What is Critical Thinking?
In a nutshell, critical thinking is not believing anything… unless the evidence for it is sound. Encoded in this definition are three elements:
- A sustained skeptical attitude towards the ideas and information which come your way.
- The ability to reason, identify and weigh evidence, as well as the capacity to interrogate arguments effectively.
- The formation of a belief, judgement, opinion or course of action.
Critical thinkers will be skeptical even of the very conclusions they produce at the end of the process. The three step process (described above) of skepticism, evaluation and judgement must be cyclical – with the final part feeding back into the first. Beliefs, judgements and actions based on sound reasoning are thus only ever considered temporary, allowing for better evidence and stronger arguments to supplant them in the future.
Due to the complex nature of the human brain and the unreliable, subjective ways it processes and interprets information, it isn’t always possible to be objectively rational at all times. But as far as is possible, critical thinkers are:
- Well informed
How to Improve Your Critical Thinking
- Don’t get welded to an idea or a belief.
- Find out about logical fallacies.
- Understand a bit about cognitive distortions.
- Practice creating a convincing argument.
- Learn to find reliable sources of information.
- Try to overcome the emotion and the fear which are often associated with challenging existing ideas.
- Think things through for yourself.
- Try to see and question connections between ideas.
- See through the waffle and identify key assumptions.
- Stay curious and find out for yourself.
- Embrace uncertainty.
- Reflect, revise, review and rethink.