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The Nature of Critical Thinking

By shuntay May 21, 2005 696 Words
Critical thinking is the use of those cognitive skills or strategies that increase the probability of a desirable outcome. It is used to describe thinking that is purposeful, reasoned and goal directed - the kind of thinking involved in solving problems, formulating inferences, calculating likelihood's, and making decisions when the thinker is using skills that are thoughtful and effective for the particular context and type of thinking task. Thus, critical thinking involves: following evidence where it leads; considering all possibilities; relying on reason rather than emotion; being precise; considering a variety of possible viewpoints and explanations; weighing the effects of motives and biases; being concerned more with finding the truth than with being right; not rejecting unpopular views out of hand; being aware of one's own prejudices and biases, and not allowing them to sway one's judgment. The purpose of critical thinking is, therefore, to achieve understanding, evaluate viewpoints, and solve problems. Since all three areas involve the asking of questions, we can say that critical thinking is the questioning or inquiry we engage in when we seek to understand, evaluate, or resolve. Critical thinking includes the ability to respond to material by distinguishing between facts and opinions or personal feelings, judgments and inferences, inductive and deductive arguments, and the objective and subjective. It also includes the ability to generate questions, construct, and recognize the structure of arguments, and adequately support arguments; define, analyze, and devise solutions for problems and issues; sort, organize, classify, correlate, and analyze materials and data; integrate information and see relationships; evaluate information, materials, and data by drawing inferences, arriving at reasonable and informed conclusions, applying understanding and knowledge to new and different problems, developing rational and reasonable interpretations, suspending beliefs and remaining open to new information, methods, cultural systems, values and beliefs and by assimilating information." Critical thinking is best understood as the ability of thinkers to take charge of their own thinking. This requires that they develop sound criteria and standards for analyzing and assessing their own thinking and routinely use those criteria and standards to improve its quality. Broadly speaking, critical thinking is concerned with reason, intellectual honesty, and open-mindedness, as opposed too emotionalism, intellectual laziness, and closed-mindedness. Wordnet views perception as "insight, intuition, or knowledge gained by perceiving, a way of conceiving something" (Wordnet, 1997). Perception, to me is the way I view something or situation, it may not necessarily be the way the situation happened. I was recently involved in a situation at work when my co-workers and me perceived that weekly department meeting would be unpleasant and hostile. The reason for the misperception was because our supervisor sent us a hostile email. He was having a bad day and it reflected in the email that he sent out informing the department about the meeting. When it was time for the meeting we all dreaded going because we thought that this would be one of those meeting when he just raged on us about the performance of the department. It turned out that we where having this meeting to talk about the goals and expectation for the department and the company for 2004 and also we were updating our job descriptions. This time it didn't turn into boxing match but rather what we can expect for the coming year meeting as an organization. In this situation the way my supervisor approached the department with the meeting is what made is believe or perceive that this would be a hostile meeting. If I have learned one thing from this situation is to not read so much into the way people approach situations. A person can say and express one thing but the way the other party perceives what was said can be another thing totally. After researching and analyzing what the word perception means my way of thinking has changed I now try to get a full understand of things and not try to jump to the conclusion of how I think thing should go. Perception can led to a lot of confusion if we didn't fully understand what we hear or see.

Reference
WordNet 1.6 1997 Princeton University, Retrieved from Dictonary.com on January 14, 2004

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