AGENDA 1. What is 2. What is CT? 3. Why Thinking? Critical Thinking? 11. Critical thinking in 4. Characteristics of business critical thinking 5. Critical Thinking 10. Critical vs process Non critical thinking 6. Benefits of Critical Thinking 9. Barriers to Critical Thinking 7. Components of CT 8. Our concept of CT Critical Thinking "5% think, 10% think they think, 85% would rather die than think." — Anonymous ―the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt‖ - Bertrand Russell ―. . . Intelligence . . . is in plentiful supply. . . the scarce commodity is systematic training in critical thinking.‖ --Carl Sagan ―The true critical thinker accepts what few people ever accept -- that one cannot routinely trust perceptions and memories.‖ –James Alcock ―Truth gains more . . . by the errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks for himself than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think.‖ --John Stuart Mill_ WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING? WHAT IS THINKING? Mental activity that helps to formulate or solve a problem, to make a decision or to seek understanding involves critical and creative aspects of the mind, both the use of reason and the generation of ideas. (Fisher, 1990) INTRODUCTION TO CRITICAL THINKING Consider several Quotations: Critical thinkers: distinguish between fact and opinion; ask questions; make detailed observations; uncover assumptions and define their terms; and make assertions based on sound logic and solid evidence. Ellis, D. Becoming a Master Student, 1997 Critical thinking is best understood as the ability of thinkers to take charge of their own thinking. This requires that they develop sound criteria and standards for analyzing and assessing their own thinking and routinely use those criteria and standards to improve its quality. Elder, L. and Paul, R. "Critical thinking: why we must transform our teaching." Journal of Developmental Education, Fall 1994. DEFINING CRITICAL THINKING In general terms, we can say that to think critically is to think clearly, accurately, knowledgeably, and fairly while evaluating the reasons for a belief or for taking some action. Critical thinking means correct thinking in the pursuit of relevant and reliable knowledge about the world Critical thinking is reasonable, reflective, responsible, and skillful thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do. Critical thinking can be described as the scientific method applied by ordinary people to the ordinary world. This is true because critical thinking mimics the well-known method of scientific investigation: a question is identified, an hypothesis formulated, relevant data sought and gathered, the hypothesis is logically tested and evaluated, and reliable conclusions are drawn from the result. All of the skills of scientific investigation are matched by critical thinking, which is therefore nothing more than scientific method used in everyday life rather than in specifically scientific disciplines or endeavors. Critical thinking is scientific thinking. Critical thinking consists of mental processes of discernment, analysis and evaluation. It includes possible processes of reflecting upon a tangible or intangible item in order to form a solid judgment that reconciles scientific evidence with common sense. Critical thinking is... Using logic, reason and the scientific method over abstract theories and emotional judgments. Awareness of heuristics (shortcuts) and biases (errors) that influence human thinking. Using these abilities systematically on everything in your life. From that, using the results to make improvements. IDEAS & CONCEPTS A Brief Conceptualization of Critical Thinking Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair- minded way. People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, empathically. They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies. They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers – concepts and principles that enable them to analyze, assess, and improve thinking. They realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest. They strive to improve the world in whatever ways they can and contribute to a more rational, civilized society. They embody the Socratic principle: The unexamined life is not worth living, because they realize that many unexamined lives together result in an uncritical, unjust, dangerous world. The Critical thinking includes a complex combination of skills. Among the main characteristics are the following: Rationality We are thinking critically when we rely on reason rather than emotion, require evidence, ignore no known evidence, and follow evidence where it leads, and are concerned more with finding the best explanation than being right analyzing apparent confusion and asking questions. Self-awareness We are thinking critically when we weigh the influences of motives and bias, and recognize our own assumptions, prejudices, biases, or point of view. Honesty We are thinking critically when we recognize emotional impulses, selfish motives, nefarious purposes, or other modes of self-deception. Open-mindedness We are thinking critically when we evaluate all reasonable inferences consider a variety of possible viewpoints or perspectives, remain open to alternative interpretations accept a new explanation, model, or paradigm because it explains the evidence