“It is a mental attitude about critical thinking and curiosity. It is s about the mindset of looking at the world in a playful and curious and creative way.” - Adam Savage
Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally, to understand and connect ideas logically in an independent and reflective thinking. It requires the active ability of reasoning rather than being a passive recipient of information.
As a critical thinker, you question all ideas and assumptions including your own, thoroughly and not accept them on their apparent face value. You will always aim at determining whether the presented ideas and arguments represent the whole picture and you will be open to refute your own ideas if they do not.
Critical thinkers rely on logic and analysis that are driven by an intuitive curiosity and longing for the truth. They can sense inconsistencies in arguments as they connect them to a higher plane of thinking. They ask an awful lot of questions, the answers to which, have the potential of uncovering and discerning between what is factual from fiction or simply a meme passed on from older generations where it may have been helpful for their survival at the time.
Critical thinking may not always lead to satisfactory conclusion especially with more abstract ideas, and it can easily ward off any falsehoods and exaggerated claims. This process gives rise to a best possible solution for the time, using this solution as a springboard to the next, and better one. It relies on a variety of skills like sensory acuity, observation, analysis, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, inference, explanation, problem-solving, and decision making.
Their crucial linguistic tool for critical thinkers is the ability to ask questions that are reflective in nature. They circle any idea with a barrage of Who, what, where, when, why, how, and “what if”s. The answers almost always give rise to even more questions until a satisfactory conclusion is reached and tested. Below is a cheat sheet of questions that critical thinkers use.
Who benefits from this?
Who is this harmful to?
Who makes decisions about this?
Who is the most directly affected?
Who have you also heard discuss this?
Who will be the key people in this?
Who would be the best person to consult?
Who deserves recognition for this?
What are the strengths and weaknesses?
What is another perspective?
What is another alternative?
What would be a counter argument?
What is the best or worst case scenario?
What is the most or least important?
What can we do to make a positive change?
What is getting in the way of our action?
Where would we see this in the real world?
Where are the similar Concepts or situations?
Where is there the most need for this?
Where in the world would this be a problem?
Where can we get more information?
Where do we go for help with this?
Where will this idea take us?
What are the areas for improvement?
When is this acceptable or unacceptable?
When would this benefit our Society?
When would this cause a problem?
When is the best time to take action?
When will you know you have succeeded?
When did this play a part in your history?
When can we expect this to change?
When should we ask for help with this?
Why is this a problem or a challenge?
Why is this relevant to me or others?
Why is this the best or worst scenario?
Why are people influenced by this?
Why should people know about this?
Why has it been this way for so long?
Why have we allowed this to happen?
Why is there a need for this today??
How is this similar to....?
How does this disrupt things?
How do we know the truth about this?
How will we approach this safely?
How does this Benefit us and others?
How does this harm us or others?
How do we see this in the future
How can we change this for our good?
Think of something that you are asked to believe to be true and find it a bit hard to do so. Now apply some or all of the questions above on that belief; does it stand the test or does it crumble at the first wave of questioning? If it doesn’t, keep questioning until you reach your satisfactory conclusion, one that may corroborate the belief or refute it entirely. Make sure you use the same questioning spree on your beliefs and assumptions, the ones you are trying to convince others of; do they stand the test or should you rethink what your beliefs are? The maturity of thinking happens only when one know how to think critically and just do that, think.