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Tools of Critical Thinking: Metathoughts for Psychology (Second edition) Paperback – September 10, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1577666295 ISBN-10: 1577666291 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Waveland Pr Inc; 2 edition (September 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577666291
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577666295
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher



• The application of critical thinking skills to cross-cultural psychology and issues of cultural diversity


• More than 60 new and updated reference citations related to a wide range of contemporary topics


• Improved glossary of key terms, containing over 300 fully cross-referenced definitions


• The expanded use of humor, including parodies, cartoon illustrations, and clever satires


• Not-for-sale instructor resource material (test bank items and comprehensive PowerPoint CD package) available to college and university faculty only through the publisher


From the Back Cover

Levy’s style combines erudition with simplicity and earnestness with humor. . . . The result is a clear and compelling book, accessible to lay persons and mental health professionals alike.” — Thomas Szasz, State University of New York at Syracuse


“A remarkable book that masterfully teaches how to make us better at solving problems, at understanding events, at making decisions, and even at being creative. Read, learn, and have a good time doing it.”  — Elizabeth F. Loftus, University of Washington


“David Levy has condensed both the wisdom of the ages and the findings of contemporary psychological science into a manageable set of principles (Metathoughts) that will notably improve the general quality of thought not only in clinical psychology and cognate areas but also across the broad expanse of scholarly and scientific endeavor.”  — Robert C. Carson, Duke University


“Educators have criticized today’s students for their poor reasoning skills and faulty problem-solving abilities. Levy’s book will go considerable distance in closing these gaps by taking established scientific principles and making them accessible, useful, and entertaining!”  — Shelley E. Taylor, University of California at Los Angeles


“David Levy’s lucid and good-humored guide to thinking is impressive in its scope, practical in its applications, and involving in its pedagogy.” — David G. Myers, Hope College


“Professors and teachers in psychology, philosophy, communication, and related fields should seriously consider adopting this text for their courses since today’s students could definitely use a good dose of bias busting and fallacy fixing. A definite ‘tool’ to add to one’s toolbox of skepticism.”  — Michael Shermer, Skeptic


“This book is a wonderful addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in thinking clearly. . . . Students, writers, and instructors alike will find this a gold mine of ideas about precise and clear thinking.”  — Linda Riebel, Saybrook Institute


“A beautifully written book and indispensable tool for a wide range of psychology courses, certain to appeal to readers of all levels and diverse backgrounds. Instructors will value its systematic approach, comprehensive scope, and the plethora of stimulating and engaging exercises. Students will enjoy its lively writing style, vivid examples, and practical applications to everyday life. . . . The finest book on critical thinking in the field.”  — L. Anne Peplau, University of California at Los Angeles


Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael S. on February 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Without a doubt, this is one of the better critical thinking books currently on the market. It carries a hefty price tag for such a short book, especially when you cut out the glossary, index, appendices and exercises, but despite that singular complaint, the book satisfies beyond expectations as a great tool to better understand thought processes and decision-making.

Levy organizes his book into "metathoughts" that are grouped together according to usage. He does an excellent job of providing an in-depth analysis, while also remaining concise - rarely does an explanation get too lengthy. The in-text examples fully portray the ideas that he's attempting to get across, while additional exercises are provided for those that want to experiment a bit more.

There is no shortage of value in this book, and even those with an excellent background in logic, rhetoric or psychology will find ideas to improve their thought processes. Levy talks about language bias, the reification error (an extremely important - and often overlooked - error in the social sciences), tautologies, the naturalistic fallacy, the Barnum effect, how causation and correlation interrelate on different levels, common attribution mistakes, errors in reasoning, and biases in arguments. Levy even goes as far as to analyze how his own book is essentially a trade-off, and how the reader needs to understand the advantages and disadvantages of using a toolbox of techniques such as his metathoughts.

In addition to the plethora of valuable content, Levy peppers his book with humor and insightful quotations to round it out. There is very little that can be critically said about it outside of grumblings over price. Levy even includes an appendix that summaries all of the metathoughts and antidotes neatly to use as a quick reference when needed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Magnifying Glass on September 6, 2010
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Although this textbook was written for students, instructors, researchers, and therapist in psychology, it is not difficult to follow. There are 30 short chapters, each devoted to a single aspect of thinking that can lead you astray.

"Part One, Conceptualizing Phenomena" - There are nine lessons on what to watch out for when describing, naming, or comparing something.

"Part Two, Explaining Phenomena" - There are five lessons on causation. Primarily, lessons in the logic needed to determine what causes an event or behavior.

