What is Critical Thinking

Get Acquainted With What the Concept of Critical Thinking Is

At times, it becomes difficult to explain what critical thinking is, as there exist several overlapping definitions of the same. In this Buzzle article, we will try to help you get a better understanding of the entire concept and its importance.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Contrary to the widespread belief, critical thinking doesn't necessarily mean being 'critical', i.e., negative, about something. Instead, it is defined as an individual's ability to apply logic, find evidence, and use reasoning power to analyze a particular issue. In a broad sense, it refers to purposeful reflective judgment of a subject or some issue which helps you determine what to believe in or what to do. While the practice has been in existence for thousands of years, the term 'critical thinking' was coined somewhere in the mid-20th century.

An Overview of the Concept

Knowingly or unknowingly, we do resort to critical thinking on several occasions in life; the problem though, is the fact that we do it far less often than we actually should. This concept has a place in all walks of our life―right from education to business. Irrespective of whether you are in the field of education or you practice law, it is not at all possible for you to perform without resorting to it. It helps you excel in your professional as well as personal life by facilitating a clear, concise thought process, which is necessary to understand the world without focusing on oneself.

In the field of education, it ensures that the student doesn't just grasp the subject, but also understands it, as its application is only possible when you understand it thoroughly. In law enforcement agencies, it helps officers think out-of-the-box and solve cases. Even arguments in the court of law are based on critical thinking, with 'law' forming their base. In nursing, it helps the nurse carry out numerous tasks, including diagnosis and evaluation of a patient's condition.

Simply put, it has a place in every single profession that you can think of. More importantly, this concept also comes handy when it comes to decision making in your personal life. Irrespective of whether it's about choosing a career, raising family, or planning the future, you have to opt for critical thinking if you are to make sure that your life is a smooth sail.

Critical thinking requires an open mind and rationality. While open mind helps you accept an answer which is not influenced by your own take on the particular issue, rationality helps you evaluate the evidence on the basis of a reason, instead of relying on emotions. When we say, you need to be open-minded, we mean you need to do away with the 'I already know everything' mentality. If you don't keep your mind open to new ideas and solutions, you will not be able to accept them. It also hints at the fact that it is important to reason/rationalize a belief or action. One needs to understand that obvious conclusions are not necessarily right, and make sure that he doesn't jump to any such conclusions.

Why is it So Important?

It is important as it helps you understand the logical connection between two ideas or concepts. Basically, the entire concept revolves around logical thinking, reasoning, questioning, etc. Thus, the numerous activities for developing critical thinking skills are targeted at the development of these very attributes. Puzzles, text analysis, Socratic thinking, games, interactive sessions, and―most important of all―reading are some activities that can help you develop these attributes.

The concept has a crucial role to play in problem solving, decision making, construction and evaluation of arguments, etc. Irrespective of whether it is problem solving or decision making, creative ideas and critical thinking go hand in hand, such that without one the other is of no use. It is always wise to start your problem-solving activity with critical thinking, as it eliminates the chances of your creative actions going waste at a later stage.

Lack of the same results in spread of false beliefs and myths; the legend of Bermuda Triangle is one the best examples of the same. Almost all the stories which form the base of the famous Bermuda Triangle mystery are full of loopholes. However, not many people are able to identify these loopholes, as they seldom resort to critical thinking. A closer look and you realize that almost all these stories have a similar beginning, which highlights that the day was pretty ordinary and nobody on board the aircraft or vessel knew what was coming.

Similarly, the size of this Triangle varies from one source to another and an accident which takes place anywhere in the vast North Atlantic, finds a place in the list of Bermuda Triangle disappearances. The Bermuda Triangle mystery is just one of the numerous myths that can be attributed to the lack of critical thinking, but it does highlight the importance of this concept very well.

Unlearning is not at all easy and hence, it is important to inculcate critical thinking skills in children from the beginning. The biggest problem, however, is the fact that most of us have no idea about what it is; leave alone its importance. In such circumstances, only a major step, like including it as a part of the curriculum maybe, can make sure that we don't lose out on bright minds.