This course is no longer offered

10145 Critical Thinking: Statistical and Intuitive Considerations

Credits: 3 introductory credits in Social Sciences - General or in Psychology

Prerequisites: none

Authors: Varda Liberman, Amos Tversky

Individuals in modern society are in effect information consumers. Almost daily they are exposed to articles and recommendations concerning such questions as: does a low-cholesterol diet increase life expectancy? Is there such a thing as a born athlete? Can handwriting predict professional success? Is positive reinforcement more effective than negative reinforcement? The course is designed to provide students with basic tools for critical thinking which will help them become intelligent information consumers.

The course presents concepts in statistics and relevant methodological considerations along with psychological mechanisms which human beings tend to use to intuitively evaluate information. The course focuses on issues in which intuitive impressions which do not coincide with statistical considerations often result in systematic biases such as gamblerís fallacy, over-confidence, spurious correlation, and non-regressive prediction.

Topics: Statistical relationships and causal relationships; Life and death issues; Sampling errors; Frequency, probability and degree of confidence; Availability and anchoring; Judgment based on representativeness; Perception of randomness and serial dependence; Central tendency and non-regressive judgment; Endurance of beliefs; Confidence, knowledge and calibration.