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After World War 1, many countries, including the major countries, were struck with debt from the war. Many countries were broke. The Treaty of Versailles forced the opposing countries to pay for their wrong-doings, leaving these countries no money to care for the citizens. After the first world war, many countries felt it was best to keep to themselves and not intervene with foreign countries. As a result, each country relied on only themselves to get things back to normal. As a result, people turned to the promises of leaders in the countries leading to the rise of Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany. Although one was socialist and one was fascist, both leaders gave promises of filling the stomachs of their citizens, and regaining their countries authority back. These governments worked hard to grow their militaries to ensure that they would never be destroyed again. Other countries saw the increase in military and knew it was against the rules of the treaty of Versailles, but they were reluctant to intervene with the threat of a second great war(Openstax, 2019). It is easy to say that if the allied countries would have acted sooner, when they saw the growth of military in Germany, Italy, and Japan the war could have been stopped before it had even began. If the Treaty of Versailles was taken seriously, the central powers could have disarmed the enemy before they got to their full strength.
Just line in World War I, Americans wanted to stay neutral in the situations happening in Europe. Also just like in World War 1, America aided the Axis powers by sending military supplies and other assistance. The Lend-Lease act was put into place, were the United States would lend military supplies to Europe in exchange for European land(Milestones: 1937-1945 – Office of the Historian, n.d.). The opposing powers saw this as a betrayal, just as they did in WWI.


Milestones: 1937-1945 – Office of the Historian. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2022, from

Links to an external site.

OpenStax. (2019).
U.S. history. OpenStax CNX. Retrieved from



“Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking,” Brent D. Slife, Stephen Yanchar, Jeffrey Reber

After reading “Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking,” explain the benefits of using new critical thinking as opposed to older views of critical thinking using references from the article.
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Posting Introduction


Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking:

An Introduction

Brent D. Slife, Stephen Yanchar, Jeffrey Reber

Critical thinking has long been acclaimed as an essential skill for any academic or

professional endeavor. Within psychology, especially, critical thinking has been consistently

championed for all students and professionals (Benjafield, 1994; Bensley, 1998; Griggs, Jackson,

Marek, & Christopher, 1998; Halpern, 1998; Halpern & Nummedal, 1995; Levy, 1997; Meltzoff,

1998; Smith, 2002; Yanchar & Slife, in press). Psychologists are taught early in their careers to

use their research findings to critically examine common myths and urban legends as well as

debunk false beliefs and advertising ploys (e.g., Tavris, 2001). Yet, in spite of this obvious

emphasis, psychologists do not typically subject psychology itself to critical evaluation. As

many outside observers of psychology have noted (e.g., Bohman, 1993; MacIntyre, 1984;

Taylor, 1985), mainstream psychologists often take for granted their philosophies, research

methods, and professional practices. Even the tacit assumptions that guide psychological

research on critical thinking are rarely critically analyzed or systematically examined. Why?

A primary reason for this neglect is that many psychologists have misunderstood critical

thinking. Critical thinking has too often been mistaken for rigorous thinking. Rigorous thinking

is frequently identified with scientific analytic reasoning (Dick, 1991, p. 84), which focuses on

methodological concerns such as quality of research design, appropriateness of statistical

analyses, and rigor of general reasoning. Psychologists are well known to engage skillfully in

this type of thinking. Rigorous reasoning and methods are used not only to conduct

psychological investigations but also to administer therapeutic practice. With few exceptions,

investigators are supposed to follow the logic of their science, and clients are supposed to follow



the rationality of their therapists. This commitment to rigorous reasoning is so widespread that

psychologists conceptualize most of their activities in these terms. Students of psychology are

taught this type of rigor in virtually all their courses.

One of the main problems with this sort of rigorous thinking is that it selectively excludes

certain topics from critical examination. For example, scientific reasoning and methods are often

themselves taken for granted, exempting from critical analysis one of the core activities of

psychologists. Philosophers of science point to many hidden assumptions and values in

scientific methods and practices (Bernstein, 1983; Bem & de Jong, 1997; Bohman, 1993; Curd &

Cover, 1998; Slife & Williams, 1995; Taylor, 1985; Toulmin, 1972). Yet, these assumptions and

values are rarely included in texts or discussions of research and therapy methods in psychology.

