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Critical Thinking


The three sections below were excerpted from a larger article on critical thinking found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_thinking
As you read and consider the content in these selections, we suggest asking these questions.
  • What, if any, biblical overlay do you see in the premises made in these excerpts and the bottom-line content they contain?
  • Would a non-literate man in the jungle who is preparing for the next day’s hunt use the critical thinking skills described below in his preparation?

Critical thinking can occur whenever one judges, decides, or solves a problem; in general, whenever one must figure out what to believe or what to do, and do so in a reasonable and reflective way. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening can all be done critically or uncritically. Critical thinking is crucial to becoming a close reader and a substantive writer. Expressed most generally, critical thinking is "a way of taking up the problems of life.”

There is a reasonable level of consensus among experts that an individual or group engaged in strong critical thinking gives due consideration to:
  • Evidence through observation
  • Context of judgment
  • Relevant criteria for making the judgment well
  • Applicable methods or techniques for forming the judgment
  • Applicable theoretical constructs for understanding the problem and the question at hand

There is no simple way to develop the intellectual traits of a critical thinker. One important way requires developing one's intellectual empathy and intellectual humility. The first requires extensive experience in entering and accurately constructing points of view toward which one has negative feelings.

The second requires extensive experience in identifying the extent of one's own ignorance a wide variety of subjects (ignorance whose admission leads one to say, "I thought I knew, but I merely believed"). One becomes less biased and more broad-minded when one becomes more intellectually empathic and intellectually humble, and that involves time, deliberate practice and commitment. It involves considerable personal and intellectual development.


To develop one's critical thinking traits, one should learn the art of suspending judgment (for example, when reading a novel, watching a movie, engaging in dialogical or dialectical reasoning). Ways of doing this include adopting a perceptive rather than judgmental orientation; that is, avoiding moving from perception to judgment as one applies critical thinking to an issue.
One should become aware of one's own fallibility by:
  1. accepting that everyone has subconscious biases, and accordingly questioning any reflexive judgments;
  2. adopting an ego-sensitive and, indeed, intellectually humble stance;
  3. recalling previous beliefs that one once held strongly but now rejects;
  4. tendency towards group think; the amount one's belief system is formed by what those around them say instead of what one has personally witnessed;
  5. realizing one still has numerous blind spots, despite the foregoing.