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Sunday, August 25, 2013

What is Critical Thinking?


You've been thinking all of your life, of course, for thinking is simply the interaction of ideas. However, thinking is somewhat similar to other skills, like writing, drawing, or fixing cars. Practice and education can improve it. So even though you "know how to think" already, you can improve your thinking by learning about the tools and mental habits that produce the best thinking.

Analysis. Critical thinking might be defined as an approach to ideas from the standpoint of deliberate consideration. You hold an idea at arm's length and examine it before accepting it into your mental framework. Another way of defining critical thinking might be as a habit of cautious evaluation, an analytic mindset aimed at discovering the component parts of ideas and philosophies, eager to weigh the merits of arguments and reasons in order to become a good judge of them. Analysis is the ability to break arguments or claims down into parts and to discover the relationship between the parts. The arguments can then be evaluated.

It follows that sometimes the evaluation and judgment will be positive. Whether you are evaluating record albums, people, cars, political parties, recipes, controversial issues, books, vacation spots, whatever, there is a range of arguments stretching from good to bad about each thing, and sometimes the net result of the evaluation will be that the thing is good and worthy, right and true. Critical thinking, then, is not a cynical, negative force designed to improve your fault finding. In fact, if this class merely strengthens your ability to depreciate the arguments of your opponents, I will not have succeeded in teaching you how to think critically.

Critical thinking should be a constructive force and attitude, for examining all ideas and arguments, including your own dearly held ones, and for separating the ideas from their vehicles, to divide true from false, accurate from distorted, complete from incomplete, and so on. In fact, far from being an expert at fault finding, a critical thinker will be even more open to opposing arguments and ideas, carefully considering the merit and weight of each one, recognizing that he or she, the critical thinker, can always learn something from others, and might even be wrong in a current position.

Good thinkers develop the habit of analysis and take the time to think about claims and issues instead of just reacting to them. Thinkers take claims apart and see what is going on.

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Take a Lickin' and Keep on Tickin'. The news that Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger will be starring in a third “Expendables” movie raises a question: Should there be an age limit for action heroes? Click here for the LA Times story by "Horsey".

ESPN pulls logo and credit from 'Frontline's' 'League of Denial',0,1225083.story
ESPN has asked to have its logos and credit removed from an upcoming episode of the PBS series "Frontline" that examines head injuries of football players and the response to them by the National Football League.
"League of Denial," a two-hour documentary which is set to premiere in October, was done as a collaboration between ESPN's news magazine program "Outside the Lines" and "Frontline." It includes interviews with former NFL players, and the league is not portrayed in a flattering light for how it has handled the issue of head injuries over the years.
In describing the show earlier this month to reporters, "Frontline" deputy executive producer Raney Aronson-Rath said it would look closely at "what did the NFL know, and when did they know it when it comes to the connection between football and the potential long-term brain damage in players."
In a statement about ESPN's decision, Aronson-Rath and executive producer David Fanning said, "We don’t normally comment on investigative projects in progress, but we regret ESPN’s decision to end a collaboration that has spanned the last 15 months and is based on the work of ESPN reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, as well as 'Frontline's' own original journalism."
ESPN said that because it did not produce or have editorial control over "League of Denial" it would be inappropriate to be associated with it.
"The use of ESPN's marks could incorrectly imply that we have editorial control," the company said.
Aronson-Rath and Fanning said that although "League of Denial" had not been seen by ESPN, that was scheduled to happen and the cable network's input would have been welcome and taken into consideration during the editing process.
"We’ve been in synch on the goals of our reporting: to present the deepest accounting so far of the league’s handling of questions around the long-term impact of concussions," the duo said. 
Given that ESPN is home to the NFL's "Monday Night Football" franchise and this year will pay $1.1 billion for that package, there may be a perception that it pulled its logo and credit out of fear of angering its most important business partner.
During a briefing about "League of Denial" at the semi-annual Television Critics Assn. press tour here, ESPN senior coordination producer Dwayne Bray said the cable network's relationship with the NFL and other sports leagues doesn't factor into its journalism.
"ESPN is the gold standard for sports journalism, from covering the games to investigative journalism," Bray said, adding that the company "made a conscious decision when we were presented with this opportunity to literally get in bed with 'Frontline.'"
ESPN insiders insist this was simply a branding issue and had nothing to do with the content of "League of Denial." A senior executive there acknowledged that ESPN should have focused on the editorial control aspects of the arrangement with "Frontline" from the beginning.
The company also noted that it has done plenty of stories on the concussion issue across its various television, print and digital platforms.
AN NFL spokesman declined to comment on "League of Denial" or ESPN's decision. The NFL also declined to participate in the "Frontline" episode.
The NFL is very protective of its brand. Many years ago, when ESPN aired a dramatic series about a rogue football team called "Playmakers," the league's top brass and some team owners were very critical of the series, which was canceled after just one season despite strong ratings. 

