Critical thinking is defined on the web as ” The application of logical principles, rigorous standards of evidence, & careful reasoning to the analysis and discussion of claims, beliefs, and issues.” We hear the words thinking and thoughts often but rarely do we hear the words “critical thinking”.
For those of us that are older, the common term for critical thinking is “common sense”. It’s tied to the phrase ” that makes sense”. My parent’s generation lived primarily on their “wits”. Where something they heard either made sense or it did not. There was no influence from outside forms of media as there is today.
Today is much different. I often hear “Facebook said” or, “XYZ TV station said” or a blog post said. Where the person telling me this accepts it to be true. No matter how extreme or outrageous the point of view is. More and more I find people simply taking things they hear or read as fact.
I too have been guilty of this for much of my life. Today, no one reflects on what they do, hear, or believe – testing for accuracy. It’s our busy life I guess. Taking a step back to re-think all of the little pieces we read or were told and think about how they could be different.
Given the context, what one thing does not easily fit into the story you hear? Is there a belief so strong that it does not align with the situation? Why are we so certain that only one outcome is possible? Why this certainty when life is not easily predictable & our future is unknown? What other interpretations can be plausible based on your experiences & knowledge? Are there different ways to think about something?
The questions can be many. It’s our curiosity together with the courage to doubt before believing or accepting that powers up critical thinking. Doubting is an early necessary step in this process. Putting in the work to create options can be a tactic that attempts to tear apart what you read or hear and then put the pieces back together in a different way
We create stories when conversing with others. Ways we put things together to make sense of the world we see based on our experiences, beliefs, and biases. Very real in our minds. Making it hard for us to understand how incomplete, imperfect, and flawed our thinking truly is. Racing to complete our next to-do from our long list without time to reflect, be curious, and to doubt.
This makes me think, that maybe we should slow down a bit to allow doubt & reflection to begin to bring us towards many different tomorrows. Making critical thinking one more superpower we can work to acquire along the way with practice for our benefit.