As you’ve seen throughout the course, the look and feel of advertising, both in print and on TV, has changed with the times. As a savvy reader, you can draw interesting inferences by focusing on these changes, noting trends, and shaping an argument.
For this project, you will be asked to:
Select an advertising topic about which you have some interest or knowledge.
Search the Internet to find print, television, or a combination of both forms of advertising about your selected topic.
Try to find examples that span at least 10 years, though a longer time span is even better. If you are looking for a new device, such as an iPod, you should broaden your search to include older forms of portable music devices in order to have more evidence from which to draw your inferences.
As you view the advertisements, take careful notes on their traits.
Watch for style. (Are they visually-oriented or more text-based? Do they use music in an interesting way?)
State the argument the ads make. What blocks to critical thinking (see attachment) are important to remember as it relates to the argument? Explain your response.Some Critical Thinking Blocks
ADAPTED FROM VINCENT BARRY’S
“INVITATION TO CRITICAL THINKING”
FOR MORE INFORMATION, SEE
BLOCKS TO CRITICAL THINKING
What are thinking blocks?
Thinking blocks are various attitudes, belief
structures, and other traps that can block the process
of critical thinking.
Often times, we might not even be aware that we’re
blocking the process. Knowing how to identify these
blocks is an important step in moving beyond them.
Limited Relativism or Subjectivism
This way of thinking makes a distinction between
matters of fact and matters of opinion that goes
something like this…
Factual matters are matters that pertain to the facts.
The facts are those things that are provable or knowable
beyond doubt or question.
Everything else is a matter of opinion.
And when it comes to matters of opinion, there really
is no such thing as the “truth,” at least not “Truth”
with a capital “T.”
What it sounds like
“Who’s to say what’s true? Everyone has different
experiences; you might even say everyone has a
different reality. So what’s true is just a matter of
This very common obstacle results from the
tendency to cherish and defend those beliefs most
closely associated with an individual’s identity.
This tendency is not unnatural. Human beings are naturally
egocentric in our interests, concerns, and thinking.
If we are not careful, though, this can be a strong obstacle to
our ability to think critically about our beliefs. We will not
have an open mind to a discerning examination of our
What it Sounds like
Teacher: Does anyone know the genus and species
name for the North Atlantic Cod?
Student: Very funny! I worked in restaurants and
learned that “cod” is just an abbreviation for Catch
Of the Day.
Teacher: Interesting, but it actually is a true species
Student (defensive): So, are you saying that my belief
Teacher: No… but you’re thinking in a limited
context. You need to think beyond your own
Intimidation by Authority
An authority is an expert source of information outside
ourselves – individuals, organizations, or institutions.
We can be intimidated by these experts –
Individuals: our parents, teachers, clergy member, doctors;
Organizations or institutions: our religion, education and
Stop now, to think about the individuals, organizations,
or institutions that have influenced your thinking and
behavior and the decisions you make.
Have you ever changed a pattern of behavior, not by a reasoned
choice, but through a feeling of intimidation?
Milgram’s experiment: “We were just following
Subjects were directed to administer electric shocks to subjects
they could not see. The subjects were told the study focused on
the impacts of punishment on memory and that the shocks
would not cause permanent harm.
No one was really being shocked at all, though the “victims”
were instructed to act is if they were being shocked by making
increasingly violent noises.
Psychologists believed that no more than 10% of the subjects
would follow the order to give the maximum 450 volt shock. In
the end, well over half the test subjects obeyed their orders,
even after hearing the expressions of pain.
Human beings are social creatures. We depend on
each other for companionship and for survival.
As such, it is no surprise that peer pressure can exert
a powerful influence over our confidence to think for
ourselves and to make independent choices and
Conformism is the word we apply when the pressure
to conform blocks our ability to think.
What it sounds like
I really like playing my Nintendo Wii, but all of my
friends are on X-Box. They really want to play games
with me, but I really can’t afford to buy an X-Box.
Hmmmm . . . [thinks for a while]
I want to keep my friends, so I’ll use my credit card
to charge an X-Box. Once I’m on X-box, my friends
will be happy.
Ethnocentrism exerts a powerful force over our
ability to make independent choices and decisions.
There is a natural connection between egocentrism and
ethnocentrism – ethnic consciousness/self-awareness and
ethnic pride/self-esteem are aspects of a healthy personality
But corresponding issues may stand as obstacles to critical
thinking. The egocentric view that mine is better – my
experience, my values, and my beliefs – easily becomes an
ethnocentric view that ours is better.
Bill grew up in a poor, rural part of Arizona. He wanted
to get an education and make a better life for himself
than what his family had.
Unfortunately, every time Bill got closer to graduation, the pressure
from his family increased. He was called a traitor to the family’s
heritage, was pressured to keep the family’s failing farm running
(despite having no talent for it), and was insulted frequently by
others in his community as being an “uppity college boy” for whom
the country life “wasn’t good enough.”
Bill did not feel like this at all– he saw how his family struggled and
wanted a change for himself.
On his graduation day, the first child to graduate college,
none of his family showed for the ceremony.
An assumption is a claim that is taken to be true without
A claim is a statement that professes to be true.
So an assumption is a statement that claims to be true and is taken to
be true without support.
It is almost impossible to reason about something
without making an assumption.
There is always a risk in making an assumption – the risk that the
assumption is not true.
The risk increases when assumptions are hidden, that is, not open for
discussion, challenge, debate or deliberate consideration.
We must be alert to the assumptions that we are making,
and we must not forget that they are assumptions.
Student A: “Hey, what happened to you? Why haven’t
you been in the Intro. to Computers class?”
Student B: “I dropped.”
Student A: “You were doing so well! Why did you drop?”
Student B: “Well, I liked the class, but noticed computer
science has a lot of math in the program. I’ve never been
good at math and just assumed that since I’ll eventually
fail anyway that I might as well quit.”
Student A: “The math really isn’t bad. Did you talk to an
advisor or look at the syllabi?”
Student B: “No… I trusted my gut on this one…”
No one is perfect. We all assume, engage in outbursts
of cultural pride, and might even be intimidated by
an authority figure.
The issues with these blocks arise when we choose to
ignore them, or refuse to think in any way that
challenges us to think past them.
When we plead ignorance, or avoid seeing the many sides of an
issue, we close a door, tune out, and shut down conversations.
In contrast, a good critical thinker is curious, open to debate,
and eager to understand whatever s/he can to defend their
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