1. “Identifying Misleading Information in an Argument”
• Consider the following argument: There are many arguments for the elimination or modification of current U. S. drug laws, but one of the most persuasive involves what negative effects drug laws are having on society in comparison with the effects of the drugs themselves. In the past ten years, most forms of drug use have dropped significantly, especially among teens. Despite this, non-violent drug offenders accounted for 21.1 percent of the federal prison population. First time drug offenders serve, on average, a sentence three months longer than kidnappers, nine months longer than burglars, and thirty-three months longer than sex abusers. In 1992, the average cost of keeping an inmate in either state or federal prison was about $20,000 per prisoner per year. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with 455 prisoners per 100,000 population. It is maintaining these prisoners at great expense in an environment where they are unlikely to develop a socially constructive attitude. Perhaps it is time that we reconsider our attitudes toward those who choose to use drugs; failure to do so may cost society even more than it already has.
o Determine whether or not the argument uses any deceptive statistics. Give your opinion on whether or not the argument has persuaded you. Explain why or why not.
o Determine the primary ways in which statistics or authority are used in your current position in developing persuasive arguments, and provide examples of such use.
2.”Understanding the Complexity in Simple Arguments”
• Consider this scenario: Your agency has completely reorganized how it delivers services to the public. This change occurred 6 months ago. The new, larger work group you now supervise is made up of your original employees from before the change, and a few others from different program specialties. You are now responsible for supervising four different programs, where only 6 months ago, you focused on just one program. A problem has come up concerning how to handle the increased workload. Your original employees are skilled in only one program area. The newer employees are also skilled in only one program area each, although their experience is in the different programs that were added 6 months ago.
Create the best solution for solving the problem. Justify your response.
• Explain the main reasons why you believe your solution would the problem. Provide a rationale for your response.
• Describe a dilemma of your own with a problem similar to the one in the above scenario
3. Consider the following quote by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who believed that thought without language was impossible: “The limits of my language are the limits of my life.” For more information on Wittgenstein and his analysis on the primacy of language, watch the video “Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951) The Limits of Language”, located at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgW_PFl-Xs4. Examine whether or not it is possible to think without using language. If you believe it is possible, describe the primary ways in which a person might enact so-called “languageless” thinking. If you believe it is not possible, describe what you foresee as major problems with languageless thinking.
4.”Ethics and Trust in Critical Thinking Decisions”
• Imagine you are seeking information on a new car that you are thinking of buying. Determine the level of trust that you would place in information provided by the following: a salesman at the car lot, the dealer’s Website, social media (i.e. Facebook), an associate from work, and finally a close friend. Discuss the key factors involved in assessing the amount of trust that you put into each.
• If you were in a position to persuade another person, explain whether or not you would slant information in such a way as to make your point seem more credible if you sincerely believed that your position was correct. Discuss the primary ethical dilemmas that this scenario could cause for both you and the person whom you are trying to persuade.