better, is simpler, or has fewer inconsistencies or covers more data accept new priorities in response to a reevaluation of the evidence or reassessment of our real interests, and do not reject unpopular views out of hand. Discipline We are thinking critically when we are precise, meticulous, comprehensive, and exhaustive resist manipulation and irrational appeals, and Avoid snap judgments. Judgment We are thinking critically when we recognize the relevance and/or merit of alternative assumptions and perspectives recognize the extent and weight of evidence In sum, Critical thinkers are by nature skeptical. They approach texts with the same skepticism and suspicion as they approach spoken remarks. Critical thinker’s reactive, not passive. They ask questions and analyze. They consciously apply tactics and strategies to uncover meaning or assure their understanding. Critical thinkers do not take an egotistical view of the world. They are open to new ideas and perspectives. They are willing to challenge their beliefs and investigate competing evidence. Critical thinking enables us to recognize a wide range of subjective analyses of otherwise objective data, and to evaluate how well each analysis might meet our needs. Facts may be facts, but how we interpret them may vary. CHARACTERISTICS OF CRITICAL THINKING Critical thinking is an effort to develop reliable, rational evaluations about what is reasonable for us to believe and disbelieve. Critical thinking makes use of the tools of logic and science because it values skepticism over gullibility or dogmatism, reason over faith, science of pseudoscience, and rationality over wishful thinking. Critical thinking does not guarantee that we will arrive at truth, but it does make it much more likely than any of the alternatives do. Open-mindedness & skepticism A critical thinker is neither dogmatic nor gullible. The most distinctive features of the critical thinker’s attitude are open- mindedness and skepticism. A person who wishes to think critically about something like politics or religion must be open- minded. This requires being open to the possibility that not only are others right, but also that you are wrong. Too often people launch into a frenzy of arguments apparently without taking any time to consider that they may be mistaken in something. Doubt things. Don’t accept things at face value and think them through. The worst error you can commit is to delegate all your thinking to another person. By creating a layer of doubt on everything, even your ideas, you can improve them. Sense perception Having the right attitude and knowing the standards of evaluation are not enough to guarantee that one will always succeed at critical thinking. Human beings are subject to a number of limitations and hindrances that forever get in the way of our best intentions. Aristotle advised that we should not demand more certainty than the subject allows (Nichomachean Ethics, I, iii.). That was good advice 2,500 years ago and it’s good advice “To doubt everything or to today. Most of the subjects believe everything are two that concern us in our daily equally convenient solutions; lives are incapable of both dispense with the necessity absolute certainty. The most of reflection.” --Jules Henri we can hope for is a Poincaré reasonable certainty that we’ve arrived at the best possible beliefs. Infallibility and absolute certainty are beyond our reach. Think, for example, about the source of most of our beliefs: sense perception. Each of the senses is limited in extent: Each sense has a threshold beyond which we cannot perceive. We can extend those thresholds by using instruments such as telescopes and microscopes. But those instruments have thresholds, too. Our instruments enhance our knowledge but they, too, are limited. Furthermore, each perception must also be interpreted. With each interpretation there is the possibility of error. Each of us has been mistaken about something we thought we saw or heard. Although we often treat facts as if they were infallibly certain, they aren’t. Facts are those things we don’t have any doubts about. We call something a fact if we consider it grossly unreasonable to deny it. But, since our grasp of facts is based on sense perception, we should not claim to know any facts with infallible certainty. Beliefs Some beliefs can hinder critical thinking. If you believe you will fail at trying to solve a problem, you probably won’t try. If you don’t try, you won’t avail yourself of the opportunity to learn and develop your talents, including your critical thinking talents. Surprisingly, much research has found that believing that intelligence is something you are born with, and is fixed for life by your genes, hinders people in several ways that might affect their ability to think critically. ―One of the dumbest things people do with the fixed view of intelligence is to sacrifice important learning opportunities when those opportunities contain a risk of revealing ignorance or making errors‖ (Dweck 2002: 29). Differentiate Emotion and Reason Even if we have clear logical and empirical reasons for accepting an idea, we also probably have emotional and psychological reasons for accepting it — reasons which we may not be fully aware of. It is important to critical thinking, however, that we learn to separate the two because the latter can easily interfere