Site-Wide Activity

  • William Payne wrote a new post on the site W. Russ Payne 4 weeks, 1 day ago

    Academic Freedom isn't what this Pamela Paul thinks it isOpinion | Colleges Are Putting Their Futures at Risk – The New York Times ( Pamela Paul takes universities to […]

  • William Payne wrote a new post on the site W. Russ Payne 1 month ago

    Critical Thinking Note 30: It's not about Buying and SellingArguments are commonly regarded as tools of persuasion. Seen this way, arguments are sales pitches for believing something. In […]

    • Dear Professor Payne,
      I really enjoyed reading your blog post from the point of view of the sales perspective; persuasion and critical thinking. In our current political climate it is easy to slip into argument as persuasion and then feeling left with a sense of powerlessness or misunderstanding or worse when we fail to articulate our argument or if we “lost” the argument. Your take on the argument from a critical thinking point of view reminds me of how imperative to be aware of our thinking – metacognition. When teaching creativity and innovation – we throw the term metacognition around as simply “the thinking of our thinking” which allows us to step outside of the programmed or autopilot we fall into and it leaves ‘space’ for maybe being surprised, or a growth mindset, or a mindset in which we allow “inquiry” to create novel ideas. The conversation of argument as persuasion leads also to the cultural dimension (Hofstede and Dr Stone’s work with the Globe Study) of the collective versus the individual – which in our western society is one that will likely disagree with you just because you are trying to “SELL ME” something.

      Thank you again for your insight and I look forward to more. All the best
      Pete Ophoven

  • Helpful Medium post13 Ways of Looking at General Education Reform | by Constance Relihan | The Faculty | Medium

  • William Payne wrote a new post on the site W. Russ Payne 1 month, 2 weeks ago

    Where is the value?People don’t appreciate ideas they don’t understand. This is quite natural. On what basis could you value ideas you don’t […]

  • William Payne wrote a new post on the site W. Russ Payne 2 months ago

    My Gen Ed JourneyI find myself leading an effort to reform General Education at BC. How I got here is worth some mention. It is hardly out of a […]

  • William Payne wrote a new post on the site W. Russ Payne 3 months ago

    Why Gen Ed Reform?The college curriculum looked quite different a couple generations ago. When my mother attended the University of Redlands in […]

  • William Payne wrote a new post on the site W. Russ Payne 4 months, 3 weeks ago

    The Moral Psychology of Self-righteousnessMost people want to think of themselves as good people. When we self-identify as good people, any questioning of this is likely […]

  • William Payne wrote a new post on the site W. Russ Payne 5 months, 2 weeks ago

    An Unsung DuetHarry Frankfurt and Christine Korsgaard have become two of my favorite philosophers over the past few years. I’m finally feel […]

  • William Payne wrote a new post on the site W. Russ Payne 7 months, 1 week ago

    I’ve been thinking and talking lots about TILTing Gen Ed. This idea might call for some elaboration. Our default is to think of TILTing assignments. We do this when we are explicit and transparent about the […]

  • William Payne wrote a new post on the site W. Russ Payne 10 months, 1 week ago

    Early in my career, when I still got to teach logic and critical thinking on a regular basis, I was shocked to discover how many students entering college didn’t really understand how the truth-functional […]

  • William Payne wrote a new post on the site W. Russ Payne 11 months, 1 week ago

    I have no ideas. I grasp a good many ideas. I’m acquainted with even more. Some ideas I understand pretty well. But none of them belong to me. Not even any I might have been lucky enough to entertain before […]

  • William Payne wrote a new post on the site W. Russ Payne 11 months, 3 weeks ago


  • William Payne wrote a new post on the site W. Russ Payne 12 months ago

    This charge is being leveled at higher education frequently. The idea that colleges are in the business of indoctrination is a standard trope in attacks on higher education. Foes of education aren’t just […]

    • Is education indoctrination? No, but not for the reasons I wish. I wish I could say it’s not because education is motivated by something like truth and supported by hard evidence. These remain the typical rebuttals—and good ones at that—to accusations that entire education system is nothing but a left-wing pyramid scheme or whatever it is they say on Fox. The real question is more complicated, I think. As you point out, Russ, most students have already self-selected by the time they get to us, irrespective of their critical thinking skills, and so there is little opportunity for actual indoctrination, even if such an aim were part of the agenda. I believe in the ability of logic and reason to save us, but at the same time I understand that critical thinking enters this drama late. Beliefs. Feelings. Emotions. These always beat reason to the punch. And I think that’s mostly fine. Maybe I trust in millions of years of evolution, that our minds evolved to process perplexing environments in this way. Perhaps add this to the pile of uncomfortable truths our higher education system has to offer. Here’s another uncomfortable truth: higher education IS a form of indoctrination. Of course it is! The root of the word simply means “to be taught.” What we are really fighting against is the irradiation of that term by those who wish to preserve current power structures and have zero tolerance for inconvenient realities. Ironic that this mentality comes from a side of the political divide that openly advocates for certain types of fundamentalism which are much more obvious examples of indoctrination, but that is another conversation.

    • Hi Dan,

      I’d hope people aren’t as stubborn as you suggest in worrying that beliefs, feelings and emotions always beat reasoning to the punch. You are right in pointing out that beliefs are often not the product of reasoning, but neither are they static or immune to the influence for better or worse. Emotions and feelings aren’t independent either. What I feel has a great deal to do with what I think I have reason to believe.

      In a certain sense I suspect all our mental categories, beliefs, desires, emotions, etc. are artificial. They are helpful theoretical constructs for making sense out of processes that are much more organic. And for the critical thinker, these and assorted other concepts contribute to effective ways of self-regulating our thinking. Critical thinking affords a kind of self-control that frees us from impulsive reactivity on our own part and the manipulative interference on the part of others. Not entirely, of course. But what effective critical thinking skills do is build a degree of personal autonomy in thought and feeling. And if this sounds overly individualistic, it’s worth noting that this kind autonomy is a good part of what makes us sociable.

      There is plenty of dismaying evidence that suggest people just can’t free themselves of their habits of thought. But then this is just what we should expect to see in a society that hasn’t made any serious effort to instill effective reasonings skills. Meanwhile, the few who have developed good critical thinking skills know from their own experience what it is like to change their own minds in response to good evidence and argument.

      We won’t unwind all the dogmatic stubbornness or narrow-minded bigotry in our society, but if we could just free up a few more minds, things could go much better.

  • Load More