How to Improve Critical Thinking
Critical thinking seems to belong to college where professors remind to think critically while conducting any research. However, the use of this skill reaches far beyond campus and academic tasks. Critical approach helps in real life by enabling you to make informed and deliberate decisions and to avoid being manipulated by others. In the contemporary world of information explosion the ability to locate accurate information/facts and to detect hidden connections is a key to successful career, balanced daily decisions and facing difficult choices with all guns blazing.
Different sources give different critical thinking definitions. The common thing about them is that you are expected to employ mental processes like analysis and synthesis to process information deliberately and according to a clear system. So instead of pondering what is critical thinking it is better to learn to think critically along the way. Here we have compiled a list of tips that will help you to master this precious mental craft.
1) Ask simple questions but cover every area of the problem. Ask yourself: what you know, where this information comes from, what is the purpose of your thinking, and what is missing from the whole picture. The greatest solutions are usually the simplest ones, but arriving at them requires precision and systematization of known and unknown.
2) Doubt the assumptions usually taken for granted. We tend to make too many assumptions based on what we heard, read or believed our whole life. Critical thinking poses questions about validity of these assumptions and about ages-old conventions on appropriateness, possibility and reasonability of something. Assumptions are made when information or reasoning lacks, so question them thoroughly (see Point 1).
3) Remember that your ordinary thinking is automated and biased. We often believe that we think objectively, but in reality we have plenty of hidden biases and preferences. Our mind prefers to operate along beaten tracks but it will not take you anywhere close to critical thinking. Recognize where your mental processes go skewed and drop these biases regarding politicians, celebrities, media, healthcare and what's not when making decisions.
4) Master and employ so called intellectual standards (including significance, relevance, clarity, depth, breadth, precision, accuracy, and logicalness). In order to ask questions and communicate with others you should learn to sieve though tons of information and to produce already selected portions of it. Intellectual standards prompt what to look for in every bit of information and how to organize it properly.
5) Question and check the evidence a.k.a. doubt the authority. Critical thinking requires solid background of previous experiences and data but while searching for it do not forget to ask who provided this evidence, how they arrived at it and why they did it that way. Often the faulty evidence gets rejected early due to this simple process and you do not get engaged in evaluation and application of wrong data.
6) Make your own thinking and draw conclusions. Finding right information is cool, but critical thinking skills are yours. Go ahead and employ them.