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Think Smarter: Critical Thinking to Improve Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills by Michael Kallet

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17 Observations

Observations Are Abundant

We covered the first premise component, facts, in the last chapter. The next premise component is observation. Observations consist of all we read and what we hear. We don't know observations to be absolutely true, and we haven't personally experienced them. If an observation were absolutely true, it would be a fact. When you ask someone a question, the response is your observation—most of the time.

When you read in the morning news about some daredevil riding a motorcycle over a gazillion school buses, you're making an observation. You don't know for certain he jumped those buses. If the story comes from a reliable source, it probably is true; but you can't be certain of that, and if you were not there, you didn't witness it.

Here are examples of observations:

  • You read a review of a restaurant on TripAdvisor.
  • You're in a product-quality review meeting, reading a report that claims that customer satisfaction is at 72 percent. You don't know where the data came from, how accurate it is, or even what the customer was rating. This statement would generate a conversation, so it's an observation.
  • A weather forecaster says, “It's going to rain tomorrow.”
  • Anderson Cooper on Cable News Network (CNN) says, “The president signed a new tax bill.”

Why are these observations? You don't know them to be absolutely true.

There is much confusion between facts and observations. A statement coming from a trusted source carries great weight and can easily ...

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