It is generally accepted in society that critical thinking is a completely normal process for any person, or even a natural way of thinking. But in reality, everything is much more complicated: people often shy away from critical thinking, are biased towards phenomena, or, conversely, too condescending. However, to cultivate proper thinking in oneself means to improve the quality of life, and if you accustom yourself not to live by illusions, you can achieve success in all areas of activity.
Critical thinking techniques come down to a person’s ability to think in a directed, disciplined, non-biased manner, with elements of self-assessment and correction of one’s own conclusions. Such thinking is based on the observance of strict standards, but it is they that make it possible to solve problems.
1.Critical thinking is basically composed of three parts that are very important. When a person is listening to a speaker or reading a publication such as a book, a journal or an article in a magazine or even watching a play or a certain soap or drama, it is important for him or her to have a set of questions that are interrelated.
These questions should emerge from the information being conveyed by the speaker or writer or the actor. The critical thinker who is part of the audience should be asking him self or herself critical questions and he should consciously be aware of what of he or she is doing as she read or listen to the message. He should at the same time be trying to answer or at least trying to generate his or her own suggestions to the questions raised.
The process of critical thinking should also comprise the reader’s or listener’s desire to actively utilize the critical questions to stimulate or generate more understanding of the message or the points the author or speaker is trying to put across and what he wants the audience to believe as the truth.
Critical thinking also comprises of a prior decision or choice on how one needs to react to what he/she see or hear. Identification and choice of the best decision to make is part of critical thinking especially when the information you are getting is from different speakers or publications by different authors.
2.Most people in the world has severally confused the concept of critical thinking. Most lay people understand critical thinking as the ability to think very much and in details about an issue. The concept of critical thinking is completely a different thing and such people are advised to understand this concept right.
The word critical in simple English may mean very important for a given purpose. For example, oxygen is a critical requirement for life to continue. Thinking on the other hand is the ability to reflect upon any thing or to conceive some idea in a persons mind. Therefore, critical thinking is usually misunderstood to mean conceiving a key or major idea, critically as it is usually understood.
Critical thinking may at one point bring this kind of meaning. But in decision making and analysis of what a speaker or an author is trying to inform his/ or her audience, critical thinking is used to mean the best practices in trying to understand the message being passed, and whether it is true or false according to the ideas the audience has already formed in their mind.
3.Critical thinking and emotions are directly interrelated to one another. Emotions may influence critical thinking by influencing the various aspects of critical thinking separately or jointly. To have the ability to think of an issue does not require somebody who is emotionally over reactive.
One needs to be patient and posses the ability to wait until the speaker or author is through so that s/he may have a better basis of relating his/her ideas to those of the author or speaker. If a person is impatient and does not wait for the speaker to give his opinions about an issue, an interruption may cause the speaker to stop and therefore this person would not have acquired enough information to on which he can base his counter- argument.
4.Critical thinking involve use of certain tools as concepts for effective thinking. Peoples way of thinking is determined by their lifestyles and place of living. These two do interfere with the decisions people make. Ideas obtained from mass media such as TV or newspapers may not be real and usual. Most happenings that are reported in the media are sensational. However, these news lead people to forming opinions that are biased on the issues and facts being claimed in the broadcasts.
To avoid these biases, thorough and wide reading to obtain as much information as possible concerning this issue is recommended. After getting this kind of information, one has to critically think about it so as to determine whether it is accurate or not.
The graphics appearing in billboards and posters pass messages that make people form opinions that the world is perfect when in real sense, things are imperfect. Such billboards makes a person start having associative ideas and starts wanting to be associated with what the images are about. At this stage,the person has already formed a biased opinion about what is being communicated.
This biasness is an impediment to critical thinking. The other concept is about extremes such as all versus nothing, me versus him/her, them vs us and thinking that is based on stereotypes. Critical thinking involves avoiding stereotyping, assumptions and simplifications that are associated with this form of thinking.
Pints of views that are not supportive to one another should be avoided where possible. The fourth factor that impedes critical thinking is having fear. One may fear trying new things, making of mistakes and making any comment that will make him appear foolish. These fears lead one to accepting the fallacies that are contained in the ideas they are currently having. Finally, some ideologies influence people to think in a pre-determined way.
