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.
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?
Critical thinking is just deliberately and systematically processing information so that you can make better decisions and generally understand things better. Without critical thinking, it’s easy for people to manipulate us and for all sorts of catastrophes to result.
The above definition includes so many words because critical thinking requires you to apply diverse intellectual tools to diverse information. Anywhere that some form of fundamentalism led to tragedy (the Holocaust is a textbook example), critical thinking was sorely lacking.
Your teachers in high school won’t expect you to remember every little fact about U. My high school teachers gave similar speeches when describing what would be expected of us in college: it’s not about the facts you know, but rather about your ability to evaluate them.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but my teacher was giving a concise summary of critical thinking.
The “chicken and egg problem” a classic example of this.
At first, it seems obvious that the chicken had to come first. But then you quickly realize that the chicken had to come from somewhere, and since chickens come from eggs, the egg must have come first. Even if it turns out that the reverse When you’re trying to solve a problem, it’s always helpful to look at other work that has been done in the same area.