Preview Quiz 1

As a preview to what will be discussed in Part One, try to answer this question:

Today is Sunday; therefore, tomorrow will be Monday.

Is this reasoning a conclusion, an inference, or a judgment?

  1. A conclusion
  2. An inference
  3. A judgment

Begin reading Part One to discover how conclusions are different from other types of decisions.

How often have you seen someone raise his arms in discouragement and say, "Decisions, decisions, decisions!" It is a rare day that a person can simply sit back, relax and leave all decision-making to someone else. Sooner or later, everyone has problems which have to be solved. Decisions must be made and the right decision is made when the facts are known and understood and when time is taken to think carefully about them.

The same thing holds true when it comes to reading. A person must understand what the author is saying; he must think about what he has read and draw the conclusion supported by the facts and intended by the author.

Drawing a conclusion means arriving at the only decision justified by the stated evidence. A person can draw an accurate conclusion from a statement, a paragraph or a longer piece of writing only if he is a careful and thoughtful reader.

Read the following examples. In each example a conclusion is drawn. Before you read the comments following each example, examine the facts carefully and decide if the conclusion is right or wrong.

Example 1:

It is a fact that Monday always follows Sunday. Now, since today is Sunday, tomorrow must be Monday.

Comment: The conclusion, "...tomorrow must be Monday," is right. The stated facts are accurate and the conclusion is the only one that can be drawn.

Example 2:

If you cannot stay out on school nights and there is school tomorrow, you cannot stay out tonight.

Comment: The conclusion, " cannot stay out tonight," is right. It is the only conclusion that can be drawn from the stated facts.

Example 3:

Whenever it rains, the ground gets wet. Since the ground is wet, I can conclude that it is raining.

Comment: The conclusion, " is raining", is wrong. After thinking about the stated facts, you can conclude that the ground could be wet for other reasons.

Example 4:

Hard work is always rewarded, but Bob has not received sufficient reward for his work. We can conclude that Bob does not work hard enough.

Preview Quiz 2

As a preview to what will be discussed next, try to answer this question:

How do you evaluate the conclusion reached about Bob in Example 4, above?

  1. It is correct.
  2. It is wrong.
  3. It cannot be evaluated.

Continue reading to discover the correct answer.

Comment: The conclusion, "...Bob does not work hard enough", is wrong. You have learned through personal experience that hard work is not always rewarded. It is therefore wrong to conclude that Bob does not work hard enough. There could be other reasons why Bob has not been rewarded.

It is clear from what you have read so far that an accurate conclusion cannot be drawn unless all the facts are understood and carefully evaluated. Understanding and evaluating facts depends upon critical reading. In Part Two you will learn about critical reading.