Critical thinking

David Wright dcwright at
Sun Jan 12 18:30:34 UTC 2003

Scott Jorgensen wrote:
>Secondly, a thought or two about your charge that Ms. Xochime is "mythologizing" history.  You treat history as if it's a chemical chain reaction, easily observable in laboratory conditions to establish a scientific truth.  Well, it's not.  History is not a science - it is an art. To be honest, history is "mythologized" ten minutes after its 
creation in most cases.  Regardless of how many resources you have to back up your opinions on historical matters, you do not have the empirical truth of what exactly occured for any historical event.  In short, you are just another person with an opinion. Educated, yes - but opinion nonetheless.

I think it's safe to say that most people you meet on academic discussion lists take it for granted that there are certain ground rules in scholarly inquiry; without these the discussions taking place would quickly become pointless. I recommend anthropologist's James Lett's article "A field guide to critical thinking", published in the winter 1990 issue of the _Skeptical inquirer_, for starters. After that astronomer Carl Sagan's chapter "The fine art of baloney detection" in _The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark_ (New York, Random House, 1995) would be a good place to continue. Both say essentially the same thing, Lett in a more concise way, Sagan in more detail. These basic rules con be profitably applied to the study of just about anything, from art, literature, culture and history to medicine and physics. Lett's article is available on-line:
There are several summaries of Sagan's "baloney detection kit" on-line:


David Wright
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