What It Means to Be a Critical Thinker

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Critical thinking is more important than people think it is. It’s one of the aspects that helps overcomes difficulties and facilitates the access to information in everyday life. The world as it is now needs people with many capabilities e.g. understanding, more than one way of thinking, research, problem solving, critical thinking and also creativity.

The researchers Watson and Glizer, they believe critical thinking is a combination of various characteristics such as knowledge, attitude and the individual performance. They believe the skills you have to have to be a critical thinker must include perception, assumption recognition deduction, interpretation, and evaluation from reasoning that is logical. The definition that Watson and Glizer have come up with has been the basis of many critical thinking tests that have been widely used to measure critical thinking.

In life loads of statements are made such as ‘eating meat is murder, ‘euthanasia is murder’, ‘don’t do drugs’, ‘aliens have visited earth’, ’abortion is murder’. And naturally as humans we all have our own mind and we ask ourselves why to these various statements. We ask why because we want a reason to believe, often we go why should I believe that if I eat meat its murder or that drugs are bad for me. When you question the statement in this way, you’re not only asking for a reason but also a justification for accepting the belief or taking the recommended action. This is thinking critically.

In order to answer the question ‘What is critical thinking?’ we must understand it first. Critical thinking in a nutshell is essentially being able to analyse your own thought process in such a way that you recognise its strengths and weaknesses. As a result of doing this it allows us to reconsider our viewpoint and reconstruct our thought process in a new and improved form. This isn’t just easy to do, for you to be able to do this you must be able to open your mind to other viewpoints and be confident enough to question your own views. Also, not being naive to believe that because something is online it doesn’t necessarily mean It’s true.

In order to develop your skills in critical thinking you first need to know why it’s important. Critical thinking is especially important in student lives and particularly important in a workplace area too. Critical thinking allows you to think both objectively and critically about a particular issue, and in turn will allow you to open your mind to present a well-constructed argument. Having and developing this skillset will help you massively at university, for me especially its had quite a large impact.

Before coming to university, I had no idea what critical thinking was. Over the past couple months, I learnt how critical thinking can open you to a whole new aspect of thinking. The skills I acquired are not just skills for the present, they’re skills that assist you through life. Before being able to think more critically, when writing an essay about a topic that I had a belief about I would always be biased to my belief rather than presenting both viewpoints equally and backing up both sides of the argument with sound evidence. Now being able to think more critically, its allowed me not only to be open-minded to the ideas and views of others but also allowing me to be honest in facing my own biases and prejudices.

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However, I’m still not perfect, even though through critical thinking I’ve acquired skills such as being able to find strengths and weaknesses in my own thought process or facing my own biases and prejudices (to a certain extent) I still find it hard to actually completely open my mind to new ideas. Something that I recently have found particularly hard recently to open my mind to is the argument about religion and science.

Me personally am a firm believer in Hinduism, and have been raised in the culture of it my whole life. As I grew up I studied theology and philosophy as a GCSE, and that gave me a different perspective on the issue however I was still strong minded in believing that my belief was the only right one. Bear in mind I had to hard sound evidence backing up my belief I was just going on what I had been told and what I had read in various religious scripts and story’s which were all beliefs that hadn’t actually been proven.

Although this is a setback in my critical thinking, it’s something I plan to work on over the next month and come into semester two being able to fully have acquired the skill of completely being open-minded to other beliefs and ideas. As an update, swallowing my own pride I found countless of studies with sound evidence against what I believed in. Although tough to take I had to argument back for it, it was as simple as their studies had been backed up with sound reliable evidence and my belief hadn’t. I know this is an extreme case of critical thinking and it may be on the boundaries but for me it was a big part in allowing me to think critically to my full potential. Not only did it help me overcome being closed minded but also gave me the skill of being able to re-present my thinking in an improved from and present well-constructed arguments not just based on belief.

One very important skill to have when writing essays is critical analysis. It entails thinking about the issues at hand and evaluating them. Instead of just describing the topic you are writing about, you should explain and also back your explanation up with evidence and evaluate it also. This gives a reason for why things are said or done. Being objective is also essential, this means that your able to stand back and weighing up the evidence even if you happen not to agree with it. How you can remain objective is by examining the positives and negative aspects of all the issues at hand. Another excellent way of remaining objective is evaluating a selection of different theories but by using the third person rather than the first.

To be a good critical thinker you must be able to also listen. We are more prone to speaking than listening. So, we need to acquire the skill of letting someone speak without interrupting, anticipating what they are going to say and allowing them thinking time to let them get across what they want. Being able to do this enables us to hear not only what the person is saying but what is behind their words. Questioning what the person has to say after he has spoken is also a good thing to do as it lets us to get clarification about something that was unclear, or unpacking assumptions and challenging anything you thought had weak reasoning.

Open questions to the audience whom your addressing is generally preferable to closed ones because it allows the speaker to expand further about his viewpoint and also elaborate on points that may have been questioned by the audience. By not posing questions or challenging one’s beliefs, you’re not being a good critical thinker, as not asking questions could leave doubts in your mind or even make you misinterpret what the speaker is saying. By not posing challenges or questions you might not be able to fully understand what the speaker is saying and therefore may not accept their viewpoint.

To conclude this essay, critical thinking has many characteristics such as being able to open your mind to beliefs of others, being able to find strengths and weaknesses in your own thought pattern and being honest on your own biases and prejudices. Those are just to name a few. Critical thinking opens your mind to a whole new thinking pattern and allows you to base your reasons soundly and backed with evidence but also allows you to challenge ideas and beliefs and by enabling yourself to think critically its starts to make you want not just reason to believe it but justification also.

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