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Sunday, February 1, 2015

What is Critical Thinking? Asking Questions and Seeking Solutions?

What is Critical Thinking?

Nobody said it better than Francis Bacon, back in 1605:

For myself, I found that I was fitted for nothing so well as for the study of Truth; as having a mind nimble and versatile enough to catch the resemblances of things … and at the same time steady enough to fix and distinguish their subtler differences; as being gifted by nature with desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and as being a man that neither affects what is new nor admires what is old, and that hates every kind of imposture.

A shorter version is the art of being right.
Or, more prosaically: critical thinking is the skillful application of a repertoire of validated general techniques for deciding the level of confidence you should have in a proposition in the light of the available evidence.   

Critical Thinking does not mean arguing, or tossing quotes or statistics back and forth. It means being willing to listen to and understand the issues, opinions, interpretations of the facts and issues. It may require reading entire books, seeking out original writings and recordings that go beyond soundbites and quotes, talking to people on both sides and working toward compromise, or at least solutions that can work for both sides.

Being willing to listen, to understand and to see the value of the other side of the equation has long been a vital part of decision making, of reasoned discourse and of needed compromise for society to function and individuals to understand each other and other cultures or ideals.

Critical thinking refers to higher order thinking that questions assumptions, your own first and foremost, and those of opposing views or of generally accepted realities.

By questioning your own assumptions and beliefs, you open yourself to discovery of not just information or perceived "facts" that may contradict your beliefs, but also information that supports what you already believe. You will be less reliant on what you are told from above, or hear on the news, or hear from friends who often repeat things in different ways (think of the old game telegraph). You become a part of the solution and not the problem. 

Critical thinking is not about fighting, shouting heads, or openly confronting others. It is about challenging others, teaching and being open to learn in your own right.

Being open.




Anonymous said...

If people stopped name calling, attacking and began to care more about others, practice their Faith and truly reach out and listen, the would would be a better place.

Veronica Aguirre said...

This is a really good post. Those links are great help for essays and speeches.

Com 101 940

Anonymous said...

Can we actually do it? Thinking is not something that a lot of us wanto to do. We rather go, go, go, and not think at all if we don't have to. That means one less thing to worry about.

Marga Bechtel

Anonymous said...

We don't really think and challenge others now, normally we just have a really hot headed argument until both people steam off. However I'm not saying that we don't of course we do, and its a great feeling when you can both tell each other both points of views and equally agree and comprimise to an extent. However in the world we live in now you don't really see it anymore.

Jeremy Matul
BC 6003

SJ Walker BC03 said...

I think the use of things such as the internet working for us really makes us incapable of challenging certain things brought up to us. Ultimately killing the opportunity for us to think for ourselves.

Dane Gerace Com 101-6002 said...

From the day we are born we are pretty much taught not to think critically until we hit college. When I would always ask my parents why I couldn't do something the answer was always "because i said so." If listening and critical thinking are skills that can be practiced and improved why block out 18 years of practice? We should be taught to think from the day we are born.

Anonymous said...

I think it is very hard to search and study to find the truth, because some things are impossible to fully understand the truth, such as religion, and without the knowledge of those things you cannot fully understand the truth of others.

Danielle Davis

Anonymous said...

Fantastic links! I found this one especially educational: Argument Mapping Tutorials. Six online tutorials in argument mapping, a core requirement for advanced critical thinking.
That site walked me through an argument and showed me how to anticipate stray lines of thought. Look out wife!
Alan Kennamer

Berenice said...

good post! its kinda to remember the information!

Karen Johnson Com 101-4080 said...

Critical thinking is probably one of the most important lessons to learn in communications. It allows one to be open-minded about issues.

paul campita said...

the problem with critical thinking is, it requires people to listen and understand, which most people are lacking...because to think critically means that you are willing to think about things from an ultra left point of view.

Jana said...

I have to agree with the first sentence, “Nobody said it better than Francis Bacon…” The short version of critical thinking “the art of being right,” is a profound definition. To pick it apart, it is the art (creatively working) of being right (correct or accurate).
Jana Henning
Summer, 2012