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Tutorial and Exercises in Critical Reading and Thinking:

Developed by Dr Alex Vasquez

  • Free access: This free program includes video tutorials and text documents that can be used by all teachers/programs to help train students and doctors in critical reading and thinking.

  • Goal (enabling objective):  To advance participants’ ability to read and think critically.

  • Goal (global objective):

    • Personal (participants): Enhanced success in various aspects of life via communication, performance, and social decisions

    • Societal: More rational social decisions, less vulnerability to fear, racism, demagoguery, unnecessary war, disease-mongering and marketing-hype

    • Personal (me): I hope that eventually I won’t have to read through a mountain of insanity every time I view the news or read comments in social media

  • Importance: Critical reading and thinking impact every single aspect of a person’s life as well as our collective life as a society and the survival of our species as humanity. Beyond survival, we have to be able to read-think critically if we are to read-think-write-perform accurately in our lives (comfort and survival) and jobs (most of us have to perform at our jobs and we are more successful when we think and “output” at a higher level

    • "Respect for the truth and concern for the truth: these are among the foundations [and necessities] of [human] civilization.“ Dr Henry Frankfurt, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Princeton University

  • How to use: This program can be used either within the context of an academic course or can be used "ad lib" by students and professionals desiring to enhance their critical reading/thinking/writing abilities. As such, users are welcome to use the materials as they wish; however, the most obvious means by which to gain the most from these materials is recommended below: 

  1. Read/access the original work being critiqued: Hyperlinks are provided to the original works.

  2. Make notes or a (semi)formal evaluation of the work: Document your own opinion in writing. 

  3. Access the critique in video/text format: Hyperlinks are provided to the final critiques

  4. Compare your critique with the one provided: Do you agree with the critiques? Did you find other fallacies or mistakes? Does the overall value of the paper override the errors? For the errors/fallacies identified, do you evaluate them as: 

    • Types of errors: Honest errors or Strategic errors: 

    • Severity of errors:

      • Minor errors: overall conclusion is still valid

      • Gross errors: invalidates the main conclusions

    • Conflicts of interest

      • Who paid for the publication?​ What is the obvious/direct conflict of interest? 

      • Was the money "white washed" through a medical organization or research university?

      • What does the journal gain from publishing this information?

        • Payments to the Journal: Note that major medical journals sell official reprints of drug-friendly publications for millions of dollars to drug companies that then use the document to promote sales of their featured product.​ "A large trial published in a major journal has the journal's stamp of approval (unlike the advertising), will be distributed around the world, and may well receive global media coverage, particularly if promoted simultaneously by press releases from both the journal and the expensive public-relations firm hired by the pharmaceutical company that sponsored the trial. For a drug company, a favourable trial is worth thousands of pages of advertising, which is why a company will sometimes spend upwards of a million dollars on reprints of the trial for worldwide distribution. The doctors receiving the reprints may not read them, but they will be impressed by the name of the journal from which they come. The quality of the journal will bless the quality of the drug." Smith R (2005) Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies. PLoS Med 2(5): e138.

        • Payments to the Editors/Reviewers: Note that Editors are sometimes paid by drug companies, such as for example at the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Quite likely, and given the huge sums of money to be gained by an editor that approves a drug-friendly article, a journal reviewers/editors could "approve" an article for publication and then receive payment from a drug company for their "service to academia."

      • Is the document available for free from the publisher?

      • Who paid the institution that paid the authors?

    • Openness/ease/transparency/clarity of data:

      • Was critical data hidden from the source document? 

      • Was additional information "openly hidden" in "supplementary documents" separate from the actual publication? 

      • Did the authors use "scientific-sounding mumbo-jumbo" to confuse the topic? Example of nonsense: "Changes in dietary composition within prevailing norms can affect physiological adaptations that defend body weight. " JAMA. 2004 Nov 10.1001/jama.292.20.2482


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