Critical Thinking Isn’t What You Think – Part 4

Posted by: michael  :  Category: DIY Brain Health

This series of posts attempts to break down the critical thinking process into a number of steps that build upon each other. So far we’ve looked at:
* Improving the organisation of information stored in the brain,
* Analysing information in order to identify aids to critical thinking such  as possible relationships and/or recognise patterns within sequences.
* The critical thinking component itself.

We concluded the last post by saying that one secret to being a good critical thinker .is being able to identify good questions to ask yourself and others about what you are reading or hearing.

So let’s look at how we might develop some pertinent questions…
The questions should be designed to evaluate whether the information before you is fair, reliable and accurate and so on.

In other words, is it information of which you can be sure or, at least, be reasonably sure. How do we determine that?

1) Distinguish between fact and opinion.
When, for example, you read a newspaper you need to be able t o sort out which sentences are fact and which are the writer’s opinions.

2) Distinguish between definite and indefinite conclusions.
Advertising executives make a living by getting people to jump to conclusions.

3) Challenge the reliability of claims
Suppose you read a newspaper report about a particular unusual event. A critical thinker will be asking themself, for example, “How reliable is the publisher?” “What do I know about the writer?”.”Who stands to gain from the publication of the article?” and so on.

4) Relevant or Irrelevant
Quite often articles contain information which is used to fill it out and supposedly make it more interesting. A critical thinker will look to separate out the wheat from the chaff and so focus only on information that is relevant to reaching a conclusion.

Hey, I think that’s enough for now – there are several more steps to consider in developing critical thinking skills and we’ll look at some more in the next post.

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