We are in a time where people are asked to be critical thinkers but very few understand its meaning. We expect people to question everything but berate or ignore them when they ask uncomfortable questions. Critical thinking is something that is a cornerstone of a scientific lifestyle and of science itself. In order to make things a bit clearer and help you understand what the various aspects of critical thinking are. I have wanted to write something like this for a long time and today I found a topic on this in my course book so I would like to share what I have read with you as well.
- There are very few things that need not be subjected to query.
There is very little in this universe that doesn’t require further inquiry. People have a lot of beliefs that they keep away from any questions and feel insecure when they are questioned by someone else. It is something which is very human to do but it is not scientific. If you really wish to be a critical thinker, you must question everything, your beliefs, the world around you and your perception of things and so on. There is very little in this world that is an absolute “truth”, for example, you can ask why 2+2 is 4 but it is very basic mathematics. You can question why ‘2’ represents two of something or why ‘+’ is used as a symbol of addition but it is not something which could be false as a whole.
- All evidence is not equal in quality.
When experiments are carried out, we must remember that they are carried out by humans as well. It is a basic directive of being a researcher to not let your biases or agendas get the better of you but to err is human. It is thus imperative to study the method that a researcher has used to back up their conclusion. Some studies may be deliberately manipulated and some may have been carried out incorrectly or in poor control of conditions. Just remember that the wilder the claim, the better the evidence must be.
- Authority or Experts mean nothing if they cannot back up their words.
Very often you might be told to accept something just because that is what the experts say or that is what the authorities are telling you. It is something that must never make you stand down. If the experts tell you something, you must ask them how they know it, or what makes them think so, of course if they are predicting something, then they might not have many good answers but it doesn’t make them true. It is the basis of our modern education system and I accept that at some level it is necessary to make people learn something before they can question it but in later stages, it is equally important to make people know the importance of being inquisitive and not being bogged down by an authoritative figure.
- Keep an open mind.
It is good to be skeptical but it doesn’t mean you should close your mind to the answers and become a denier. It is also equally important to have an open mind and not become gullible to conspiracies. You will need a balance between skepticism and willingness to consider new possibilities, even those that go against your personal values or beliefs.
Of course now the question you must have is why you should believe my system and if these are the only steps to think critically. You are on the right path if you are asking these questions. These are not the only steps to be a critical thinker; these are just a few points about it I found in my book. There are many more aspects of thinking critically and you can search for them anytime you like. Questions can never be too many and they can never be unanswerable. The answer may not be known, but that doesn’t mean there is no answer. So I hope anyone reading this tries to inculcate these thoughts within their daily life to continue their crusade for the truth.