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May 16

How to Think Critically: Strengthen Your Mind For Success In Life

 

I want you to develop your mind to think critically. I want you to learn critical thinking so that you are more able to analyze and solve complex problems in the best possible way.

Critical Thinking

It can help you in your career by finding new ways to do business and improve teamwork. It can help you in life by improving your decision-making skills and formulate goals. It will help you spot if someone is trying to manipulate your thoughts.

To start with, you need the correct attitude. You have to want it. It isn’t easy, it takes mental power. Just by reading this far I think you have it in you to train your mind.

You must also have the following characteristics, which are a high level of motivation, intellectual humility, open minded but also having skepticism, and to be a free thinker.

Intellectual Humility

This means that when you form an opinion on a subject you must be prepared to examine all the evidence FOR and AGAINST it. Many times an important matter cannot be boiled down to a simple yes or no, or black and white. Often a subject is a shade of gray, especially if it complex. Sometimes you can’t come to a conclusion with the data or time available, saying “you don’t know” is best.

Skepticism and an Open Mind

These two go hand in hand, as being too much of a skeptic will leave you doubting everything and too open minded will lead you to gullibility. You must examine the issue from many different viewpoints and rationally look for the bad and the good points of each side. The most important thing is getting to the truth of the matter. To do this, use facts backed up by reliable sources and reasoning. You must be able to accept that your initial opinion of the matter might be flawed.

A Free Thinker

To become a critical thinker, you must have an independent mind. You cannot adopt a position because the majority believe it, or because of social pressures. For most people, this is the most difficult characteristic to realize. It can take some people a lot of effort to overcome their current opinions to complete an objective investigation of the subject.

High Motivation

Most important of all, a critical thinker cannot be lazy. To think critically is not easy, you must have the motivation to look at all the data from multiple sides. You must question everything so as to have as much essential knowledge as possible. You must have the curiosity to expand your understanding above all, at times even digging into discomforting subjects.

 

Questions to ask yourself to help you think critically are:

 

  • IS IT CLEARElaborate, Examples, Illustrate, Can you express it in another way?
  • IS IT ACCURATEIs it true? How can you check the statement to see if it is factual?
  • IS IT PRECISEDetails? Specifics?
  • IS IT RELEVANTHow does it relate to the issue? How is it connected?
  • HOW DEEP DID YOU LOOKAre you taking all the issues into the discussion? Did you answer all complexities?
  • HOW BROAD DID YOU LOOKLook at it from all angles. Brainstorm an angle you may have missed.
  • IS IT LOGICAL Does it make sense? Does everything follow everything else?
  • WERE YOU FAIR Did you leave personal bias out? We naturally view things from our own perspective.

 

Obstructions to Critical Thinking

There are four main categories that stop most people from being able to think logically and critically: human limitations, language, faulty logic, and psychological traps.Advice

Human Limitations

 

  • Physical and Emotional Stress, fatigue, drugs affect the ability to think clearly
  • Confirmation Bias Looking for only what you agree with, ignoring data that contradicts
  • Testimonial Evidence Using stories as fact even though stories are easily inaccurate and biased
  • Personal Prejudice Unique lives and experiences create personal bias, you must remain objective
  • False Memories Over time our memories tend to ‘fill in the gaps’ with things that didn’t really happen

 

Language Use

 

  • Doublespeak/Jargon Using technical terms to make simple things complex or small matters seem great
  • Meaningless Comparison Making things appear related but aren’t
  • Assuring Expressions Used to disarm from questioning the truth of an argument
  • AmbiguityUsing words that have more than one meaning in an attempt to confuse
  • False ImplicationsClear and concise but misleads
  • Emotive ContentUsing words to achieve feelings about the matter to bias others

 

Faulty Logic

 

  • Pragmatic Fallacy Saying it is true because it works, even though the outcome is not proven linked
  • Slippery Slope Assuming that a chain of events will occur, but having no proof
  • Inappropriate Comparison Using irrelevant similarities
  • Arguing from Ignorance Saying something is true because it hasn’t been proven false
  • Apophenia Viewing unrelated facts as being connected to each other
  • False analogy Using illogical analogies as proof

 

Psychological Traps

 

  • Red Herring Evade the issue by diverting attention to an irrelevant one
  • Poisoned Well Create a prejudice against the other viewpoint so they are not perceived fairly
  • Ad Hominem Fallacy Criticizing the person, not the argument itself
  • False Dilemma Also known as either/or, restrict any further alternatives from consideration
  • Bandwagon Popularity of the belief is enough of a reason to accept it
  • Emotional Appeals Using emotions over facts since emotion influences far more people than logic

 


Folks, it is quite possible that we are exposed to an enormous amount of bullshit that hurts our ability to think rationally and logically. Sometimes we create the impediment ourselves by our own human limitations. Other times it is an assault on the truth from a source that wants to conceal what they are really doing.

Think about the obstructions to our critical thought I just listed. Can you think of times that something I listed has happened?

I can, especially under the Psychological Traps sections. Red herrings, Poisoned Well, Ad hominem, Bandwagon, Emotional Appeals, False Dilemmas, to me those are the easiest to see and I see them all around. It saddens me to see people fall for such clear and basic manipulations. And those are just the obvious ones, much more are hidden!

I don’t claim to be the best critical thinker, but I try to call it when I see it.

Mastering critical thinking is one excellent way you can avoid being manipulated and become a more informed and decision maker.

2 comments

  1. Tony

    Great article man! I was just learning about some of these concepts as well. It’s nice to have them all condensed into one location and having the definitions laid out. It seems like once you are exposed to some of these fallacies and psychological traps, you can start to see them used in conversations and better understand where the thought process has gone askew. Things like emotional appeals, Red herrings, pragmatic fallacies, and Apophenia seem to come up very frequently.
    Tony recently posted…Whatever you want in life, give it first.My Profile

    1. MrDD

      Thanks Tony. I agree, once you learn the ‘tricks’ it helps in identifying them. I am no master at it, but having some of the information laid out here helps greatly. I will come back to the info in this article to refresh my memory as there is a lot to remember.

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