Questions for Critical Reading

A critical reader constantly asks one big question as he reads:

AM I REALLY THINKING ABOUT WHAT I'M READING?

Break that question apart into many other questions:

CONSIDERING THE SOURCE

  1. What kind of publication is this?
  2. What is the author's background in this subject?
  3. To whom is the author writing?

RECOGNIZING WHAT IS SAID

  1. Had the author really said what I think he said?

RECOGNIZING ASSUMPTIONS, IMPLICATIONS

  1. Does the author make inconsistent statements?
  2. What has the author assumed to be true? Which of these assumptions are stated? unstated?
  3. Does a particular statement depend on context for its intended meaning?
  4. What does the author imply? insinuate?

RECOGNIZING INTENT, ATTITUDE, TONE, BIAS

  1. Why is the author writing this? motive? purpose
  2. What is the author's attitude? tone? biases?
  3. Does the author mean what he says or is he making his point in a roundabout way through humor, satire, irony, or sarcasm?
  4. Are the author's words to be taken exactly as they appear, or are they slang, idioms, or figures of speech?
  5. Which of the author's statements are facts? opinions?

ANALYZING ARGUMENTS

  1. Does the author write emotionally? using sentiment? horror? name-calling? flag waving?
  2. Which of the author's statements does he support? Which does he leave unsupported?
  3. What conclusions does the author reach?
  4. Of the author's conclusions, which are justified? Which ones are not justified?

A critical reader:

  1. does not believe everything he reads.
  2. questions everything which doesn't make sense to him.
  3. questions some things even though they do make sense to him.
  4. rereads when he thinks he may have missed something.
  5. considers the type of material he is reading before deciding how much weight to give to it.
  6. admits that the effect on him of what the author says may be caused more by the author's style of writing than by the facts presented.
  7. analyzes arguments.
  8. discounts arguments based on faulty reasoning.
  9. has good reasons for believing some things and disbelieving others - for agreeing with some authors and disagreeing with others.