It is a useful talent to be able to analyze arguments, assess the evidence, and discern between opinion and fact. Critical thinking is therefore a highly valued skill that can help you both personally and professionally. However, what exactly is critical thinking? How do you approach critical thought?We look at various examples, go over some of the fundamental ideas of critical think, and provide advice on how to develop your own critical thinking abilities. Additionally, we’ll highlight some helpful books and websites that can aid in your critical thinking. But first, find out what kind of thinker you are by answering our BoxPlay quiz to begin your road toward critical thinking.
Explore the Contents
- 1 What is critical thinking?
- 1.1 Critical thinking examples
- 1.2 Obstacles to thinking critically
- 1.3 How to think critically
- 1.4 How to improve critical thinking skills
- 1.5 Final thoughts
What is critical thinking?
Let’s begin with a definition of critical thinking. Divergent interpretations may be found, depending on where you search. We’ll start with a straightforward definition: critical thinking is the process of analyzing factual data in order to make a decision.
On the other hand, a more thorough examination of the phrase and its definition reveals that critical thinking is multifaceted. Furthermore, research has shown that there are many different definitions. Critical thinking is defined in great detail in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Careful goal-directed thinking” is how they sum up the fundamental ideas of critical thinking.
We can also refer to our university’s online course on critical thinking, which includes the following definition:
“Good critical thinking entails identifying strong arguments even in situations where we disagree with them and weak arguments even in situations where they bolster our own viewpoint.”
The open step goes on to describe a few critical thinking techniques that are related to the concepts we have examined thus far. Among these critical thinking abilities are:
- Evaluating and analyzing arguments
- Assessing the evidence that has been put forth
- Differentiating between opinion and fact
- Examining the research techniques (the means by which the data have been collected)
- Taking into account the possibility of prejudice
- Examining many interpretations, stances, and viewpoints
- Drawing conclusions from your own logic.
Critical thinking is a skill composed of several other abilities, as you can see from its various features.
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Thinking critically and creatively
Critical thinking and creative thinking are frequently compared. There are, nevertheless, considerable similarities between the two. Thinking creatively frequently entails taking uncommon approaches, investigating novel possibilities, and coming up with original answers.
The practice of analyzing what currently existing logically and rationally is the main emphasis of critical thinking. But both ways of thinking are useful for problem-solving and decision-making, and combining the two is frequently beneficial.
In summary, critical thinking is just using specific modes of thinking to help you make well-informed decisions. But why is this a skill that is so valuable? The capacity for critical thought can aid us in making the best judgments and comprehending the world around us in a world where information and options are presented to us practically continuously.
Evaluating the justifications we are provided for actions or beliefs requires us to use both critical and logical thinking, as our course on logical and critical thinking has made clear. We are under constant pressure to believe certain things, such accepting a job offer, buying a product, supporting a cause, or determining someone’s guilt or innocence, among other things. Using critical thinking, we may decide whether or not to accept these
Critical thinking is a useful soft skill in both the workplace and the classroom. Among the advantages of critical thinking are the following:
- Challenge presumptions
- Make wiser choices
- Be curious.
- Make strong arguments
- Think back on your life and yourself.
Furthermore, problem solving and critical thinking frequently go hand in hand. Employers are constantly searching for candidates with these two skills.
Critical thinking examples
We encounter instances of critical thinking every day. We process information on a daily basis to decide whether or not to believe what is being revealed to us. Nonetheless, it is helpful to observe the critical thinking process in action.
There are numerous instances of critical reasoning in our open step on strong and weak arguments. These examples demonstrate how to assess an argument’s validity and/or soundness using a specific set of criteria. This comprises:
Drawing a conclusion from the evidence
- Determining if the argument is non-deductive—that is, has a plausible but non-absolute conclusion—or deductive, which has an absolute conclusion.
- Determining the validity of the argument (i.e., if the premises are true, does it imply that the conclusion is correct).
- Examining the soundness of the argument by determining the veracity of the premises.
Though it may appear complicated, a lot of us carry out this procedure unconsciously. We can also point to further real-world instances of critical thinking, such as:
- Determining if a study project is legitimate, accurate, comes from a trustworthy source, and strengthens your position.
