Critical thinking

information and you

Critical thinking is a widely accepted educational goal. Its definition is contested, but the competing definitions can be understood as differing conceptions of the same basic concept: careful thinking directed to a goal. Conceptions differ with respect to the scope of such thinking, the type of goal, the criteria and norms for thinking carefully, and the thinking components on which they focus. Its adoption as an educational goal has been recommended on the basis of respect for students’ autonomy and preparing students for success in life and for democratic citizenship. “Critical thinkers” have the dispositions and abilities that lead them to think critically when appropriate. The abilities can be identified directly; the dispositions indirectly, by considering what factors contribute to or impede exercise of the abilities. Standardized tests have been developed to assess the degree to which a person possesses such dispositions and abilities. Educational intervention has been shown experimentally to improve them, particularly when it includes dialogue, anchored instruction, and mentoring. Controversies have arisen over the generalizability of critical thinking across domains, over alleged bias in critical thinking theories and instruction, and over the relationship of critical thinking to other types of thinking.

Someone with critical thinking skills can:

• Understand the links between ideas.

• Determine the importance and relevance of arguments and ideas.

• Recognise, build and appraise arguments.

• Identify inconsistencies and errors in reasoning.

• Approach problems in a consistent and systematic way.

• Reflect on the justification of their own assumptions, beliefs and values.

Critical thinking is thinking about things in certain ways so as to arrive at the best possible solution in the circumstances that the thinker is aware of. In more everyday language, it is a way of thinking about whatever is presently occupying your mind so that you come to the best possible conclusion.

The skills that we need in order to be able to think critically are varied and include observation, analysis, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, inference, explanation, problem solving, and decision making.

Specifically we need to be able to:

• Think about a topic or issue in an objective and critical way.

• Identify the different arguments there are in relation to a particular issue.

• Evaluate a point of view to determine how strong or valid it is.

• Recognise any weaknesses that there are in the evidence or argument.

• Notice what implications there might be behind a statement or argument.

• Support for an argument that we wish to make.

Informational bubble and critical thinking // personal experience

by Alexandra Nesterenko

Hey, everyone!
Hope you are doing fine. 

Since my teenage, I have been living in a kind of informational bubble. I have some topics or spheres that appeal to me, that I have been studying for quite a while. I have found several trustworthy sources by trial and error and use only them if I need to update my knowledge. But life is not limited by the topics we've picked once. There are so many exciting things around that we have never even considered! We become aware of this, especially when we meet new people and want to take to understanding what they are talking about. 

I come out of my info-bubble quite often just because of my job – I meet new people now and then and make my lessons more personalized I adjust them to my students' hobbies and interests. Imagine me being obsessed with the brain and languages for about 10 years or more to go online and google about for example Astrology. Guess what? I almost drown in the ocean of information and offers! It was tough – articles and lectures, videos, and posts were swinging around me and I couldn't get when to stop and what information is the one I needed. Moreover, I got bombarded with ads (grrr).   

Thank God or my parents or just me I graduated from a linguistic university. I'm used to information overload and know how to cope with it. However, I am not a magician or a prodigy. I just know some algorithms that help to find the information I need. 

  • Install AdBlock plug-in to your browser if you haven't done it yet! Ads catch your attention and steal your time, even if you don't follow them. 

  • Simplify your search terms, use specific keywords, and remove unhelpful words. As simpler your searching request is as more accurate the result. 

  • Vary your search engine. Remember - no search engine is perfect, and they all have different blind spots. Use all engines that you know - Google® and Yandex®, Bing® and Yahoo®, DuckDuckGo® and Dogpile® depending on your task.

  • Keep asking yourself "Does it answer my initial question?" This is the crucial point – it's not that hard to find information now, it's almost impossible to sort it out. Asking questions to yourself is the key to a fast and productive search. 

  • Do not read everything in the first stage of searching. Just think about it – an average web page contains around 600 words and you need to run through dozens of pages and not to spend all your life on it. Don't waste your time. I usually open 5-7 articles or books at once, look through the main points like contents (if there is any) or some phrases in bold. And keep asking myself if the info in there helps to answer my question. If it doesn't, close and move on. Usually, I don't spend more than a minute on a page at this stage. 

  • If an article or post or video answers your question but you are not sure if you can trust it, copy the information in question (for example, when I was searching for anything that would explain the buzz about the 13th Zodiac sign, I googled the name of this new sign "Ophiuchus" or the dates) and paste it in the search engine. You will see different opinions and/or some scientific articles. While looking through keep asking yourself if the explanation and proofs look trustworthy to you – if they are logical. Don't let the conjunction fallacy to mislead you. Stop yourself when you feel convinced.

  • Limit your search to 2-3 sources. It's the most comfortable amount of sources to work with.  

  • Read the articles that you've chosen thoroughly. Do they really help to solve your task? If no, go on, don't waste your time. If yes, congrats! You did it! 

The bottom line is when you search, keep thinking and being critical. Doubt everything and ask questions. 

Stay curious! 

That’s all by now.

Stay amazing <3

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