Ask the following questions of any evidence you encounter: Take, for example, a study showing the health benefits of a sugary cereal. That is, until you learn that a sugary cereal company funded it.You can’t automatically assume that this invalidates the study’s results, but you should certainly question them when a conflict of interests is so apparent.
This was beneficial to humans when we were hunting large game and fighting off wild animals, but it can be disastrous when we’re trying to decide who to vote for.
A critical thinker is aware of their cognitive biases and personal prejudices and how they influence seemingly “objective” decisions and solutions. Becoming aware of them is what makes critical thinking possible.
A great way to get “unstuck” on a hard problem is to try reversing things.
It may seem obvious that X causes Y, but what if Y caused X?
From Newton to Einstein to Yitang Zhang, questioning assumptions is where innovation happens. All these things can be a reality if you just question your assumptions and critically evaluate your beliefs about what’s prudent, appropriate, or possible.
You don’t even have to be an aspiring Einstein to benefit from questioning your assumptions. If you’re looking for some help with this process, then check out Oblique Strategies.
While I venture that a lot of us did learn it, I prefer to approach learning deliberately, and so I decided to investigate critical thinking for myself.
What is it, how do we do it, why is it important, and how can we get better at it? In addition to answering these questions, I’ll also offer seven ways that you can start thinking more critically today, both in and outside of class.“Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.”– The Foundation for Critical Thinking The above definition from the Foundation for Critical Thinking website is pretty wordy, but critical thinking, in essence, is not that complex. If we had to think deliberately about every single action (such as breathing, for instance), we wouldn’t have any cognitive energy left for the important stuff like D&D. We can run into problems, though, when we let our automatic mental processes govern important decisions.
it’s quite easy to make an ass of yourself simply by failing to question your basic assumptions.
Some of the greatest innovators in human history were those who simply looked up for a moment and wondered if one of everyone’s general assumptions was wrong. That attractive person in your World Civilizations class you’ve wanted to talk to?