For example in the case of outlined curriculum that give outlined and rigid instructions on the way assignment formats should be. When students use their teachers as the only source of knowledge, they form bias to his opinions and are in most cases unable to think out of box when they adopt this form of non critical way of thinking.
5. A sponge is a thing that is well known for its ability to absorb a lot of water. The more water a sponge absorbs, the more it becomes complicated to handle and when the water is too much, the sponge becomes delicate to handle and is basically avoided because it has a potential to cause a mess.
This analogue is used in critical thinking not because of its ability to cause mess when water exceeds but because of its ability to absorb too much water. The way a person thinks about an issue is greatly determined by the amount and kind of information that the person has about a particular issue.
The information here is likened to the water while the brain is likened to a sponge. People who have obtained so much information about the world have also got so much understanding of how actually the world is complicated. The less information one has about the world, the simpler the world appears to be to this person.
There are some benefits associated with the ‘sponge’ approach to critical thinking. If a person obtains so much information from publications, media and from speeches or conferences now, this person shall have a higher capacity to critically think about issues in the future.
This is a great treasure especially in the current situation in the world where everything is changing and very complicated ideas are coming up every day, thus posing a danger of confusion for people who do not invest in much knowledge in the earlier years of their lives (Laura, 2008, p.176).
The approach is passive towards getting a correct opinion for ideas that are being passed by other people in publications and in mass media or directly during meetings. Use of this approach is not strenuous to the mind since information is accumulated gradually over a long period of time.
It is easy and quick to think while the key requirements are just concentration when obtaining information and a memory to store the information obtained this way. It does not involve any form of evaluation of information, therefore whether the information is true or not does not matter.
The only drawback associated with this approach is that there is no method for determining what to choose and what to fail to choose. One’s thoughts are gained by the latest version of information he came across about an issue and decision making can become an accident of association.
The concept of ‘panning for gold’ on the other hand is analogue to critical thinking in the sense that from a bulk of material- which here represents the bulk of information-, the gold component -which here represents the important, little but useful information- is extracted with a lot of keenness. A person chooses what to absorb in his mind as useful and what to reject as useless information.
To achieve this, a person reads through a publication or listens to the speaker carefully with an asking attitude. Since it is like the presenter of the information is trying to talk and persuade you about his or her ideas and you are trying to ask yourself questions concerning the information you are getting, this makes the process to be interactive, although the audience and the writer or speaker are not seeing one another.
The reader or listener is able through this approach to determine what is worth. As opposed to the sponge concept, this approach is very challenging, is very tedious but the rewards are enormous.
To be able to evaluate a speaker’s or writer’s opinion, the audience need to have a dependable opinions about the issue under scrutiny. This approach is mainly aimed at acquiring new information and knowledge because he already has some ideas and opinions (Fairburn and Kelly, 2005, pp. 156-159).
6. Weak sense critical thinking involve the use critical thinking process to defend one’s current beliefs and when he or she acquires enough information to be convinced otherwise, this becomes the current belief that he or she will be defending when compelled with another set of information, until this person is fully convinced other wise.
The approach is least concerned with moving towards the truth and what is virtuous. It is out for a purpose of resisting and annihilating opinions and reasons which appear to be differing from the ideas a person is currently holding as the truth.
It has a great potential of ruining the progressive aspects that are associated with critical thinking. This approach to critical thinking is most exhibited in people who hold certain ideas about religion or about holy scriptures.
Anything against what they belief is readily rebelled mentally until a credible authority asserts the new claims, which they now take as the truth and they defend it by all means (Peter, 2001, p.249).
Language is one of the greatest tools for people. Through languages we are able to communicate with other people through our sadness, joy, anger and confusion. When there are two people, it is inevitable that our lines will cross and how it resolves depends on communication. Language helps us organize what we wish to tell the other person. When we don’t know the language well enough, we experience difficulty in understanding each other. Furthermore, it is widely held that knowing more language widens our understanding of our experiences.
