Every now and then it hits me that I know almost nothing about psychology. Vague recollections of drooling dogs, prison experiments and participants being told to electrocute people aren’t exactly the sort of background knowledge that helps me decipher this week’s seminar on *checks email* how we learn/reason about causality. So I rummaged around in the Social Sciences library and found a book that could hopefully gave me a solid grounding in important studies: Roger R. Hock’s Forty Studies that Changed Psychology: Explorations into the History of Psychological Research.
Before moving into psychology, I had never encountered the term “effect size”, which is a standardized unitless way to report the effect of an intervention or treatment. This means that you can say “woah, that’s a big effect” and everyone knows what you mean whether or not they know the ins and outs of your particular research area. Being totally ignorant of this sort of thing I did what I always do: bought a book!
Welcome to another book review! Today I’m reviewing another book about critical thinking but this one is focussed on academic critiques for use in literature reviews and other academic work. Join me as I review Critical Reading and Writing for Postgraduates (3rd Ed.) by Mark Wallace and Alison Wray, a thoroughly modern guide to critical reading and writing.
First published in the 1930’s Straight and Crooked Thinking by Robert Thouless sets out the most common ways people put forward “dishonest arguments”: those arguments which are mostly built on fluff and no real substance but we find ourselves nodding along with until we recover sometime later and realise none of it made any sense. Straight and Crooked Thinking trots along at a fast pace clocking in at just over 200 pages and covering over 30 examples of dishonest tactics used regularly in arguments. These tactics are just as prevalent today as they were 80 years ago.