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Critical thinking for new Skeptics

During November’s GC Skeptics in the Pub, our own Dr Paulie Stehlik talked about the foundations of critical thinking, her academic contributions to the skeptical movement, and the “skeptics’ toolkit”, including logical fallacies, the formation of valid arguments, and real-world applications of skeptical thought.

Dr Stehlik explored the structures of arguments, beginning with false premises which lead to incorrect conclusions. She also explained a range of logical fallacies, or errors in reasoning which result in invalid arguments and unfounded conclusions, and refuted some examples from media and current events.

Finally, she illuminated the risks and consequences of science denial and non-evidence-based practice, including cases of direct and indirect harm caused by alternative medicine and environmental pseudoscience.

So how can new skeptics improve their analytical thinking skills? Dr Stehlik stresses the importance of rationality and sensibility in scientific discussion to encourage critical reflection rather than conflict, and recommends a range of resources, including ScamWatch and several informative podcasts, to stimulate beliefs which are reliable and valid rather than comforting and convenient, in accordance with skeptic principles.

Listen to Paulie’s talk: here Slides: here

About the speaker:

Dr Paulina Stehlik

Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare, Bond University

Gold Coast Skeptics President

Dr Stehlik is a Senior Research Fellow in the area of Evidence-Based Practice. She is also the Gold Coast Skeptics President, and is keen to promote scientific education and a sense of wonder in the natural world, as well as protect the public against potentially harmful shams, practices, policies and products through public education and working with regulatory bodies.

She holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy (First Class Honours), Graduate Certificate in Pharmacy Practice, and PhD from Monash University. Her thesis, “A needs-based approach to patient-relevant information delivery”, focused on the delivery of evidence-based practice guidelines to clinicians in timely and patient-centred way. She is currently completed a Graduate Certificate in Data Science and has a strong interest in data wrangling, knowledge management during research and database architecture, and data visualisation.

She has over 15 years of teaching experience in tertiary education institutions, university colleges, and privately. She is passionate about education and feel that it is her job not only teach the subject at hand, but to excite others in the process of learning; of wanting to know not only what, but more importantly how and why.

Twitter: @gcskeptic; @DrPaulieS

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