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page updated/reviewed 25 Feb 06


When a task cannot be partitioned because of sequential constraints, the application of more effort has no effect on the schedule. The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned.
--- Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., The Mythical Man-Month

Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals could believe them.
--- George Orwell

Intelligence is like a four-wheel drive. It allows you to get stuck in more remote places.
--- Garrison Keillor

Do one thing every day that scares you.
--- Eleanor Roosevelt

My ability to keep cool in a crisis is based entirely on not knowing all the facts.
--- Garrison Keillor

The one common experience of all humanity is the challenge of problems.
--- R. Buckminster Fuller

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
--- Albert Einstein

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
--- Samuel Johnson

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.
--- Samuel Johnson

Iron rusts from disuse,
stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen;
so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.
--- Leonardo da Vinci

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.
--- Henry Ford

In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind.
--- Louis Pasteur

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
--- T. S. Eliot

Overall/General ResourcesBack to Top

Creativity and InnovationBack to Top Emotional IntelligenceBack to Top BrainstormingBack to Top Memory SkillsBack to Top Concept MapsBack to Top Cognitive SkillsBack to Top Cognitive BiasBack to Top
  • See also fallacies in logic

  • spiffy Psychology of Intelligence Analysis (local copy), by Heuer, for CIA
    -- very good examination of many elements of critical thinking, with examples
    • Check out Part III - Cognitive Biases

  • Countering Terrorism: Integration of Practice and Theory (local copy), overview of conference at FBI Academy, Feb 2002
    • from Appendix 8: Psychology of Bias
        These investigators found that there is a general bias, based on both innate predispositions and experience, in animals and humans, to give greater weight to negative events or attributes. This is evident in four ways:
          (a) negative potency (negative entities are stronger than the equivalent positive entities),
          (b) steeper negative gradients (the negativity of negative events grows more rapidly with approach to them in space or time than does the positivity of positive events),
          (c) negativity dominance (combinations of negative and positive entities yield evaluations that are more negative than the algebraic sum of individual subjective evaluations would predict), and
          (d) negative differentiation (negative entities are more varied, yield more complex conceptual representations, and engage a wider response repertoire).
        The authors review this taxonomy, with emphasis on negativity dominance, including literary, historical, religious, and cultural sources, as well as the psychological literatures on learning, attention, impression formation, contagion, moral judgment, development, and memory. They suggest that one feature of negative events that make them dominant is that negative entities are more “contagious” than positive entities.

Critical ThinkingBack to Top Science and ReasonBack to Top
  • spiffy How Science Works (local copy), by Goodstein, in Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Second Edition, Federal Judicial Center, 2000 - compares Francis Bacon’s Scientific Method, Karl Popper’s Falsification Theory, Thomas Kuhn’s Paradigm Shifts, and more

  • Steps of the scientific method (from CDC site)
    1. Name the problem or question
    2. Form an educated guess (hypothesis) of the cause of the problem and make predictions based upon the hypothesis
    3. Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment or study (with proper controls)
    4. Check and interpret your results
    5. Report your results to the scientific community

  • Scientific Method Man, article in Wired, Sep 2004 - discussing "verifier approach" to problem solution, as used by Gordon Rugg
    • With the verifier approach, Rugg begins by asking experts to draw a mental map of their field. From there, he stitches together many maps to form an atlas of the universe of knowledge on the subject. "You look for an area of overlap that doesn't contain much detail," he says. "If it turns out there's an adjoining area which everyone thinks is someone else's territory, then that's a potential gap."
    • His approach is built on the observation, noted as far back as the 1970s, that experts tend to cut to the chase. In their zeal to get to an answer, they make many little mistakes. (A recent study of work published in Nature and British Medical Journal, for example, found that 11 percent of papers had serious statistical errors.) Experts unknowingly fudge logic to square data with their hypotheses. Or they develop blind spots after years of working in isolation. They lose their ability to take a broader view. If all this is true, he says, think of how much big science is based on flawed intuition.
    • spiffy The verifier method boils down to seven steps:
      • 1) amass knowledge of a discipline through interviews and reading;
      • 2) determine whether critical expertise has yet to be applied in the field;
      • 3) look for bias and mistakenly held assumptions in the research;
      • 4) analyze jargon to uncover differing definitions of key terms;
      • 5) check for classic mistakes using human-error tools;
      • 6) follow the errors as they ripple through underlying assumptions;
      • 7) suggest new avenues for research that emerge from steps one through six.