Consequently, the foundations of these methods and these practices are not themselves subjected

to critical scrutiny.

This volume attempts to rectify such oversight and selectivity. It does so by adopting a

conception of critical thinking that a number of philosophers and educators have contended is

broader and deeper than previous conceptions. Perhaps most notably, recognized critical

thinking theorists and researchers, such as Stephen Brookfield (1987) from education and

Richard Paul (Paul & Elder, 2001) and Robert Ennis (1982) from philosophy, have emphasized a

reformulation of critical thinking that moves beyond mere scientific analytic reasoning. If

applied to psychology, this approach would inevitably lead to a critical analysis of all aspects of

the discipline, including psychological research on critical thinking itself.

This reformulation of critical thinking has two parts. The first requires knowledge of the

assumptions and underlying worldviews of a particular discipline or field of inquiry. In our case,

this means knowledge of the current assumptions and values underlying psychology, including



ideas concerning psychologys proper methods. Sometimes students of psychology are surprised

or even disappointed to discover the assumptions underlying psychologys cherished ideas and

explanations. When brought into the light of day, these fundamental ideas often seem less

compelling and certain than they once did. For this reason, explicating these assumptions and

understanding their implications is the first step in these students becoming critical evaluators of

their discipline.

The second part of this reformulation of critical thinking involves developing ideas and

assumptions that are alternative to our present views. To engage seriously in critical thinking

about psychology, we must seek out and ponder the most credible and convincing alternatives to

psychologys currently favored ideas and methods. Often, the assumptions and guiding values of

mainstream psychology are so familiar that they seem like the only possible premises for our

work. Indeed, they seem more like axioms and truisms than the working assumptions or fruitful

perspectives they are. Knowing there are alternative possibilities, however, allows students to

question the often taken for granted assumptions of their field. This questioning is important

because these assumptions may themselves need to be re-evaluated a possibility that cannot

even be seriously entertained without having alternatives to which to compare present


Illustrating the New Conception of Critical Thinking

To illustrate these issues, consider two examples, one from everyday life and the other

from the world of professional psychology.

Danny and his mother Jill. Consider first the situation of young Danny and his mother

Jill. Jill wants to critically evaluate the problems that Danny is having at school. She spends

considerable time taking a rigorous reasoning approach to the problem. She reads about what



scientists and psychologists have to say about Dannys behavior and symptoms, and even

investigates recent empirical studies. Jill eventually comes to the conclusion that Danny might

be diagnosed with ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). When she questions her

family physician about this possibility, he immediately confirms Jills suspicions and prescribes

a drug to correct Dannys problem. The importance of rigorous thinking in Jills solution to

her problem is undeniable, both in the process of Jills thinking and in the scientists

investigations of these behaviors.

However, there is a great deal more to a thoroughly critical analysis of this situation.

Truly critical thinking would also examine some of the assumptions made in this process of

diagnosis and prescription as well as consider possible alternative perspectives that might be

helpful to the problem. In fact, recent interview studies show that many people like Danny and

his mother take for granted that the prescribed medication is largely, if not solely, responsible for

the decrease in Dannys ADHD behaviors (e.g., Burchfield & Slife, 2003). In other words, they

make the common but thoroughly debatable assumption that Dannys biology (with the drug

changes) strongly determines these behaviors the assumption of biological determinism. As a

result, Danny believes that he has little or no personal responsibility or choice about his bad

(ADHD) behaviors at school, because personal responsibility and choice are typically associated

with an alternative set of assumptions, namely that Danny has some capacity for free will and

personal responsibility that is usually an important dimension of his behavior. For this reason,

Danny gives up making any effort to control his problematic behaviors.

Dannys mother has similar ideas about her responsibilities as a parent. She assumes, for

instance, that his diagnosis and treatment mean that his problems at school cannot be blamed on

her faulty parenting. After all, she cannot be held responsible for Dannys difficulties if his



biology is responsible for them. Her experiences with Dannys diagnosis and treatment also

teach her that she has limited parental responsibility for any of Dannys future difficulties,

because neither Danny nor her parenting controls them (see Chapter 6 for more on this

assumption). The point of this illustration is to ask a vital question: Is it not important to

identify and examine such assumptions when diagnosing and treating children for ADHD?

