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Competent but flawed introduction to critical thinking
on 26 September 2010
Weston has produced a competent (though very basic) introduction to the subject that can easily be digested in a single sitting. However, is it really necessary for the author to make his own views on contentious subjects so very clear?
For example, on p. 82 in the context of the abortion debate, he asserts as irrefutable facts that `fetuses are not the same as babies' and that `the term "murder" unfairly imputes evil intentions to well-intentioned people'. But these claims are themselves mere assertions, and would need to be defended by reasoned argument. It is unfortunate that the author of a book on critical thinking and reasoning skills is unable to follow his own advice.
Likewise, the author falls foul of an appeal to a questionable authority on p. 29. He asserts that the `world scientific community is now nearly unanimous that [climate change] is occurring and needs to be addressed.' His footnoted source for this is the highly controversial 2007 IPCC report on Climate Change.
Whether or not the reader agrees with the author's views on these matters, it is a jarring distraction (especially given the subject of the book) to be confronted repeatedly by questionable assertions of fact. The prominence of the author's own personal opinions mars an otherwise useful work.