As a child, you learned a lot of things without realizing – how to walk, how to speak, how to say ‘please’ to get what you wanted, or how not to say ‘please’ and be a jerk.
But as we get older, we need to learn to consciously think for ourselves. Good Critical Thinking Techniques is the greatest skill you can master. Animals can’t do it and machines can’t do it. If you don’t want to be replaced by a algorithm or a Labrador some day, you need to learn how to think in a way that makes you indispensable.
Benefits of Good Critical Thinking Techniques
Good Critical Thinking Techniques is about making reliable judgements based on reliable information. Applying Good Critical Thinking Techniques does not mean being negative or focusing on faults. It means being able to clarify your thinking so that you can break down a problem or a piece of information, interpret it and use that interpretation to arrive at an informed decision or judgement (for example designing a bridge, responding to an opinion piece or understanding a political motivation).
People who apply Good Critical Thinking Techniques consistently are said to have a critical thinking mindset, but no one is born this way. These are attributes which are learnt and improved through practice and application.
Why Critical Thinking is such a valuable skill? In a world where we’re provided with an almost constant stream of information and decisions to make, the ability to think critically can help us make the right choices and understand the world around us.
If you want to try and avoid some of the common obstacles to critical thinking, there are several methods you can use in developing critical thinking skills. Below, we’ve outlined some of the steps you can take to analyse arguments, evaluate evidence, and distinguish between fact and opinion.
Although the critical thinking process will differ between individuals, there are some useful steps:
- Identify the issue. When faced with a situation or problem, determine what has caused it.
- Analyse the arguments. There will usually be several sides to an argument, so it’s important to understand who is saying what and how valid each position is.
- Discover the facts. It’s essential to separate the facts from the opinions and assess how accurately the evidence is presented.
- Challenge your biases. Ask yourself whether or not you’re making assumptions, why you believe a certain point, and whether you’re letting confirmation bias, heuristics, framing or common fallacies impact your thinking.
- Decide on significance. It’s likely that each side of an argument will have supporting evidence. Deciding which information is most important, deductive, valid, and has a sound premise will help make a decision about the significance of each.
- Draw conclusions. The various steps above will lead you to decide which option or argument (if any) is the most accurate. You can also weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of all options.
How to Think Critically
Critical Thinking is about using reason. Critical Thinking is about seeing two sides of an argument.
Critical thinking is about using your imagination to see beyond what you can see. Critical Thinking is about understanding emotion, but not letting emotion rule your decision. Some ideas can be highly divisive.
Critical Thinking helps us to form ideas. Critical Thinking helps us to identify weaknesses in a theory.
Critical Thinking is a method that uses any and all of these actions – Observe. Analyse. Interpret. Reflect. Evaluate. Infer. Explain. Solve. Decide. Critical Thinking is a language of the mind.
Critical Thinking protects us from manipulation by others. Critical Thinking protects us from our own mistakes.
Critical Thinking is about asking all the relevant questions – the who’s, where’s, when’s and how’s, but mainly the why’s. Critical Thinking is a skill. Critical Thinking is a muscle. Exercise your thinking to make it stronger.
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