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What is Your Definition of Critical Thinking? Options
Hope123
Posted: Monday, December 27, 2021 1:26:47 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/23/2015
Posts: 10,368
Neurons: 59,233
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
There are many definitions of critical thinking. What is yours?

With all the misinformation and disinformation being spread by social media (described as mostly gossip), disreputable sources that pretend to be news, and sloppy journalism in reputable news circles, one wonders how to separate the chaff from the wheat. That is, how to solve a problem or to discover the truth of a matter. It looks today as if the critical thinking concept is very important to the future of humans.

How do we know what we know? Is it just doing research, observing, and analyzing data to see if facts accord or disagree with our initial views? Or if they do not agree with them, are we willing to make it more of a self-corrective exercise?

Is curiosity a prerequisite? Is willingness to search from several sources necessary?
Do we need to be aware of our own biases and preferences? Do we need to become aware of our own knowledge and ignorance first, before we can come to any conclusions about the topic?
Do we need to be sure our sources are trustworthy or are we just accepting and repeating without much thinking the opinions of friends or leaders we happen to like?
Does critical thinking require above-average intelligence?
Does critical thinking require a specific educational background or level?
Are we applying it to our thinking most of the time (which is really all we can hope for)?


https://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Monday, December 27, 2021 1:53:45 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/21/2009
Posts: 47,898
Neurons: 675,964
Location: Helsinki, Southern Finland Province, Finland
Back in 2011 there was a thread several pages long. Some of the contributors didn't much practice the critical thinking. https://forum.thefreedictionary.com/postst14441_Libya.aspx
Same kind of of misinformation has been used for at least hundreds of years as a propaganda weapon.

We Finns are used to our neighbour's propaganda and hard talks.
Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, December 28, 2021 4:07:13 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/22/2009
Posts: 4,407
Neurons: 168,327
How do you know that you know what you know? Has been a question at the foundation of everything I think I know since I first read Descartes, and I think that is the beginning of critical thinking. Knowing enough to question the very notion that you think you know something. From that point getting familiar with the fundamental and pervasive fallibility of subjectivity and all the various intensive, and nonintuitive biases that are inherent in all homo sapiens. Critically as well, having the integrity and courage to hold everything you think you know in an open hand and be the most ruthless questioner of your own ideas. Oh and as well knowing that reasonable questioning of your ideas by others is not an attack on you personally and should be sought out in order to find the flaws in your thinking that are most likely there.
FounDit
Posted: Tuesday, December 28, 2021 12:22:35 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 16,876
Neurons: 81,868
Hope123 wrote:
There are many definitions of critical thinking. What is yours?
These are my thoughts on the topic.

With all the misinformation and disinformation being spread by social media (described as mostly gossip), disreputable sources that pretend to be news, and sloppy journalism in reputable news circles, one wonders how to separate the chaff from the wheat. That is, how to solve a problem or to discover the truth of a matter. It looks today as if the critical thinking concept is very important to the future of humans.

How do we know what we know? Is it just doing research, observing, and analyzing data to see if facts accord or disagree with our initial views? That is, of course, part of critical thinking.

Or if they do not agree with them, are we willing to make it more of a self-corrective exercise? If we are unwilling, then there can be no critical thinking.

Is curiosity a prerequisite? I would say so. Is willingness to search from several sources necessary? Of course. No one knows all there is to know on any given subject.

Do we need to be aware of our own biases and preferences? Do we need to become aware of our own knowledge and ignorance first, before we can come to any conclusions about the topic? No necessarily to both questions. Awareness of biases isn't a prerequisite, but a willingness to admit we have them has to be admitted, even when unrecognized. However, a bias is not necessarily a bad thing. It's bias that is not admitted that can be problematic, or believing your information is unbiased while all others is biased. One can be biased towards the truth, such as the fact that gravity does exist. It is also true that new facts and information alters already accepted social truths because society is always evolving.

Do we need to be sure our sources are trustworthy or are we just accepting and repeating without much thinking the opinions of friends or leaders we happen to like? Sources do need to be trustworthy, but here is where bias may influence our belief in sources. One has to judge objectively, or in accord with already established and proven biases known to be true. But there is always the danger of accepting false information as truth and a failure to examine the information received.

Does critical thinking require above-average intelligence? Probably. Lazy thinkers aren't likely to be critical thinkers.

Does critical thinking require a specific educational background or level? I think not. Many great thinkers had limited formal education. It's the nature of the searcher that matters most, I think.

