Critical thinking is a skill that lets one understand and evaluate an issue or situation logically. All available facts and information related or likely to be related to the issue are analyzed. It involves sorting, organizing, and analyzing facts and information to define a problem and then find an effective solution. It is a mindset that is crucial for the desired development of our personal and professional life. In this article, we will discuss critical thinking and process, barriers of critical thinking, and how to overcome it.
What is critical thinking?
Critical thinking is the quality of Thinking clearly and thoroughly. It’s a Careful application of reason to explain an issue. It is the ability to define and analyze facts to understand a problem deeply. It often involves a few steps that start from identifying and characterizing a problem and continues through analysis, interpretation, and ends up with developing a solution.
A critical thinker questions any idea or assumption rather than accepting it blindly. They approach the problem consistently and systematically rather than by intuition. Identify, make, and evaluate arguments and use the facts, arguments, and findings to build the real picture.
Examples of Critical Thinking
Critical thinking can be applied in every sphere of our life. Doctors, Lawyers, Scientists, Politicians, and business Professionals always using the Critical thinking approach. Few examples of Critical thinking are given bellow.
Today we are confronting with plenty of news and events every day. We are getting information from various media e.g., newspapers, radio, television, and online media like the internet and social media. With the blessing of these media, it has become effortless to get information from anywhere anytime today.
At the same time, it is tough to say whether any news we came across is authentic or not. Doubt regarding online news is increasing nowadays, as fake news is widespread there today. While we think to find a solution to this problem, critical thinking is the only one that can apply.
Whenever we come across any news or information, we should not take it as a divine word. We should try to find or guess the answer to few questions like “From whom it came, what is the place it came from, why did he make it, is there any interest of him or anyone else and so on.”
By analyzing the answers to these questions, we can justify the news’s reliability and authenticity.
Deciding to Purchase a product
Deciding to purchase a product also requires to think critically today. A few years back, we didn’t need to overthink to buy something. It was easy to go to the mall or market, look for the item we need, choose one from the available item, and buy it.
As we are living in a digital age, there is also scope to apply a critical thinking approach to decide to buy something. If you would like to purchase something, you first justify the need for the thing, i.e., do you need the item, or can another way meet it.
If you feel the need, then search the product on the internet to find the model and brand available in the market and know each one’s merits and demerits. Ask your friends and others within your network to see the product’s experience if you find anyone having a good experience to collect further details of the product from him and the internet.
If you do this, there is a low chance of having a bad experience with this product.
Taking care of Health
Health is one of the prime concern to every conscious people today. Most of us try to keeping well, try to get rid of obesity, etc. And there Is no scarcity of suggestions and information around us regarding this. Some of these are not scientific, exaggerated, and rumor.
Moreover, any time information is continually changing. So we need to apply critical thinking to decide how to lead our lives, choose a healthy diet, eat, and what not to eat.
Presently we are facing the COVID-19 situation throughout the world. And this Pandemic disease is somewhat different from other diseases. Even the scientists are getting baffled to suggest what to do.
Suggestions and information regarding the disorders are frequently changing. A recognized treatment yet to be discovered. If we apply critical thinking, we can be benefitted at least a bit.
Business organizations today are undergoing various risks. Economic uncertainty, Political agitation, Climate change, Cyberattack, etc. are continuously pushing the business organization into a threat. To survive within such an environment, business organizations need to assess the risk and threat it abounds with. And it is the employee’s critical thinking ability, which can evaluate the risk with the right approximate.
It involves the activity like listing the risk, defining the nature and extent of each, finding out the factor that influences the risk, whether it is a temporary or permanent risk, and finally to take measures to mitigate the risks.
Some industries are more risk involved e.g., a construction company where the working environment is risky for workers’ lives. So here, addressing and assessing the risk factor is essential.
Otherwise, there could be injuries or even deaths that cause workforce shortage and negatively impact its reputation. Similarly, a financial organization is much more prone to be affected by some financial index.
For example, the introduction of a new law affects overall business activities and customers. It requires critical thinking skills, such as analysis, creativity, and problem-solving. If the financial institution doesn’t apply these critical thinking skills, it could result in losing profit or will suffer legal consequences from regulatory non-compliance.
Elements of Critical thinking process
Critical thinking is a process that compromises some elements and requires a few steps to follow.
1. Problem Identification
critical thinking process begins with the identification of a problem. Note abnormalities and indications that are likely to cause a problem. Consider it is a problem, why is it a problem. Determine why this problem is there and the possible consequences if no attempt is taken to solve it.
2. Information Gathering
Once something is considered as a problem, gather information about it. Engage yourself to learn as much as possible about the problem. Look for possible reasons, facts, and evidence; Ask other people’s opinions and perspectives regarding the issue. Gather information from multiple sources.
In this step, evaluate the information collected in the previous stage. Assess the validity and reliability of the information and ensure that they are accurate. Evaluate the source of information and check whether it is from a single source or more than one source.
