Critical Thinking Isn’t What You Think! – Part 3

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.

In this post we look in more detail at the critical thinking component itself. Although  I previously mentioned the difference between simply being critical and critical thiking it is worth going over it again.

Let’s take a simple example to illustrate the difference.
Suppose you hear a statement from a learned judge to the effect that he “thinks that Mr X didn’t mean to kill Mr Y and that Mr X shouldn’t be charged”. If you are simply being critical you might well say something like “that judge  is known to be soft on criminals and here’s another example”.

Most likely you’ll make that statement without really knowing anything about the case – maybe you’ve read something in a newspaper – but you certainly didn’t have access to all the evidence the judge had in arriving at his/her decision.

On the other hand, critical thinking is about you being able to say why you feel the way you do. You need to be fair and factual – there’s no room for fuzzy thinking. You have to take on board the opinion of others and work out why they have a different view to you. You need to evaluate your position in light of that of others. You need to get to the fact rather than emotion.

In short, you need to have a reason(s) or criterion to support your position, your judgement.

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.

I think that’s a good point to end this post. Next time we’ll take the matter of developing good questions a step or two further. Until then – good thinking!  

 

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