Critical comes from the Greek word krinein, meaning “to separate, to choose”; above all, it implies conscious inquiry (4).

Conscious also means to be awake or aware. This suggests that by examining our reasoning, we can understand the basis of our judgments and decisions – ultimately, so that we can make better ones. 

Issue: Gay Marriage Licenses

In a 2015 case from Kentucky, Kim Davis refused to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 

Who has a say in the matter? What is affected by this issue?

Let’s work on the three questions on pages 8-9.

Issue: Flying Spaghetti Monsters

Pastafarians? Should they be recognized as a “real” religion?

Identifying and Examining Assumptions

What assumptions do you see in the Spaghetti Monsters section?

Critical Thinking and Ignorance

“Most of us assume whatever we believe to be “right.” Though we were taught much of what we believe before we could critically analyze our beliefs, we nevertheless defend out beliefs as the truth” (Elder and Paul).

Intellectual Humility: awareness of the extent of your ignorance.

People with a high degree of intellectual humility understand that there is far more that they will never know that they will ever know (Elder and Paul).

  • Acknowledge that you may be wrong, until you find sufficient evidence to prove your belief. 
  • Notice when you argue if you are justifying your beliefs. Do you have evidence?
  • Question your beliefs, especially religious, cultural, or political.
  • Research from multiple perspectives. 
  • Explore new beliefs. 

Identify weaknesses in your thinking. 

  1. What do I truly know?
  2. Are my prejudices and biases influencing my thinking?
  3. What beliefs have I accepted without critical thinking?
  4. How have my beliefs been shaped from birth?

Examine Life

The unexamined life is not worth living.

a famous dictum apparently uttered by Socrates at his trial for impiety and corrupting youth, for which he was subsequently sentenced to death, as described in Plato’s Apology.



  1. Journal 1 response by Saturday.
  2. Read Chapter 2 from Current Issues and Enduring Questions.
  3. Read Carl Sagan chapter from the syllabus.