Might not the assumption of biological determinism lead Jill and Danny to overlook other

possibly valuable resources in their struggle for Dannys well-being? Could the tacit assumption

of biological determinism lead them to overlook important dimensions of the problem, and direct

them, inadvertently, to view themselves as somewhat passive and unable to control the situation?

Empirically supported treatments. Consider another example of critical thinking in the heart of

professional psychology. Many psychologists today believe that counselors and psychotherapists should

only use therapeutic strategies that have been critically evaluated (cf. Messer, 2001). According to the

conventional idea of critical thinking in psychology rigorous thinking the proper evaluation of

counseling strategies or techniques consists of employing scientific reasoning and testing to demonstrate

their effectiveness. Indeed, a list of these strategies has now been drawn up as empirically supported

treatments (ESTs), with some psychologists proposing that these should be the only treatments

permitted in psychotherapy (Division 12 Task force, 1995). Should therapeutic approaches be restricted

in this manner?

Many critics of ESTs, including many psychologists, believe that this approach is too narrow,

limited, and mechanical (e.g., Bohart, 1998; Messer, 2001). However, many EST supporters view these

critics as better at protesting the EST movement than stating clearly what is wrong with the movement

or proposing constructively a better alternative. Indeed, from the perspective of many EST advocates,

the critics of ESTs have little to recommend other than an unsystematic, anything goes approach.



This unsystematic approach appears to return psychology to the same chaotic situation that gave rise to

the use of rigorous thinking and methods in the first place a situation in which psychotherapists were

not properly held accountable. Thus, the critics of ESTs often fan the fires of their own discontent.

This controversy presents a classic case of the need for a truly critical analysis in the expanded

sense recommended in this book. Of course, a complete analysis of this controversy is not appropriate

or even possible here, though aspects of this issue and a number of others like it are examined in some

detail in the chapters that follow (e.g., Chapters 3 and 4). For the purpose of illustration, however, it

may be sufficient here to point to one of the many unexamined, and possibly quite problematic,

assumptions underlying the EST controversy the assumption that effectiveness is needed. Is there any

more frequently used concept in professional psychology than effectiveness? Effectiveness is often

touted as professional psychologys highest ideal, but what is it really?

The Meaning of Effectiveness. Perhaps the core meaning of effectiveness is that some method

or technique reliably and predictably produces some desired end or result. If we want a therapeutic

method to be effective, we must first specify the end or outcome of the technique we desire. The

problem is that merely wanting effectiveness tells us nothing about what ends or goals are truly

worthwhile. There are effective terrorists and thieves just as there are effective teachers and clergy. The

profound differences among these types of effectiveness involve the human and moral quality of the

ends they serve, not their productivity or efficiency. In this sense, rigorous reasoning and empirical

methods are perhaps best suited for assessing the effectiveness of means, not for judging the quality or

worth of ends. Surely a comprehensive approach to understanding and improving human life has to

include both. Surely critical thinking requires an evaluation of the ideas associated with means and

ends, even if the latter are less empirically accessible.



To take the matter a step further, the enormous emphasis placed on effectiveness in professional

psychology often reflects an assumption that much of everyday life is a matter of maximizing

effectiveness and control over our environments and ourselves. However, many critics in recent decades

including psychologists such as Erich Fromm (1969/41) and John Schumaker (2001) as well as

philosophers such as Christopher Lasch (1991), Jrgen Habermas (1973), Alasdair MacIntyre (1984), to

mention just a few have argued that our emphasis on mastery, control, and cost-benefit (effectiveness)

analyses are actually a major source of emotional problems, mental illness, and relationship problems.

In the minds of these thinkers, mastery and effectiveness are often splendid things, but they need to be

subordinated to more worthy and lasting purposes in living. If psychology does not take such critical

perspectives into account, it runs the risk of inadvertently perpetuating some of the ills it tries to cure.

