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 Critical Thinking
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Thinking Critically, Seventh Edition
John Chaffee et al.

*Some of these glossary definitions have been adapted and reproduced by permission of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Many computer and Web-related definitions have been contributed by Jason Snart, College of DuPage.

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call-outs Numbers in parenthesis that appear within an essay to direct the reader to a note that credits the source of either the information used or the language quoted.

causal chain A situation in which one thing leads to another, which then leads to another, and so on.

causal fallacies Mistakes and errors made in judgment in trying to determine causal relationships.

causal reasoning A form of inductive reasoning in which it is claimed that an event (or events) is the result of the occurrence of another event (or events).

causal relationship A relationship that involves relating events in terms of the influence or effect they have on one another.

cause Anything that is responsible for bringing about something else, usually termed the effect.

cause-to-effect experiment (with intervention) A form of controlled experiment in which the conditions of one designated “experimental group” are altered while those of a distinct “control group” (both within a target population) remains constant.

cause-to-effect experiment (without intervention) A form of experimental design, similar to cause-to-effect experiment (with intervention), except that the experimenter does not intervene to expose the experimental group to a proposed cause.

certain Established beyond doubt or question; indisputable.

chain letter A letter that invites the recipient to pass the letter along to others. Chain letters often contain the threat (implicit or explicit) that if the letter is not passed, ill fortune will come to whoever breaks the chain. The Internet has made sending chain letters easier than ever, as many recipients can be targeted at once.

challenge A test of one’s abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking.

choose freely To choose to take different paths in life by exercising genuine freedom.

chronological Arranged in order of time of occurrence.

chronological relationship A relationship that relates events in time sequence.

circumstantial Of, relating to, or dependent on the conditions or details accompanying or surrounding an event.

classify To arrange or organize according to class or category.

cognition The thinking process of constructing beliefs that forms the basis of one’s understanding of the world.

commit To pledge or obligate one’s own self.

comparative relationship A relationship that relates things in the same general category in terms of similarities and dissimilarities.

compared subject In an analogy, the object or idea that the original subject is being likened to.

comparing Evaluating similarities and differences.

concepts General ideas used to identify and organize experiences.

conclusion A statement that explains, asserts, or predicts on the basis of statements (known as reasons) that are offered as evidence for it. OR The result or outcome of an act or process.

conflict To be in or come into opposition; differ.

consequence Something that logically or naturally follows from an action or condition.

constructive criticism Analysis that serves to develop a better understanding of a condition, situation, or product.

context The circumstances in which an event occurs; a setting.

contradict To be contrary to; be inconsistent with.

contribute To give or supply in common with others; give to a common fund or for a common purpose.

controlled experiment A reasoning strategy used by scientists.

creative, creativity Breaking out of established patterns of thinking; approaching situations from innovative directions. OR Characterized by originality and expressiveness; imaginative.

creative thinking The act or habit of using thinking process to develop ideas that are unique, useful, and worthy of further elaboration.

criteria A set of standards, rules, or tests on which a judgment or decision can be based.

critical analysis Analysis characterized by careful, exact evaluation and judgment.

critical thinking The act or habit of carefully exploring the thinking process to clarify understanding and make more intelligent decisions.

cue words Key words that signal that a reason is being offered in support of a conclusion or that a conclusion is being announced on the basis of certain reasons.

curious Those who explore situations with probing questions that penetrate beneath the surface of issues, instead of being satisfied with superficial explanations. OR Eager to learn more.

cyberspace The virtual environment in which computer users communicate and interact. The term is often synonymous with Internet or virtual reality.