Part of the reason is because when you learn new languages, you learn the culture that comes with it. For example, we cannot fully learn the Korean language without know in the culture. In the learning process, we must learn the culture within the language itself. We also need to be aware that some words do not translate to other language. In that case, we have to think critically on how we could describe in the best way to communicate. As we do that, we acquire more skill in communicating to another, such as considering what the other person might be experiencing.
Language and language diversity play a big part in organizing, summarizing, and most importantly responding to the whole process of critical thinking. In critical thinking, communication is the outcome and language obviously is a big part of communication. Communication requires understanding. As I introduced, language is designed so that we can communicate for understanding what and how we feel. Using visual language such as gestures, signs, and pictures also helps with the process of understanding. Interestingly, words have ambiguous meanings based on the different contexts.
It is very important to be able to recognize the context in which the word is used in order that there will be clear critical thinking. I believe that language empowers or limits the expression of our thoughts, however I also know that we have emotions that are very difficult to describe. With a lack of vocabulary, we can have a very difficult time in expressing our true thoughts and feelings. Language is made so that we can communicate our emotions within ourselves, and if it is difficult to deliver that precise message, it has the power to enhance or limit the expression of our thoughts.
For instance, if I was to speak with a person who speaks a different language, it will be difficult to deliver the a clear message because of the language barrier. The only thing that could help in the situation is the personal knowledge of the language. If we know the multiple meanings of words and the background of the person you are speaking to, we probably could define terms carefully and position our words correctly. Critical thinking could be the most important role in process of persuasion.
First, we have to examine and evaluate the situation from several different points of view in order to establish our opinion. This is very similar to the step of selection in critical thinking. Then, we need to collect the source that supports the opinion. This will help greatly when summarizing the conclusion. In the next step, critical thinking will be used again as we need to realize the importance of understanding the issues. One of the most important aspects that we need to be aware of in persuasion is to understand what the other person is thinking for the purpose of better persuasion.
Lastly, we need to summarize the game plan, in other words, how you will present according to the opinion and logical analysis with relevant sources. As I describe this step by step, I am convinced that critical thinking holds a crucial role in persuasion. It is essential to be aware of the power of language. It allows us to communicate and understand to advance in our society. Knowledge will also be passed on through language, and when you combine that knowledge with critical thinking, it will widen your understanding to be able to communicate with different people.
When language empowers or limits the expression of our thoughts, we need to think critically to seek for the words that might be able to tell the other person what you really feel. Lastly, persuasion can be interfered by the emotions. We need to maintain within critical thinking to be able to analyze logically. If we do not use the language properly, it will cause misunderstanding, hurt, and damages through communications. However, if we know how to use it right and have the better knowledge and understanding, it will help to make this world to a better place.
Example 3: Reflection Essay on Critical thinking
In today’s modern society, critical thinking is one of the essential skills needed to be acquired by mankind for his survival. To think critically means to be able to look beyond the conventional way of looking at things and to be able to see underneath the underneath; to not accept things simply as they are, but rather to extend one’s vision further until a well-justified conclusion or answer to an argument has been attained. Critical thinking involves in-depth evaluation and processing of information which are in the form of propositions, statements, and arguments and are claimed by other people as true.
Its goal is to be able to draw conclusions on the validity of these statements by examining the offered evidences and by relying solely on facts and pure logic. Since it is a method of drawing conclusions, it requires proficiency in various information gathering skills such as observation, research, interrogation, and investigation. The main question now will be how to think critically and how to apply critical thinking in everyday living. As a scientific process, Critical thinking can be conducted in a stepwise pattern.
The first thing to do in thinking critically would be to clarify the problem or argument. This step simply requires us to have a concise definition of the problem and its significance. The second step involves gathering information which can be used in solving the problem. This step includes learning more about the nature of the problem, looking at its causes and searching for possible remedies. The method of information gathering can be done by researches, experiments investigations or simply by mere observation. Step three is evaluation of the presented evidences.
