Our culture today seems to push against the very existence and need for the competence of critical thinking.
In 2014, we are so used to being told where to focus and what to focus our attention on, that many of us give thought only to the things we can immediately see and/or hear.
The 21st century’s most valid information vehicle is what we call the news. The problem with the news is we’re given only a percentage of what is really news, and we’re told how to think about that news.
Seldom are we left to come to our own conclusions about whether the news we’re delivered, is good or bad; conclusive or non-conclusive.
Consequently, once we’ve acquired this so-called news (which is typically altered), many of us believe we have been completely informed. We then move to the next best thing, believing our work is done.
However, for those of us who embrace critical thinking, the works has just begun.
Here are 5 ways a critical thinker effectively dissects information/data that is received:
1. Ask, is this True or False?
A few days ago, I came across an article online, saying that the Chicago Bulls were planning to cut their superstar point guard, Derrick Rose. The first question I asked myself, before allowing the article to trigger an emotional response was, “Is this true or false?”
Critical thinkers will automatically begin asking themselves this question, about all information they receive.
Everything we see and/or hear isn’t always true. Before wasting your time following the remaining ways to practice critical thinking, it’s probably best to know if that information is both completely accurate and true.
Happy is he that bases his/her assumptions on fact vs. what they just read or heard.
2. Get into the details.
Many of us are so busy we forget to get into the weeds and examine the information we receive.
There’s a lot of data out here. One of the things I learned from almost two decades of analyzing and compiling data is that data can be manipulated to tell the story, the storyteller wants to weave.
Regardless of how compelling the data maybe, get into the weeds and ask questions. Everything is not always what it seems to be.
3. Proficiently mines and analyzes data.
Often when critically thinking, you’ll find that the information you’re compiling may have gaps that prevent you from weaving a complete story. This will create the need for research. The wonderful thing about living in the 21st century is that Google has become the ultimate research tool. The horrible thing about the 21st Century is that you’ll get more information from a one-word search then you’ll ever want or need.
Thus, proficiently mining data/information is a necessary skill of any critical thinker that wants to fill the gaps in their research quickly.
4. Ask questions.
I’ve always embraced the cliché, “There are no dumb questions.”
Yet, somehow the questioner is often demonized in group or corporate settings, rather than celebrated for caring enough to think deeply and critically, to come up with the question in the first place.
Based on the business results of many of our wayward corporations it appears a few more questions should be invited into the decision-making process.
Go ahead…be courageous! Ask that question!
…and if you’re a leader be careful not to use time as an excuse for not accepting and addressing questions. Otherwise your behavior could be translated into, “Sorry, but we don’t have time to critically think.”
5. Stops to reflect.
To busy to slow down, and reflect?
If so, you’re to busy to critically think.
Reflection is a key attribute of anyone that values self-correction. It would be impossible for me to count the number of times that I’ve found errors in my work and shortcomings in my behavior by just stopping to reflect.
There’s a lot of noise in this modern atmosphere. It behooves us all to do a better job at adjusting our dials and determining whether the information we receive requires a bit more work to sort out the static and feedback. It’s up to us to ensure we are tuned in loud and clear, by critically thinking.
What are some other ways critical thinkers sort through information?
Also let me know your thoughts about this post. I’m curious about what you critically think. (Pun intended)
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