No skill is more important in today's world than being able to think about, understand, and act on information in an effective and responsible way. What's more, at no point in human history have we had access to so much information, with such relative ease, as we do in the 21st century. But because misinformation out there has increased as well, critical thinking is more important than ever.
These 24 rewarding lectures equip you with the knowledge and techniques you need to become a savvier, sharper critical thinker in your professional and personal life. By immersing yourself in the science of cognitive biases and critical thinking, and by learning how to think about thinking (a practice known as metacognition), you'll gain concrete lessons for doing so more critically, more intelligently, and more successfully.
The key to successful critical thinking lies in understanding the neuroscience behind how our thinking works - and goes wrong; avoiding common pitfalls and errors in thinking, such as logical fallacies and biases; and knowing how to distinguish good science from pseudoscience. Professor Novella tackles these issues and more, exploring how the (often unfamiliar) ways in which our brains are hardwired can distract and prevent us from getting to the truth of a particular matter.
Along the way, he provides you with a critical toolbox that you can use to better assess the quality of information. Even though the world is becoming more and more saturated information, you can take the initiative and become better prepared to make sense of it all with this intriguing course.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses
First off, let me preface this review by saying I was already familiar with Steven Novella through his podcast, The Skeptics Guide to the Universe.
When I heard he had this series of lectures available on Audible, I was quite excited!
I was hoping for a clear, detailed and thorough treatment of Critical Thinking - and Novella delivers in spades, covering topic after topic with a treatment that is brisk, peppered with examples, constructed in a logical and understandable manner and order, and delivered eloquently.
The content is exactly what is says on the tin: if you are interested in Critical Thinking, in knowing how you think and how TO think -- there is no fat here. Logical fallacies and cognitive biases are examined, illustrated and explained.
I would caution the potential listener that this is a series of lectures on a specific subject; I enjoyed it immensely because I happen to be interested in the topic. If I didn't have that interest or I was expecting more of a narrative-type production, I think I would be disappointed.
A further caution: if you have a set of "alternative beliefs", prepare to be challenged! Examine the unfavorable reviews to see this side of things.
However -- and in summary -- if you desire to develop your Critical Thinking skills, to build the sharpest reasoning possible for yourself, or just to explore a scientific approach to understanding how your brain plays tricks on itself, then I give this work the highest recommendation!
Yes, I would try another book from The Great Courses but "No" I would not listen to another book by Professor Steven Novella. This is the 2nd Great Courses I have listened to by Professor Novella/
Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition
The information he presents is almost identical to his Great Course on Medical Myths.
Yes, I enjoy the information presented in "The Great Courses".
I listened to "Medical Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths: What We Think We Know May Be Hurting Us" by Professor Novella as part of "The Great Courses" a couple of weeks before. I felt that this book was just a rehash of the same information under the guise of a different topic (the mind) as opposed to the Medical Profession. I recommend that users/members take one of Professor Novella's courses and not both since you will be frustrated he just goes over the same information. I do appreciate his "skeptic" approach to issues pertaining to the mind as well as medical profession but once you have heard him once you will understand his approach. I hope this review helps.
Most of the facts and ideas presented in this course are well known to everyone who has read a bit about or heard from modern "mind science" or "how our brain works" talks. Yet, Novella's roundup is great to listen to, well paced, always interesting and well worth both time and energy spent.
I really enjoyed, for once, a scientist to remind the listener that he, the scientist, does not know it all and will probably not be right all the time. For one time a tutor explains, in detail, that using your own brain and mind means to check the facts and not just play along. A fair approach.
M. Shermer's "The Believing Brain" is quite similar in general approach, but concentrates too much on personal vendetta of the author and/or believe system. There are more comparable titles, but most, in my eyes (ears), suffer from the same basic problem: Scientists that want to make you BELIEVE that they do not need to believe, because they know all the facts for fact, are ... wretched(?).
Most comparable books start of with or repeat sentences like "well, we know for a fact that ..." - and that, exactly, is not scientific thinking. It's religion.
Novella does not fall for this.
Most books that cover the same topic come up with the ever repeating "experiments" that "scientists" have done, some of which date back to the 1930s or whatever. These experiments as well as the conclusions drawn from them are not that convincing, in setup, target and evidence. Yet, "science" seems unable to come up with new studies, new experiments and new approaches, so most books chew through the same data over and over again, almost in religious circles.
Novella gets around this quite well by just shortly pointing towards those experiments, but explaining thought processes and prejudices in more "today's" contexts, seemingly being still in contact with the real world and not lost in "scientist's drinking clubs". His narration, wit, pointyness (does that word exist?) and personal involvement make you believe he actually means what he says, yet has the distance to always remember you: He might be wrong.
There are a few "funny" side notes that are funny enough to make you giggle or even laugh for a moment, but overall the pace (30 minute lectures) and dedication is just about right to not NEED jokes or horror stories.
Can you expect "new insights"? No, if you have ever read anything about modern brain science or mind theory. Are you looking for a sumup of the current "believe" in why we believe and how we err in making up our minds: This is a great approach that won't even harm a religious listener (and those are often the targets of pity for so many other authors/teachers).
