Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

Ok, I have to ask… did you just read that quote, look at the picture, and think “WHAT!”? Or, did you possibly just accept it for what it said? Now, if you apply critical thinking here, the first thought that pops into your head is that there was no internet during Abraham Lincoln’s lifetime. Correct? Secondly, is that a picture of Abraham Lincoln? No, it’s out first president, George Washington. Learning about critical thinking could save you a little embarrassment down the line.

What is critical thinking?

According to The National Council for Excellence, critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skilfully 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. Simply put, it is the opposite of seeing, hearing, and accepting information without questioning it.

What does it take to be a critical thinker? (As provided by

  1. Be open-minded and mindful of alternatives.
  1. Desires to be, and is, well-informed.
  1. Judges the credibility of sources.
  1. Identifies reasons, assumptions, and conclusions.
  1. Asks appropriate clarifying questions.
  1. Judges the quality of an argument, including its reasons, assumptions, evidence, and the degree of support for the conclusion.
  1. Can develop and defend a reasonable position regarding a belief or an action, doing justice to challenges.
  1. Formulates plausible hypotheses.
  1. Plans and conducts experiments well.
  1. Defines terms in a way appropriate for the context.
  1. Draws conclusions when warranted – but with caution.
  1. Integrates all of the above aspects of critical thinking.

What can you do to implement critical thinking in your daily life?

  1. STOP! Think about what you read, saw, or heard.
  1. Ask questions for clarification.
  1. Ask yourself, does it make sense? Why or why not? What knowledge do you personally have on the subject?
  1. Be open-minded and open to seeing from another point of view.
  1. Do research.
  1. Don’t take the word of just one person or website. A general rule is getting three opinions and comparing the three.
  1. Ensure you are using reliable resources in your research.
  1. Never rush to a conclusion. Give yourself time to think it through.

“A critical thinker is able to deduce consequences from what he knows, and he knows how to make use of information to solve problems, and to seek relevant sources of information to inform himself. Critical thinking should not be confused with being argumentative or being critical of other people. Although critical thinking skills can be used in exposing fallacies and bad reasoning, critical thinking can also play an important role in cooperative reasoning and constructive tasks. Critical thinking can help us acquire knowledge, improve our theories, and strengthen arguments. We can use critical thinking to enhance work processes and improve social institutions,” says Hong Kong University’s open courseware on critical thinking.

Do you consider yourself a good critical thinker? Try this quiz to check your skills. You might be surprised at the results. Yes, some of the questions sound silly but the purpose here is to get you thinking outside the box. If you miss a question go back and try to figure out why you missed it. Honing your critical thinking skills is great practice.

Author: Belinda Davis