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Critical Thinking Essay on Knowledge and Methods Goals

Knowledge and Methods Goals

The six principles of thinking culminate into one of the main developments in psychology and the field of science. Even though these principles are critical in psychology, they are also of great importance in the lives of people. It is undoubted fact that people always believe in the things that they hear unless they employ the principles of scientific thinking. The six principles of scientific thinking as outlined by Lilienfield include the following:

Ruling out Rival Hypothesis

Lilienfield notes that whenever one is undertaking an evaluation of a psychological claim, the person should inquire whether there has been sufficient incorporation of the alternative explanations or the claim can be explained using other avenues. Many psychological claims on TV as well as other media platforms give various explanations, yet in many cases, only one explanation is provided. Therefore, one should not always go by the assumption that it is correct, instead, seek to inquire whether it is the only ideal explanation for the finding.

Correlation vs Causation

This principle points out that an association between two things does not prove a causal relationship between them. Psychologists often make common mistakes when doing evaluations on studies by making conclusions that two things are related to one another or that one thing causes the other. Hence, when people make the conclusion that correlation implies causation, they commit a fallacy known as correlation-causation because when two things are related to one another, it is not obvious that one causes the other.


This principle proposes that a given claim can only be considered to bear meaning and acceptable if it can undergo testing. This is an implication that the claim must be falsifiable and disprovable. In the event that a phenomenon cannot be falsifiable, one cannot be able to test it. Lilienfield argues that for a claim to be accepted or have meaning, there has to be possibility if its disapproval if certain pieces of evidence are available for that. He also points out that if a claim explains everything and there is no other way of disapproving it, it does not give any explanation in effect.


Scientific inquiry emphasizes on checking and confirming individual studies and outcomes in various places, times and contexts. This principle points out that when one is assessing psychological claim, the person needs to inquire whether the results in support of that particular claim have been replicated in other independent evaluators. The term replicability creates the implication that outcomes of studies can always be duplicated. Lilienfield argues that several replications may not be of the original findings of the researcher considering that some may involve minor differences. He also points out that the more people duplicate their studies, the more confidence they can have in the results. Besides, successful replications of findings and outcomes in various contexts enhance the reinforcement of a claim over time.

Extraordinary claims

With regards to this principle, Lilienfield argues that extra ordinary claims should be approached with extraordinary evidence. This principle points out that the more a claim is in contradiction to what people already know, the stronger the evidence to support it. Thus, this principle is suggesting that psychological claims must be evaluated based on counter claims which are already known so as to determine whether the evidence is extraordinary as the claim.

Occam’s razor (Principle or Parsimony)

Lilienfield says that when two explanations for a given event are similarly excellent, one should simply choose the one which looks simpler. This principle is applied in many studies so as to prevent unnecessary complications and arrive at the simplest explanations for evidence. Besides, this principle has been proven to help in several instances in giving explanations for most claims.

The six principles of scientific thinking highlighted above are ideal in any scientific study and also in shaping the behaviors of people. Even though they are not easy to master, their application is quite easy. These principles can help one in distinguishing between facts and fiction, fostering critical thinking, and enhancing the life of an individual through taking time to think about things heard, read or seen in the society today. Besides, these principles are also important because they enhance the decision-making and problem solving skills of an individual so as to acquire useful information based on the findings of the study.

There are several claims made in the media that should be evaluated with the principles of scientific thinking. The argument by Gena Kaufiman that ‘Behind every great man stands a great woman’ in the Glamour, Sex and Love magazine should be evaluated with the principle of scientific thinking. Despite the use of this statement in the affirmation of a common belief among people, it can also be applied in proving that one part is not true. An observation of a successful man without a woman behind him will serve in showing that ‘Behind every great man is a great woman’ is false. It is not practical to give the inference that behind every successful man is a woman because there are many successful men who do not have women in their lives. With regards to this claim, the principle of falsifiability applies since the assertion that ‘behind every great man is a great woman’ can be disapproved.

Another example of a claim is in the Wind System magazine, which purports that ‘The faster windmills are observed to rotate, the more wind is observed to be.’ This magazine addresses the benefits of windmills in the supply of green power. In this context, the relationship that exists between windmills and the speed of the wind cannot give the implication that wind is caused by windmills. The fact is that wind does not require the existence of windmills to exist, whereas windmills need the wind for rotation. Wind can be observed in are where there are no windmills. Besides, there are reasons to believe that wind existed earlier on even before the discovery of windmills. Therefore, the principle of Correlation vs Causation applies in this particular example since an association between two things does not give proof of causal relationship between them.

In conclusion, in a TV interview by Stephanie Mercier Voyer conducted three months ago, the Canadian former Defense Minister Paul Hellyer raised the claim that, ‘’alien race has made contact with planet earth.’’ This statement would require scientific evidence in order to verify the claim. For example, evidence like an actual alien or an alien aircraft is required to validate the claim. The principle of extraordinary claims can be used in this particular example and would require an extraordinary evidence to support the former Prime Minister’s claims.

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