Module 5: understanding, demonstrating critical analysis [weeks 9, 10]
Competency V: To demonstrate an understanding of the principles of critical thinking and analysis.
WEEK 9 (10/26/2015 - 11/1/2015)
Essential question(s): What is critical thinking? What are its processes and components? How can it be applied generally, as well as specifically to the world of academic study and writing?
Wikipedia defines critical thinking as the “…purposeful and reflective judgment about what to believe or do in response to observations, experience, verbal or written expressions, or arguments.” I would add to that "...verbal, written or media based..." The goal of this module is to consider critical thinking as a perspective that is essential to you as a researcher and Media Psychology PhD student.
Go to the Wikipedia article about critical thinking and spend an hour or so reading the material and linked materials it provides. Feel free to read any other materials you wish on this topic.
Then visit The Critical Thinking Community website. It is run by Richard Paul, a long time leader in the critical thinking movement.
Two provisos about the Paul material. First, Paul focuses a good deal on education, as well as on the needs of teachers who are trying to find ways to infuse instruction with his critical thinking concepts. Thus, he makes a number of references to this focus. However, his principles are widely applicable and translate easily to any profession. Second, Paul is trying to sell his services. You will see advertisements for materials and workshops throughout his web site. While this doesn't devalue his contribution, be aware of the fact that you are being pitched a service. That is, use critical thinking as you assess his critical thinking materials.
Spend an hour or so scanning his resources, reading those materials that resonate with you. In particular I like Critical Thinking in Everyday Life: 9 Strategies and Personal and Professional Development.
Bias Detection, by Common Craft, is a bit basic but I like its "team perspective" approach to understanding why we imbue our own bias into we see and do.
6 Photographers Capture Same Person But Results Vary Widely Because of a Twist. Fascinating study of media bias. Six photographers shoot the same subject, but are each given a different story about him, each of which is untrue. Each photographer then imbues the photo with that background bias.
Go to the Moodle to discuss the following questions:
Posting guidelines are the same as in previous weeks:
Provide a minimum one paragraph self-assessment/reflection. This should focus on what you learned and what you think your strengths and challenges are in terms of the content of this module. Please send it directly to me.
WEEK 10 (11/2/2015 - 11/8/2015)
Essential question(s): How do we apply critical thinking to determine bias and misinformation on the web? How can we apply critical thinking skills to our work as media psychologists?
When bias is obvious, we can snicker and turn away. But what happens when it isn’t, and we keep reading or watching something because it seems reasonable in its presentation? We need special radar and special skills to deal with this situation. The goal of this week's activities is to explore some skills and perspectives that help us identify bias in the presentation of information, particularly information found on the web.
Thinking, fast and slow. One of the most important books I have read in many years is Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman. In it he describes two different brains we use to evaluate what we experience: the fast brain, which has an immediate response, and the slow brain, which has a more considered, and thus delayed response. Ideally we would like to evaluate all the information we consume using our slow brain, which would allow us to check sources, perhaps using a service like Snopes. But in the hurly burly of daily activity, this isn't possible. We need tools we can use quickly to see "if things add up." The objective is to make better assumptions about the credibility of the information we consume. Think of it as immersive critical thinking in real time.
Thinking more slowly. But suppose we do have time. How would we evaluate the credibility of the information we find on a website?
Read the materials found at the websites listed below. They provide helpful checklists and perspectives to determine the credibility of information found on the web:
Explore a glaring example of web bias: the MartinLutherKing.org website
Visit the MartinLutherKing.org website, which has received a good deal of attention over the years. It is currently offline and I needed to use The Way Back Machine Archives to find it. It is well known for its use of bias in presentation, in this case about Martin Luther King.
Also, read this article from the Huffington Post, White Supremacist Site MartinLutherKing.org Marks 12th Anniversary, which explores real impacts of the misinformation on this site. If we didn't know anything about Martin Luther King, how would we know that this website was filled with erroneous information?
Where to post: In our Moodle Conference, Week 10.
What to post: Post a 3-page paper (between 800 and 850 words, not including title page, abstract page or bibliography) about a media psychology topic that interests you. This week it should be about bias on the web, unless you wish to develop the topic you addressed in your essay for a previous module. Also, as usual, post a response to a colleague's essay.
Be sure to use the organizational structure you learned for your essay (abstract, thesis, scholarly argument, conclusion, call for further study, references).
Due date to post your essay: Thursday, November 5, 2015.
Due date to post a comment about one of your colleague's essays: Sunday, November 8, 2015.
Posting guidelines are the same as in previous weeks:
Provide a minimum one paragraph self-assessment/reflection. This should focus on what you learned and what you think your strengths and challenges are in terms of the content of this module. Please send this directly to me.
Analyzing visual information. As a way to see how misinformation is projected into the visual domain, watch the following:
The Cicret Bracelet. Here is a technology that received a good deal of attention during early 2015. Its developers claim they have created a bracelet that projects a tablet on to your skin. Watch the video for details and apply what you know about critical thinking to what you see. The developers are very convincing, and in fact maybe this technology could exist. But it doesn't. The developers want you to invest in something they think could exist. Here are some details.