While I venture that a lot of us did learn it, I prefer to approach learning deliberately, and so I decided to investigate critical thinking for myself.What is it, how do we do it, why is it important, and how can we get better at it? In addition to answering these questions, I’ll also offer seven ways that you can start thinking more critically today, both in and outside of class.“Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.”– The Foundation for Critical Thinking The above definition from the Foundation for Critical Thinking website is pretty wordy, but critical thinking, in essence, is not that complex. If we had to think deliberately about every single action (such as breathing, for instance), we wouldn’t have any cognitive energy left for the important stuff like D&D. We can run into problems, though, when we let our automatic mental processes govern important decisions.A great way to get “unstuck” on a hard problem is to try reversing things.
Ways to critically think about information include:employ any of the above intellectual tools to reach more accurate conclusions than your brain automatically would (more on this in a bit). Even day to day, it’s easy to get caught in pointless arguments or say stupid things just because you failed to stop and think deliberately.
But you’re reading College Info Geek, so I’m sure you’re interested to know why critical thinking matters in college.
Despite hearing so much about critical thinking all these years, I realized that I still couldn’t give a concrete definition of it, and I certainly couldn’t explain how to do it.
It seemed like something that my teachers just expected us to pick up in the course of our studies.
Critical thinking is just deliberately and systematically processing information so that you can make better decisions and generally understand things better. Without critical thinking, it’s easy for people to manipulate us and for all sorts of catastrophes to result.
The above definition includes so many words because critical thinking requires you to apply diverse intellectual tools to diverse information. Anywhere that some form of fundamentalism led to tragedy (the Holocaust is a textbook example), critical thinking was sorely lacking.
Here’s why: According to Andrew Roberts, author of , but it’s unlikely to be the place you desire.
The value of critical thinking doesn’t stop with college, however.
Ask the following questions of any evidence you encounter: Take, for example, a study showing the health benefits of a sugary cereal. That is, until you learn that a sugary cereal company funded it.
You can’t automatically assume that this invalidates the study’s results, but you should certainly question them when a conflict of interests is so apparent.