"Part Three, Common Misattributions" - The next five lessons deal with errors made in judging behavior. When you observe someone's act, it is not always possible to determine why they did it, even when you think the reason is obvious; the cause may be hidden.

"Part Four, Investigating Phenomena" - When you are conducting research, these seven lessons will help you improve the validity of your results. It is all too easy for your own viewpoint and biases to distort the conclusions of your study.

"Part Five, Other Biases and Fallacies in Thinking" - There are only three lessons in this part. Errors when using prototypes, the first explanation that comes to mind, and assuming you can solve a problem by knowing its cause.

"Part Six, Conclusions" - In this last part, there is only one lesson. When making any decision, there are always trade-offs. Consider your options; for example, if you are considering this book, have you looked at similar books first?

Following these chapters is a "Metathoughts Summary and Antidote Table", which, for each chapter, gives a short one paragraph summary followed by a few antidotes to help you avoid the thinking errors covered. At the end of the book is an extensive "Glossary" of terms and concepts.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 19, 2010
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This is an exceptionally well written and helpful work on a difficult subject. It is of value not only to students and practioners in the behavioral sciences but to anyone who wishes to clarify their own thought process.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By hadams on March 10, 2012
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This book was a requirement for my Senior Seminar class. It is an easy read and great for helping improve your critical thinking skills. In this day and age with so many diverse people, everyone needs to read this book to help them stop being so judgmental of others who do not act, look or think like they do. I will refer back to this book for years to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JenPark on February 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent source to be used in a psychology or interpersonal communications class. It is well-written, filled with details, examples, and exercises.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By pavan on September 16, 2014
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The metathoughts are very valuable, helps in critical examination of one's thinking. It's not a very lengthy textbook, but does take time to remember and apply the metathoughts.

The author's conversational, witty, humorous while being enlightening at the same time.
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More About the Author

Dr. David A. Levy has extensive experience as a teacher, therapist, writer, and researcher. He is Professor of Psychology at Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Education and Psychology, where he has been teaching graduate courses since 1986. He received his B.A. degree in theater arts from UCLA, a M.A. degree in psychology from Pepperdine University, a second M.A. degree in psychology from UCLA, and his Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA, where he specialized in social psychology, with minors in psychological assessment and personality psychology. He served as Visiting Professor of Psychology in the Soviet Union, where he delivered lectures and workshops in psychology and psychotherapy at Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) State University, the Leningrad Academy of Science, and the Bekhterev Psychoneurological Institute. He was honored as a Harriet and Charles Luckman Distinguished Teaching Fellow at Pepperdine, and was a recipient of the Shepard Ivory Franz Distinguished Teaching Award and Charles F. Scott Fellowship at UCLA.

Dr. Levy holds professional licenses both in psychology and in marriage and family therapy. He has worked in a wide range of private practice and inpatient psychiatric settings, he has supervised clinical interns, and he has utilized his expertise in psychological testing (particularly the MMPI) in forensic cases.

His numerous theoretical and empirical research studies have been published in scientific journals and presented at professional conferences. His book, "Tools of Critical Thinking: Metathoughts for Psychology," garnered widespread acclaim in both academic and clinical settings for its innovative approaches to improving thinking skills. Levy co-authored (with Eric Shiraev) "Cross-Cultural Psychology: Critical Thinking and Contemporary Applications," which became an internationally best-selling textbook. Levy is the author of "Family Therapy: History, Theory, and Practice," which was the first textbook on the topic available to Russian readers. His Levy Optimism-Pessimism Scale (LOPS) has been utilized internationally in a variety of research contexts, and he is a member of the Board of Editors for the Journal of Humanistic Psychology.

Levy is also the author of numerous satirical articles, including "The Emperor's Postmodern Clothes: A Brief Guide to Deconstructing Academically Fashionable Phrases for the Uninitiated," "How to Be a Good Psychotherapy Patient," "Psychometric Infallibility Realized: The One-Size-Fits-All Psychological Profile," "Stinks and Instincts: An Empirical Investigation of Freud's Excreta Theory," and "A Proposed Category for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM): Pervasive Labeling Disorder."

As a media consultant, Levy has appeared on dozens television and radio broadcasts (including CNN, CBS, NBC, PBS, A&E, and E!), providing psychological perspectives on current events, and examining issues and trends in the mental health fields. He has also worked as a professional director, producer, writer and actor in motion pictures, television and stage. He received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Performance in a Network Television Series, and he was a guest star on the television series "Cheers," where he portrayed the leader of Frasier's low self-esteem group.

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Tools of Critical Thinking: Metathoughts for Psychology (Second edition)
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