Evaluating Critical Thinking Skills

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.

Human thought is amazing, but the speed and automation with which it happens can be a disadvantage when we’re trying to think critically.

Our brains naturally use heuristics (mental shortcuts) to explain what’s happening around us.

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.There’s no reason to start solving a problem from scratch when someone has already laid the groundwork.It’s important, however, to evaluate this information critically, or else you can easily reach the wrong conclusion.The “chicken and egg problem” a classic example of this.At first, it seems obvious that the chicken had to come first. But then you quickly realize that the chicken had to come from somewhere, and since chickens come from eggs, the egg must have come first. Even if it turns out that the reverse When you’re trying to solve a problem, it’s always helpful to look at other work that has been done in the same area.In just one hour, you'll learn how to set up your to-do list, calendar, note-taking system, file management, and more — the smart way.Sometimes an explanation becomes so complex that the original question get lost.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.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.

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