CORE029 Critical thinking

Faculty of Science
Spring 2022
Extent and Intensity
2/0/0. 2 credit(s) (příf plus uk k 1 zk 2 plus 1 > 4). Type of Completion: k (colloquium).
Mgr. Jan Mysliveček, Ph.D. (lecturer)
Bc. Lukáš Polický (assistant)
Guaranteed by
prof. RNDr. Jan Slovák, DrSc.
Department of Mathematics and Statistics – Departments – Faculty of Science
Supplier department: Department of Mathematics and Statistics – Departments – Faculty of Science
Wed 12:00–13:50 A,01026
No prerequisites are required. The course is open to all, and will contain only a very small amount of mathematics at a high school level at most.
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is offered to students of any study field.
The capacity limit for the course is 100 student(s).
Current registration and enrolment status: enrolled: 13/100, only registered: 0/100, only registered with preference (fields directly associated with the programme): 0/100
Course objectives
The course introduces the main topics in critical thinking in a practical and playful way and offers additional resources for self-study. It is part of the university's common core. No prior knowledge is required, just a general ability and interest to think. Upon completion of the course, students will have the foundations of rational thinking, know its limits and be aware of them in everyday situations, both in themselves and others, and be able to work with them.
Learning outcomes
The student will be able to:
- analyze a problem rationally, and find a formal logical error in rational reasoning
- be aware of his/her own errors in reasoning (bias) and be able to work with it
- understand bias in other people, and know how to work with it when it is necessary to convince them of something
- be able to argue and persuade others effectively
  • 1. Introduction: why critical thinking? Overview of the course content.
  • - Fundamentals of rational thinking, and their application
  • - When does rational thinking not work?
  • - How to deal with irrationality?
  • - Practical examples to get you started
  • 2. Informal introduction to formal logic, and examples of failures of formal and informal logic
  • - Examples/puzzles to practice, discussion
  • 3. Rational economic decision making with full information
  • - The most concise basics of probability (likelihood, mean, Bayes' theorem in practice)
  • - Rational economic reasoning under full information - brief introduction
  • 4. Rational economic reasoning with missing information, value of information
  • - 5. Cognitive failure 1
  • - Loss aversion, endowment effect
  • - Practical examples and examples (experiments) illustrating the most important cognitive failures (errors in rationality)
  • - Dunning Krueger effect
  • - Anchoring
  • 6. Cognitive Failure 2 - Practical examples and examples (experiments) illustrating the most important cognitive failures (errors in rationality)
  • - Availability heuristics
  • - Forer Effect (aka Barnum Effect).
  • - Sunk cost fallacy
  • - Ben Franklin Effect
  • 7. Motivated reasoning, biases, conspiracy theories
  • - Examples of motivated reasoning - conspiracy theories, evidence against is evidence for
  • - Statistical manipulation examples - example with context of study (cream vs. politics) and math ability
  • - Practical tips to combat this
  • 8. Basic introduction to the scientific method as a way to combat irrationality
  • - Hand washing
  • - Scientific method
  • - Correlation vs causation
  • - And examples of failure
  • 9. Practical tips and tricks for working with information in everyday life (discussion, not lecture)
  • - Illustrations on COVID information
  • - Trending and non-tending articles, sources, caution, corrections
  • 10. How not to fool oneself?
  • - Steel man vs. straw man
  • - What arguments would make me change my mind
  • 11. How to persuade others?
  • - Asking questions, being calm,
  • - Pyramid principle
  • 12. Possibly a practical exercise in persuasion in threes
  • 13. Summary of the semester
  • Bude představena na přednášce - jde převážně o populární zdroje
Teaching methods
Teaching will be in the form of interactive lectures, where students are expected to actively participate by contributing to discussions, solving small problems and engaging in collaborative games/activities.
Assessment methods
The end of the course is a colloquium. 180 points can be earned per semester, for three different categories of activities
- Active participation in lectures, up to 60 points - completion of a final paper, up to 60 points - final colloquium (collaborative discussion of a problem, team problem solving), up to 60 points A passing grade will be awarded to anyone who earns at least 50 points for the entire semester.
Language of instruction
Further Comments
Study Materials
The course is taught annually.
The course is also listed under the following terms Autumn 2023, Autumn 2024.
  • Enrolment Statistics (Spring 2022, recent)
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