After completing the Learning Activities for the week, please respond to all the questions below. Your response should be a minimum of 175 words total (approx. 50 words per question).

Review the Four Social Errors and Biases in the Highlights area on page 127 in Ch. 4 of THiNK: Critical Thinking and Logic Skills for Everyday Life. Which of the social errors/biases in the book are you most affected by? How can you overcome this social error/bias?

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Humans are highly social animals. Because of this trait, social norms and cultural expectations exert a strong influence on how we perceive the world—so much so that we tend to perceive the world differently in groups from the way we do in isolation. Groups can systematically distort both the gathering and the interpretation of evidence.34

One of Us/One of Them” Error

Our brains seem to be programmed to classify people as either “one of us” or “one of them.” We tend to treat people who are similar to us with respect and those who are different from us—whether in regard to race, sex, religion, political party, age, or nationality—with suspicion or worse. Although most of us claim to believe in human equality, in our culture the use of qualifiers such as gay judge, female doctor, Hispanic senator, and Down syndrome child betray our tacit belief that any deviation from the norm needs to be specified. We rarely hear terms such as straight judge, male doctor, European American senator, or able-bodied child!

Prejudices may operate without any conscious realization on our part. In a Harvard study, subjects were asked to quickly associate positive or negative words with black or white faces. Seven out of ten white people, despite their claims that they had no racial prejudice, showed “an automatic preference for white over black.”35

It is all too easy for people to fall into the “us versus them” mind-set, especially when they feel threatened. In 2014, riots broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager. The police responded to protests following the shooting by donning military battle gear and face masks and confronting the protesters. This further exacerbated the “us versus them” mentality and the belief that the police were out to get black people. Police departments have since reexamined their response to protests.

This error also contributes to our tendency to polarize issues into two camps. “They,” whether it be “right-wing conservatives” or “far-left liberals,” are irrational; there is no point in even arguing a point with them. Our group, on the other hand, holds a monopoly on Truth. There is no middle ground. During presidential elections, Americans are quick to divide up the country into two opposing camps: the red states (Republicans) and the blue states (Democrats) and to classify people in their group as “good” and “right” and those in the other group as “bad” and “mistaken.”

If we are to overcome this social error we need to be aware of it in our thinking and to build in protective measures.36 As critical thinkers, we can work toward minimizing this error in our thinking by first critically evaluating the situation and then consciously reprogramming our brains to come up with new, more reasonable definitions of who it is that we view as “us” by seeking a more immediate and inclusive basis for a connection, such as we all attend the same college, we all are Americans, we all are human beings. We also need to make a conscious effort to be open to multiple perspectives, even those we are initially convinced must be mistaken
As we noted in Chapter 1, ethnocentrism—the unjustified belief that our group or culture is superior to that of others—can also bias our thinking and act as a barrier to critical thinking.

Ch. 5 describes fallacies (when an argument seems to be correct but isn’t). What is one fallacy you have personally used or seen in an argument? Discuss how critical thinking skills will make you less likely to be influenced by arguments that are based on fallacies and faulty reasoning.
Reflect on the learning activities, concepts, ideas, and topics covered this week. What is the most interesting activity or concept you learned this week? Mention any concepts that are still a bit confusing to you or that you have questions about


Social Errors or Biases Most Affected with and How to Overcome

The most significant social errors that I am affected with is the alignment in a political camp. I am a diehard Democrat, and I always find myself hating what republicans do. In the run-up to the last presidential election, I was angry at my friends who supported the ideals of Republicans. To overcome this, I will be listening to their views rationally and respect their stand…

Fallacy Used or Seen in an Argument

One misconception that I have seen in an argument is by a friend who insisted that more than 80% of black Americans are democrats and supported President Obama in the last election. Such assumptions are fallacies. The truth is we are a democratic c…

How Critical Thinking Skills Can Make Me Less Likely to Be Influenced by Arguments Based on Fallacies

Critical thinking skills are essential when one is engaged in a discussion. By thinking critically, I will be able to analyze an emerging issue from another person’s point of view to make meaningful judgments. Furthermore, critical thinking also …

Most interesting activities learned

The concept that I find most interesting is us vs them error. The truth is, this is an issue that most people have had to contend with either knowingly or unknowingly. To most people, it is reasonable to make such classifications/distinctions. Nevertheless, however…

Concepts that are still confusing

It is still not clear to me how critical thinking can be used to stop the most notable errors. For instance, in a situation where there is an outright justification that one side is being discriminated against (like in police brutality against people of color), how …

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