Of course, everyone has their own values and biases. However, the purpose of this brief

illustration on ESTs is not to argue for one moral outlook or philosophy over another. Rather, it is to

point out that the extensive discussion of effectiveness in psychology is based on a number of

unexamined assumptions and tacit values that are worthy of serious reconsideration. As needed and

helpful as rigorous and scientific thinking is, it is inadequate to the tasks associated with truly critical

thinking. Paul Wachtel (1997), a psychotherapist noted for critical thinking in the fullest sense, put it

this way:

We need a good deal more critical thought about how to conceptualize the issues, about what is

worth knowing, and about the various ways in which what has been observed thus far can be

understood. We need to examine more closely the assumptions that underlie our questions. For

our questions are our destiny; once we have framed a question, the answer already lies in wait,

concealed as the statue is in the sculptors block of marblePsychology has been obsessed with

answers. This book is concerned mainly with questions. (p. xvii)



This book, too, is concerned mainly with questions. However, as Wachtel observes, good questions

which already frame good answers originate from critical thinking that examines more closely the

assumptions that underlie our questions.

The Literature on Critical Thinking

Does the research literature on critical thinking in psychology address the importance of

unexamined assumptions? How do specialists in this research conceptualize critical thinking?

A review of this literature reveals careful empirical studies as well as instructive theoretical

insights. However, few if any of the investigators working in this area have advocated the need

to think critically about fundamental assumptions. Although these authors invariably endorse the

need to think critically about and thus empirically investigate all sorts of claims (e.g., folk

psychology, advertising), they rarely recommend that the assumptions underlying these

investigations be critically examined.

Many specific texts appear, particularly in their titles, to critically evaluate psycholgys

methods, such as Meltzoffs (1998) Critical Thinking about Research and Benjafields (1994)

Thinking Critically about Research Methods. However, these texts concentrate almost

exclusively on showing how the tools of traditional science can rigorously assess claims and test

hypotheses. They do not cast critical light on the nature of these methods, nor do they bring to

this light their historical context, assumptions, and implications. Critical thinking is thus

couched rather narrowly in terms of rigorous reasoning, namely, the quantity and quality of

empirical support for claims, theories, and therapies. Critical thinking as discussed by

Brookfield (1987) and the authors of this book is largely ignored.

The general literature on critical thinking in psychology also champions rigorous

reasoning (Bensley, 1998; Halpern, 1984; 1998; Halpern & Nummedal, 1995; Lehman, Lempert,



& Nisbett, 1988; Levy, 1997; McGovern, Furumoto, Halpern, Kimble, & McKeachie, 1991;

Smith, 2002; Stanovich, 1998; Zechmeister & Johnson, 1992). A review of this literature

suggests that scientific analytic reasoning has shaped much of our disciplines consciousness

about the nature of excellent thinking: excellent thinkers are professionals and students who can

reason well about methods, variables, and the logicality of their thinking within the cannons of

empirical science.

This view of excellent thinking is also reflected in the reasoning and methods of many

approaches to psychotherapy and counseling in at least three ways. First, a critical appraisal of

therapeutic methods is almost always considered complete with scientific analytic reasoning,

such as testing their effectiveness through the methods of science (Messer, 2001). Second,

therapeutic methods are themselves thought to be administered rigorously and rationally, as

indicated by the use of therapy manuals and standardized diagnoses (Division 12 Task force,

1995). Third, rigorous reasoning has itself become a standard for identifying client problems and

desired treatment outcomes, such as in cognitive behavioral therapy (e.g., Beck, Rush, Shaw, &

Emery, 1984). A lack of rigorous reasoning is frequently viewed as an important problem for

clients, where they are viewed as irrational, while rigorous reasoning about the conduct of their

lives is often considered a preferred method and outcome of treatment.

If psychologists seek to champion critical thinking and grant it prominent status in the

discipline, why is critical discussion confined to the rigor of reasoning and methods alone?

Analysis of fundamental assumptions is virtually nonexistent in psychologys general textbooks

and the more specific critical thinking literature. On the relatively few occasions that

assumptions are mentioned in this literature, they are treated in only a cursory way (e.g.,

Bensley, 1998; Halpern, 1998). Fundamental questions about the very nature and purpose of



commonly accepted psychological methods, theories, and therapies simply are not addressed

(e.g., Smith, 2002). These authors seem to assume that rigorous reasoning is all that is required

to deal with the challenges of understanding psychological life and facilitating human

flourishing. Or perhaps critical thinking in the broader sense of this book seems unnecessary to

these authors because the only alternative to careful, rigorous reasoning as they conceive of it

is blind intuition, irrational dogma, or ineffable mysticism.