Not that I am of that kind anyway :-)
The Professor did a very nice job of breaking down some modern-day myths and deconstructed them in such a way that there's little room for anyone to argue against it
Marianne? No Ginger. Kidding...this is a series of lectures narrated by the professor who provided the lecture
I don't know that there was any one scene (lecture) in particular that was more compelling than the next. I did enjoy the lectures that discussed scientific greats throughout history that alllowed their biases to derail or misguide further achievements.
meh...this is more of an academic excercise than a suspenseful thrill read. The material was good, but nothing I couldn't put down
the key to the title of this book is A "SCIENTIFIC" guide to critical thinking. Shame on me for not figuring this out, out of the gate, but I originally downloaded this due to an interest in "strategic" thinking in the workplace. While there are undoubtedly parallels in terms of the process of thinking and good information with respect to recognizing biases and how the brain/memory work...this is very much a discussion on debunking or veryifing scientific evidence versus any non-scientific business process.
It's a very good listen nontheless but not what I was expecting and not overly applicable to a corporate business setting (which again, is my own mistake). I only point this out in case anyone else struggles with reading comprehension like I did.
As another listener stated, this should be required listening for everyone. I honestly feel like that the skills I learned as a result of these lectures have made me a more observant, overall better person. I have a better grasp on the reality of the world around me because I learned how to pierce through the crap, and really wonder why and how things happen. Thank you Professor Steven Novella for sharing your wisdom.
With bogus information bombarding us every day, many people would benefit from a skeptical guide to the universe such as this.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
are perhaps the best use of audible books ever. I have listened to countless courses in literature, philosophy, and medicine, and they NEVER disappoint. They are all given by a leading lecturer in any given field and are ALWAYS high level university material... This set of lectures by Steven Novallis should be heard by absolutely everyone. As a college instructor, I can unequivocally state that the thing most needed in our culture is clear, logical, critical thinking. This is why I am always saddened to see the paucity of reviews on audible books like this one (I think I am the third one here on Audible with ZERO on Amazon!) while readers line up for tripe, titillation and magical beliefs in "books" about little boys who supposedly go to heaven, satanic ritual hoaxes, the Twilight series and, of course, the poorly conceived and even more poorly rendered pornography of James, Day, and a growing list of other female writers striving for their place in the smut trade. It is no wonder so few of us can think clearly and why human evolution remains such a slow and unsteady process...
As never before , we have easy access to massive amounts of information from a myriad of sources.
How can we determine fact from fiction, science from pseudo science, the effect of biases, and the relative validity of the information we are exposed to? How do we avoid scams, charlatans, con artists, spin meisters, , bad science, and deception? How do we keep from fooling ourselves by our own faulty senses, biases, and flaws in our cognition?
Critical thinking. These skills are vital to most accurately understand and interact with the world around us. Bad information abounds and this course will give you the tools to avoid the pitfalls so many fall into.
This course is excellent. The material is presented in a very clear and enjoyable way with many examples we are all familiar with. I can't say enough good things about this course.
EVERYBODY should listen to this course!!!! The world would be a much better place.
I have listened to several lectures in this series and loved every one. Not so much this one, though. I keep rereading the title to see if it might give me some indication where I went wrong. But, no. That's no help.
Going into the lecture, I was expecting Professor Novella to instruct us on ways to use the scientific method to think about things in a critical way. That's not what this lecture is about at all. Instead, it is about how to think critically about science.
In the first two or three sessions he does touch on some practical uses of critical thinking, and then again in the final session. The rest of the time he spends talking about scientists who have made mistakes and people who believe in kooky ideas, like cult teachings.
I initially chose this lecture over, say, Important Pharaohs of Egypt, because of something I recently heard on the news. The White House held a press conference to let people know that the government healthcare website was safe and had not been hacked. Normally I don't pay much attention to White House press conferences, but this one struck me because there was no news report before hand to indicate that the website was unsafe. This, therefore, led me to think that this was the result of a logical fallacy. Someone was poisoning the well. Someone who is opposed to government healthcare started a rumor, and people who weren't using their critical thinking skills spread it around, thus causing the White House to address a problem that did not exist.
Because of this, I wanted to know more about how our brains work, and why people let themselves get carried away by things they haven't fully thought through. Not about the drudgery of scientific proof.
There is one thing about this lecture that I did like, however. While I was sitting there listening, trying very hard to learn something new, I realized that my level of critical thinking is above normal. Learning by not learning. Hmm...
I'm not saying this is a bad lecture. It will be very interesting to someone who has never heard this information before. It's very important to learn how to call BS when it needs to be called. But I didn't find this lecture helpful. Perhaps I am just to skeptical about everything already.
This series of lectures was both entertaining and very enlightening. I found myself every bit as engaged with this as with most of the fiction titles I've listened to and not the slightest bit dry.
The info itself translates well for non-scientists. IMHO it gives the average person different ways of approaching questions and claims made by others - be it medical professionals, sales people or other individuals.
Well worth listening to.
