What is critical thinking?

By | March 23, 2020

The typical model of education in undeveloped countries is memorization. But have you ever wondered why this kind of “learning” continues to be encouraged? Currently, memorization is of little use when making decisions, since all the information that you are required to memorize can be easily and quickly found thanks to the wonders of the internet and other sources of information. Therefore , what is currently required are people who, based on the information available, are capable of generating new knowledge, making decisions and solving problems. This is only possible thanks to critical thinking. You are probably not very familiar with this term, so in this blog entry we will discuss what it is, the advantages of applying it, and how to develop it.

What is critical thinking

According to Epstein (2018), critical thinking or knowledge is a set of skills with which you can make good decisions, formulate and communicate good arguments. It is the ability to objectively analyze a situation in order to reach a conclusion about what is happening, always taking into account the whole picture. This analysis can be carried out through dialogue, observation, reading, the scientific method, among others. And, if you think that this is exclusively for academic or professional use, the reality is that it is also quite useful in everyday life.

To begin developing this ability, you can follow the recommendations below to acquire and improve critical thinking with practice.

The first thing is to adopt a critical thinker attitude: an open mind to any point of view, and fairness to ensure that we are taking into account different views, in order to reach a correct conclusion. Also, you should be skeptical not to believe everything you hear, see or read, but consider that it could be true. To do this, you will need to question the validity of the information sources. Likewise, you must have intellectual humility, high motivation, and high emotional intelligence to separate the subjective from the objective, so that the former does not blind you and you can think free from bias.

On the other hand, you will need to recognize and avoid what prevents you from thinking critically. Some of these challenges are due to basic human limitations such as ignorance, misperceptions, biases, prejudices, among others. Also, you should be careful with the use of language, especially ambiguities, euphemisms, jargon, false implications, generalizations, among others. You must be aware of the fallacies that can be given by unverifiable hypotheses, false relationships and analogies, and irrelevant arguments. Finally, some obstacles can also be given by psychological and sociological difficulties, As can be the focus on the interlocutor and not on the argument, appeal to the popularity of a person as well as irrelevant emotions, evade the issue, censorship, appeal to authority and prejudices.

Likewise, it is essential to know how to recognize, construct and evaluate arguments. To do this, it is important to recognize that arguing is presenting the reasons that support the conclusions, and is not reduced to complaining or disagreeing.

In this sense, you will need to evaluate the source of information. You must inform yourself through credible, accurate and bias-free sources. For this reason, you will have to verify that the source has the necessary qualification and / or level of understanding to make the statements or conclusions it makes.

Finally, you will need to evaluate the arguments. This can be done through premises, which are reasons why an argument can be considered valid. Also, you will achieve this by reasoning when determining the sufficiency of the reasoning to validate the argument, as well as considering omissions of evidence that may have been made intentionally or not.

If you recognize that you do not have the skills described above to be able to think critically, do not wait any longer and take action! All the steps mentioned above can be put into practice by participating in group discussions, reading books, informing yourself about different topics or, more simply, asking yourself questions such as “what are the goals, inferences, implications, results, points of view?”, ” What evidence is available? “,” What additional data should be considered? ” and “what other interpretations are possible?”

We invite you to develop critical thinking as it will produce several benefits in your life because you will be able to make better decisions, solve problems and have more confidence when making a decision. It will also help you in the future as it is essential to succeed in many sectors, both in academic and professional life. The development and refinement of these skills take place throughout life.