An application of critical thinking skills: Rush Limbaugh and Global Warming
Is there an argument - i.e., a conclusion based on/supported by other claims offered as premises?
b) if an argument is present - what sort of argument? Deductive or inductive?
If the argument is deductive: does it follow valid (e.g., modus ponens, modus tollens) or invalid (affirming the consequent, denying the antecedent) structure? If its structure is valid - does it avoid other sorts of fallacies, e.g., equivocation, fallacy of accident, ad hominem, etc.? (For additional fallacies, including explanations and examples, click here.)
If the argument is inductive, does it avoid the various fallacies of inductive arguments (fallacies of relevance, straw man, questionable cause, hasty generalization, hasty conclusion, slippery slope, questionable statistics, unrepresentative sample, unknowable fact, etc.)?
If the argument is an analogical argument - does it avoid becoming a questionable analogy? (That is, consider the pertinent similarities, over against pertinent dissimilarities.)
c) Consider the explicit, stated premises of the argument: are they obviously true - or do they require additional support? Where would such support come from? Are these premises generally acknowledged to be true - or accepted only by people who subscribe to a given worldview?
(This is a way of getting at the fallacies of false dilemma, questionable premise, and others: it is also a way of getting at the role of background beliefs, wishful thinking, and self-deception in our acceptance or rejection of arguments.)
d) Consider the conclusion(s) the argument attempts to establish. Who profits (cui bono) (and who loses) from your/our accepting these conclusions? If someone stands to gain something of importance from your acceptance of the argument - is their self-interest a possible motive for their constructing the argument? Is that self-interest grounds for being suspicious of the argument in general?
(It is important to distinguish, however, between questions of "who profits?" (cui bono) as grounds for suspicion regarding an argument - and rejecting an argument because of an attack on its source [ = ad hominem].)
e) Consider the implicit, unstated premises - the additional assumptions that must be admitted in order to have a complete argument. Address the same sorts of questions to these premises that you addressed to the explicit, stated premises in "c)".
In addition - what additional conclusions might follow from the argument? Are these conclusions plausible, controversial, dependent on ideological/worldview commitments, absurd, etc.?
e) Consider the premise(s) and conclusion(s) of the argument together. Does the conclusion merely restate one or or more of the premises? If so, the argument may be suspected of question-begging and/or circular reasoning.
f) Consider what is left out of the argument - i.e., "read between the lines."
Does an argument omit a point that is well-known, but which would weaken the argument (= suppressed evidence, straw man)?