Groups Alpha Delta Aruldevarajan, ThayaliniCirstea, MariaLau, David Morariu, OanaSpeert, Nathaniel Lawton Beltran, DanielChern, Kearny Leon, AdelenaTang, WinnieWong, Samson Bravo Echo Dukic, JozefinaMokanasingham, PiriyaMacLean, TrevorPham, Doris Tuyet BachYip, Collin KaKui Christie, ElizaKroeker, Vanessa Martin, AleksSamuel, DafYu, Amy Charlie Carter, DakotaElijah, Deng SimonLitke, Julia Grace GMitchell, Ryan AllanNg, Cheuk Yin
COGS 303 Critical, analytical, and scientific thinking Introduction
“When we speak of improving the mind we are usually referring to the acquisition of information or knowledge, or to the type of thoughts one should have, and not to the actual functioning of the mind. We spend little time monitoring our own thinking...” —James L. Adams
The Approach Research, analysis, and science are just more controlled forms of the thinking done in everyday life • Need to use • more conscious control and • more intuition, and • handle these in the right way • back-and-forth use of these—systolic process
Developing a skill requires practice. • This course will largely be about such practice • • readings to be done before class • • seminar format • class time will be largely devoted to discussions • and exercises based on these points Focus will be on three kinds of skills (built up in layers):
1 Evaluating An Argument • Need for controlled rational thinking(critical thinking) Much of thinking done via specialized modules • cognitive illusions - e.g., Darwinian algorithms • incomplete separations (confusions) - e.g., between correlation and causation Need to combat Many basic issues not resolved (especially in Cog Systems) • need to compare results/frameworks in different fields • many issues not even formalized
2 Finding An Explanation • Need for controlled imagination(creativity) Much of the hypothesizing (guessing) done is suboptimal • failure of generative thinking - e.g., don’t consider all reasonable possibilities • failure of critical thinking (evaluation) - e.g., hold on to personal favourites Need to learn to generate and evaluate alternatives
3 Systematization • Need for controlled exploration(science) • experiment design • operationalization of terms • critical experiment • systems thinking • hierarchies • power laws (80/20 rule) • the right research question • a difference that makes a difference • theories, models, paradigms, etc
4 Communication Skills Background mode; distributed throughout the course: • • writing • clarity • conciseness • presentations • clarity • effective slide design • debates • exposure to both sides • effective verbal skills
Structure of Most Classes 1. Context for material—why it’s important (5 min) 2. Brief quiz (5 min) 3. Comments about readings (5-15 min) 4. Group analyses (30-40 min) 5. Discussions / excercises (10-40 min) 6. Overview of assignment for next class (5 min) 7. Real-world segment (remaining time)
Evaluation 15% Quizzes 21% Submitted material - 12% written essays - 9% target articles / presentations 16% Analyses (groups) 12% Debates (teams) 12% Critique of research papers 9% Mid-term exam 15% Final exam
Next Week: Essay 1 • Write an essay (≤ 400 words) supporting or refuting one of the following topics: • global warming is due to human activity. • there will be a severe oil shortage in the next 30 years • nuclear power is something we should use • we should continue to expand offshore drilling of oil • it is right to use animals for research … (complete list in COGS303-essay1.pdf) • Give three reasons in support of your position.
Typographic Format Font: Times New Roman, 12 point Margins: 1-1.5 inch, all sides Spacing: Single-spaced Lines: Numbered Copies: 3
Please hand in at the beginning of class. • Topic, position, at top of page • Word count at top right-hand side of first page • Include line numbers on your essay. • For instructions on line numbers in Microsoft Word, see : • http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word/HA010429571033.aspx • Your assigned code name should be on the upper right • hand corner of every page except the cover page, • which should be blank. • Bring 3 copiesof your essay to class.