It involves answering questions such as: (1) Where did the presented evidences come from, and how can their validity be supported? (2) What biases can be expected from the sources of the presented evidences? (3) Are the evidences statements of facts or are they presented merely as opinions? The fourth step is the method of making alternative solutions for the problem. This involves creating an orderly list of possible solutions based on the gathered data and analyzed evidences. The final step is the testing and implementation of the best solution from the list of possible solutions.
Now that we have learned what critical thinking is and how we can practice it, it’s about time we think about how this knowledge can be put into good use. Critical thinking has a wide range of applications, from analyzing a simple advertisement, to making heavy decisions such as what career to pursue or what business to invest at. A critical thinker will indeed always have the advantage when it comes to decision making as compared to conventional thinkers. As for one, a person that does not think critically would easily be persuaded by advertisements, therefore these kind of people have high risks of being falling into false advertising.
Whereas, a critical thinker would choose not to immediately believe at whatever is stated in an advertisement, rather, a critical thinker would take the time to make observations, and gather more information in order to prove whether what is claimed by the advertisement is true or not. Thus critical thinkers are those who are more likely to be successful in life. There was this instance when I was still working as a student assistant, that thinking critically spelled for me the difference between success and disaster. I arrived in the office early that day at around eight in the morning.
My superiors have not arrived yet and I’ve had to open the office myself. Minutes later, a man dressed up in formal attire arrived at the office and said that he was sent by one of my superiors to get her laptop for her. The guy said that it was really urgent, and that I should move quickly and get the laptop for him. The guy looked decent and seemed to know what he was saying, he even knew where the laptop was located, and was claiming that it was my superior that told him where he could find it, it was difficult not to trust him.
It was a good thing that I’ve taken the time to think critically at that time, I decided to call my superior on her mobile phone in order to confirm if she did send the guy. When the guy noticed that I was going for the phone, he was shocked and he immediately ran away. I was able to contact my superior and she told me that she has not sent anybody to our office. We reported the incident to the authorities and hours later the suspect was caught. Just imagine what could have happened if I’ve chosen to make the wrong decision. Not only would I be out of the job, I would have been forced to pay for the Laptop.
Success has its price, and it’s definitely going to take more than luck to reach its peak. On the trail towards success, every decision you make is crucial because one mistake could mean the end of everything. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that whenever we make decisions, it is never enough to just think; think critical. WORKS CITED: Guffey, M. E. (1995-2005). Five Steps to Better Critical-Thinking, Problem-Solving and Decisio-Making Skills. Retrieved March 18, 2007, from http://www. westwords. com/GUFFEY/critical. html Thinking Critically. Retrieved March 19, 2007, from http://www. studygs. net/crtthk. htm
Example 4: Critical thinking: Overview
Book Review College is about thinking and it will help you understand how to become a “critical thinker,” someone who doesn’t believe everything he or she hears or reads but instead looks for evidence before forming an opinion. Developing critical-thinking skills will empower you to make sound decisions throughout your life. 1. What you think this passage mean and why this passage is included in the chapter “Why Go to College? ” How does this passage relate to someone who wants to major in Engineering? What about someone who wants to major in Art History?
How does this passage apply to you? Believe this passage gives you a brief overview of the growth one would expect to have while attending college classes. Learning to look at a situation in a different way or hear a viewpoint one, may not be familiar with, exposes an individual to a whole new life. Once your mind has expanded it can never go back. Taking classes, experiencing different events on or off campus, meeting people from places foreign to our own shapes who we are and who e will be as individuals.
An engineer student may cross paths with an art student and find the commonalities between themselves. How their work is seemingly different but in ways similar. A masterpiece of art can be viewed by an artist much like a new technological device is viewed to an engineer. Each product has its own intrinsic compartments which make the whole. The differences are therefore only defined by the pathways and results. Their exposure to one another provides a different way at looking at things that sight not come naturally to either one of them.
Learning how to deal with different people from different backgrounds leads to an intimate understanding of different cultures and how they respond to certain stimuli or situations. As a result this knowledge will create a stronger leader and asset to any workplace. I have benefited over the years by having even the slightest familiarity with information that was not necessarily known to other as a result of the people I’ve met In and through college.
