The Critical Thinker Newsletter

Subscribe to The Critical Thinker to receive an email in your inbox every other Thursday with practical ideas about reasoning, about rethinking language, and about rethinking images.

Who am I?

‘Since when,’ he asked,
‘Are the first line and last line of any poem
Where the poem begins and ends?’
―Seamus Heaney (Electric Light)

Hi. My name is Ali. I’ve created illustrated books on critical thinking since the summer of 2013. On arguments (Bad Arguments), on computational thinking (Bad Choices, Hans in the Land of Bards), and on language (Loaded Language). Collectively, they’ve been translated into 23 languages, have reached over 3.5 million people, and have sold over 350,000 copies in print. My principal collaborator over the years has been my good friend Alejandro Giraldo. The through-line in all this work has always been,

What are creative ways to make knowledge that’s been around forever, accessible and fun to engage with?

Academically, my training was in engineering systems (MIT) and computer science (CMU). Professionally, most of my experience has been in and around the field of data visualization, where a critical focus is making sure graphics and narratives accurately represent reality. And don’t bend the truth or abuse people’s propensities when they look at and process shapes, colors, and language.

Why subscribe?

Most of the memorable, fulfilling interactions I’ve ever had have been one-on-one, either in person or over email. I’d love to put more of my energy into connecting, directly, with you all, at a more regular cadence than once a year. I don’t do social media very well, and the email platform I used before became increasingly difficult for me to work with. I’m excited to continue this newsletter on Substack.

Every other Thursday, you’ll get an email in your inbox with concrete, practical ideas about one or more of the following:

  1. An Idea about reasoning. How do you better reason about something?

  2. An idea about language. How do you know if a word or phrase is loaded?

  3. An idea about images. How do you know if an image is truthful?

I’ll work in other things as well—a photo from my little corner of the world, a scribble, a doodle, a small moment, an embryonic thought, a question to ponder.

What does becoming a paying subscriber get you?

The newsletter is free to read. To help sustain it, I have a paid tier where readers can support the newsletter as founding members, or through a monthly subscription. This would be an investment in me and in my promise to deliver imaginative, educational content throughout the year.

As a paying subscriber, you’ll receive an acknowledgement in my next printed book. Founding members receive that, plus a complimentary signed copy of my next printed book.

Paid subscriptions also help fund upcoming educational projects. There’s a project I’m currently exploring, which is an approach I’ve never tried before, but that has so much potential. I’m excited to share more about it with you all soon.

Sponsoring an issue

This newsletter goes out to over 6,000 readers. Interested in sponsoring an upcoming issue? Reach out.

The Critical Thinker Colophon

The colophon was designed by Alejandro Giraldo. It represents the cormorant bird in profile.

Thanks for reading. I’m truly glad to have you here. I can’t wait to continue bringing you exciting new forms of entertaining, educational content. In this noisy world, I’m grateful for the chance to chat. Plainly and informally.

Subscribe to The Critical Thinker

Practical ideas in your inbox, about reasoning, about language, and about images. A newsletter for curious minds.


Writer of books on critical thinking (Bad Arguments, Bad Choices, Loaded Language, The Point of Pointless Work)