Any parents will understand the frustration associated with getting into a disagreement with someone who is using poor logic. Whether that is a tired toddler arguing that they don't like something that they have never tried before or a grumpy teenager refusing to tidy their room because their friends don't have to do it.
A good grasp of logic and the ability to apply critical thinking makes the world a better place.
In a slight change to my normal routine, over the past few weeks I have been listening not to an audiobook but instead to a series of 24 lectures on critical thinking. Specifically the "Great Courses" lectures given by Professor Steven Novella entitled "Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills".
I found this on Audible and my interest was piqued by a few recent books such as finding flow and the organized mind which in themselves may not have been the best of books but made me realise that I do actually quite like carefully pondering the world around me and how to make the most sense of it. My older sister delights in pointing out how much of a geek I was as a child, recalling the fact that when I was about 6 years old my parents bought a new TV so I asked my mother if I could borrow some screwdrivers to take the old one apart to try to understand how it worked. To me at the time this seemed like a perfectly normal thing to do on a Sunday!
These lectures by Steven Novella are very well thought out and presented. They guide the listener from the basic concepts of human logic problems right through to developing a proper understanding of how to critically assess research papers presented to you as evidence for or against any theory. They also give good explanations of how to avoid the pitfalls common to pseudoscience and even highlights the errors of big thinkers such as Albert Einstein so that we can all learn from them. A full run down of all the lecture topics can be found here:
I would strongly recommend these lectures to all dentists and I think that many scientifically minded teenagers and younger children may also like parts of them. My 10 year old daughter was very interested by part of a lecture about understanding why so many people vehemently believe they have been abducted by aliens.
I will definitely be looking at what other lecture series may be of further interest to me over the coming months.
Dr Chris Harper