- Selecting the knowledge and expertise that will be most useful for a job application or interview.
- Formulating a strategy based on a variety of variables and elements in order to accomplish a goal.
Obstacles to thinking critically
Thus, critical thinking is an important ability that many of us use on a regular basis. That being said, it doesn’t follow that we do it constantly. Even the sharpest minds are not immune to basic psychological roadblocks and fallacies in reasoning.
Some of the most typical barriers to critical and logical thinking, as per our open step on the subject, are as follows:
- Confirmation bias. This effect occurs when we tend to think about only the experiences we have had in the past, validating our preexisting knowledge.
- Heuristics. These mental quick cuts help us make decisions more easily. Examples are things like a “educated guess” or the “rule of thumb.”
- Framing.By altering how certain events are framed, the framing effect can cause us to react to identical situations in various ways. For instance, we can find ourselves focusing on various facets of the circumstance.
- Common fallacies.There are several typical applications of reasoning that are neither critical nor logical. Someone may, for instance, falsify the arguments or viewpoints of an opponent and then criticize the weaker version rather than the original (a strawman fallacy).
How to think critically
There are a few strategies you might employ to hone your critical thinking abilities if you’d like to try avoiding some of the typical roadblocks. We’ve listed various methods for analyzing arguments, assessing the evidence, and telling fact from opinion below.
While everyone’s process of critical thinking will be unique, there are several helpful steps to consider:
- Identify the issue. When confronted with a circumstance or issue, ascertain its reason.
- Analyse the arguments. An debate will typically have multiple sides, thus it’s critical to comprehend what each side is stating and how strong their case is.
- Discover the facts.It’s critical to evaluate the accuracy of the evidence offered and to keep the facts and views separate.
- Challenge your biases. Examine your assumptions, the reasons behind your beliefs, and whether you’re allowing common fallacies, heuristics, confirmation bias, or framing to influence your reasoning.
- Decide on significance. It’s likely that there will be supporting data for each side in an argument. A determination of each piece of information’s value can be made easier by identifying which is the most significant, logical, reliable, and supported by a solid premise.
- Draw conclusions. The above methods will help you determine which argument, if any, or alternative is the most accurate. It is also possible to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each choice.
How to improve critical thinking skills
The steps above seem simple enough, yet with the various obstacles and emotions involved in decision making, it can sometimes be hard to let your head rule above your heart. So how can you improve your critical thinking skills?
There are several ways that you can achieve the benefits of critical thinking, including:
Use scrutiny and scepticism
Believing what you are taught and taking things at face value don’t take much work. But doing so doesn’t really help with critical thinking. Rather, inquire about the information in front of you, the intentions behind it, and its accuracy.
Eliminate the less useful and unreliable information
Inaccurate information can make it challenging to make wise choices or come to well-informed conclusions. By exercising critical thinking and skepticism, you can begin to reject the weak arguments and prejudicial assertions.
Use reliable sources
Always pay attention to the source when conducting research on a subject so that you can make an informed choice. Examine material backed by data from reputable sources, and pay close attention to how figures are presented to you. Look behind the research’ superficial claims to see what the data are truly saying and whether the sample size is sufficient to draw a conclusion.
The practice of active listening guarantees that the listener pays attention, comprehends, reacts to, and retains what is being said. It also involves paying attention to body language and behavior. You can better comprehend what is being said, why it is being said, and the advantages and disadvantages of the argument by using this kind of active listening.
You may comprehend the goals, motives, and point of view of another person by learning to walk in their shoes. By doing this, you’ll be in a better position to understand why they have a specific opinion or way of thinking.
Thus, the ability to think critically is a useful one that can aid us in reaching better conclusions and decisions. All of us must, however, get beyond a few mental roadblocks in order to think critically and creatively. Fortunately, as this essay explains, there are many ways we can accomplish this.Our course on logical and critical thinking is an excellent place to start if you’re interested in learning more about critical thinking. You’ll gain more knowledge on how to formulate and assess arguments as well as think more critically.