"I had a Dream" is copy protected and not public domain...

Why you have to pay for the "I Had a Dream" Speech and its use...

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, in Washington.Civil rights leader Martin Luther King waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, in Washington.
AFP/Getty Images
As thousands gather in Washington over the next week to the mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, you may be moved to look for video of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech," which he delivered in front of the Lincoln Memorial during that march.
It might surprise you that it is actually quite hard to find — because while many copies have been uploaded to Internet video sites, many have also been taken down.
Why, you ask? It's all about copyright.
Dustin Volz takes on the story in the latest issue of The National Journal. He explains:
"Months after the August 1963 March on Washington, King himself sued to prevent the unauthorized sale of his speech, purportedly in an effort to control proceeds and use them to support the civil-rights movement. In 1999, the King family sued CBS after the network produced a video documentary that 'used, without authorization, portions of ... King's 'I Have a Dream' speech.' A divided Appellate Court, in reversing a lower court ruling, held that the speech was not a "general publication," despite its huge audience and subsequent historic importance. The speech instead qualified as a "limited publication," the court said, because "distribution to the news media, as opposed to the general public, for the purpose of enabling the reporting of a contemporary newsworthy event, is only a limited publication.
"The ruling was narrow, and CBS and the King estate settled the case before the lower court could reconsider, leaving the copyright of the speech in a somewhat confusing legal situation. A CBS press release dated July 12, 2000, discusses the agreement that allowed the network to 'retain the right to use its footage of the speeches' from the march and license it to others in exchange for an undisclosed contribution to the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
"In 2009, EMI Publishing cut a deal with the King estate to help ensure that the speech was 'accorded the same protection and same right for compensation as other copyrights.' EMI was sold in 2011 to a consortium headed by Sony. The King Center did not respond to requests for comment."
The bottom line is that online presence of the speech is likely to be problematic until 2038, when King's copyright expires. U.S. law states that an author keeps a copyright for life plus 70 years.
All of that said, an activist organization called Fight for the Future has taken it upon itself to provide ready access to the speech. On Internet Freedom Day, the organization uploaded video of the entire 17-minute speech, which, at the moment, is still available on YouTube.
Volz, by the way, will be on tonight's edition of All Things Considered to talk about his reporting. Click here for a NPR member station near you. 

Remembering Elmore Leonard, A Writer Who Hated Literature

Many of Elmore Leonard's stories have been adapted for the screen, from the movie Get Shorty to the TV show, Justified.
Vince Bucci/Getty Images
Elmore Leonard was a writer who hated — and I don't mean disliked; Elmore had a contempt for putting pretty clothes on hard, direct words, so I mean hated — literature, or at least what he believed a lot of people mean when they say liter-a-ture, as if it were a Members Only club.
Elmore Leonard wrote for a living, from the time in his 20s when he turned out ads for Detroit department stores and vacuum cleaners during the day, and wrote cowboy and crime stories for pulp magazines at night.

He died on Tuesday, at the age of 87, after a career in which he wrote over 40 novels with vivid characters speaking spare, funny, flinty dialog.
"I think of them as normal people," he said of the quotable criminals he put into his stories. "The guy who's going to rob a bank gets up in the morning and thinks, 'What am I going to have for breakfast? What am I going to wear today?'"
I interviewed Elmore at a Tucson book festival in 2010. Just before going onstage we thumbed through a program listing all the esteemed authors, of which he was easily the best-known and, he told me, the one who had won no prestigious fellowships and few awards.

"Most of these writers don't write for a living," he said. "They write for tenure. Or for the New York Times. Or to get invited to conferences like this. When you write to make the rent or send your kids to school, you learn how to write without a lot of nonsense."

When he repeated something like that onstage, the room rocked with laughter and applause. In his 80s, Elmore had become the kind of star who could tweak his hosts and be loved for it.

But he seemed only amused by the critical accolades that came late in life. "If you get old enough," he said, "even critics begin to think you must be doing something right."

When Elmore Leonard began to write for a living, there didn't seem to be such a big, fat line between literature and entertainment. People read for fun, to learn, to be transported by the pleasure of words, plots, places and the companionship of characters.
If you look at the fiction bestseller lists of 1950, you see Hemingway, Robert Penn Warren, Tennessee Williams, John Hersey, Nevil Shute, Alberto Moravia, AJ Cronin — authors who are still read and enjoyed. Take a look at this week's list and ask yourself: how many of those books and authors will still be read decades from now?
Elmore Leonard may not have liked literature much, but he loved writing. As one of his characters says in his 2012 novel, Raylan, if " you don't have a good time doin' crime, you may as well find a job."