Are we applying it to our thinking most of the time (which is really all we can hope for)?
Some do, most don't. That's what I see most often.

https://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766
Hope123
Posted: Wednesday, December 29, 2021 5:27:02 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/23/2015
Posts: 10,368
Neurons: 59,233
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Epiphileon wrote:
How do you know that you know what you know? Has been a question at the foundation of everything I think I know since I first read Descartes, and I think that is the beginning of critical thinking. Knowing enough to question the very notion that you think you know something. From that point getting familiar with the fundamental and pervasive fallibility of subjectivity and all the various intensive, and nonintuitive biases that are inherent in all homo sapiens. Critically as well, having the integrity and courage to hold everything you think you know in an open hand and be the most ruthless questioner of your own ideas. Oh and as well knowing that reasonable questioning of your ideas by others is not an attack on you personally and should be sought out in order to find the flaws in your thinking that are most likely there.


Hi Epi. Applause Applause Applause

A well understood and written definition that includes a lot of ideas expressed succinctly. If I recall correctly, you had your opening sentence here as a signature statement before they quietly disappeared. Your last statement is so true as people who question your ideas reasonably (without ad hominem) are not attacking you personally.

The middle part of your post drew these ideas. Since creatures evolved into Homo Sapiens they have had to learn to survive in unstable environments and have adapted not only in many physical ways, but in many psychological ways too. Some good, some bad. Take the thousands of conspiracy theories for instance.

https://www.apa.org/research/action/speaking-of-psychology/conspiracy-theories

Paraphrase - 'if you give people ways to critically think about information by telling them that they could be exposed to misinformation because it is out there, they might be on the lookout for it and might actually resist it when they come across it next time. Maybe. A problem is to get ahead of the misinformation goal-post changing as once established it is hard if ever to change it even with facts.'

To be called critical thinking, the facts must be logical, possible, and down-to-earth. For instance it would take impossible collusion on the part of all world governments, all medical establishments and individuals, and all pharmaceutical companies, to do a morally wrong experiment on all human beings. (A huge percentage of the world population who got the recent vaccinations say it is not so.)

Of course good mental health lacking paranoia is a prerequisite for critical thinking.

Since people need to feel secure, confident, and to feel as if they have a measure of control when they really do not have control over events, so humans have many psychological defence mechanisms such as rationalization or even religion.

As they live and evolve, they add to their own knowledge through their life experiences, not realizing that their reality may not be the reality of others or indeed have any relationship to the "real" reality. Hence there are always biases that become emotionally so strong as not to be moved by the addition of facts. So to be a ruthless questioner of your own ideas is a super way of expressing what we must do. The operative word is "ruthless".


To be able to see both sides of any argument or concept is actually an impressive talent.
Hope123
Posted: Wednesday, December 29, 2021 6:05:13 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/23/2015
Posts: 10,368
Neurons: 59,233
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
FounDit wrote:
Hope123 wrote:
There are many definitions of critical thinking. What is yours?
These are my thoughts on the topic.

With all the misinformation and disinformation being spread by social media (described as mostly gossip), disreputable sources that pretend to be news, and sloppy journalism in reputable news circles, one wonders how to separate the chaff from the wheat. That is, how to solve a problem or to discover the truth of a matter. It looks today as if the critical thinking concept is very important to the future of humans.

How do we know what we know? Is it just doing research, observing, and analyzing data to see if facts accord or disagree with our initial views? That is, of course, part of critical thinking.

Or if they do not agree with them, are we willing to make it more of a self-corrective exercise? If we are unwilling, then there can be no critical thinking.

Is curiosity a prerequisite? I would say so. Is willingness to search from several sources necessary? Of course. No one knows all there is to know on any given subject.

Do we need to be aware of our own biases and preferences? Do we need to become aware of our own knowledge and ignorance first, before we can come to any conclusions about the topic? No necessarily to both questions. Awareness of biases isn't a prerequisite, but a willingness to admit we have them has to be admitted, even when unrecognized. However, a bias is not necessarily a bad thing. It's bias that is not admitted that can be problematic, or believing your information is unbiased while all others is biased. One can be biased towards the truth, such as the fact that gravity does exist. It is also true that new facts and information alters already accepted social truths because society is always evolving.

Do we need to be sure our sources are trustworthy or are we just accepting and repeating without much thinking the opinions of friends or leaders we happen to like? Sources do need to be trustworthy, but here is where bias may influence our belief in sources. One has to judge objectively, or in accord with already established and proven biases known to be true. But there is always the danger of accepting false information as truth and a failure to examine the information received.

Does critical thinking require above-average intelligence? Probably. Lazy thinkers aren't likely to be critical thinkers.

Does critical thinking require a specific educational background or level? I think not. Many great thinkers had limited formal education. It's the nature of the searcher that matters most, I think.

Are we applying it to our thinking most of the time (which is really all we can hope for)?
Some do, most don't. That's what I see most often.

https://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766


Hi FD. Thank you for answering my questions with well written and astute ideas. As you say, "No one knows all there is to know on any given subject." Agreed. Since no person on earth knows everything, those with experience, training, and education in any given subject are given deference. We can't research for ourselves every little thing and have learned that trust is necessary in modern life.