with the former. Our emotional reasons for believing something might be quite understandable, but if the logic behind the belief is wrong, then ultimately we should not consider our belief rational. If we really are going to approach our beliefs in a skeptical, fair manner, then we must be willing to set aside our emotions and evaluate the logic and reasoning on their own terms — possibly even rejecting our beliefs if they fail to live up to logical criteria. Argue from Knowledge, not Ignorance Because we often have an emotional or other psychological investment in our beliefs, it isn’t unusual for people to step forward and try to defend those beliefs regardless of whether the logic or evidence for them are weak. Indeed, sometimes people will defend an idea even though they really don’t know a great deal about it — they think they do, but they don’t. A person who tries to practice critical thinking, however, also tries to avoid assuming that they already know everything they need to know. Such a person is willing to allow that someone who disagrees can teach them something relevant and refrains from arguing a position if they are ignorant of important, relevant facts. Probability is not Certainty There are ideas that are probably true and ideas that are certainly true, but while it is nice to have an idea that belongs in the latter group, we must understand that the latter group is far, far smaller than the former. However preferable it might be otherwise, we can’t be absolutely certain about quite a lot of matters — especially those matters that are the focus of many debates. When a person exercises skepticism and critical thinking, they remember that just because they can show a conclusion is probably true, that doesn’t mean they have shown or can show that it is certainly true. Certain truths require firm conviction, but probable truths require only tentative conviction — that is to say, we should believe them with the same strength as the evidence and reason allow. Avoid Common Fallacies Most people can reason well enough to get by in their daily lives and no more. If that is enough to survive, why invest the extra time and work to improve? People who wish to have high standards for their beliefs and reasoning, however, cannot make do with the bare minimum just to get by in life — more education and practice are needed. To this end, good critical thinking requires that a person become familiar with common logical fallacies which most people commit at some time or other without ever realizing it. Fallacies are errors in reasoning which creep into arguments and debates all the time; the practice of critical thinking should help a person avoid committing them and aid in identifying their appearance in others’ arguments. An argument that commits a fallacy cannot provide good reason to accept its conclusion; therefore, as long as fallacies are being committed, the arguments aren’t being very productive. Don’t Jump to Conclusions It’s easy and common for people to quickly go to the first and most obvious conclusion in any sort of dilemma, but the fact of the matter is the obvious conclusion isn’t always the correct one. Unfortunately, once a person adopts a conclusion it can be difficult to get them to give it up in favor of something else — after all, no one wants to be wrong, do they? Because it is better to avoid trouble than to try to get out of trouble once in it, critical thinking emphasizes careful thinking as well — and this means not jumping to conclusions if you can avoid it. Go ahead and acknowledge the existence of an obvious conclusion because it might be right after all, but don’t actually adopt it until other options have been considered. CRITICAL THINKING PROCESS The critical thinking process includes four steps. Step 1 Identify the problem, the relevant information and all uncertainties about the problem Step 2 Explore interpretations and connections. (gather information-organizing information in meaningful ways) Step 3 Prioritize alternatives and communicate conclusions. (analysis of underlying problem) Integrate, monitor, and refine strategies for re- Step 4 addressing the problem (an ongoing process for generating and using new information) BENEFITS OF CRITICAL THINKING It has been said, "Learning to think critically is one of the most important activities of adult life." Among the benefits of careful thinking: Improved planning. Critical thinkers are more aware of uncertainty that hinges beneath plans. Thinking is the key component of strategy and tactics. If you can’t beat an opponent with luck, looks or lies, you need to be able to out think them. This applies particularly when your opponent isn’t another individual but the world. Less gullibility. You are less likely to fall for obvious deceptions and problems when you can think critically. This doesn’t need to twist you into a trust-deficient cynic, but it can help you remain cautious when others are greedy and smart when others are fearful. Creativity. Some would argue that creativity comes from intuition and randomness, not controlled thinking. But I would argue that critical thinkers can utilize their skills to see outside the imaginary lines they draw around a problem. Intellectual Freedom. One could argue that people use the word 'freedom' too liberally in American culture. But intellectual freedom is perhaps the greatest benefit