The Art Of Critical Thinking
Over the course of our lives, we are under so much external influence. We’re born into societies and cultures with established norms, norms that are then emphasised and re-affirmed by our peers. We are in a time of fast and easily accessible media and thinking for ourselves becomes more and more difficult. Do you think for yourself? You would think that it was simply human nature to form our own clear, unbiased, impartial and informed decisions. It isn’t. We like to think of ourselves as individuals, in control of our own decisions and destiny, but in fact, we’re genetically programmed to follow the herd, to conform and fit in with those around us. Ever read a review, ever read a piece of information on social media because ‘everyone else has’. We’ve all, at some point been duped by marketing or falsified claims, someone or something promising an outcome and convincing you that is what’s going to happen. It doesn’t. Unless you’re a very discerning, very self-aware person, you most likely don't even know when your thinking is influenced. The shiny light up apple on the back of your computer. That's not for you, you realise that? On top of that, we are able to create echo chambers far easier than we ever used to be able to. The internet has facilitated that. Our beliefs become reinforced and amplified inside a closed system. We can very easily surround ourselves with often complete strangers in environments when our thoughts are protected from rebuttal or fervently defended in the case that they are questioned. Preventing yourself from becoming a puppet of someone else's programming is difficult, but this is where the art of critical thinking comes into play. Don’t mistake critical thinking as being contrary and argumentative just to be defiant or to stand out. Remember that this is more often than not also a herd mentality, it’s just a scattered herd mentality. A sub-culture that doesn’t fit within a certain closed group. To ensure that you are developing critical thinking, it’s important that you become a critic of your own thoughts. Focusing on the development of this key skill can help you achieve specific benchmarks in life. In reality, critical thinking is an art that needs to be developed and nurtured over time. Moreover, this helps you to make better decisions, express yourself more clearly, and process information more precisely in life. When you are able to hone the respective critical thinking capabilities, you can give your life a boost –across both personal as well as professional life.
What is Critical Thinking?In a simple language, critical thinking can be defined as an art or way of analyzing and processing information. In most colleges & universities of the world, this skill is taught as a part of the curriculum. Once you are adept at it, you can look forward to usefully applying the same to any aspect of life –including concepts, subject areas, questions, and problems. Critical thinking is associated with the close monitoring of your own thoughts while paying attention to the source of thoughts and how they tend to follow each other. Moreover, inculcating the notion of critical thinking involves the art of practising open-mindedness. Research by experts has revealed that inculcating the notion of critical thinking comes with its own set of benefits across all possible areas of reasoning. For instance, someone possessing the skill of critical thinking is capable of:
- Asking relevant, clear questions with a limited and precise scope
- Methodically gathering information and accurately assessing it
- Reaching well-supported conclusions, and evaluating them against counter-evidence
- Displaying a sense of constant awareness of their competence limits, while monitoring things they are not capable of understanding or accepting
- Communicating with others in a productive manner to obtain the desired results –even in cases of complicated problems
Top Ways to Improve Critical Thinking SkillsAs evident, we are not born with critical thinking capabilities. Critical thinking is developed over time and nurtured across our lifetime. It’s about practicing. Just like we train our bodies we need to train our minds and cognitive processes.
Ask Important QuestionsThe better you become at critical thinking, the more clear and fundamental your questions become. When you wish to improve the overall questioning capabilities while problem-solving, you should aim at breaking the question into sub-parts. Suppose you have come across some problems in life, and you are not sure what to do. Rather than finding a narrative on social media that ‘sounds about right’ and blindly following. You can start over by asking yourself questions like:
- What information related to the problem do you have?
- How are you aware of the given information?
- What is the ultimate goal? What are you trying to validate, disapprove, criticize, or support?
- What are you overlooking?
- When you raise such questions, it encourages you to reach the core of the problem.