The Critical Thinker Newsletter
Subscribe to The Critical Thinker to receive a succinct email in your inbox every other Thursday with three practical ideas: 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?’
―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.
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 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 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.
Access to long-form essays, shared twice a year to begin with, on ideas for making knowledge that’s been around forever, accessible and fun to engage with.
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.
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.