The authors of this volume believe otherwise. We believe there are profound and

pressing reasons for taking a richer view of critical thinking and making it a routine part of our

work as social scientists and professional psychologists. Restricting ourselves to rigorous

reasoning alone is a fools errand, even in our practical lives. Our difficulties in coping with

some person or problem do not always result from overt tactics or conscious reasoning about the

situation. They may also stem from faulty assumptions about anothers motives or the way the

world works, which a moment of insight or a good word from a friend helps us understand.

Indeed, as we go about our daily lives, we are constantly revising our assumptions (often

realizing that we were making them for the first time), considering alternatives, and beginning to

make progress instead of just spinning our wheels. Critical thinking in this reformulated sense is

part of thoughtful, meaningful living.

Content Overview

To help psychologists advance their discipline in thoughtful and meaningful ways, the

content of this book is organized into six parts, each part corresponding to a major subdiscipline

of psychology: clinical/counseling, social, neuroscience/experimental, cognitive, developmental,

and statistical/methodological. Each part consists of two chapters that critically examine several

important topics or issues within a subdiscipline. Because truly critical thinking involves an



understanding of both the current and alternative assumptions underlying each topic or issue,

each part consists of two chapters one that excavates current assumptions and one that explores

plausible alternative assumptions.

The book opens with a critical examination of several pivotal issues in the subdiscipline

of clinical/counseling psychology. In the first chapter of this pair, Frank Richardson, himself a

counseling psychologist, identifies tacit assumptions and values that underpin professional

psychology and may be the source of often-discussed problems and blind spots in this field.

Blaine Fowers, also a counseling psychologist, sketches an alternative to psychotherapy

assumptions, drawing on the field of virtue ethics, that portrays personal development,

psychological well-being, and the good life in a fresh and potentially fruitful way.

The chapters of Part 2 address issues in social psychology. To begin this part, social

psychologists Jeff Reber and Lisa Osbeck investigate the strengths and limitations of the

traditional assumptions underlying social psychology topics such as sociality, love, and helping

behavior. In light of these limitations, theoretical psychologist Ed Gantt provides alternatives to

these assumptions by borrowing from social constructionist psychology, hermeneutic

philosophy, and ethical phenomenology.

Part 3 is concerned with several important issues and themes of experimental psychology,

specifically neuroscience. In the first chapter, neuroscientist and pharmacologist Dawson

Hedges collaborates with Colin Burchfield to outline the main current assumptions of

neuroscience research on mental disorders, especially research on depression and

antidepressants. The next chapter contains a proposal for reframing these assumptions of

neuroscience. Theoretical psychologist Brent Slife teams up with neuroscientist Ramona



Hopkins to discuss how this alternative proposal might better fit neuroscience data and provide

valuable new insights into neuroscience investigations of children diagnosed with ADHD.

The fourth part of the book investigates several key issues in cognitive psychology. In

the first chapter, Robert Bishop, a philosopher of science and mind, explicates the assumptions

underlying current understandings of memory, traditional models of reasoning, and the computer

metaphor for the human mind. In the second chapter, cognitive psychologist Stephen Yanchar

explores interesting and fruitful alternative ways to understand how people experience the world

and engage in activities such as acting and remembering.

Part 5 addresses significant topics in developmental psychology. In the current

assumptions chapter, developmental psychologists Brian Vandenberg and Shawn OConnor use

Piagets theory to cast light on some of the deepest presuppositions of this subdiscipline. They

discuss the broader historical context of cosmological, geological, and biological theories of

development. Developmentalist John Christopher analyzes in the second chapter how our

Western cultural understandings have deeply colored familiar theories of development. He then

outlines an alternative approach that might overcome this Western bias while still speaking to

common features of human development across cultures.