I agree to the rest as well except for a couple of small points- I do not understand how we can admit we have biases without knowing what they are. Maybe you could explain that to me so I understand?

I also do not think critical thinkers have to be of above- average intelligence, although it certainly can help, i'm sure. There can be "lazy thinkers" in all levels of the Bell Curve.

My last question was really to ask ourselves if we are applying it to our own thinking, as often we think others are not thinking critically just because they disagree.


FounDit
Posted: Thursday, December 30, 2021 12:01:43 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 16,876
Neurons: 81,868
Hope123 wrote:
FounDit wrote:
Hope123 wrote:
There are many definitions of critical thinking. What is yours?
These are my thoughts on the topic.

With all the misinformation and disinformation being spread by social media (described as mostly gossip), disreputable sources that pretend to be news, and sloppy journalism in reputable news circles, one wonders how to separate the chaff from the wheat. That is, how to solve a problem or to discover the truth of a matter. It looks today as if the critical thinking concept is very important to the future of humans.

How do we know what we know? Is it just doing research, observing, and analyzing data to see if facts accord or disagree with our initial views? That is, of course, part of critical thinking.

Or if they do not agree with them, are we willing to make it more of a self-corrective exercise? If we are unwilling, then there can be no critical thinking.

Is curiosity a prerequisite? I would say so. Is willingness to search from several sources necessary? Of course. No one knows all there is to know on any given subject.

Do we need to be aware of our own biases and preferences? Do we need to become aware of our own knowledge and ignorance first, before we can come to any conclusions about the topic? No necessarily to both questions. Awareness of biases isn't a prerequisite, but a willingness to admit we have them has to be admitted, even when unrecognized. However, a bias is not necessarily a bad thing. It's bias that is not admitted that can be problematic, or believing your information is unbiased while all others is biased. One can be biased towards the truth, such as the fact that gravity does exist. It is also true that new facts and information alters already accepted social truths because society is always evolving.

Do we need to be sure our sources are trustworthy or are we just accepting and repeating without much thinking the opinions of friends or leaders we happen to like? Sources do need to be trustworthy, but here is where bias may influence our belief in sources. One has to judge objectively, or in accord with already established and proven biases known to be true. But there is always the danger of accepting false information as truth and a failure to examine the information received.

Does critical thinking require above-average intelligence? Probably. Lazy thinkers aren't likely to be critical thinkers.

Does critical thinking require a specific educational background or level? I think not. Many great thinkers had limited formal education. It's the nature of the searcher that matters most, I think.

Are we applying it to our thinking most of the time (which is really all we can hope for)?
Some do, most don't. That's what I see most often.

https://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766


Hi FD. Thank you for answering my questions with well written and astute ideas. As you say, "No one knows all there is to know on any given subject." Agreed. Since no person on earth knows everything, those with experience, training, and education in any given subject are given deference. We can't research for ourselves every little thing and have learned that trust is necessary in modern life.

I agree to the rest as well except for a couple of small points- I do not understand how we can admit we have biases without knowing what they are. Maybe you could explain that to me so I understand?
My thinking was that there could be people who are unaware of information, and this could lead to a bias they don't know they have. In other words, they believe they know the truth, but are unaware of information that might counter what they believe, and ignorance of that information causes a bias they didn't know they had. They believe they have a genuine truth.

I also do not think critical thinkers have to be of above- average intelligence, although it certainly can help, i'm sure. There can be "lazy thinkers" in all levels of the Bell Curve.
But they aren't likely to be critical thinkers.

My last question was really to ask ourselves if we are applying it to our own thinking, as often we think others are not thinking critically just because they disagree.
This seems to be extremely prevalent today.

Hope123
Posted: Thursday, December 30, 2021 8:17:17 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/23/2015
Posts: 10,368
Neurons: 59,233
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Thanks for the update, FD.

With the Bell Curve statement, that is what I meant. (same as you) Lazy thinkers who don't bother to check even in their own minds and just accept what they read or hear are not critical thinkers and they can be found within the bright group and the not-so-bright group, in fact they can be found all along the continuum. I know we all just accept info sometimes as we can't check every little thing all the time but the important "stuff" should be.

IMO, One can judge whether or not one truly does try to see both sides oneself, but it is probably better to give others the same privilege, especially if they disagree with one's thoughts.

"More than two thousand years ago, the head of Jerusalem’s rabbinic court, Joshua ben Perahiah taught: “Judge every human being with a scale weighted in their favour.” (Pirkei Avot 1:6) This is usually taken to mean: “Give everyone the benefit of the doubt.”

I really liked these statements you made in an earlier post: "However, a bias is not necessarily a bad thing. It's bias that is not admitted that can be problematic, or believing your information is unbiased while all others is biased. One can be biased towards the truth, such as the fact that gravity does exist. It is also true that new facts and information alters already accepted social truths because society is always evolving."
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