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Critical Thinking is not about being critical of others.

After hearing that some people think that Critical Thinking is about thinking ethically, I had to once again question my self - Do I really know what I'm talking about when I refer to critical thinking? So luckily, there's this thing called google which helped me find several nice definitions, but as it turns out it also pointed me to a thing called wikipedia that had a more lengthy description:

"Critical Thinking is the analysis of facts to form a judgment." I'll stop there for a second, as that is pretty much the very basic definition and this is all that is really needed to realize that it has nothing to do with making ethical choices.

Wikipedia continues: "The subject is complex, and several different definitions exist, which generally include the rational, skeptical, unbiased analysis, or evaluation of factual evidence." Now that part splits up the analysis of facts into some important approaches, the most important of which I'd argue is the unbiased part.

More from Wikipedia: "Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking." Wow! - that is the MOST important aspect of critical thinking in my mind. It's all about self-checking and not judgment of others or their views. It's about what we do to correct or alter our own world views.

Then Wikipedia gets a little long-winded: "It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities as well as a commitment to overcome native egocentrism and sociocentrism." Geezus - a lot of verbiage to repeat that one has to overcome one's own existing beliefs that were embedded from how they were raised.

So, critical thinking could be applied to ethical decision making if one isn't so sure about the choices they're making, but it's definitely not just about right and wrong. In a world where facts get lost in sound bites or tweets, we seem to see fewer and fewer people willing to think and then re-think about the facts (if any exist) behind the noise.

It isn't up to us to judge the value of someone else's thinking, but when it comes to influencers that are misguiding the public with crap like anti-vaxing then it is up to us to reiterate that there are facts that are not being considered at all by those people and we can provide some pointers to where facts might be found for their readers' to make up their own minds based on the most recent scientific facts available.

Ignoring the facts or calling them fake news is highly detrimental to a society that seems prone to just absorb sound bites with emotional biases because it leads to a decline in the collective brain power of the human race. If we want to improve as a species, we need to be informed by more than just repeated sound-bites.


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