Promoting Critical Thinking
No matter what the endeavor, critical thinking advances both individual and societal well-being, success, and progress. Other forms of “thinking” are impediments.
How do we define critical thinking and identify other forms of “thinking”?
- Critical thinking: the objective analysis and evaluation of information; the ability to understand the logical connection of facts, past experience, and ideas and to make rational judgments and decisions based on that understanding.
- Wishful thinking: thoughts based on what is pleasing to imagine and hope for rather than based on considering evidence, rationality, and reality.
- Magical thinking: the belief that one’s own thoughts influence the external world to create order where none exists, thus ascribing a causal relationship between thoughts and events (often manifested by a conspiracy mentality.)
- Muddled thinking: a confused or illogical approach to processing information and ideas without benefit of rationality and reality.
- Group think: a conformist, sometimes dogmatic approach to formulating thoughts motivated by peer pressure rather than inquiry, skepticism, dissent, and rational evaluation.
Critical thinking demands:
- Facts not faith
- Scientific findings not anecdotal stories
- Sound information not specious notions
- Logical problem-solving not guesses
- Openness to new ideas not a fixed mindset
- Inquiry and skepticism not conformity and dogma
- Clear delineation of what is known and what is not
- Careful synthesis and objective analysis of information not off–the–cuff pronouncements
Critical thinking is a vital tool to discredit irrational beliefs and falsehood and to allow science, logic, and reason to inform us and help us set a sound course for a better future. ACT