of critical thinking. Instead of simply conforming to the status quo, you can actively question assumptions. Questioning assumptions (even your own) can lead to finding new solutions for a greater quality of life. Other Benefits includes: More sophisticated analysis of information. More flexibility in thinking. Use of more logical inferences. More rational conclusions based on an examination of evidence. OUR CONCEPT OF CRITICAL THINKING Critical thinking skills are vital to well-educated individuals and acquiring this ability should be one of the most important goals in one's life. A broad framework of intellectual rigor is called critical thinking. Critical thinking skills enable people to evaluate, compare, analyze, critique, and synthesize information. Those who possess critical thinking skills know that knowledge is not a collection of facts, but rather an ongoing process of examining information, evaluating that information, and adding it to their understanding of the world. Critical thinkers also know to keep an open mind- and frequently end by changing their views based on new knowledge. "A broad-based education, inter-disciplinary study, and the ability to think beyond the textbook or class lecture is important for students. Being able to think and write clearly, critically, and cogently is a skill that will contribute to quality of life. Critical thinking is the art of taking charge of your own mind. If we can take charge of our own minds, we can take charge of our lives; we can improve them, bringing them under our self- command and direction. This requires that we learn self- discipline and the art of self-examination. This involves becoming interested in how our minds work, how we can monitor, fine tune, and modify their operations for the better. It involves getting into the habit of reflectively examining our impulsive and accustomed ways of thinking and acting in every dimension of our lives." Our actions are based on some motivations or reasons. But we rarely examine our motivations to see if they make sense. We rarely inspect our reasons critically to see if they are rationally justified. As consumers we sometimes buy things hastily and uncritically (undecidedly), without ever thinking whether we really need what we are tending to buy or whether we can find the money for it or whether it's good for our health or whether the price is competitive. As parents we often react to our children impulsively and uncritically. We do not determine whether our actions are consistent with how we want to act as parents or whether we are contributing to their self-esteem. We do not think whether we are discouraging them from thinking or from taking responsibility for their own behavior. The Qur'an repeatedly provokes and challenges the reader to think and contemplate the signs of Allah so that she/he can understand. Human destiny is not to be passive like the angels but to be creative for which she/he has been given the most sublime gift of all, the mind. And creative mind is a critical mind. The religious justification for understanding the reading of the Qur'an as initially an intellectual challenge is that mere unreflective and unexamined acceptance of that which is handed down to us is frowned upon by Islam. There is a dynamic relationship that exists in Islam between faith and reflective thought. And has not the Qur'an said, "(Here is), a Book which We have sent down unto thee, full of blessings, that they may meditate on its Signs, and that men of understanding may receive admonition." (Surah, Al-Sad, 38: 29). In fact, "verily in that are Signs for those who reflect (Surah, Al-Rum, 30: 21) is a constant theme throughout the Qur'an, which, among other things, underscores the point that meanings of the sign of Allah cannot be read just off the face of the signs but require thinking and reflection. In Islam there is no such thing as knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Knowledge has no value and virtue in and by itself. Its virtue lies in bringing human kind closer to Allah. The view that knowledge is the path that leads to Allah highlights two things about Islam. Firstly that knowledge in Islam is important for a Muslim's spiritual growth and development. And, secondly, since knowledge is acquired through the active process of going beyond what one already knows, critical thinking is essential for a Muslim to grow intellectually and spiritually. It further suggests that intellectual growth without spiritual development is aimless wandering, and spiritual development without the intellectual component is meaningless. In the Western societies critical thinking is required to lead a successful life based on pragmatic and utilitarian grounds. Critical thinking in its secular mode is entirely a worldly affair, undertaken purely to bring about changes in the world for the purpose of this life. In Islam, to engage in critical thought is a moral commitment and to be judged on it's moral worth independent of its success or failures in this world. Allah (SWT) requires us to act morally; the success or failure of such actions is entirely in His hands. ISLAMIC CRITICAL THINKING In Islam "enlightened thinkers‖ are known as Raushanfekran. "Afalaa utadabbaroon al-Quran? (4:82)" Do they not do tadabbur in the Quran? So says Allah in the Quran. Tadabbur means highly concentrated goal-oriented critical