we're not talking about finding fault, or about something being
crucial. No, were simply talking about a way of thinking
that is least likely to include biases and, or logical
There are those who don't want us to use critical
thinking. That's why we
bring up this topic. Because we think that people don't
know what critical thinking is and even if they do, there are
those who try to prevent them from using it. As humorist
and social critic George Carlin (1937 - 2008) famously said:
"They [the owners of this
country...real owners now, the BIG owners! The Wealthy… the REAL
owners! The big wealthy business interests that control things
and make all the important decisions] don’t want a population of
citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well
informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking.
They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That's
against their interests."
To see a video of George
doing his routine and read a transcript of what he said.
We think George just might be
correct about this, and we'd rather make the error of thinking
he correct when he isn't (a false positive) than think he's
wrong when he isn't (a false negative).
To read more about these two types
disciplined thinking that is clear, rational,
open-minded, and informed by evidence. It does not involve
persuasion, but may result in thinking that is persuasive in the
the Critical Thinker
Critical thinkers all share
they following characteristics.
the wish to know, to seek
answers to questions and problems
2. Skepticism: not accepting without
understanding based on evidence that is:
a. empirical (in other words,
b. rational (in other words, not
influenced by biases or logical fallacies).
NOTE: Skepticism is NOT
doubt, or cynicism. It is NOT a matter of mistrust, or
disbelief. It IS simply a matter of questioning, looking
beyond and beneath the surface.
3. Objectivity: recognizing and filtering
out the subjective biases and emotional elements.
4. Open-mindedness: receptive to new information, willing to
consider competing viewpoints and to think inside and outside
the box (use both convergent and divergent thinking), and able
to apply both deductive and inductive reasoning.
willingness to be uncertain and then to change, to think new and
thoughts, or adopt new methods of inquiry based on new and
different evidence and
able to accept potential validity of competing statements,
that compete with personally held beliefs.
employing thorough and consistent processes of reasoning to
Critical Thinking Questions
Critical thinkers are both curious and questioning. They want to
know, and they want to see beneath the surface. Consequently,
critical thinkers ask questions in an effort to find new
information and knowledge. Every time a critical thinker
encounters new information or knowledge, she or he will do more
than simply absorb it, like a sponge; instead, the critical
thinker will question that information and shape it, like a
While many of the questions a critical thinker poses when
encountering something new will be specific to the particular
information or knowledge, there are some general types of
questions that apply, such as the following:
1. What is the structure of the reasoning?
a. What are the issues and
b. Why do the issues and conclusions matter?
c. What are the reasons?
d. What terms or phrases are ambiguous?
e. What perspectives underlie the reasoning?
good is the evidence?
a. Is there actually any factual evidence?
b. If the evidence arises from research, or actual observation
and data collection:
How generalizable are the
samples of observation?
How valid are the measures
and/or the experimental manipulations?
Is the data analysis
c. Are there rival causes?
d. What significant information is omitted?
e. What conclusions are justified by the evidence?
f. If information is provided are any sources cited that
can be checked and verified
see an example of critical thinking
read about convergent and divergent thinking
read about Reasoning
go to the brief introduction to thinking and feeling
go to the Articles Page