The Critical Thinker Newsletter
Subscribe to The Critical Thinker to receive a succinct email in your inbox every other Thursday with three practical ideas to help you become a critical thinker: one about reasoning, one about rethinking language, and one 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?”
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 22 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. There, a critical task is ensuring that graphics and narratives accurately represent the data and don’t bend the truth or abuse people’s propensities when they look at shapes and colors, and summaries and details.
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 pretty excited to continue this newsletter as part of this new community on Substack.
Every other Thursday, you’ll get an email from me with three concrete, practical ideas.
An Idea about reasoning. How do you better reason about something?
An idea about language. How do you know if a word or phrase is loaded?
An idea about images. How do you know if an image is truthful?
I’ll include a photo in every issue as well, to give a little glimpse into my world. Every now and again, I’ll be working in other things—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 totally free. To help sustain it, I have a paid tier where readers can support the newsletter as founding members, or through a monthly subscription. As a paying subscriber, you’ll unlock the following:
Access to the full archive of past issues. Past issues are otherwise available for six months to everyone.
An acknowledgement in my next project.
I’ll be sharing longer form posts, twice a year to begin with, on the craft of storytelling, on reinventing oneself, and on the highs and lows of the creative process. These might include interviews with collaborators and colleagues.
I’m considering other ideas for late 2023 onwards; I’ll share them in time :-)
Founding members receive all of that, plus a complimentary signed copy of my next printed book.
Paid subscriptions also help fund upcoming educational projects. Especially, a project that’s currently underway, 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.
The Critical Thinker Colophon
The colophon was designed by Alejandro Giraldo. It represents the cormorant bird in profile, a bird native to the island I was born on.
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. Directly, informally, down to earth.