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Effective critical thinking is born with the realization that we know much less than we think we do.
“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” –Aristotle
If we live with the premise we already know everything, what’s the point? A sense of constant curiosity serves as the foundation of critical thinking, and importantly, also creates an interesting and healthy life. When we are young, curiosity is endless and stimulating. Learning new things and techniques to accomplish things excites us. As we mature, research suggests that curiosity in older people is associated with maintaining the health of the aging central nervous system. An examination of over 2,100 sixty-eight- to seventy-year-olds compared and measured… curiosity. This is the first study to identify a predictive role for curiosity in the longevity of older adults.
According to Dr. Todd B. Kashdan, a professor of psychology at George Mason University, one of the most reliable and overlooked keys to happiness is cultivating and exercising our innate sense of curiosity.
Curiosity that is open-minded, truth-seeking, and solution oriented define successful critical thinking.
The Cambridge dictionary defines critical thinking as the process of thinking carefully about a subject or idea, without allowing feelings or opinions to affect you.
According to Professor Daniel J. Levitin and Nadia Goodman, Clinical Psychologist, we can employ the following to deepen our ability and enhance critical thinking:
Don’t be a follower: All humans are susceptible to behave as humans around us, and believe whatever we are told or read is true. Critical thinking involves the act of believing in something only once you have thought it through, compared it to our knowledge, and identified the reasons it is compelling.
Examine your biases. When you face a problem, it’s common to view it from only your perspective and to overlook how [others] see it… The goal of critical thinking is to bring those biases to light so they don’t obstruct your decisions… When we articulate our thoughts, we have a better chance to detect distorted thinking.
Consider the implications of your options. Every choice has consequences, and you can improve your decision-making by anticipating what those might be… Approach a problem from many different viewpoints. Imagine yourself as each of the stakeholders, and consider how they might feel and act in response to each option.
Know that doubt, suspicion, and sometimes fear can accompany critical thinking. These emotions should be embraced as they can inspire further investigation and yield an understanding more closely resembling the actual truth.
“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.”