The final part of the book evaluates several pivotal topics in the subdiscipline concerned

with statistics and methods, including hypothesis testing, measurement, and the interpretation of

results. Statistician and methodologist Richard Williams describes the current assumptions that

underlie these notions, while two psychological researchers with expertise in the philosophy of

science, Jeff Sugarman and Jack Martin, propose alternative conceptions of human science




Suzanne Kirschner, a theoretical psychologist, concludes the book by identifying many of

the common ideas that cut across the chapters. She points to some fascinating thematic

connections both across the chapters describing current assumptions and across the chapters that

discuss alternative conceptions of each subdiscipline. These themes include issues of mind/body

dualism, social atomism, individualism, meaning-centeredness, free will/determinism,

contextualism, and many others. Ultimately, as Dr. Kirschner observes, the purpose of all 12

chapters is to help the students of psychology reflect more deeply upon the premises and

methods of the field.

The authors believe that this reflection will help students in three important ways. First,

students will realize that psychological theories and ideas including those that initially seemed

unquestionable are based on fallible assumptions and subject to critical examination. Second,

students will learn the advantages and disadvantages of available ideas, allowing them to become

sophisticated consumers of these ideas as well as more careful about their own positions on

psychological issues. Third, students will understand these ideas within a broader intellectual

framework, situating psychology within the larger enterprise of science and the humanities.




Beck, A., Rush, A., Shaw, F., & Emery, G. (1984). The cognitive therapy of depression.

New York: Guilford.

Bem, S., & de Jong, H. L. (1997). Theoretical issues in psychology: An introduction.

London: Sage Publications.

Benjafield, J. G. (1994). Thinking critically about research methods. Boston: Allyn &


Bernstein, R. J. (1983). Beyond objectivism and relativism: Science, hermeneutics, and

praxis. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Bensley, D. A. (1998). Critical thinking in psychology: A unified skills approach.Pacific

Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Bohart, A.C., OHara, M., & Leitner, L. M. (1998). Empirically violated treatments:

Disenfranchisement of humanistic and other psychotherapies. Psychotherapy Research, 8, 141-


Bohman, J. (1993). New philosophy of social science. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Brookfield, S. (1987). Developing critical thinkers: Challenging adults to explore

alternative ways of thinking. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Curd, M., & Cover, J. A. (1998). Philosophy of science: The central issues. New York:

W. W. Norton & Company.

Dick, R. D. (1991). An empirical taxonomy of critical thinking. Journal of Instructional

Psychology, 18, 79-92.

Division 12 Task Force. (1995). Training in and dissemination of empirically validated

psychological treatments: Report and recommendations. The Clinical Psychologist, 48, 3-23.



Ennis, R. H. (1982). Identifying implicit assumptions. Syntheses, 51, 61-86.

Fromm, E. (1969). Escape from freedom. New York: Avon (Original work published in


Griggs, R. A., Jackson, S. L., Marek, P., & Christopher, A. N. (1998). Critical thinking

in introductory psychology texts and supplements. Teaching of Psychology, 25, 254-266.

Habermas, J. (1973). Theory and practice. Boston: Beacon Press.

Halpern, D. F. (1984). Thought and knowledge: An introduction to critical thinking.

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Halpern, D. F. (1998). Teaching critical thinking for transfer across domains:

Dispositions, skills, structure training, and metacognitive monitoring. American Psychologist,

53, 449-455.

Halpern, D. F., & Nummedal, S. G. (Eds.)(1995). Special issue: Psychologists teach

critical thinking. Teaching of Psychology, 22.

Heiman, G. W. (1995). Research methods in psychology. Boston: Houghton-


Lasch, C. (1991). The true and only heaven: Progress and its critics. New York: Norton.

Lehman, D. R., Lempert, R. O., & Nisbett, R. E. (1988). The effects of graduate training

on reasoning: Formal discipline and thinking about everyday-life events. American

Psychologist, 43, 431-442.

Levy, D. A. (1997). Tools of critical thinking: Metathoughts for psychology. Boston:

Allyn and Bacon.

MacIntyre, A. (1984). After Virtue. (2nd Edition). Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame

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McGovern, T. V., Furumoto, L., Halpern, D. F., Kimble, G. A., & McKeachie, W. J.

(1991). Liberal education, study in depth, and the arts and sciences majorpsychology.

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Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2001). Critical thinking: Tools for taking charge of your learning

and your life. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Schumaker, J. (2001). The age of insanity: Modernity and mental health.


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