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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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sample A portion, piece, or segment that is intended to be representative of a whole.

scientific method An organized approach devised by scientists for discovering causal relationships and testing the accuracy of conclusions.

selective comparison In critical thinking, a problem that occurs in making comparisons when a one-sided view of a comparative situation is taken.

self-aware Describes persons who are aware of their own biases and are quick to point them out and take them into consideration when analyzing a situation.

semantic meaning A component of a word’s total meaning that expresses the relationship between a linguistic event and a nonlinguistic event.

senses Sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste; means through which one experiences one’s world, aware of what occurs outside oneself.

sign The word or symbol used to name or designate a concept.

simile An explicit comparison between basically dissimilar things made for the purpose of illuminating our understanding of the things being compared.

skilled discussant A person who is able to discuss ideas in an organized and intelligent way. Even when the issues are controversial, the person listens carefully to opposing viewpoints and responds thoughtfully.

slang A kind of language occurring chiefly in casual and playful speech, made up typically of short-lived coinages and figures of speech that are deliberately used in place of standard terms for added raciness, humor, irreverence, or other effect.

slippery slope A causal fallacy that asserts that one undesirable action will inevitably lead to a worse action, which will necessarily lead to a worse one still, all the way down the slippery slope to a terrible disaster at the bottom.

social variation A difference in language style due to differences in age, sex, or social class of speakers.

solution The answer to or disposition of a problem.

sound argument A deductive argument in which the premises are true and the logical structure is valid.

source A person or document that supplies information needed.

spam Unwanted, unsolicited e-mail, often taking the form of advertisements.

special pleading A fallacy that occurs when someone makes themselves a special exception, without sound justification, to the reasonable application of standards, principles or expectations.

standard American English (SAE) The form of the English language in America used in most academic and workplace writing, following the rules and conventions given in handbooks and taught in school.

standards Degrees or levels of requirement, excellence, or attainment.

stereotype A conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image.

stimulus Something causing or regarded as causing a response.

straw man A fallacy in which a point of view is attacked by first creating a “straw man” version of the position and then “knocking down” the straw man created. The fallacy lies in that the straw man does not reflect an accurate representation of the position being challenged.

subject directory A directory consisting of links to Internet resources.

surfing the Web Following the trail of Web pages linked to related Web pages.

sweeping generalization A general conclusion that overlooks exceptions to the generalizations because of special features that the exceptions possess.

syllogism A form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.

symbolize To represent something else.

syntactic meaning A component of a word’s total meaning which defines its relation to other words in the sentence.

synthesis The combining of separate elements or substances to form a coherent whole.