4. Find solutions
After evaluating the information and evidence collected, try to deduce solutions to the problem. Plan several solutions based on the conclusions made in the evaluation. List the advantages and disadvantages of each solution.
5. Choose the best solution and Implement
This is the final stage where each solution already suggested is evaluated by considering all the advantages and disadvantages. Consider the risk a solution pose and think whether a solution is easy or difficult to implement. Finally, a practical solution is chosen and implemented.
What are the barriers to critical thinking and how to overcome?
Critical thinking is an important mindset that can help improve our personal life and our professional life. But in reality, very few among us can think critically. Most people don’t have Critical thinking skills because of some reason.
The following are the barriers to critical thinking that prevent us from thinking critically. Also, how to get around this barrier is discussed here.
1. Egocentric behavior
It is the tendency of a person to relate everything to himself and leads to the inability to evaluate others’ perspectives and feelings. He can not tolerate anything beyond his philosophy. He wants others to think of an issue in the same way he thinks.
As a result, he can not broaden his thinking, and the Peoples surrounding him dishearten to think critically. It is one of the most significant Barriers to Critical Thinking and many a time challenging to overcome.
It is complicated to correct this behavior for a person as he can not find this character flaw. One thing that can help eliminate this tendency is to bring them to an environment where everyone can exchange their views, respect others’ opinions, and question any ideas. Arrange debates, open question-answer session, and group discussion to make them accustomed to open thinking.
2. Group thinking
It is another harmful thing or one of the barriers to Critical thinking. In this case, most of the group people don’t give their views or ask any questions. They remain idle and support whatever other says without any argument.
To overcome this obstacle, each group member should stand apart and question and argue ideas and opinions presented before him and give his thoughts, beliefs, and ideas.
Only suggesting to do such is not sufficient; also inspire them to think and ask questions, help them grow thinking capability, bring context, and create a situation before him to believe and ask questions easily.
3. Drone mentality
It can be described as a person’s inability to pay attention to what’s going on around him. These kinds of people cannot be attentive in a class meeting or discussion. It becomes a habit for them, and as a result, they cannot think so much.
This habit grows when a person gets exhausted from working a long time and find work tedious. To overcome this barrier, Teachers, supervisors, or hosts Should aware of their audience or officials, make things interesting to them, change topics and tasks.
4. Social condition
The society we live in has some values, thoughts, and assumptions prevailing. Therefore many of us think in a particular way. Their thinking is related to society’s values, beliefs, and assumptions. Usually, it is challenging for them to think beyond this spectrum.
Again, this is one of the significant barriers to critical thinking as it confined our thinking to a limit. This barrier is also tough to overcome as most people do not realize they are being conditioned to think in a certain way.
Only social and cultural awareness can help to overcome this barrier.
5. Personal Biases
Personal Biases hinder Critical thinking because they influence a person’s justice, and It also prevents one from using experience, reasoning, and common sense to make correct decisions.
To overcome this decision, everyone should practice honesty and integrity.
6. Work pressure
We often are swamped in the workplace. We don’t have much time to accomplish the work assigned. It does affect our skill of critical thinking awfully. When the time is short, and the deadline is knocking the door, most of us walk in a way that does not involve any strategic thinking to complete the job. And here is when the barrier arises to think critically.
To overcome this barrier, we should have a plan and schedule for each job, whether small or big. Also, we should not keep work piled for the future.
It hinders the overall growth and development of a person. As an effect, it is also a barrier to critical thinking. Fear makes a person unconfident and demotivated, and he is not willing to think beyond his circle.
To remove fear from people’s minds, managers, supervisors, or heads of the workplace can play an essential role by ensuring the right working environment.
How can I apply critical thinking to my life?
In our everyday life, we frequently face various situations, problems, or difficulties. And many a time we conventionally get around this. But if we apply critical thinking, we can quickly meet that moreover, the solution we find here would be more effective than anyone we get otherwise.
Whatever types of situations or problems we encounter and whatever professional we are, student, teacher, doctor, engineer, lawyer, and so on, we first treat everything that we face or everything that we do a problem. And we have the determination or passion for having a solution to it.
Then we try to collect information on this. To do so, we should fond of acquiring knowledge. We always keep our sense alert to receive information from our surroundings.
Next, we must have a certain level of analytical ability to deduce facts from data. However, this requires practice. If we start thinking in this way and continue, hopefully, we could apply critical thinking in our life.
The human being is the best of creations because of the incredible power of its brain. Critical thinking is nothing but to utilize the brain more effectively. We could realize how powerful our brain is if we start thinking critically.
Critical thinking has tremendous value to the employer. Already it is in the list of top seeking soft skills in the world. So it is time for all of us to start thinking critically and make the future generations habituated with this.
But there are some barriers to critical thinking process and If we try, we will be able to overcome them.