Evaluating Claims: A Quiz


POP QUIZ–See if you understand some principles of critical thought. You can find lots of lists similar to these. The scientist Carl Sagan said his list could be put to use as a bulls*t detector.

True or False?

1._____There is an external reality that is independent of our representations of it.

2._____When evaluating a claim, look for disconfirming as well as confirming evidence.

3._____We should accept an extraordinary hypothesis only when no ordinary one will do.

4._____If we have no reason to doubt what is disclosed to us through perception, introspection, memory, or reason, then we are justified in believing it.

5._____It is reasonable to accept personal experience as reliable evidence only if there is no reason to doubt its reliability.

6._____The more background information a proposition conflicts with, the more reason there is to doubt it.

7._____When there is good reason to doubt a proposition, we should proportion our belief to the evidence.

8._____There is good reason to doubt a proposition if it conflicts with other propositions that we have good reason to believe.

9._____There is good reason to doubt a proposition if it conflicts with expert opinion.


Author: Craig Butcher

Craig Butcher is an award-winning educator who has taught critical thinking skills for more than two decades. In addition, he has worked on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer and has been a top-rated broadcaster.