Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 19th, 2018

What is Critical Thinking?


What is Critical Thinking?

Unfortunately, a large number of people in Afghanistan are imitators and thoughts consumers. They are easily incensed, misled and rarely propelled to an accurate deduction. For this reason, critical thinking, also called critical analysis, can be prescribed as an intellectual tool to guide the young generation how to reach a deep understanding and seeking logical solutions for social and personal issues. Critical thinking is not a matter of accumulating a lot of information. A person with a good memory and who knows a lot of facts is not necessarily a good at critical thinking. A critical thinker is good problem solver; he is able to deduce consequences from what he knows, and how to make use of information and seek relevant sources of information to solve a problem. Critical thinkers do not concentrate on the problems; instead they focus on the contexts because focusing of problems is not leading to solutions - it leads to blaming one and others and create more hatred. Critical thinking should not be confused with being argumentative or being critical of other people. Although its skills can be used in exposing fallacies and bad reasoning, critical thinking can also play an important role in cooperative reasoning and constructive tasks. Critical thinking can help us acquire knowledge, improve our theories, and strengthen arguments. Critical thinking is an essential part of creativity because we need critical thinking to evaluate and improve our creative ideas. In short, quality of life depends to quality of thinking.
Learning critical thinking skills are like learning other skills such art, games or use of music instruments. But it is unlikely to take place in the absence of a conscious commitment to learn. As long as we take our thinking for granted, we do not do the work required for improvement. Development in thinking requires a gradual process requiring plateaus of learning and just plain hard work. It is not possible to become an excellent thinker simply because one wills it. Changing one’s habits of thought is a long-range project; it needs practice for years, not weeks or months.
In order to improve critical thinking skills we need to cultivate a personal thinking habit: we can take a few minutes to think before every idea we express, before every phone call we make, and before every task we do.  Thus, we take few minutes after each activity to assess whether the desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing? How can put what was missing in the next activity? Or each day we can choose a problem to work on whenever we have free moments. We can choose a family problem or social problem selecting through community or media.  We can figure out the logic of the problem by identifying its elements. It means systematically think through the questions – if we do not ask question, we will not get the answer, like: What exactly is the problem? What are the chain causes? What is the root causes of the problem? What would we do if we were in the position of that organizer? Thus we can discus and communicate with ourselves? While remembering not to focus on the problem focus on the causes, contexts and circumstances? And always look from different dimensions?
Hence, we need to rely on individual ability to reason rather than to using emotion and imitation. It relies on evidence and following evidence wherever it leads. It also relies on being an active learner or analyser rather than a passive recipient of information. It rigorously question ideas and assumptions rather than accepting them at face value. Critical thinkers always seek to determine whether the ideas, arguments and findings represent the entire picture and are open to finding that they do not. It will identify, analyse and solve problems systematically rather than by intuition or instinct. Hence, Critical Thinking is called the art of using reason to analyze ideas and dig deeper to get to our true potential. Critical thinking is not about thinking more or thinking harder; it's about thinking better. Honing your critical thinking skills can open up a lifetime of intellectual curiosity. But the journey is not all rosy. Critical thinking requires a lot of discipline. Staying on track takes a combination of steady growth, motivation, and the ability to take an honest look at contexts, even in the face of some uncomfortable facts.
So, the critical thinker we should not take information from authority until investigate it by ourselves. Taking information from authority can be useful. Instead of double-checking everything anyone says, we tend to label information as either coming from a trustworthy source or not. This keeps us from double-checking every piece of information that comes our way, saving time and energy. But it also keeps us from getting to the bottom of things we perceive as coming from a trustworthy source, even when they do not. Just because it was published in a magazine or broadcast over TV does not mean it's necessarily true. We must have habit of using instinct to investigate questionable pieces of information instead of being consumer. If we do not question a fact, read about it or test it ourselves, soon enough, we'll build up a pretty good sense of what deserves more research and what we have determined to be true in our own judgment. In addition, we need to understand our own biases because human judgment can be subjective, frail, and spiteful. Understanding what your biases are and where they may affect how you deal with information.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the newly emerging writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@ gmail.com

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