Critical thinking involves the analysis of information to make an informed judgment. It requires processing, conceptualizing, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information. In other words, it is the opposite of regular, almost automatic thinking.
Due to the ultius.com reviews critical thinking is a tool you not only need in school but in life in general. Therefore, it is important that you improve it.
Below are seven ways to improve your critical thinking skills.
1. Go back to the basics
“When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions.” ~ Steve Jobs
When something gets so complicated, go back to the basics. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I already know?
- How do I know that?
- What am I trying to demonstrate, analyze, agree with, or disagree with?
- What am I missing?
2. Avoid making assumptions
“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in.” ~ Isaac Asimov
Are you making any basic assumptions about the problem you are trying to solve? These assumptions might be the thing preventing you from seeing a solution.
It is by questioning basic and general assumptions that great inventors such as Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton became known. You might not be an inventor, but questioning general assumptions improves your critical thinking.
3. Beware of your cognitive biases
The human brain uses heuristics (mental shortcuts) to process what is happening. Heuristics help improve the speed of thinking and automated the thought process.
However, mental shortcuts are a barrier to critical thinking. They prevent you from objectivity, which is very important when thinking critically.
Therefore, to become a good critical thinker, you have to identify your cognitive biases and prejudices and how they affect your objectivity when making decisions and coming up with solutions.
4. Consider the reverse
At first, it might appear obvious that A causes B. But what if B caused A.
Remember the “chicken and egg problem.” The obvious answer is the chicken came before the egg. However, when you think about the reverse, you realize that the chicken hatched from an egg – so it’s possible the egg came before the chicken.
The point is, it is a good idea to think about the reverse. Even if it turns out not to be accurate, it might set you on the right path to finding a good solution.
5. Analyze the existing proof
Chances are, studies have been done on the problem you are trying to solve. The existing proof is an excellent place to start. However, you should not assume everything you read to be factual. Analyze and evaluate it critically.
It helps to find out who gathered the evidence and how and why they did it.
6. Think for yourself
Critical thinking involves processing information with the goal of understanding better or making decisions. However, it is easy to get carried away with research and other people’s works that you forget the whole point is forming your own thoughts and opinions.
7. Appreciate that you can’t think critically all the time
It is not possible to think critically all of the time. In fact, not everything requires you to think critically. Critical thinking is something you mostly use when you have to make an important decision or solve a challenging problem.
Additionally, you will experience lazy thinking even when you are thinking about something important. The essential thing is to identify your reasoning lapses and avoid them when you have to think critically.