  • Additional resources on the Verifier Approach

Socratic Method & Asking QuestionsBack to Top Problem SolvingBack to Top Analysis and Decision MakingBack to Top Assumption-Based PlanningBack to Top Game TheoryBack to Top UncertaintyBack to Top Complex SystemsBack to Top Deductive and Inductive ReasoningBack to Top
  • See Holmes' comments above

  • spiffy Manual of Job-Related Thinking Skills (local copy), Department of Homeland Security - including deductive reasoning, reasoning with sets, inductive reasoning about real-world events, and statistical reasoning - includes quizzes throughout

  • spiffy Statistics and Trace Evidence: The Tyranny of Numbers (local copy), by Houck, in Forensic Science Communications, FBI - discusses induction and deduction and their application in establishing evidence - see especially the section "How Do We Know All Ravens Are Black?"

  • quick definitions at an NIH site listing desired job skills
    • Deductive Reasoning - Able to apply general rules to specific problems to come up with logical answers, including deciding whether an answer makes sense.
    • Inductive Reasoning - Able to combine separate pieces of information, or specific answers to problems, to form general rules or conclusions. This includes coming up with a logical explanation for why seemingly unrelated events occur together.

  • Janusian Thinking and Acting (local copy), by Paparone and Crupi, in Military Review, Jan-Feb 2002
    • The authors maintain that the current U.S. approach to military operations-strategic, operational, and tactical-is too linear for today's contemporary operating environment. They argue that future warfighters must move beyond linear thought and action to a realm of thinking and acting that recognizes and accepts paired yet opposite ideas and actions
    • "Instead of ruling out alternative hypotheses, Janusian thinking calls on us to embrace contradictions as naturally occurring phenomena. When we create insights for thinking and acting from the Janusian framework, we achieve remarkable explanatory power over the nature of human information processing."

  • The seats of reason? An imaging study of deductive and inductive reasoning, by Goel et al, Dept of Psychology, York U., North York, Ontario, CA -- abstract posted by National Library of Medicine

      We carried out a neuroimaging study to test the neurophysiological predictions made by different cognitive models of reasoning. Ten normal volunteers performed deductive and inductive reasoning tasks while their regional cerebral blood flow pattern was recorded using [15O]H2O PET imaging. In the control condition subjects semantically comprehended sets of three sentences. In the deductive reasoning condition subjects determined whether the third sentence was entailed by the first two sentences. In the inductive reasoning condition subjects reported whether the third sentence was plausible given the first two sentences. The deduction condition resulted in activation of the left inferior frontal gyrus (Brodmann areas 45, 47). The induction condition resulted in activation of a large area comprised of the left medial frontal gyrus, the left cingulate gyrus, and the left superior frontal gyrus (Brodmann areas 8, 9, 24, 32). Induction was distinguished from deduction by the involvement of the medial aspect of the left superior frontal gyrus (Brodmann areas 8, 9). These results are consistent with cognitive models of reasoning that postulate different mechanisms for inductive and deductive reasoning and view deduction as a formal rule-based process.
      PMID: 9175134 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

  • Deductive Logic, by St. George Stock, posted by Project Gutenberg

Dialectical ReasoningBack to Top IntuitionBack to Top
    The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
    We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
    --- Albert Einstein

  • See also creativity and innovation

  • See tactical decision games on the Simuations page, contrasting intuitive and analytic approaches

  • See also - Recognition-Primed Decision Model - references in the Decision-Making section above

