Critical thinking is viewed as informal logic. Many qualities foster critical thinking and there are many obstacles of critical thinking as well. Asking questions such as; is there an alternative theory to account for this, would be a quality that fosters critical thinking. Compulsive face saving, ego, and being reactive are obstacles to critical thinking. Critical thinking is what people do to analyze, evaluate, and improve a person’s thought process while thinking. “When making choices in life a person puts known information to the critical thinking test. A critical thinker does not make any assumptions and consistently checks reliability of sources” (Kirby, Goodpaster 2007). This will be a look at critical thinking and what is involved. This paper will touch on the aspects of critical thinking and explore an example from a real life experience.
Many people have beliefs originating from childhood; people believe things their parents, friends, and teachers say without questioning the information. People make assumptions every day of their lives, both conscious and subconscious. Assumptions are beliefs or ideas that are held to be true often with little or no evidence required. Fallacies are mistakes in thinking. Mistakes in thinking are often abundant in common thinking. The use of critical thinking will recognize those mistakes and question their foundation using fair-mindedness. A disciplined mind has several traits: empathy, integrity, humility, courage, perseverance, and a sense of justice. Some other traits of critical thinkers are fair-mindedness and confidence in reason.
Thinking is expressed in communicating, so communicating is a mirror of thought. The brain thinks the way the brain thinks because of language. Language acts as the software of the brain or the way a computer is programmed. Brains are programmed by the language learned and used. The input to the brain uses a medium of interpretation. Remembering, judging, sorting, creating, and deciding are ways to interpret the input to the brain. The medium of interpretation is language learned and used. Language can channel perceptions; for example, there are many different types of snow, but a downhill skier needs to recognize for his own safety, exactly what type of snow he sees. A skier who has already been down the hill can relay the information to new arrivals on what the conditions are by describing accurately what type of snow they will be skiing.
Differences in experiences that are stored in a person’s language could explain many differences in perceptions. In other words; the language that a person learns is what makes the person, in part; see what the person sees. As individuals, a person has had unique educations, habits and bodies; therefore, the person has a unique mind. These unique minds and a person’s limitations with the English language can sometimes limit a person’s thinking but can also provide a person with a wide range of choices.
Language has the power to control, with metaphors, fields of knowledge and change understanding by changing the metaphor. Language can be used to shape perceptions in the way a person structures what is said, by using metaphors and universal terms. Perceptions and understanding can lead to clarity or cloudiness depending on the road a person chooses to take with language. As a person learns new information, the person looks to fit the information into existing patterns. Patterns of language may cause a person to remember things inaccurately. The nature of language is a paradox that frees minds and limits minds.
Language is important not only to thinking but to understanding. Interaction, reasoning, and decision-making affect lives on a daily basis. Language consists of words used in varying sequences to form comprehendible communications. The more words a people incorporate into their vocabulary, the better people will be able to communicate with accurate precision avoiding vague or sloppy English. Single words can have many different meanings and have the power to infuse a person with emotion. Word position within a sentence can determine meaning having different effects with different positioning. The way in which English is employed can affect perception and memory. Generalization can lead to incorrect definitions and conflicting meanings.
Feelings drive and influence our thinking. Based on cultural context, society leads people to express a person’s feelings and thoughts in a particular way. Sometimes a person’s message can be lost in the force of feeling used to convey the message. No one can hide tone or attitude toward a subject and it is noticeable, in speech or writing, no matter how hard one tries. Writers often employ tone in order to evoke a desired emotion in their readers.
When speaking or writing, a person best engages the listener by visually describing the scene so that the listener may mentally picture the description. When a person is the listener or reader, the person should do the same visualizing or mentally seeing the described scene. Logical fallacies can be used to persuade the listener by such methods as attacking the arguer rather than the argument or conveying a mistaken idea, using emotional appeals rather than logical reasons is another method. Everything a person reads, observes, and listens to effects the way a person acts, speaks, and writes. Poor judgment and irrational thoughts can come from factors such as stress, anger, depression, and passion. The need for balance between thoughts and emotions can affect thinking. Being aware of inner biases and limitations will assist the critical thinker in avoiding those obstacles.
A woman from Muskegon, Michigan, was offered a job as a business manager in a trailer sales company. The woman received a lot of information in the interview, expected commissions per month was the most important as this would be the deciding factor. If commissions earned did not meet or exceed the projections, she could not accept the position. The woman had to decide if her feelings were being appealed to, or if the assessment was accurate. The woman asked for verification from the source of this information and received a copy of the reports for the last five years on sales, earnings, and commissions. The reports confirmed the expected commission amount and the woman accepted the position.
In conclusion, language is a powerful tool in communicating. A person can paint pictures, persuade listeners, evoke feelings, change meaning with word placement, control the listener, and shape perceptions. When reading, talking or listening, be more aware of what is said and how the words are presented. Every area in a person’s life and everything in which a person thinks requires critical thinking.
Confidence in using reason when making decisions, coming to a conclusion or to a final opinion is important. Do not take for granted the “ability of the mind to think, thinking while thinking to improve thinking” (Paul, Elder 2006 introduction). A person should actively work on improving their thought processes and check reliability of sources. Everyone should examine where personal beliefs come from and determine if feelings are being influenced.
Kirby, G., ; Goodpaster, J. (2007). Thinking: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Critical and Creative Thought (4th ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc.
Paul, R., ; Elder, L. (2006). Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc.
University of Phoenix. (2006). Week two overview. Retrieved April 19, 2006,
From University of Phoenix, Week Two, Resource. PHL251-Critical Thinking