I’ve talked about critical thinking before, but I believe it’s such an important and broad topic that I’d like to address it once again. Thinking about something critically entails looking at a situation from all sides, considering various views, and being open and aware of pre-existing beliefs. Each person develops at their own pace and arrives at various skills at different stages, but the following questions might help you on your path to becoming an accomplished critical thinker.
Why Is This Issue Important?
What is the reason you’re considering a certain issue? Is it for a class, for personal reasons, or is it related to someone else? How does the situation impact you and are you personally affected by it? Also, notice emotions, if any, that come up for you surrounding the issue. The answers to these questions will clue you into the relevance of the topic and give you insight as to how to proceed. For example, if you’re obviously not interested, and you’re contemplating a subject simply for class, it’s likely you won’t put as much effort into thinking it through as you would if it were personal.
What Sides Are Involved?
What kinds of opinions are involved in this issue? There are usually various perspectives surrounding a topic, and it’s imperative that you first sort them out and understand what kinds of thoughts are at play here. Which view do you most strongly relate to? Ask yourself why. The answer to this question will likely determine the side you choose. For instance, if you realize that you feel this way simply because it’s what your parents believe and have expressed to you for your whole life, it may be time to re-examine your own feelings and beliefs. It’s okay to agree with others who have influenced you, but critical thinking involves making your own conclusions.
Which Side Makes Sense?
Think about what each side is arguing. Break down the arguments, perhaps even writing lists of pros and cons in order to get a better grasp on the information. In considering this question, look at the evidence presented and think about what’s logical and seems legitimate. Consider the source as well, as the saying goes. Does the person or group making the strongest argument have something at stake or something to gain? If so, it’s possible they could be pushing a certain view simply to promote their own agenda.
There is so much more that could be said on this topic. What’s most important, in my mind, is to ask questions. The more questions you ask yourself and others, the more of an understanding you’ll have about a situation. Also, the better you’ll understand yourself!