What is critical thinking and how can it be developed?

We can read that man came to the moon or never had it, watch the report of the results of a science experiment, or we can see on television what we believe to be a mass demonstration.

Believe it or not, given that what comes to us from the media, what we read, what they tell us … all of this could be the product of an error or be due to interests or opinions. biased.

Today, we must be able to doubt everything, reflect and evaluate what we perceive and / or what communicates to us. This is why we can wonder about the capacity to make this selection. What is critical thinking and how can it be developed?

  • Related article: “The 9 types of thinking and their characteristics”

Critical thinking: defining the concept

Critical thinking is the ability manifested by human beings to analyze and evaluate existing information on a given subject, trying to clarify the veracity of such information and arrive at a justified idea in this regard by ignoring to possible external biases.

We apply critical thinking to try to discern the reality of what we are being told and perceived analysis of the reasoning used to explain it. In a way analogous to what Descartes proposes, it is a question of doubting the absolute information, the dogmas and the axioms which surround us until we can ourselves give them truth or on the contrary ignore them. It seeks to have a valid idea of ​​reality and not to blindly accept what others tell us.

This type of thinking, linked to skepticism, Helps humans create their own identity, appearing throughout development and being especially visible in adolescence and beyond. It is not a question of putting the opposite in the world, but of being able to develop our own point of view from verified and contrasting data. The goal of critical thinking is to eliminate errors and biases that compromise the objectivity of the data studied.

Critical thinking is closely linked with other abilities such as creativity, logic or intuition, allowing you to develop new strategies and ways of seeing and perceiving things. Having good critical thinking skills helps us avoid conformity and move forward as human beings, avoiding that there is only one way to see the world.

Critical thinking and not desideratum

We have stated previously that critical thinking helps us not to get carried away by the opinions of others and to see this thing as totally true and correct. However, critical thinking should not be confused with acting on the basis of our impulses.

even if criticizing what is taken for granted is of great help to surpass ourselves and create new ways of seeing the world, that does not mean that we have to depend on what we have created without more. This could cause us to think that what we want or think about something is the truth, which in turn can lead us to commit cognitive biases.

For example, a person with major depression may believe that their condition will never change and that it doesn’t matter what they try. This does not mean that it is so, finding (alone or with the help of a professional) in his life positive things that will help him improve his condition.

Critical thinking itself it is about being able to put aside the various errors and prejudices focus on finding a truth that is as justified and reasonable as possible, looking for evidence and evidence that what is said or done is true. It is based on the search for objectivity, ignoring the subjective and manipulative elements that other people or even oneself can introduce into the analysis of information.

    What skills does critical thinking involve?

    We have described what critical thinking is. However, one has to wonder what exactly it takes to have it? Thinking critically means that the individual who possesses it has some of the following skills or traits.

    1. Ability to think

    Being able to have a critical mindset is necessary to be able to think about things in abstract terms. That is, being able to relate the information that comes to us with its meaning at both the superficial and deep level, as well as with the implications that this information has for the rest of reality.

    2. Flexibility

    Critical thinking involves the ability to doubt that what we perceive or believe we perceive is true, by accepting the possibility that there are other different alternatives of the proposal (s). Thus, some mental flexibility is needed to allow us to visualize that other perspectives than usual can be objective and produce the desired results.

    3. Logic and bias detection

    The ability to visualize logic or its absence in the things that we analyze, as well as the possible failures and prejudices may have the statements and thoughts concerning them, it is fundamental in this aspect. If we are not able to detect specific aspects of the argument which do not correspond to reality or which lack explanation, it is not possible to make a valid criticism.

    4. Theory of mind

    It should be noted that all statements and opinions are made by human beings, who present their opinions based on what they consider to be correct. Therefore, knowledge can be biased even on purpose, If a target is sought with its transmission.

      5. Ability to doubt things

      In order not to accept any explanation, one must be able to question its veracity. However, doubts should be limited to what is reasonable, Because otherwise one could doubt any existing principle. And although this is a kind of critical thinking, excessive skepticism would not lead to any resolution.

      6. Motivation and curiosity

      Doubting something is very useful that what we doubt is important to us. We can criticize something that does not interest us, but the presence of a strong motivation and curiosity about the subject or the arguments given implies that an attempt will be made to find a true and justifiable solution.

      Methods to improve critical thinking

      Critical thinking is a very useful skill and much sought after by society today, both at work and in other areas of life. This is why it is very interesting to be able to empower. To this end, we have various activities and habits that can be useful to us.

      1. Try to keep an open mind

      We all have our opinions about what surrounds us. However, to think critically we need to keep in mind that ours or the explanation the company offers may not be the only one or the most accurate. It’s more complicated than it looksBut we must allow our minds to accept other positions, however different they may be from ours.

      2. Try to build empathy

      Being able to put yourself in other people’s shoes makes it easier to understand how they arrived at the conclusions they reached. An activity that can facilitate empathy is the realization of role-playing games, Theater, or the expression and communication of emotions and thoughts to others.

      3. Actively participate in debates

      The best way to increase competition in an ability is to exercise it. For that, participation in forums and debates it is very useful for comparing opinions, beliefs and data found by different people.

      4. Analyze texts and videos

      Analyzing different materials can help improve critical thinking skills. It is especially important to observe the possible goals or motivations that a person may have for creating this equipment. It can be started with simple material and clearly based on subjective elements, Such as opinion columns or advertising articles. We can then move forward by incorporating more technical and apparently objective material.

      5. Avoid the effects of the bandwagon and the outsider

      Many people join an opinion because he is either the support of the majority or ignored by it. Our thinking must be influenced by whether others pay more or less attention to the fact or information in question.

      • Interesting quiz: “gregarismo: the Bandwagon effect and the Underdog effect”

      6. Challenge stereotypes

      Society constantly generates stereotypes about a large number of issues. Try to choose one of them and look for the information that calls it into question to see how well it serves to explain reality.

      7. Find and compare conflicting elements

      It is easy to find publications on controversial topics on which there is no clear or absolutely certain general opinion. Finding two contradictory opinions and analyzing each allows observe the weaknesses of these arguments, Help to be able to analyze other future information.

      8. Research and training

      In order to be able to discuss something, we need to know what we are talking about. Be informed of what is happening in the world it will allow us to put into perspective the information we receive from outside, including the very means by which we are informed.

      9. Learn to separate information from what it entails.

      Emotions help us make an inner sense of what is happening to us and we are living. However, in many cases they cause us to behave or think in a certain way. only on the basis of these sensations. It can cause us to regard what something makes us feel as the only truth.

      10. Try to take your intuition into account

      Although it has been said inside, sometimes our mind acts in a concrete way that we cannot rationally explain. Intuition is sometimes conceptualized as the result of unconscious information processingIn other words, how to do internal analysis of information that we have not consciously processed. However, it should be noted that this intuition can also be biased.

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