Example 5: Barriers to on Critical Thinking
Barriers to critical thinking if left unchecked can harm, and even seriously injure a curious and open mind, the ability to think through issues, analyzing issues from multiple view points and other critical thinking concepts. Let’s call theses threats land mines. Much thinking of the untrained mind is distorted, incomplete, biased, uninformed and prejudiced. This kind of thinking creates a potential mine field that can hold a person back from using his/her knowledge, schooling, experience, reasoning, intuition, common sense and confidence to make informed decisions.
This section was created to raise awareness of the critical thinking mine field and ways of avoiding the mines. Then, you can focus your efforts on thinking more critically. Egocentric thinking is viewing everything in relation to oneself. These individuals are self-centered and consider only their interests. This impedes critical thinking. It is difficult for many people to identify this characteristic within themselves. The egocentric person is usually unaware of his or her thinking patterns.
There are many successful business people, lawyers, politicians, and others who are egocentric thinkers. They are closed minded to the thoughts and ideas of others. This damages their critical thinking abilities. Open minded thinking is one of the fundamental critical thinking skills. The best defense to minimizing thinking egocentrically is to be aware of it and to be mindful of the needs of others. In essence, to continually strive towards viewing ideas and concepts from multiple vantage points. Social conditioning can be a benefit or drawback to your ability to think critically.
Each of us is unique. Age, IQ, race, genes, gender, culture, family, friends, and a wide array of other factors have a dramatic effect on how we view the world and the people we interact with. Critical thinking is hindered when the world and people in it are viewed from biased conditioning without learning the needs, desires and dreams of others. It may not be possible to completely understand others, but open minded critical thinking can enable you to listen, learn and empathize. This helps you understand others better.
For example, because someone is a Christian, that doesn’t mean he or she can’t appreciate the beliefs of Judaism, Buddhism, or Confucianism. The same is true for any religious, social or political belief system. Arguably one of the biggest problem in the world today is lack of acceptance. In another word: intolerance. Race, religion, culture, and a wide array of other factors can bring us together or tear us apart. Each of us chooses if we will accept others, or not. Recognizing and accepting the influences of conditioning from social effects is normal.
However, strive to understand how and why they are biasing thoughts. That enlightenment will help clarify your thinking about issues and help guide you towards conclusions that are rational, unbiased, logical and fair. To learn more see: The Re-Discovery of Common Sense. Return from Social Conditioning to Problem Solving Techniques Biased experiences are a relative of egocentric thinking. Although experience is a wonderful teacher, if it is filtered through a biased or distorted view, that is how it is remembered. Self-delusion supports self-delusion.
Create an open mind and question logic by asking again and again: “Am I thinking logically and rationally. ” This is called a sanity check. Another good sanity check is choosing friends and colleagues who will tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear. These friends are priceless as sounding boards for your stream of thought and rational thinking. To learn more see: The Re-Discovery of Common Sense. Arrogance and Intolerance Arrogance and intolerance are not welcome in the mind of the true critical thinker. They are recognized for what they are and kept to a minimum.
Arthur Ide, who is the editor of my first two books once said to me: “Everyone is prejudice, I hate bigots! ” These words have stayed with me for several years and I find myself saying them when the occasion is right. Another example: The economist Milton Friedman makes a strong case for individual freedom. He has stated: “The people who always get us into trouble are the people who know better than you do what’s good for you. ” He goes on to say: “Arrogance and intolerance are what produce the ills of the world. ” These simple words say a great deal.
When a mind is closed, so is the ability to find the best solution. Critical thinking skills are crippled. To learn more see: The Re-Discovery of Common Sense. Schedule Pressures Schedule pressures can be an enemy of sound critical thinking. These pressures can lead to: • Cutting corners – That can lead to mistakes and poor decision making. • Undue stress – This can also lead to mistakes and bad decision making. • Procrastination – This comes from not knowing how or where to start. This can lead to even more stress and cutting corners. A vicious circle begins. The result is excessive cost and time to fix.
