the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement.
Critical thinking will help you prosper in a rapidly changing world.
It takes commitment and practice to develop sound thinking skills.
Know and understand the eight components of critical thought to learn to think more effectively.
Test everything against your own reason; never blindly accept what others tell you.
Thinking is always purposeful.
Fair-minded thinkers are able to view things from other people’s perspective – even from the perspective of their opponents.
Develop a plan to improve your thinking skills. Practice until critical thinking becomes second nature.
Critical thinking helps people cope with the uncertainties of modern life and become more confident in their decisions. By mastering the tools and techniques of critical thinking, they say, you will be able to improve your emotional and intellectual skills, their job performance and the success of their organizations
Thinking and Change
The world is changing, growing ever more complicated and unpredictable. Critical thinking is a discipline that will help you make better decisions in these challenging circumstances.
critical thinking itself is no more difficult than uncritical thinking. The first step is to examine the way you think now – your assumptions, your logic, your inferences and your decision making.
Excellent thinkers do not merely have outstanding skills; they also have genuine intellectual virtues.
Humility – People who are intellectually humble are aware of the limitations of their knowledge. They are free from the arrogance of prejudice.
Courage – The intellectually courageous are open to the ideas of others and brave enough to change their minds when other ideas are superior to their own. Intellectual courage is necessary for fair mindedness.
Empathy – Empathy allows you to put yourself in the position of those who oppose you and enables you to see things from their perspective.
Integrity – Having integrity means that there is consistency between your words and actions, walking the talk, practicing what you preach. Integrity is the opposite of hypocrisy.
Perseverance – Failure to persevere is fatal to sound thinking. Critical thinking requires working through layers of complexity to find the truth.
Ability to reason – Many people lack confidence that reason can provide answers and solutions in a complex world. Instead of using reasoning, they allow themselves to be guided by blind faith, tradition or emotional impulses.
Autonomy – Autonomy means relying on yourself and your own thinking. Thinking critically, being open to other points of view and seeing others’ perspectives all require independent thought.
Fair-mindedness – Fair-minded thinkers equally respect all points of view whether or not they agree.
Self-knowledge and Fairness
Building critical thinking skills requires self-knowledge and a determination to be fair.
“Among the most important skills of critical thinking is the ability to distinguish between what a statement or situation actually implies, and what people may merely (and
wrongly) infer from it.”
Personal development of critical thinking happens in six stages:
The “Unreflective Thinker” – You are born unreflective, that is, unaware of how you go about thinking. By reflecting on how you think, you improve your thought processes.
The “Challenged Thinker” – Awareness of a problem with your thinking, such as faulty assumptions, is a sign of progress toward critical thinking.
The “Beginning Thinker” – Beginners acknowledge that thinking is important and make some efforts toward betterment, but often those efforts are irregular and not sustained. This stage is comparable to that of an alcoholic who merely recognizes the problem. Recognition is necessary, but not enough to overcome the problem.
The “Practicing Thinker” – Regular practice is indispensable to improvement. Devise a plan for improvement and execute it consistently.
The “Advanced Thinker” – Regular practice, according to the game plan, will help you make sustained progress.
The “Master Thinker” – Your critical-thinking skills are well-developed and almost automatic.
The Eight Elements of Thinking
Critical thinking requires thoughtfully using these components:
“Purpose” – Thinking is always purposeful. The purpose may be conscious or unconscious. Critical thinkers understand their purpose and think accordingly.
“Point of view” – All thinking takes place from a particular perspective. You cannot think without a frame of reference or point of view.
“Assumptions” – An assumption is a presupposition that helps shape your point of view. Assumptions may be true or false, justified or unjustified. Examine and test your assumptions.
“Implications” – Implications are inherent in a situation or a decision. They reveal possibilities that might result from the situation. Consequences are the realization of such possibilities.
“Information” – Thinking requires constructing information from raw facts.
“Inferences” – Use the process of drawing out deductions to make sense of data.
“Concepts” – Conceptual reasoning shapes data into identifiable patterns. Concepts are the implicit "theories, principles, axioms and rules" that guide your thinking.
“Questions” – The question may be first or last in the list of the elements of thought. It may precede the purpose and it may come after concepts have been fashioned. The critical thinker will pose questions throughout the thought process.
Critical thinkers should test their thinking against the following standards:
“Clarity” – Thoughts must be clear. Nebulous or ambiguous thinking leads to questionable conclusions and bad decisions.
“Accuracy” – Accurate thinking is in accordance with the facts. Inaccurate statements, for example in advertising campaigns, can persuade uncritical thinkers.
“Precision” – Precision infers an adequate but not excessive amount of detail. Specificity and precision are necessary to optimize clarity and accuracy.
“Relevance” – Relevant thinking is germane to the purpose.
“Depth” – Deep thinking goes beyond the superficial and grapples with the complexity underlying the thought.
“Breadth” – People who use broad thinking take into account all perspectives, points of view and arguments, and assess them fairly.
“Logical order” – Thinking that moves according to logic is sound and strong, not self-contradictory or disconnected.
“Significant” – Significance ensures that thought will not chase trivial tangents, but will focus on issues at the heart of the problem.
“Fairness” – Fairness gives due respect to the opinions of others, and avoids stereotyping and prejudice.
One technique for breaking the hold that contemporary social pressures have on you is to read books from another age, written by authors who did not share the prejudices of our time.
Strategic thinking leads to understanding and improving the way you think. Diagnose your deficiencies and take intellectual action to correct them.
“All thinking pursues a purpose.”
The 11 keys to strategic thinking are:
Interdependence – Analyze the links and patterns among thoughts, desires and feelings. Identify patterns and subject them to the discipline of reason.
Logic – Recognize that you bring meaning to the world by your thoughts, and carefully analyze your goals, questions, information, assumptions, concepts and conclusions.
Assessment – Conduct a regular assessment and criticize your mode of thinking to maintain your thinking skills at a high level of effectiveness.
Egocentricity – Recognize the danger of egocentric thought.
Egocentricity of others – Anyone can be egocentric, and some people may behave irrationally. However, the strategic thinker conducts a fair and thorough analysis before imputing irrationality to others.
Generalization – Ample experimental and historical evidence indicates that people make generalizations based on limited and usually quite recent data. The strategic thinker puts all experience and information in context.
Distrust of appearances – Egocentric thinking can often initially appear to be quite rational. You must develop a ruthless perseverance to get beyond the superficial appearance.
Deliberation – The strategic thinker is aware that unconscious, unplanned action is apt to be irrational.
Dominance and submission – Self-examination will reveal when you are acting in a dominant or submissive manner.
Sociocentricity – A strategic thinker questions thoughts and decisions that are merely expressions of social identity.
Work – The strategic thinker acknowledges that developing critical thinking skills takes concentrated and sustained effort over time.