Critical Thinking


Critical thinking is the central idea behind skepticism. It is the ability to assess the evidence and use that to come to the best possible judgment. The word critical comes from Greek and refers to judgment and the practice dates back to Ancient Greece and Socrates. Critical thinking has a long history in philosophy and its best practices have long been debated. In a study on critical thinking and education in 1941, Edward Glaser defines critical thinking as follows “The ability to think critically, as conceived in this volume, involves three things: ( 1 ) an attitude of being disposed to consider in a thoughtful way the problems and subjects that come within the range of one's experiences, (2) knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning, and (3) some skill in applying those methods. Critical thinking calls for a persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it and the further conclusions to which it tends.”

Research into the efficacy of teaching critical thinking has been conducted and shown positive impacts in reducing people susceptibility to pseudoscientific claims. These are transferable skills and critical thinking is required for all elements of further learning. Humanities, such as English Literature ask you to assess the critique of others and interpret the possible bias and historical context. Science requires critical thinking to interpret the results of experimentation and create hypothesis. In order to learn from education you need to able to assess the trustworthiness of what you are being taught. Critical thinking teaches that.

Critical thinking encourages us to put aside our internal biases and preconceived notions and arrive at conclusions based on the evidence. It is the tonic to gut response derived from fear, anger or love. This rational objection prospective can be criticised for being cold and unfeeling. Research shows that emotions have an impact on our decision making and this can help as well as hinder it. An essential component of critical thinking is being able open to changing your mind as the evidence indicates but it’s important to not allow rationality to detach you from compassion.