This is unfortunate when proper planning and execution could have helped tasks to be done right the first time. Many times tasks can be done within the budget allocated. Think of a time when you or someone you know had some excessive pressures from tight schedules. • Were an undue number of mistakes made? • Did it cost time, energy and money to fix later? • If more focused time had been invested up front to do the task correctly, would the results have been better? There is an overused statement at many work places. It is: “We don’t have time to do it right the first time, we will fix it later! Many companies lose millions of dollars each year from schedules that have high pressures. It costs individuals dearly as well. To help minimize the negative effects of excessive pressures from schedules do the following: • Before starting, map out the project steps using the tools and techniques shown on this website. • Determine the schedule drivers and see if relief is possible. • Work hard, but make time to relax however you do it best>br> (Consider: exercise, chilling, listening to enjoyable music etc). Group Think -The Herd Mentality Group think is a danger to critical thinking.
There is an old but worthwhile statement: “When everyone thinks alike, no one thinks very much. ” It has much truth to it. Critical thinking by its very nature questions ideas, opinions, and thoughts of yourself and others. It uses internal and external reflection. There are three reasons it can be tough to escape this mentality. They are: 1. The group think mentality is present every day from many sources. Radio, television, news papers, magazines and the Internet all reflect the current so called norm of thinking. Too many times opinions are stated as fact by self-proclaimed experts.
They cater to the most uninformed. Unfortunately, many people don’t question what they hear, nor do they question the source of information before repeating it as gospel. 2. The problems of the world are complex. For the non-critical thinker the world is a much simpler place to live. 3. The drive for acceptance from others is a strong motivating factor. Thinking outside the group can be uncomfortable. However, it is necessary for the critical thinker. Becoming a critical thinker takes conscious and constant diligence. A critical thinker continually asks the questions: • Does this make sense? If so, why? • If not, why not? Here is an example: David Crockett was best known for his adventures in the wilderness and fighting at the Alamo. He also served as a Congressman where he was known as an honest and conscientious man. During the time of his tenure in Congress a law known as the Indian Removal Act in 1830 was being debated. This was a proposed law that would relocate the Five Civilized Tribes of Native American tribes living east of the Mississippi River to further west. It was favored by many who would gain access to lands inhabited by these tribes. They influenced many congressmen.
David Crockett was one of the few in Congress who spoke against the Indian Removal Act. It was passed after a bitter debate in Congress by a small margin and then signed into law by Andrew Jackson. The relocation of the five tribes had many hardships. It became known as: “The Trail of Tears. ” Thousands of Indians died during the forced relocation. David Crockett was a strong critical thinker who followed his own beliefs and values. He couldn’t be bribed to support any measure he thought was wrong. His celebrated motto was: “Be sure that you are right, and then go ahead. ” The Drone Mentality
It is easy to fall into a drone mentality (a pattern of not paying attention to the world, people and surroundings). This mentality can sneak up at any time. Working through daily chores without thinking is one symptom. Another symptom is to shy away from new challenges or problems. Many people live this pattern for years, sometimes decades. Without a conscious effort it is easy to loose critical thinking skills over time. There are some serious problems to not paying attention to what goes on. The drone mentality can cost dearly. The movie Catch Me if You Can by Steven Spielberg is about a young man who was a brilliant master of deception.
It is based on the real life exploits of Frank Abagnale, Jr. who successfully passed himself off as a teacher, a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer all before he reached his 21st birthday! He did this in the late 1960’s. Frank Abagnale Jr. used disguise and deception to get away with his antics. He passed off bad checks to finance his expensive life by targeting drone like people. He stole the bulk of the money from corporations. Today, fraud and theft criminals still prey on drone like people however now it is personal. Identity theft and fraud are at epidemic proportions. The scams are getting more creative and damaging.
It is tough enough as a critical thinker to protect personal and private information and not get caught in a scam. A drone like mentality can cost individuals significant time as well as thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars—or more. Identity theft alone has affected several million people in the United States and is growing. Always protect personal information. If approached about a “deal” where someone asks for money be very skeptical. Ask: • Does this deal make sense? • If so, why? • If not, why not? “What I did in my youth is hundreds of times easier today. Technology breeds crime. ” ~ Frank Abagnale Jr.