Information is everywhere. We can get it from the internet, from books, newspapers, from the television and from conversations with others. But in this vast library of information, only a fraction is useful – much of it is false, biased, or deliberately misleading.
That’s where critical thinking comes in, allowing us to deconstruct a situation, reveal its hidden flaws, and make a useful decision.
Critical thinking goes back to Socrates, whose method was all about asking and answering questions to draw out the underlying meanings of a subject. As the philosopher said, “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.”
A critical thinker should:
Read: Gather facts and information, an expose yourself to a wide range of points of view.
Make decisions slowly: Don’t jump to conclusions as soon as you see a headline.
Ask critical questions: For example, “Why has she said that?” or “What are his policies?”
Critical thinking is more important than ever in a time when fake news spreads faster and deeper than the truth. Thinking critically helps us find the pieces of information we need. It also allows for reasoned, interesting discussion. Hopefully, it also leads to a more rational world.
How will you think critically this week?
Read Our Stories
Philosopher shares ‘tools’ for better thinking
Daniel Dennett is one of the world’s top thinkers. In his latest book, he shares his mental toolkit of ‘apps’ he has downloaded to his ‘necktop’. But is the mind really just like a machine?
Trump lies pass 10,000. (And his fans don’t care)
President Trump has been described as “the most extravagant, reckless, inexhaustible fibber of our era”, sometimes clocking up 100 false claims in a day. Why is he still so popular?
Now Kanye West wants to be the new Socrates
Is Kanye West wise or idiotic? The rapper is making headlines with a remarkable series of tweets which express his opinions on a range of subjects. He describes it as his “philosophy book”.
In this helpful video, TedED shares five tips for becoming a more critical thinker.
- Practice your logical thinking skills by seeing if you can solve this zombie riddle.
- Create a poster which gives advice to others about how to spot fake news using critical thinking.
- Choose a popular conspiracy theory, such as “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.