Reasoning (in development)

Critical Reasoning is different than Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking are examples that can be related to, from real life; to demonstrate relationships.

Critical Reasoning is the structure of logical expressions, and being able to detect fallacies in an expressed statement. Often Politicians deceive the public by using nice sounding phrases, that have no hope of supporting the truth.

An example of Critical Reasoning / Thinking


US Politician Statement:

Russia is building its nuclear arsenal.  The United States must keep pace by building its Nuclear Arsenal.

Sounds reasonable, right.  But it’s missing very important information.

  1. Does the United States already have the nuclear capacity to destroy all of Russia and its allies?
  2. Is Russia’s statement to build a larger nuclear arsenal true? Each nuclear weapon can cost over $1 million dollars a year to service and maintain.  One missile can hold 24 nuclear weapons.  That’s $24 million dollars a year to maintain.  This burdens an already weak economy.  More likely, the statement is political and is just citing maintenance, decommissioning and disposal, and building replacements.
  3. Do we destroy our own economy, based on fear, and paying for retribution after we are destroyed. Or do we instead invest in protection mechanisms, like:
    1. Space based ballistic missile counter-measures
      • Star Wars initiative of the 1970’s
    2. CIA activities to eliminate Russian corruption in government and business, so nuclear war is the furthest thing in the minds of leadership
      • Corruption abuses group resources to enact personal gain; nuclear power beyond a few missiles is propaganda, politics, and influence of the few to take from the many
    3. Develop productive business relationships between the Russian people and the United States
      • Russia’s people are very much like Americans
        • The government is corrupt
        • The same in Iran, the people are very ethical
        • Zoroastrians base their entire lives around ethics
    4. Do nuclear weapons target the enemy, or good people?
      • Nuclear weapons kill the good people and leave the corrupt to continue doing harm in their bunkers
      • Corrupt people are short sighted and self serving
      • They recruit feeble minds that can be micro-managed
      • Useful weapons target the corrupt, not good people
      • Nuclear weapons are tools to kill good people
        • Corrupt people are happy to live in a bunker, served by their mindless minion
          • making life disgusting for most
        • Good people attempt to provide the greatest sustained support for evolving diversity of life and culture
          • making life interesting for most
    5. Fear promotes micro-management of assets, instead of promoting managed cash flows
      • Politicians that create unjustified fear, most often have investments that prosper when an economy disintegrates; either in the US or another country
      • Micro-managing assets destroys economies and resources become cheap commodities to be stolen by the politician and their cohort
      • Where this occurs in the US, the politician is a Traitor

Based on just these few relationships, building additional nuclear weapons is NOT in the best interest of most Americans. The politician making this statement should be investigated for potential incompetence, treason, and having advisers linked to corruption.

If you are going to take the time to meet, listen; make assessments, and then do something to affect useful change.

The following is a link to most of our elected representatives.  You can always come back here to contact them regarding any issue you evaluate in the future.

The following are tools for your students/employees to obtain practiced experience in expressing common sense

Defining a Problem with a Functional Description

Under Construction – The following is a perspective that is partially developed.  The flow of content, purposes, references, and other considerations have not as yet been significantly addressed.

The following is an incomplete set of thoughts I plan to revisit.


Given a problem, develop a list of functional descriptions that together define the environment that supports the problem.  A problem can only survive, or be sustained, if there is an active system supporting it.

If there are standards that groups support, attempt to solve the related problem using ethical standards (technology, legal, common sense…). From the list define each functional description as a set of Functional Statements; break the bigger problem down into smaller manageable pieces. Intentionally look for gaps from not having the expertise to see the gaps; recruit team members to help.

Wherever reasonable, Do NOT reinvent the wheel. Follow established standards so others can more effectively help through mutual understanding of common standards.  If you don’t know the standard, take the time to teach yourself that skill so you are a more effective member of the team.

Avoid using jargon, or language from standards in the functional statements so that resolution in understanding the problem is not covered up by keywords and impressive language (rhetoric). Attempt to use the jargon of the standards, when discussing actual solutions developed; this tends to lead broadly considered solutions towards standards, so that others can apply similar solutions.