Marks (out of 12): • You will be graded based on the quality of your reasons • Content: Two marks for each reason (0-6 marks) • Style: Organization (3) + Others (3) (0-6 marks) • Details • Content: Start with 0 marks • +2 marks for each good example / reason (up to 3) • 0 marks for each absent or unconvincing example / reason • -1 marks for each bad example / error in reasoning (up to 3) • Style: Start with 6 marks • -1 mark for each problem with organization (up to 3) • -1 mark for any other problem [e.g. conciseness] (up to 3)
Next Tuesday: Essay 1-A - Cohort A (see website for lists) Next Thursday: Essay 1-B - Cohort B (see website for lists)
Cohort A Beltran, Daniel Carter, DakotaChristie, ElizaDukic, JozefinaMokanasingham, PiriyaLau, David Litke, Julia Grace GMartin, AleksMorariu, OanaPham, Doris Tuyet BachSpeert, Nathaniel LawtonWong, SamsonYu, Amy
Cohort B Aruldevarajan, ThayaliniChern, Kearny Cirstea, MariaElijah, Deng SimonKroeker, Vanessa StefanieLeon, Adelena MacLean, TrevorMitchell, Ryan AllanNg, Cheuk YinSamuel, DafyTang, WinnieYip, Collin KaKui
Writing I - Basic Style • Main goals of style: • Clarity. Communicate exactly what you have in mind. (Including the level of precision you intend.) • Conciseness. Do this with the fewest words possible. (Maximum signal-to-noise ratio.)
1. Omit needless words. • Use whatever words are necessary. No others. • Each word should do something critical. • Thus, • …the reason why is that…NO • -> …because… YES • Reason: • Humans don’t like to work. If they are forced to work when reading a passage, they will associate the resulting negative feeling with what you’ve written. That’s not good. • (cf. Zipf’s Law and the Principle of Least Effort)
Other examples… on account of the fact that as if it is assumed that if are found to be in agreement agree We are in the process of making We are making the reason for this is because because
In general • Ask yourself if something really is needed - if it were removed, what would happen? • See if you can express something in a simpler way • are those exact words really necessary? • cf. style of Ernest Hemingway
2. Avoid fancy words. Avoid jargon. • Use a complexity no higher than necessary. • Use a precision no higher than necessary • (e.g., to avoid confusion with other things being discussed) • Thus, • Heestablishedvisualcontactwiththeungulate.NO • -> He saw the cow.YES • Reason: • Rich, ornate prose is hard to digest. Plus, the reader may not know the meanings of some of the words. • (Again) If forced to work, reader will associate the resulting negative feeling with what you’ve written. That’s not good.
Other examples… accomplish do endeavour try initiate start subsequently later utilization use
3. Use definite, specific, concrete language. • Prefer the specific to the general. • Prefer the definite to the vague. • Prefer the concrete to the abstract. • Thus, • A period of unfavourable weather set in.NO • -> It rained every day for a week.YES • Reason: • Humans don’t naturally think in terms of abstract generalities. Rather, they use definite, specific, and concrete mental models (Johnson-Laird, 1983)
A. Use strong nouns as often as possible. • nouns that invoke the senses (e.g. visual images) • “pastoral environment” - NO • “farm” - YES • B. Use strong verbs as often as possible. • verbs that involve direct actions • “made arrangements for” - NO • “arranged” - YES
4. Put statements in positive form. • Make definite assertions. • Avoid tame, colourless, noncommittal language. • Minimize the use of the word “not”. • Thus, • He was not very often on time. NO • -> He usually arrived late. YES • Reason: • Humans use definite and concrete mental models(Johnson-Laird, 1983). In addition, it takes time and effort to negate any of these. Also, negation is not easily handled nonconsciously.
Thus, several factors (use of positives, conciseness) can be addressed at the same time. Other examples… not honest dishonest did not remember forgot did not pay attention to ignored did not have much confidence in distrusted
Contacts Website: http://www.cogsys.ubc.ca/cogs303/ Prof: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com TA: firstname.lastname@example.org