This Saturday (February 22) is World Thinking Day. The brain is a muscle, and just like other muscles, it gets stronger the more we use it. And if thinking is exercise for the brain, scientists say that critical thinking acts like a mental full-body workout.
Critical thinking means objectively analysing facts in order to form a judgement, rather than deciding things based on emotion or what others have told you.
To think critically:
1/ Choose the question you want to answer. (i.e. Who should I vote for? Is this news article true?)
2/ Gather facts and information. (i.e. What are the policies? What does the article say?)
3/ Ask critical questions. (i.e. Are the arguments logical? Is the writing biased?)
4/ Think about the implications. (i.e. Will the policies have any unintended consequences? Is the news story trying to change my behaviour?)
5/ Consider other points of view. (i.e. What do critics say about my favourite candidate? Have other news outlets debunked this story?)
Critical thinking skills are more important than ever in a post-truth era. The internet gives us information for free, but only by thinking logically can we sidestep fake news.
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An animated video explains how to think critically in more detail, and explains why it matters. If everyone was a critical thinker, would the world be a better place?
- Create a poster or video which gives advice to primary school students on how to spot fake news.
- Take this critical thinking test. The questions will give you two premises, or “facts”, and you must decide which conclusions are true.
- Choose a popular conspiracy theory (e.g. “The Moon landings were faked”) and write a report which gathers the arguments involved and looks objectively at the facts. At the end, write whether you think the theory is wrong, or whether it could be true.