thinking like the way scientists do when challenged to find something new or when they embark upon solving a difficult problem. Qur'anic view of creative reflection is called al-Basira. In Islam Ijtihad or independent thinking is used as a principle of creative and critical thinking; rationality and scientific rationality in a secular perspective. The Quran encourages us over and over again to think, reflect, ponder, understand and analyse. However, very rarely do parents encourage children to question. Our response to difficult inquiries from our children is to say "do it because I said so." This discourages the children from developing critical thinking. They become lazy and complacent and easy prey to cult type following. To take things at face value makes us vulnerable. Reason is the common bond of all humans, a means of connecting to the world and to others, the same reason through which Plato and Aristotle communicated their views. Reason and intellect represent the only way of understanding this world, even though this understanding is too relative to guide us to ultimate truths. Our great thinkers, while aware of the indispensability of reason, knew that reason alone could not discover all of reality. Our religious tradition claims that it is ultimately faith of the heart, not the intellect, which comprehends the whole of reality. If we think of reason and faith as contradictory and opposed to one another, because reason achieves more instrumental impact in this world, faith will be sidelined. It is important to note that the faith I am talking about exists alongside and parallel to reason, not in opposition to it. Reason can merely take us to the gates of the afterlife. Even though it is aware that the world is not limited to the material, it cannot go farther than this world. It is here that faith must step in. Humans cannot do without reason in their lives as they encounter practical matters, and if they have to choose between faith and reason, they will choose the latter. Interpretations of the world based on reason are relative, a relativity that also permeates our perceptions of religion. But if our understanding of religious tradition and the Quran gets moribund (declining) and in need of transformation, this does not mean that tradition and the Quran have aged themselves. Our intellect is capable of adapting to the current world while also remaining attuned to tradition and the Quran, such that the solid essence of religion is not harmed. Our religious thinking is bound to evolve. Due to the regime of taqlid or blind imitation, imposed in the name of religion from about the 12th century until the end of the 19th century, the Muslims swallowed the teachings of the so-called `Four Great Imams', even the wholesale medieval theology and jurisprudence, in toto. There were many factors that gave rise to this blind imitation regime of that period and we cannot discuss them here. Nevertheless, it is important for us to realize that after nearly a hundred years since the reopening of the door if ijtihad or critical thinking by Muhammad Abduh's reform movement, this taqlid regime is still with us. One should develop critical thinking ability in one's studies first: in science, mathematics, computers, and economics, whatever subject one has chosen. If you cannot develop this ability most probably you would not understand the Quran. Also, understanding of the Quran is a long and hard and a lifelong process. And it requires lot of patience and perseverance plus it demands sacrifice. Therefore, you should first try to take few important verses of the Quran (the ones dealing with human relationships and character building) and try to integrate them in your life and studies. Of course it will be very hard and there will be lot of temptations to skirt. But try to avoid them. But keep in mind that we are human beings. We make mistakes. So, don’t feel too bad or don’t be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes. Just make sure that next time you are careful. Barriers to Critical Thinking • Egocentrism (self-centered thinking): – The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that deep down inside, we all believe that we are better than average drivers (Dave Barry). • Sociocentrism (group-centered thinking): – When all think alike, no one is thinking (Walter Lippmann). Bassham et al., 2002 Non-Critical Thinking It is based on unreliable knowledge, suspicious arguments. This type of knowledge could be true or false but unpredictable. Beliefs of non- critical thinkers are a collection ideas planted in them by others. They tend to be easily manipulated, but are unaware that they are being manipulated. Of course, if one told them they were being manipulated, they would likely deny it. Non-critical thinkers generally accept the beliefs which are easiest to access. The non-critical thinker's beliefs usually conform to the group they most strongly identify with and are most comfortable with. Non-critical thinkers spout slogans which are programmed into them, but they are unable to logically defend these positions. The positions are simply accepted as true. Anyone who challenges the position will likely be considered ignorant or a bigot. Any challenge to the position is responded to with anger rather than intellectual consideration. Anger (and sometimes violence) is a predictable response. Here's