Sometimes people aren’t sure what “Critical Thinking” is.
While anyone can do it, and many people do;
It’s often taken for granted, the things we’re told are true.
We’ll start by defining critical thinking as a process of thinking in a certain kind of way:
It is the process of clear, accurate, careful thinking; thinking that is precise, logical, and with depth. It is a process that is open-minded, and objectively examines view points while acknowledging the assumptions and biases within a given viewpoint.
Don’t we do this anyway?
Generally, no. Throughout this website, we’ll look at the numerous ways humans can come to a believe in a poorly-based conclusion. For instance, we take what we remember to be very accurate—however, our confidence in memory is often poorly placed.
This does not mean we should dismiss all memories as false. Instead, we should come away from this knowledge with a question: how do memories lead us to sincerely believe things that never happened, or were never there? Knowing how this occurs will help us in our quest to be critical thinkers.
For the most part, we do two things when we think:
1. Collect Data
We collect data through our senses—and through communication. We are constantly observing the world around us, how it affects us and others, and how they relate to each other.
2. Draw Conclusions
We draw conclusions about our safety—if decide a road is too busy to cross; if a shower is too hot to get in to; or if a walking in front of a train is going to be good for us.
The difference is HOW we draw conclusions and how we EVALUATE those conclusions.
How can we change the way we think?
This is the best part: it’s actually pretty easy to start doing it!
We need to ask questions, important questions. The questions we ask involve one of four things:
- Getting the Facts,
- Evaluating the Facts,
- Drawing a Conclusion, and
- Evaluating the Conclusion.
Watch this excellent video introduction to Critical Thinking for an overview of these four points.