Each Functional Statement has three parts: the structure perspectives where each perspective is a set of supporting relationships.  A perspective is a system of “if” this, then “that”,

For each if/that relationship there is a likeliness to occur for each “IF”, and level of impact on “that”.  Usually the same “IF” statement is connected to many “Then” outcomes.  So what is being looked for is dominant desired outcomes.

This is easily developed in an Excel spreadsheet:

  • A worksheet (tab) is initially set up, and then copied to evaluate different outcomes based on different initial scenarios
  • The first worksheet column is sequentially numbered; this allows for sorting rows by different columns, and returning the data set to its original sorted condition
  • The second worksheet column is left blank and will be used to propose influence on your cited controlling variables; controlling variables are actual things that can be used to change balances within the systems evaluated
  • The third worksheet column lists the variables that can be controlled
  • xxx more to come; life is hectic

Relating Evaluations to Assessments

This is just an incomplete thought I intend to revisit.

Make sure the grade determining part is written simply and clearly, using the language from the standards themselves. Make sure that part is designated as “grade determining” in the Functional Statement. Make sure that it explicitly states that this part occupies at least 25% of the employee’s time.

4. Each Qualification Standard, at each grade level, has a set of required KSAs. There need to be explicitly documented for the board. Placing that documentation in the Functional Statement is recommended. Ensure that they are clearly labeled and described fully. Do not rely on the board to infer the presence of these KSAs.

5. Make the other parts of the Functional Statement as varied and as reflective of the array of complex assignments the employee is engaged in as possible. In the templates we created, we tried to give examples of other activities that ought to be included if relevant. The list is meant to be illustrative rather than inclusive. These parts of the Functional Statement are to reflect the rich and varied professional experience of each psychologist. The Functional Statements are meant to replace the old Position Descriptions.

6. Describing those activities completely is important for two reasons: first, the scope, significance, and impact of what one does can be grade determining. This is particularly true about the difference between the 14 and 15 grades. Second, sometimes an individual may demonstrate what HR classification experts have referred to as “the impact of the person on the position”; the person may have more impact than the position strictly warrants. In rare instances this might be grade determining, so that someone whose responsibilities are on the borderline of a higher grade may be promoted based on other factors. For example, a grade 14 manager in a relatively small hospital may demonstrate that their work has national significance and thus qualify for grade 15. For that reason, it is best that the other parts of the Functional Statement reflect all regional and national tasks.

7. In addition to the templates, which are more generic, we have included some examples of actual Functional Statements for the purpose of illustrating how these principles may be applied in concrete cases.

8. Note that managers and supervisors are NOT synonymous. Managers are responsible to manage programs and the activities of people in those programs; supervisors do performance appraisals for their supervisees. Being either a manager or a supervisor may qualify one for grade 14 or 15. If one performs both functions, it is important to describe each function completely and note the percentage of time devoted to each.

9. Please take note of the following statement in the Qualification Standards under the heading “Deviations”: “The appointing official may, under unusual circumstances, approve reasonable deviations to the grade determination requirements for psychologists in VHA whose composite record of accomplishments, performance, and qualifications, as well as current assignments, warrants such action based on demonstrated competence to meet the requirements of the proposed grade.” This is another compelling reason to have the functional statement reflect all of the psychologist’s national, regional and otherwise “complex and wide in scope” activities and accomplishments.

Summary of Critical Reasoning


  1. The conclusions
  2. The Evidence
  3. The Assumptions
  4. The Strength and Weakness of each Assumption
  5. Fallacies in logic

Step 1. Identify all the conclusions.

A conclusion is a statement or idea in a document or speech that the writer or speaker wants you to accept.

  • Make a list of all the conclusions in the document/proposition/presentation.
  • When looking for the conclusion, ask yourself first “What are the issues?”
  • To rapidly identify the conclusion, look for indicator words such astherefore,
    which leads us to,
    proves that,
    the point is, etc.

    in the written statement or presentation.

Step 2. Look for the reasons and evidence the author uses to support each conclusion.
There is an important distinction between reason and evidence.

  • Evidence is based on external evaluations, such as facts, data, laws, observations, case examples or research findings.
  • For each conclusion make a list of all evidence that has been given that you think supports the conclusion.
  • How strong is each piece of evidence?
  • Does the evidence support the conclusion?
  • What evidence would cause you to reject the conclusion?
  • Is there a general lack of evidence or has significant information been omitted?