  • See also situation awareness

  • From "The Personal Relevance of Great Campaigns" - by Bird, 22 Feb 2001, Command and General Staff Officer's Course
    • Carl Von Clausewitz explains that events in warfare are surrounded by uncertainty, and that there are few universal truths. Because of this, leaders must sort through this “fog” to find the truth, often a daunting endeavor that’s permeated by chance. The commander must sift through this information and decide what pieces are relevant and require action. Clausewitz specifically refers to the capability of the mind to discriminate information allowing quick, correct decisions. He describes this ability as coup d’oeil, “the quick recognition of a truth that the mind would ordinarily miss or would perceive only after long study and reflection.”2 Napoleon faced such a scenario in the battles of Jena-Auerstadt. With limited information, he turned an entire field army in place to seek decisive battle with the Prussians and won the day. [2Carl Von Clausewitz, On War, ed. and trans. by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), p. 100-102. ]

  • Coup D'Oeil: Strategic Intuition in Army Planning, by Duggan, Strategic Studies Institute (SSI), Nov 2005

  • Command Decision-Making: Experience Counts (local copy), by Wolgast, Army War College paper, 2005

  • Intuition: an Imperative of Command (local copy), by Rogers, in Military Review - examines relevance of intuition to decision making in the context of warfighting on the modern battlefield

  • Tactical Intuition (local copy), by Reinwald, in Military Review, Sep-Oct 2000

  • Intuition: An Instantaneous Backup System?, by Mrazek, in Air University Review

  • Decisionmaking Theory (local copy), Marine Corps Doctrine Publication 6
    • "the intuitive approach is more appropriate for the vast majority of typical tactical or operational decisions-decisions made in the fluid, rapidly changing conditions of war when time and uncertainty are critical factors, and creativity is a desirable trait"

    • Note 18. Intuitive decisionmaking more appropriate for the vast majority of tactical/operational decisions: A 1989 study by Gary A. Klein (based on 1985 observations) estimated that decision makers in a variety of disciplines use intuitive methods 87 percent of the time and analytical methods 13 percent of the time. Evidence now suggests that this study was actually biased in favor of analysis. More recent studies estimate the breakdown at more nearly 95 percent intuitive to 5 percent analytical. G. A. Klein, "Recognition-Primed Decisions" in William B. Rouse (ed.), Advances in Man-Machine System Research (Greenwich, CT: Jai Press, 1989); G. L. Kaempf, S. Wolf, M. L. Thordsen, and G. Klein, Decision Making in the Aegis Combat Information Center (Fairborn, OH: Klein Associates, 1992); R. Pascual and S. Henderson, "Evidence of Naturalistic Decision Making in Command and Control" in C. Zsambok and G. Klein (eds.), Naturalistic Decision Making, forthcoming publication (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates); Kathleen Louise Mosier, Decision Making in the Air Transport Flight Deck: Process and Product, unpublished dissertation (Berkeley, CA: University of California, 1990).

  • Decision Making Theory (local copy), Naval Doctrine Publication 6, Naval Command and Control
    • "The intuitive approach is clearly more appropriate for the fluid, rapidly changing environment of combat, when time and uncertainty are critical factors."

  • The Warning Process and the Role of Intuition (local copy), course module from NOAA

  • Intuitive Policing - Emotional/Rational Decision Making in Law Enforcement (local copy), by Pinizzotto et al, in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, February 2004

  • Cultivating Intuitive Decisionmaking (local copy), by Krulak, in Marine Corps Gazette, May 1999, as posted on the USMC Commandant's Page

  • War in the Pits: Marine-Futures Traders Wargame (local copy), NDU Strategic Forum 61, by West
    • Marine generals and colonels vs futures traders in decisionmaking wargame
    • "The traders' OODA loop, executed at much higher speed, is ISAA: Information, Sort by Priority, Act, Assess"
  • Virtual Stress (local copy), in Marines Online, senior Marines vs futures traders in decision making wargame

Situation Awareness, Situational AwarenessBack to Top Ye Olde Brain, and Its WorkingsBack to Top MiscellaneousBack to Top


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