Human thought is amazing, but the speed and automation with which it happens can be a disadvantage when we’re trying to think critically.
Our brains naturally use heuristics (mental shortcuts) to explain what’s happening around us.
The “chicken and egg problem” a classic example of this.
At first, it seems obvious that the chicken had to come first. But then you quickly realize that the chicken had to come from somewhere, and since chickens come from eggs, the egg must have come first. Even if it turns out that the reverse When you’re trying to solve a problem, it’s always helpful to look at other work that has been done in the same area.
This was beneficial to humans when we were hunting large game and fighting off wild animals, but it can be disastrous when we’re trying to decide who to vote for.
A critical thinker is aware of their cognitive biases and personal prejudices and how they influence seemingly “objective” decisions and solutions. Becoming aware of them is what makes critical thinking possible.
While I venture that a lot of us did learn it, I prefer to approach learning deliberately, and so I decided to investigate critical thinking for myself.
What is it, how do we do it, why is it important, and how can we get better at it? In addition to answering these questions, I’ll also offer seven ways that you can start thinking more critically today, both in and outside of class.“Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.”– The Foundation for Critical Thinking The above definition from the Foundation for Critical Thinking website is pretty wordy, but critical thinking, in essence, is not that complex. If we had to think deliberately about every single action (such as breathing, for instance), we wouldn’t have any cognitive energy left for the important stuff like D&D. We can run into problems, though, when we let our automatic mental processes govern important decisions.
Don’t get so bogged down in research and reading that you forget to think for yourself–sometimes this can be your most powerful tool.
Writing about Einstein’s paper “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” (the paper that contained the famous equation ), C. Snow observed that “it was as if Einstein ‘had reached the conclusions by pure thought, unaided, without listening to the opinions of others.