Step 3. List all major assumptions
An assumption is a belief we use to support the evidence. Make a list of the assumptions in each piece of evidence. Look for hidden or unspoken assumptions.

For example ” An employee reported to his supervisor that his work team was not functioning well. He spoke generally about friction between members of the team. The supervisor stated that she would look into it. She noted that just prior to the complaint a new member had been added to the team. Her hidden assumption was that because the complaint and the new member’s arrival coincided, there must be a connection. She transferred the new member to a different team, and was surprised when the workgroup continued to have friction and communication problems”.

Step 4. Evaluate all the assumptions and evidence.
Our job is to evaluate each assumption to determine whether it is strong or weak, whether it is relevant and whether it is valid?

During the evaluation look for contradictions and for fallacies in the assumptions.

Step 5. Identify Fallacies in Logic
The following list gives eleven common fallacies in logic to look for when evaluating the assumptions used in supporting the evidence and the conclusions.

  • Ambiguous or vague words or phrases
  • Citing a questionable authority
  • Straw Person
  • False Dilemma, i.e. Either-Or
  • Red Herring
  • Slippery Slope
  • Appeal to Popularity
  • The Perfect Solution
  • False, Incomplete or Misleading Facts or Statements
  • Causal Oversimplification
  • Hasty Generalization

Critical Thinking Questions

Six Types of Socratic Questions Examples of Critical Thinking Questions (CTQs)
1. Questions about the question or problem statment: The purpose of this question is to find out why the question was asked, who asked it and why the question or problem needs to be solved.
  • What was the point of this question?
  • Why do you think I asked this question?
  • Why is it important you learn the answer to that question?
  • How does this question relate to our discussion?
2. Questions for clarification: The purpose of this question is to find missing or unclear information in the problem statement question.
  • What do you mean by that?
  • Why do you say that?
  • How does that relate to our discussion?
  • What do we already know about that?
3. Questions that probe assumptions: The purpose of this question is to find out if there are any misleading or false assumptions.
  • What could we assume instead?
  • How can you verify or disapprove that assumption?
  • Explain why…(Explain how… )
  • What would happen if…?
4. Questions that probe reasons and evidence: The purpose of this question is to explore whether facts and observations support an assertion.
  • What would be an example?
  • Why is … happening?
  • What is analogous to…?
  • What do you think causes…? Why?
  • What evidence is there to support your answer?
5. Questions about viewpoints and perspectives: The purpose of this question is to learn how things are viewed or judged and to consider things not only in a relative perspective, but also as a whole.
  • What is a counterargument for…?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of that viewpoint?
  • What are the similarities and difference between… and…?
  • Compare… and… with regard to…
6. Questions that probe implications and consequences: The purpose of this question is to understand the inferences or deductions and the end result if the inferred action is carried out.
  • What are the consequences of that assumption?
  • Why is… important? (e.g., temperature?)
  • Is there a more logical inference we might make in this situation?
  • How are you interpreting her behavior? Is there another possible interpretation?
  • How did you reach that conclusion?
  • Given all the facts, what is the best possible conclusion?

Critical Thinking Actions

Types of Critical Thinking Actions Examples of Critical Thinking Actions
1. Predicting: envisioning a plan and its consequences “I envisioned the outcome would be…,”
“I was prepared for…”
2. Analyzing: separating or breaking a whole into parts to discover their nature, function and relationships “I studied it piece by piece”
“I sorted things out”
3. Information seeking: searching for evidence, facts, or knowledge by identifying relevant sources “I knew I needed to lookup/study…”
“I kept searching for data on ……”
4. Applying Standards: judging according to established personal, professional, or social rules or criteria “I judged that according to…”
“I compared this situation to what I knew to be the rule…”
5. Discriminating recognizing differences and similarities among things or situations and distinguishing carefully as to category or rank. “I grouped things together… ”
“I put things in categories…”
6. Transforming Knowledge: changing or converting the condition, nature, form, or function of concepts among contexts. “I improved on the basics by…”
“I wondered if that would fit the situation of …”
7. Logical Reasoning: drawing inferences or conclusions that are supported by evidence “I deduced from the information that…”
“My rationale for the conclusion was…”


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