Top positive review
43 people found this helpful
A balanced and informative guide
on August 20, 2006
I found Asking the Right Questions (ARQ) to be a very balanced and thorough approach to critical thinking. I am an electrical engineer by profession... I am well-regarded by my peers as an careful thinker; however, I have found myself frustrated at times when discussing controversial issues with friends... some lines of thought don't ring true, but are nonetheless hard to refute. After reading ARQ, I found that these dilemmas are frequently either the result of not agreeing on the definitions of ambiguous terms (e.g. oppression, sexism, racism) or on some logical fallacy that was used. This has made a quite difference in my ability to discern the issues at hand.
ARQ uses a systematic list of questions to review the proposed thesis. These questions are designed to help you understand their conclusion, and evaluate their supporting evidence. Throughout the book, you are encouraged to set your own biases aside in favor of rationally evaluating the evidence. Furthermore, you receive some brief instruction on typical logical fallicies. In particular, Ad hominem attacks (i.e. attacks on the character of participants) are addressed; however, blatant character references are just beginning of an ad-hominem attack. Many times discussions get sidetracked by implicit accusations about a person's character. As an example, this statement (greatly simplified here) was used on me in the past, "you couldn't possibly be able to think critically, because your spiritual convictions make you biased." Until I read ARQ, I had a hard time realizing that this is actually a diversionary tactic used to sidetrack the discussion. If I accept this "evidence", the issue now becomes my credibility, instead of discussing my actual position on the issue.
Another good point the authors make is that that the mere existence of a logical fallicy should be not used as a means to halt discussion.
Finally, this book doesn't try to give you the "right answers" to controversial issues. They teach you how to find those answers on your own. In many cases, there are no right or wrong answers... simply a difference in the core values of the individuals.
I have been very pleased with the thoughtful approach that ARQ uses. I believe that every high-school and college student should be required to read it.