of science, epistemology, metaphysics, introduction to psychology, anomalistic psychology, perception and cognition, as well as any introductory science course. It has been used in all of the courses mentioned above as well as introductory biology, introductory physics, and introductory chemistry courses. It could also serve as a main text for courses in evaluation of the paranormal, philosophical implications of the paranormal, occult beliefs, and pseudoscience.


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  • Bernie D.

    FYI: Class handout for this session has been uploaded:

    July 6, 2013

  • Bernie D.

    I enjoyed meeting the new people, and I'm glad the class series helped some people (I also learned a lot too). Thanks for the positive reviews.

    June 1, 2013

  • Chris N.

    Sorry I couldn't make it to the last class of the series. Thanks so much, Bernie for sharing your time and knowledge. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone in the fall for the class on existentialism. I have SO much to learn!

    May 27, 2013

  • Jackie B.

    The discussions were great and much was learned! The world could use some more critical thinking and we are well on our way. Thanks for the great class!

    1 · May 26, 2013

  • Jill

    I enjoy getting to know everyone, fascinating and look forward to more discussions. very good topics, all sorts of issues today. Fun, thanks. See you soon.

    May 26, 2013

  • Bernie D.

    The final session for this series... then summer break
    (for me, at least ;-)

    May 20, 2013

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