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                        Critical Thinking

     Critical thinking is an important concept.   It is an
important concept in education, as well as in everyday life.  
Thus, it is important to define critical thinking.  What is
critical thinking?   Below is one definition of critical
thinking.  

Critical Thinking Definition:

   What is critical thinking?   There may be many possible
ways to define critical thinking.  Different critical thinking
articles may have different definitions of critical thinking.   
Nonetheless, in general, critical thinking involves analyzing
assumptions.

Critical thinking can be defined as the process of thinking
of possible explanations for outcomes and findings, and
determining how compatible the possible explanations are
with the outcomes and findings.

Thinking Like a Scientist

      A person who demonstrates significant critical thinking
is  thinking like a scientist.  If you are a scientist, you
evaluate ideas and findings based on the evidence.  You will
ask a number of questions concerning the ideas.   What is
the evidence supporting the idea?  How well does the
evidence support the idea?  What are the limitations of the
ideas?  You will also ask several questions when learning
about a research finding.  Are there alternative explanations
for the finding?  What are the weaknesses of the
methodology? What are the limitations of the findings?

Critical Thinking Examples:

    What are some examples of critical thinking?   If you
learn that a supervisor's use of humor is correlated with how
much an employee likes his or her job, you would think of
more than one explanation for this finding.  Moreover, you
would conclude that you cannot make causal conclusions
from this finding because you are not able to rule out
alternative explanations.    
    Another example of critical thinking is the conclusion
that some findings from laboratory research may not
generalize to real-world situations.  You would think of
reasons why the findings would not generalize to real-world
situations.

Why Is Critical Thinking Important?

    
There may be a number of benefits of critical thinking.
Two of the benefits of critical thinking are (a) making better
decisions, and (b) being able to better evaluate scientific
findings.
    Imagine that your current job is ending soon, and you
have not received any positive responses to your
applications.   You make a judgment that your chances of
finding another job similar to your current job is low.  You
are thinking about changing careers.  However, it would be
important to critically evaluate the outcome.   Perhaps you
have not submitted a sufficient number of applications.  It
could be that there is something missing from your cover
letter.  You may need to revise your resume.   Considering
all of the possible explanations for the outcome would be an
example of critical thinking.
     Critical thinking may help in evaluating scientific
findings.  There may be a number of findings reported in the
news.  It would be important to critically evaluate the
findings that are reported.  What type of study was
conducted?  What are the limitations of the study?  What
conclusions would be justified based on the findings?  The
answers to these questions would reflect critical thinking.