The Importance of Foreign Reporting and other News On The Media

(United Nations Photo)
This week, Brooke talks to Ethan Zuckerman about where foreign reporting has been and where it's going. Also, an encore broadcast of Brooke's reporting trip to Mexico in June of 2012.

Why Global Stories Matter

News outlets are cutting back more and more on foreign coverage, even though international events obviously have profound effects domestically. Brooke talks to MIT's Ethan Zuckerman, author of Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection about the past and future of foreign reporting, and how he would like to do away with the term "foreign news" altogether.

The Risks for Journalists in Mexico

Brooke talks to Mike O’Connor of the Committee to Protect Journalists about the risks that reporters face in a country beset by drug-violence, often targeted at the media.

Reporting in Juarez

Just across the border from El Paso, Texas, Ciudad Juarez is notorious for the violence that has accompanied a long war between cartels. Marianne McCune goes to Juarez to see how the once-epicenter of Mexico’s drug violence has changed the city and the reporters who risk their lives to cover it.

Violence against journalists in veracruz

Veracruz, home of the bloody Zeta cartel, is now the most dangerous place in Mexico to be a journalist. Nine journalists have been killed in the last 12 months alone. Brooke travels to Veracruz to talk to journalists about reporting under a constant threat of violence.
Elizabeth - Soy Loca Por Ti

Reporting via Placemat

"Alejandra," a reporter who was threatened by the Zeta cartel, began to publish news on place mats that she sold to local restaurants. Brooke talks to "Alejandra" about her determination to report in the face of threats to her and her family.

Rehabilitating Juarez’s International Image

Over the past couple years, violence in Ciudad Juarez has fallen from its peak levels, but the city (along with its neighbor across the border, El Paso) is still trying to revitalize its image. Marianne McCune talks to the mayors of El Paso and Juarez about what they're doing to accomplish this, the 2010 decision to leave Juarez off of an El Paso tourism map, and the recent decision to add it back to the map.

Mexico's Image Problem

Mexico has an image problem around the world, exacerbated by stories of violence and corruption —not to mention lingering stereotypes from the era of the Frito Bandito. Brooke talks to a number of people grappling with Mexico's image problem.
Paco de Lucia & Rámon Algeciras - Cielito Lindo


‘Star Wars’ cinematographer Gilbert Taylor dies at 99

"Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" (1977)On the day "Star Wars" thundered into theaters on May 25, 1977, the film's producer Gary Kurtz appeared on a radio call-in show. Kurtz recalled: "This guy, this caller, was really enthusiastic and talking about the movie in really deep detail. ... I said, 'You know a lot abut the film.' He said, 'Yeah, yeah, I've seen it four times already.' And that was opening day. I knew something was happening." (Lucasfilm)
“Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” (1977). (Lucasfilm)
“Star Wars” cinematographer Gilbert Taylor died Friday at the age of 99, leaving behind a rich cinematic legacy.
His wife told the BBC that Taylor died at his home on the Isle of Wight.
Over the course of an impressive, decades-long career, Taylor amassed a lengthy résumé that included a number of landmark films, including Roman Polanski’s “Repulsion,” Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Frenzy.”
He also served as the cinematographer on the Beatles’ film “A Hard Day’s Night,” Richard Donner’s horror film “The Omen” and 1979′s “Dracula” starring Frank Langella and Laurence Olivier, in addition to working with George Lucas on the original “Star Wars” film.
Lucas and Taylor didn’t always see eye to eye on the set of the production.
“George avoided all meetings and contact with me from day one, so I read the extra-long script many times and made my own decisions as to how I would shoot the picture,” Taylor said in a 2006 interview with ASC magazine.
– Gina McIntyre | @LATHeroComplex
'Star Wars' George Lucas Mark Hamill

It's been 40 years this week since Pink Floyds' Dark Side of the Moon was released.

WATCH: Trailer for Tom Stoppard’s ‘Darkside’ Radio Play

“This is not a drill. Leave everything behind.” (BBC)
Writer Sir Tom Stoppard (Parade’s End, Anna Karenina) pays tribute to the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side of the Moon with his BBC Radio 2 play, called Darkside, voiced by Bill Nighy (About Time), Rufus Sewell (Parade’s End), Adrian Scarborough (Upstairs, Downstairs, Doctor Who) and Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones, Misfits), reports BBC News.

“I used a lot of the album, well all of it other than the lyrics, as a kind of underscore. I was picking up emotional cues from the music,” said Stoppard.
Before doing anything, Stoppard called Pink Floyd guitarist and singer David Gilmour to ask if he’d mind if Stoppard were to add dialogue on top of the instrumental and the musician replied, “Of course not.”

Stoppard used the album as a starting place, inventing a new story in the spirit of the songs heard on “Dark Side of the Moon”.

The three-minute trailer gives you an idea of the visual and listening experience:

The radio play will premiere on August 26, 2013 and is accessible to global audiences on BBC Radio 2.