"This covers it all"
So as a scientist, this is an area of great personal interest and I've done a huge amount of background reading in this subject. This one book covers all aspects of critical thinking. If you are familiar with this area, then be prepared to hear some of the same examples you will have come across elsewhere, but don't let that put you off. This is clear and well laid out and I wish everyone could listen to it.
Dr Steven Novella has written an excellent series of lessons that really helps one understand why people believe strange things. More importantly though, he explains how our own brains can deceive us. Ever wondered how everyone else around you remembers something completely different to how you remember it? Or how someone can come to a completely different conclusion to something than you did, even though you both had the exact same data? This book is fascinating and helps one realise, just because you saw it/ heard it/ analysed it (etc.) doesn't mean you'll come to the correct conclusion unless you take steps to ensure you don't let personal bias get in the way.
His many years as a teacher at Yale and podcasting ensure it is very easy to listen to this series of lectures. Broken down into half hour sessions, you can go through it is small chunks (I listened to it in three large chunks though, I was enjoying it so much). The one criticism I would have, being an audiobook, the times Dr Novella mentions different visual phenomena that fool us becomes a little difficult, not having the picture in front of you (some are famous and probably don't need an accompanying picture, but some aren't). The same with the audio phenomena. It would have been easy to include them in the audiobook. There also appeared to be mention of a workbook, which I could not find out anything about.
Having said that, those few issues were not serious enough for me to take any marks off. This is a great book with some truly fascinating things to learn, read in a way that made the time pass by so quickly.
Thoroughly recommend it.
"A great insight into the ways we think"
Insightful, useful, applicable
The useful and applicable methods to make the most of our inherent methods of thinking
Engaging examples, useful approaches
Highly recommended for everyone, especially those whose work depends on thinking
"How to grow your brain & explode your ego!"
This course will grow your brain by challenging your beliefs and give you a clear process to reality check any of your conclusions. In other words, putting your dearest most lovingly held beliefs through the meat grinder of scientific critical thinking. Not for the faint hearted! It is not about how to be right, although it could be, but hopefully it will explode your ego in the same way it has mine and give you the tools you need to have more humility in the face of your thoughts and beliefs.
"Brilliant introduction to objective thinking"
The topic was presented with multiple, easy to understand, examples. Despite it being a "scientific guide", it is presented for a wide demographic
Prof Novella was able to bring about several personal anecdotes to emphasize certain points
Recommended listening for learning how to understand your own flaws in thinking and catch & correct biases. Excellent!
"A toolkit for life"
This is quite the most useful course I have bought, I have so many bookmarks and notes in this. I felt the need to have the content: including heuristics and logical fallacies memorised so that I can steer a safe course around the hucksters of modern advertising and over the pitfall of modern life.
It's pretty unique, but if I had to I'd say it reads like a survival guide (or a handbook to common problems you might be having with your wetware). The problem/issue is stated clearly (usually some kind of problem with perception or the brain's habit of creating useful but problematic short cuts to methodical truth evaluation) then a useful label then the remedy to ameliorate the problem, cool I promise.
Engaging, I love the supporting evidence the set up so to speak for the course, fascinating!
Lol, it would be a documentary and it might be:The brain a users guide, or Under the hood
Thanks great courses
"Amazingly pithy and practical"
This is an absolutely fantastic guide to anyone who wants to know why we're naturally so bad at thinking critically and how you can deliberately turn yourself around.
Only negative is the canned applause and terrible intro music.
Amazing talk by great speaker. Really says what it is in their title. Thinking about thinking and really being analytical and questioning yourself and others.
Highly recommend for anyone that likes to intellectually engage.
"A great introduction to critical thinking skills"
This course discussed critical thinking skills over 24 lectures, covering topics such as biases, our flawed perceptions as humans, logical fallacies, common myths, problems with media/journalism amongst others.
Needless to say, since the breadth of topics is so large it's difficult to comprehend everything in one run through. I imagine this will be the case with all audiobooks from the great courses.
However, this means that there is a wealth of knowledge to be learned here and some topics are more important and helpful to others. This means that there is opportunities to listen to relevant chapters again if one so desires. I would like to point out that a single run through is sufficient to increase your critical thinking skills.
I personally enjoy learning common logical fallacies since I think that is an easy way to help correct the thinking of yourself and to see the flaws in logic in others. I also enjoyed learning about common myths and their criticisms. It demonstrates critical thinking skills quite well and encourages you to attempt critical thinking of your own.
He has the perfect speaking speed to play comfortably at 2x speed. Otherwise speaking was clear and concise.
I loved the wisdom that the author gave that while science is a powerful tool it cannot answer all questions. Questions such as "What is good?" (i.e. Morality) and "What is beauty?" are not questions which can be answered by science. So it's important to remember that you cant know everything from science alone and it should only be used to answer questions which it can answer.
I found this very eye opening.
I 100% recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve their critical thinking skills. It made my critical thinking skills improve with immediate effects by being able to judge scientific journals and articles better by appraising the merits of the writing and the science behind them. I've also made use of it in multiple discussions where I've avoided falling into multiple logical traps as well as being able to make better constructed arguments.
Awesome course, can't recommend it enough.
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