Critical Thinking: The Essential Guide by Tom Chatfield

The Blurb On The Back:

Your updated guide to better thinking.

– Think twice about what’s in front of you.

Sift through the digital deluge.

Strengthen your arguments.

Overcome information overload.

– Deliver clear and confident critical writing.

Equip yourself for life after study.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order CRITICAL THINKING: YOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE by Tom Chatfield from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Tom Chatfield is an author, tech philosopher and educator with a focus on critical thinking skills.  This really useful book is aimed at students but has a lot for ‘ordinary’ people who want to work on their critical thinking skills, including sorting through and questioning information, understanding biases and how to make a strong argument.  It’s clearly written, easy to follow and has useful summaries at the end of each chapter.

I picked this up because I’d previously read another book of Chatfield’s – THINK CRITICALLY – which is a mini guide covering the same topic, aimed at university students.  This book is also aimed at students and professionals but I think there is a lot here for everyone because this is a pretty fundamental life skill.  Certainly there were things I picked up in this book that I am putting into use in my day job as a lawyer.

The book is divided into two sections.  Part 1 (The Art And Science Of Being Reasonable) focuses on reasoning and arguments with Chatfield running through topics such as what an argument is, explanations, reconstructing arguments, induction and abduction.  Part 2 (Being Reasonable In An Unreasonable World) looks more at ways of making arguments and spotting flaws, so Chatfield goes through rhetoric and rhetorical techniques and how to analyse the same, faulty reasoning, fallacies, cognitive bias (both in yourself and in others) and how to assess technology and information.

I really like Chatfield’s writing style – he takes quite complicated ideas but breaks them down so that they’re easy to follow and there are plenty of examples, studies and exercises that the reader can do to test their understanding and the summaries at the end pull together the key points in each chapter.  

If I was pushed to come up with a criticism, then I’m not sure that some of the illustrations worked particularly well – there’s a mix of images and block colour with quotes over the same.  I understand that they’re there to break up the text and stop it from looking dense (although to be honest, I don’t think that’s an issue because this is the type of book that you can dip in and out of rather than reading end to end) but I found them distracting and didn’t add anything to the rest of the book.

All in all though, I think this is a really useful book and given that we’re in a world where you can be overwhelmed in terms of analysing information and have constant arguments thrown at you, it’s good to be equipped with skills to analyse and assess the same.  As such, I definitely think that this is worth a few hours of your time.  

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