Critical Thinking
The essential skill of critical thinking will go a long way in helping one to develop statistical literacy.
Learning Objective

Interpret the role that the process of critical thinking plays in statistical literacy.
Key Points
 Statistics can be made to produce misrepresentations of data that may seem valid.
 Statistical literacy is necessary to understand what makes a poll trustworthy and to properly weigh the value of poll results and conclusions.
 Critical thinking is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false.
 The list of core critical thinking skills includes observation, interpretation, analysis, inference, evaluation, explanation, and metacognition.
Terms

statistical literacy
the ability to understand statistics, necessary for citizens to understand mateiral presented in publications such as newspapers, television, and the Internet

critical thinking
the application of logical principles, rigorous standards of evidence, and careful reasoning to the analysis and discussion of claims, beliefs, and issues
Full Text
Each day people are inundated with statistical information from advertisements ("4 out of 5 dentists recommend"), news reports ("opinion polls show the incumbent leading by four points"), and even general conversation ("half the time I don't know what you're talking about"). Experts and advocates often use numerical claims to bolster their arguments, and statistical literacy is a necessary skill to help one decide what experts mean and which advocates to believe. This is important because statistics can be made to produce misrepresentations of data that may seem valid. The aim of statistical literacy is to improve the public understanding of numbers and figures.
For example, results of opinion polling are often cited by news organizations, but the quality of such polls varies considerably. Some understanding of the statistical technique of sampling is necessary in order to be able to correctly interpret polling results. Sample sizes may be too small to draw meaningful conclusions, and samples may be biased. The wording of a poll question may introduce a bias, and thus can even be used intentionally to produce a biased result. Good polls use unbiased techniques, with much time and effort being spent in the design of the questions and polling strategy. Statistical literacy is necessary to understand what makes a poll trustworthy and to properly weigh the value of poll results and conclusions.
Critical Thinking
The essential skill of critical thinking will go a long way in helping one to develop statistical literacy. Critical thinking is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false. The list of core critical thinking skills includes observation, interpretation, analysis, inference, evaluation, explanation, and metacognition. There is a reasonable level of consensus that an individual or group engaged in strong critical thinking gives due consideration to establish:
 Evidence through observation,
 Context skills,
 Relevant criteria for making the judgment well,
 Applicable methods or techniques for forming the judgment, and
 Applicable theoretical constructs for understanding the problem and the question at hand.
Critical thinking calls for the ability to:
 Recognize problems, to find workable means for meeting those problems,
 Understand the importance of prioritization and order of precedence in problem solving,
 Gather and marshal pertinent (relevant) information,
 Recognize unstated assumptions and values,
 Comprehend and use language with accuracy, clarity, and discernment,
 Interpret data, to appraise evidence and evaluate arguments,
 Recognize the existence (or nonexistence) of logical relationships between propositions,
 Draw warranted conclusions and generalizations,
 Put to test the conclusions and generalizations at which one arrives,
 Reconstruct one's patterns of beliefs on the basis of wider experience, and
 Render accurate judgments about specific things and qualities in everyday life.
Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is an inherent part of data analysis and statistical literacy.
Key Term Reference
 Accuracy
 Appears in these related concepts: Communicating Statistics, Accuracy vs. Precision, and Accuracy, Precision, and Error
 bias
 Appears in these related concepts: Gender Bias, Context of Culture and Gender, and Social Psychology
 datum
 Appears in these related concepts: Change of Scale, Controlling for a Variable, and Type I and II Errors
 level
 Appears in these related concepts: Factorial Experiments: Two Factors, Statistical Controls, and Randomized Design: SingleFactor
 mean
 Appears in these related concepts: Mean, Variance, and Standard Deviation of the Binomial Distribution, Averages, and Understanding Statistics
 sample
 Appears in these related concepts: Identifying Product Benefits, Surveys, and Basic Inferential Statistics
 sampling
 Appears in these related concepts: Collecting and Measuring Data, Continuous Sampling Distributions, and Confidence Interval, Single Population Mean, Standard Deviation Unknown, Student'st
 statistics
 Appears in these related concepts: Applications of Statistics, Population Demography, and What Is Statistics?
 unbiased
 Appears in these related concepts: Samples, Using Impartial Language, and Standard Error
Sources
Boundless vets and curates highquality, openly licensed content from around the Internet. This particular resource used the following sources: