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Jonathan Haber
Jonathan Haber is an educational researcher, writer and recovering entrepreneur working in the field of technology-enabled learning and teacher education. His latest book, Critical Voter, uses election politics to teach critical thinking skills.

His Degree of Freedom One Year BA project, which involved trying to learn the equivalent of a BA in just twelve months using only Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other forms of free learning, has been featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Wall Street Journal and other major media sources.

Entries by Jonathan Haber


(0) Comments | Posted July 10, 2016 | 8:43 AM

In my day job as an educational researcher, I encounter a great many educational standards and other works trying to help ascertain the knowledge, skills and abilities students need to learn to succeed in the 21st Century.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, for example, coalesces around four...

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(0) Comments | Posted July 5, 2016 | 2:35 PM

When introducing Critical Voter to friends and colleagues, I tend to describe it as my attempt to use election politics to teach critical thinking skills, an effort that (given this year's primary circuses) clearly failed.

This actually represents a rhetorical technique called self-deprecation, as in self-deprecating humor, which...

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(0) Comments | Posted June 29, 2016 | 11:33 AM

While blogging recently at my favorite philosophy web site, I mentioned one theory of how thinking (critically or not) evolved out of a nagging desire inherent in the human species to eliminate (or at least minimize) doubt.

In an age that welcomes certainty, doubt is often associated...

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Story Telling

(0) Comments | Posted June 21, 2016 | 10:50 PM

In a chapter of Critical Voter dedicated to bias, I talk about how early ideas that attributed the human tendency to act illogically to our emotions overwhelming our reason had to be updated once it was discovered that our reasoning facilities aren't as hot as we once through...

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Argumentation From Outrage

(0) Comments | Posted June 13, 2016 | 3:48 PM

While I had anticipated that this year's election would be divisive and ugly, I still assumed that the rhetoric in which a heated campaign would take place would fall into conventional categories described in those sections of Critical Voter that talked about the language of debate.

In previous...

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Association Fallacy

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2016 | 7:53 AM

Of all the fallacies described in Critical Voter, I suspect the one we'll be seeing the most of this election season is the already all-too-common Association Fallacy.

For those of you interested in such things, this fallacy is an informal one in that it doesn't break formal rules...

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Background Knowledge

(0) Comments | Posted May 31, 2016 | 12:22 AM

Before leaving the topic of why this year's election seems so peculiar vs. elections past, I'd like to pull in a concept so important to clear thought that my Sifu Kevin deLaplante has made it one of his pillars of critical thinking: background knowledge.

In Critical Voter, I...

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What's Eating Us?

(0) Comments | Posted May 23, 2016 | 9:58 PM

In trying to explain the contemporary state of American politics, once characterized by a revolt of the voters against the established political parties, we've tested a couple of hypotheses and found each wanting.

A first thesis localized the problem to just one side of the political spectrum (the...

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The Anxiety Thesis

(0) Comments | Posted May 17, 2016 | 12:08 PM

Last time, we began to focus our critical-thinking facilities on the election itself to try to answer the question of why this year's vote is turning out so different than what anyone expected.

The critical-thinking tool we're putting to use is hypothesis testing which involves coming up with...

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Hypothesis Testing

(0) Comments | Posted May 9, 2016 | 12:25 AM

Most of us probably expected an election similar to ones we've experienced in the past: a rowdy primary that finally settles down to each party picking a Senator or Governor (maybe a Congressman) whom the parties could rally around before going into battle in the Fall. If there were to...

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Engaging Your Opponent

(0) Comments | Posted April 25, 2016 | 3:42 PM

When it comes to debates, voters across the political spectrum are generally united in their disapproval of what goes on when candidates gather together in front of a live audience and TV cameras to confront each other and the issues of the day.

"Why don't they actually engage with each...

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Managing Expectations

(0) Comments | Posted April 17, 2016 | 7:42 AM

One of the most important rhetorical strategies for controlling debate is to set expectations, for yourself an others, in a way that maximizes your chances for success and - if appropriate - maximizes an opponent's chances of failure.

One time-tested election tactic is to define the threshold for success as...

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The 'Out-of-Control' Election

(0) Comments | Posted April 10, 2016 | 12:00 AM

My little campaign to make critical thinking education a component of this year's election conversation might seem quixotic, if not completely unnecessary.

After all, why study argumentation and argumentation analysis when we can tune into an official debate every week which will be followed by immediate analysis...

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Arguing With Bernie

(0) Comments | Posted March 31, 2016 | 11:59 AM

I suspect that even those who are not Bernie boosters were less than satisfied with my recent analysis which used Aristotle's Square of Opposition to argue against a Sanders campaign operative's explanation of how the Vermont Democrat, if elected, would usher in a Congress ready to enact his...

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Contradicting Bernie

(0) Comments | Posted March 28, 2016 | 1:19 PM

I realized that the last few weeks have been spent more on commentary than instruction. So today, let's take a look at a campaign artifact (in this case, the statement of someone arguing in favor of one of the Presidential candidates) to see how one of the most important critical-thinking...

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Elections and Technology - Who Controls Who?

(0) Comments | Posted March 19, 2016 | 5:09 PM

During the 2012 Presidential race, I wrote a story on the role technology was playing in election politics that pretty much boiled down to the claim that computers just allowed more people to do more of the same faster and cheaper.

In retrospect, I was probably wrong about...

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(0) Comments | Posted March 12, 2016 | 1:07 PM

One of mankind's great passions (and fantasies) is the hope that we can both predict and control the future. And never does this belief become more fashionable -- and expensive -- than during a Presidential election.

Turning to this year's contest, the rules of the game seemed pretty certain less...

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(0) Comments | Posted March 6, 2016 | 2:34 PM

A number of modern sources inform the construct of critical thinking that underlies Critical Voter (both the book and just-released teaching curriculum).

Cognitive science, for example, demonstrates how cognitive biases inherent in being a member of the human species can impact the judgement of even those who...

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(0) Comments | Posted February 22, 2016 | 4:51 PM

Last time, I noted that the debate over who will succeed Justice Scalia on the bench is focusing not just on legal and political matters, but also on issues relating to consistency.

It is hard to underestimate how much human behavior is driven by aversion to inconsistency. This...

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The Death of Scalia

(0) Comments | Posted February 22, 2016 | 10:31 AM

The passing of an historic figure like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia can trigger a series of events of interest to those who are trying to improve their critical-thinking skills.

For example, when I teach critical thinking skills I tend to channel my inner Jay Heinrichs by explaining...

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