Critical thinking refers to the ability to properly conceptualize, apply, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information till a valuable answer or solution is obtained.
It is an intellectual ability and a skillful way of thinking that enables a person to reason further or deeper – than the average person does – with clarity and relevance, accuracy and precision through the depths and breadths with sound evidence, good reasons and fairness. It is usually based on evidence and logical reasoning.
Critical thinking goes beyond merely acquiring and retaining information; it treats and seeks out information in a more careful and ambitious manner. Additionally, it goes beyond the mere acquisition of skills but focuseson the continual or consistent usage of acquired skills.
In plain words, critical thinking is the ability to logically reason beyond the surface of information, to make true and unbiased judgments that are otherwise not obvious to normal thinkers. It is a consistent ability to use facts rather than allegations.
A critical thinker will always consider or focus on evidence rather sentiment. It is a skill that was possessed by all the inventors the world has seen.
Importance of Critical Thinking
Indisputably, any ability to think better than others do will be of great value. There are times when problems with no obvious or proven solutions arise. In such situations, we have to find our own ways of solving them, but this cannot be achieved without critically thinking through problem. Some other benefits of critical thinking are:
- Critical thinking is helpful during stressful situations. Whiles stress may affect the choices a person makes, a critical thinker may rely on his logical reasoning and decision making skills to make the right decisions.
- Critical thinking will help you in your quest for higher academic achievement as well as to actualize your professional or career goals.
- It also enhances your cognitive skills, which makes you a better thinker and solver of problems, as well as facilitating intellectual self-improvement. This is so because of the ability to consistently set aside your emotions or ego and to focus on working with facts or evidence.
- It also helps you develop a creative or a more active brain. Consistently practicing deep reasoning into matters is a brain exercise which improves your mind’s ability to reason.
How to improve on Critical Thinking Skills
- Investigate assertions and assumptions; don’t just grasp them. There are many philosophies, assumptions and beliefs in the world. People fall culprit of assuming that things that are widely accepted or believed are true. However, critical thinkers don’t just accept information. Rather, they assess information to find out what is true and what is not. Ask yourself questions and use logical reasoning, test things for yourself, and find out if the assertions or theories are true. Learn to use your own instinct as guide. Ask questions like ‘how true is this’, ‘who made this up’, ‘is it proven?’ etc.
- Master your judgment; know your biases and be objective. It is naturally easier to make subjective judgments than objective ones. Biases may be a set of beliefs, ethical standards, previous knowledge or experience etc. For example; you may assume a lion you met on the street is a carnivore because lions are carnivorous. However, there’s the possibility that that particular one is tamed to be an herbivore.
- Build your intellectual capacity. Your ability to reason and think through things effectively is enhanced when you acquire a great pool of knowledge. Read great and informative books and conduct research into topics that have very limited information. Set some time aside each day to train your mind in problem solving. Take on challenging tasks daily – they could be theoretical problems or personal problems. You can solve riddles or puzzles, play a draft game against a very tough opponent, solve a daunting math question etc. No matter how busy your schedule maybe, you can dedicate 20 or 30 minutes to doing this.
- Associate with smart people. Associations have very strong influence. Associate yourself with people that are smarter than you, join educative or informative clubs and societies etc.