What is critical thinking? Do you have any advice on how to think critically?

A student wrote to me, asking:

What is critical thinking? Do you have any advice on how to think critically?

Here’s my reply:

Critical thinking is a very ambiguous term. It means different things to different disciplines. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few:To be able to critically assess the validity or accuracy of a source

– To be able to critically evaluate the way data is collected

– To be able to critically evaluate the way data is interpreted

– To be able to critically evaluate the soundness of a justification

– To be able to critically identify assumptions underlying arguments

– To be able to critically evaluate one’s self (or others) for biases

The list goes on. And like Pokemon, you should to catch them all!

I don’t have advice that I can fit into this answer. I think for starters, go Google or watch YouTube videos about logical fallacies and cognitive biases. These are fun to learn and a good way to start.

If you want to go further, you should do some 1k or 2k Philosophy or History modules. The humanities specialises a lot in these sorts of things. Philosophy tends to cover the conceptual kinds of critical thinking; while history tends to cover the empirical kinds of critical thinking.

Author: Jonathan Y. H. Sim

Jonathan Sim is an Instructor with the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. He is passionate about teaching and he continues to research fun and innovative ways of engaging students to learn effectively. He has been teaching general education modules to a diverse range of undergraduate students and adult learners at the University.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.