why. First, the belief is part of the person holding it. It feels good to hold the belief. People around the person also accept the belief, so they are comfortable holding it. When the belief is challenged the person feels threatened. It violates their "comfort zone." Second, they are not capable of reasoning properly about the claim. The inability to think logically causes them to feel inadequate. Operating in a world of emotions, the only response a non-critical thinker can have to opposition is anger. The only way to change the mind of a non-critical thinker is to expose them to propaganda which enables them to feel more comfortable about a new belief. If a new idea feels better to them than the one they currently hold, they may change their mind. As the group they identify with changes its collective mind, the non-critical thinker will change their mind to conform. Notice that truth has nothing to do with the non-critical thinker's selection of beliefs. Emotions alone drive their "thinking." It should be quite clear that the non-critical thinker is potentially quite dangerous. Non-critical thinkers are likely to make decisions which are bad for themselves and for those around them. The thinking in their minds is literally disconnected from reality. They can be manipulated by propagandists into voting in blocks large enough to result in bad decisions for society. Ultimately they can be organized into violent mobs or even armies who can harm or kill those who disagree with them. CRITICAL VS UN CRITICAL THINKING Critical Thinking Non-Critical Thinking black and white - shades of gray - strives for superficial level depth View of un disciplinary interdisciplinary knowledge: knowledge is closed knowledge is open independent of intertwined with thinking thinking irrational and rational and consistent inconsistent strives to learn how to think stirves to learn what to View of holistic/webbed think thinking: original/insightful unidisciplinary/linear multiple frames of second hand think reference one or limited frame of reference suspends closure strives for closure explorer/probing dogmatic/avoiding questioning doubting Strategies fair-minded ego- for thinking: active /ethnocentric/emotio collaborative/communal nal precise language passive authoritative vague language Critical Thinking in Business Everyone has a native ability to think logically and critically; but many people, including many small business owners, have never had the training or practice to develop this capacity. Fortunately, it is an ability which people can easily master, and the small business owner who has the capacity to see things from the points of view of his customers is already well on his way. Instead of seeing things from his own point of view or those of his customers, he now has to analyze situations without a "point of view," critically, in terms of the essential facts only. Based on these essential facts, he can determine if any action should be taken and what action. The key thing about critical analysis is that it has to take place in the absence of personal wants or desires. The owner of the business will have all kinds of hopes and desires regarding his business, but often the facts will not support them. Critical analysis, instead of starting with, "I want this - how do I get there?" starts with, "This is what we have - what can we do?" It's clear how this is the opposite approach to the one intuitively taken by many people in response to challenges. The advantage of the latter is that the success rate is much higher. A typical situation for the small business owner is one where a potential customer doesn't make a purchase and says that the product is of poor quality. A typical reaction is to make changes to the product, often changes which the owner wanted to make anyway. This may be positive, but it isn't the action which should result from a critical analysis. The essential fact here is not that the product is of poor quality, but that a customer has criticized the product. There are at least three explanations possible: the product could be bad; the product could be good but the customer ill-informed; or the customer might have been in a bad mood. Since the three explanations would result in different actions, the only reasonable action to be taken is to find out more. In a business framework, it would probably be best to wait until the customer comes in again or another customer makes the same comment. They could then be asked what they meant. If the same customer had criticized the product, saying he couldn't make it work, the small business owner might have dismissed this. It sounds like a problem that's hard to fix and it's only one customer. Yet, the essential fact here is that the product did not work for this customer. It's clear that the problem is with the product and therefore changes in the product would be justified. The biggest obstacle preventing many small business owners from clearly and critically analyzing their challenges is that they are too involved in their businesses on a personal level. If that's the case, it is also one of the problems preventing their business from being as successful as it could be. They need to step outside, analyze what they have and then choose those of the possible resulting actions which will get them closer to their goals.
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