Learning how to think critically is hard, but the rewards for doing so are worth the effort. Being a critical thinker can be the difference between success and failure. However, it’s not about finding flaws in someone else’s argument.
Why is it important? Simply, critical thinkers are able to make better strategic and more effective decisions based on the evidence in front of them, not what they’re told by others or assumption they made. Would the Titanic have sunk if it had not been assumed it was an unsinkable?
You’ll be able to see what’s relevant, what’s accurate and what you don’t need to concern yourself with. In short, being a critical thinker can set you apart from your peers and is an invaluable skill in everyday life.
What does it take to be a critical thinker?
According to Dr. Roy Van den Brink-Budgen, co-founder and Director of Studies of the Centre for Critical Thinking in Singapore, with over 30 years’ experience in the field, there are six core skills required for thinking critically1:
Problem-solving: developing a strategy and creating workable solutions
Why is critical thinking important?
It’s never a good thing to simply accept what you’re told as fact. Within all arguments there should be facts and evidence, which can then be used to form your own opinion. Evidence is important to critical thinking.
Being a critical thinker sets you apart from most other people. You don’t take everything you’re told at face value, you seek out both sides of every argument – and will certainly broaden out your research to include other points of view.
This ability helps you slow down, so you can have time to fully engage with a question, or hypothesis. It helps you innovate in new ways, to predict what might happen in the future, to come to better decisions.
Critical thinking has brought us the new ideas of Newton and Einstein, to the evaluations of Darwin and the inspiration of Martin Luther King, Jr. None of these people accepted what they were told, or what others said was the truth. Each of them fundamentally shifted our worldview.
As a skill, critical thinking can be learned. And if you’re already a critical thinker, then you can always get better.
1 Macat International. 2016. What is Critical Thinking? A definition for real-life. Available at: Click here to view