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  018 - Why We Need the Argument Ninja Academy [Interview]


A bit of a departure for episode 018. I hope you enjoy this interview I did with Jason Vidaurri over at the StoryHinge podcast. He was kind enough to let me repurpose the audio of our interview for the Argument Ninja podcast.

On this episode I answer questions about my story, my approach to philosophy and critical thinking, why critical thinking is valuable and important, how our media environment is making it increasingly difficult to think critically for ourselves, what I think is the most glaring omission in standard approaches to critical thinking education, and why the martial arts model of critical thinking that I’m developing at the Argument Ninja Academy is such a useful model.

In This Episode:

  • A quick overview of my background (5:35)
  • When I realized I wasn't a career academic (7:10)
  • Why I wanted to do "philosophy journalism" (8:20)
  • Philosophy and critical thinking have never been a part of the public school curriculum (in North America) (9:10)
  • Why is this so? (10:30)
  • Why the "integration" approach to critical thinking education is a "crazy choice" (11:20)
  • The real social function of public education (12:35)
  • A definition of "philosophy" (16:00)
  • The goals of critical thinking (17:20)
  • The consequences of not caring about critical thinking (19:30)
  • How do you know if you've "done enough" thinking on a topic? (20:11)
  • Why critical thinkers need to pay attention to the psychology of human reasoning (28:40)
  • Philosophy has an uncomfortable relationship with rhetoric and persuasion (29:00)
  • A new scientific understanding of human reasoning (30:20)
  • The rise of the "persuasion industry" (21:30)
  • Why we need a program that teaches principles of good reasoning and the psychology of belief and persuasion (32:45)
  • The Archery model (33:20)
  • Confirmation bias (34:00)
  • Cognitive biases narrow the focus of our attention (35:00)
  • Availability bias, and an example (36:00)
  • How lottery advertising exploits availability bias to get people to buy lottery tickets (37:15)
  • How covert influence strategies undermine critical thinking (39:40)
  • How persuasion technologies hijack our attention (40:35)
  • Origins of the Critical Thinker Academy (43:00)
  • Critical thinking skill development: how the Argument Ninja Academy differs from the Critical Thinker Academy (44:20)
  • The martial arts model of critical thinking performance and instruction (45:40)
  • Ethical issues that arise when teaching persuasion, and how the martial arts model helps us to think about this (47:20)
  • Advice for people considering making big life changes (50:15)

References and Links


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