Steering into the Skid: On the Norms of Critical Thinking

Jeffrey Maynes


Cognitive bias presents as a pressing challenge to critical thinking education. While many have focused on how to eliminate or mitigate cognitive bias, others have argued that these biases are better understood as result from adaptive reasoning heuristics which are, in the right conditions, rational modes of reasoning about the world. This approach presents a new challenge to critical thinking education: if these heuristics are rational under the right conditions, does teaching critical thinking undermine student abilities to reason effectively in real life reasoning scenarios? I argue that this challenge calls for a reconception of the goals of critical thinking education to focus on how rational ideals are best achieved or approximated in human reasoners. Critical thinking educators should focus on developing the metacognitive skill to recognize when different cognitive strategies (including the heuristics) should be used.


critical thinking, pedagogy, metacognition, cognitive bias

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ISSN: 0824-2577