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The Critical Thinking Quiz

How alert are you to bad arguments and soggy logic? #TalkCriticalThinking

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  1. Which of these is a valid argument?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    If she were a spy, she wouldn't admit it. She doesn't admit to being a spy, so she must be one!
    Correct
    Incorrect
    If she were a spy, she wouldn't admit it. Even if I know for sure she is a spy, it will be no use asking her to confess.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    If she were a spy, she wouldn't admit it. She says she is a spy, but I think this is a double bluff.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Strictly logical

    In terms of logic - which is what validity is all about - if it is true that someone will never truthfully admit to being a spy, then we can never get a positive, honest confirmation from them. But this doesn't mean that they must be lying if they deny it.

  2. Which of these is fallacious?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    You can't trust anything she says about health or medicine: she works for a drug company. She's one of them!
    Correct
    Incorrect
    People who work for drug companies are more likely to be biased in their favour: treat their ideas with scepticism.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    People who work for drug companies are likely to know what they are talking about: treat their expertise with respect.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Circumstantial ad hominem

    It may be sensible to be sceptical (or respectful) based on someone's background, but it is not a general rule that someone's circumstances allow us entirely to dismiss the content of what they say: this is thus a fallacious assertion.

  3. Can you spot the circular argument?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    I love eating bananas because they taste so good.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Anyone who disagrees with me is an idiot. You say this is nonsense? Obviously, you're an idiot.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    I know that the Bible is the word of God, because we are told by God in the Bible that this is so.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Round and round

    A circular argument provides a conclusion that justifies its initial premise, which then justifies its conclusion, and so on. Only the last of these arguments does this, forming a closed loop of ideas.

  4. Which is the most likely possibility?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    She is studious, passionate and creative: she either studied art history or fine arts at university.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    She is studious, passionate and creative: she studied art history at university.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    She is studious, passionate and creative: she studied computer science, maths or engineering at university.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Statistically speaking

    Given that general personality traits are a poor predictor of what someone studies, the most likely scenario is the one that encompasses the most possibilities: the last one.

  5. Which is the better option?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Take a gamble with a 10% chance of winning $95 and a 90% chance of losing $5.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Buy a $5 lottery ticket that offers a one-in-ten chance of winning a hundred dollars.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Neither is better: they are both the same
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Emotional impact

    The idea of "losing" $5 may feel worse than "buying" a lottery ticket for $5, but both scenarios are identical: they offer a 10% chance of ending up $95 richer, and a 90% chance of ending up $5 poorer.

Want to find out more? Check out my book Critical Thinking in all its glory!

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