Thinking is something that comes natura!y to everyone, but it is taken for granted in our society.
Thinking is o"en casual and simplistic, whereas critical thinking evaluates the quality of thinking,
which is a ski! that separates us $om the animals.
Deﬁning Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is a mental process that
skillfully breaks basic thinking into
numerous processes such as analyzing,
evaluating, problem solving, decision
making to reach a conclusion.
The decision making process for a critical
thinker is much more complex. It involves
logical, moral reason, and emotional criteria
to make up one’s mind.
Aspects of Thinking Critically
Reasoning has many forms where
the conclusion often follows the
premises proceeding it
Example: All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man. Therefore,
Socrates is a man.
Analyzing data before jumping into
conclusions is crucial for decision
making and problem solving
Succeeding in College
In the book “Peak Performance” written by Sharon Ferrett, she
talks about numerous characteristics of what a critical thinker is,
and I found this to be pivotal for all students to succeed in college.
When I ﬁrst read this book, I liked to use this list as a good way to
succeed in all of my classes. By following this list in all of your
courses, you will ﬁnd endless amount of success in college and in
1. Asks pertinent questions.
2. Assesses statements and arguments.
3. Is able to admit a lack of understanding or information.
4. Has a sense of curiosity.
5. Is interested in ﬁnding new solutions.
6. Is able to clearly deﬁne a set of criteria for analyzing ideas.
7. Is willing to examine beliefs, assumptions, and opinions, and
weigh them against facts.
8. Listens carefully to others and is able to give feedback.
9. Sees that critical thinking is a lifelong process of self assessment.
10. Looks for evidence to support assumptions and beliefs.
11. Is able to adjust opinions when new facts are found.
12. Looks for proof.
13. Examines problems closely.
14. Is able to reject information that is incorrect or irrelevant.
Socrates and Critical Thinking
Socrates established the importance of seeking
evidence 2500 years ago. He examined reasoning,
and analyzed simple concepts.
His “Socratic Questioning” method is synonymous
with critical thinking. In our classes’ book
“Communicating Critical Thinking” by Jim
Marteney, he mentions that critical thinkers are
intellectual curious and this Socratic Questioning
method is a way to feed this curiosity to uncover
truths, analyze questions to ﬁgure out what we
know and what we do not know.
Confusion and Critical Thinking
Confusion is a major part of life and learning. Critical thinkers have the
ability to come to terms with confusion. Confusion is the darkness, and
often leads to something great. The curiosity and confusion of what
space is like is what fueled America to go to the moon. At one time or
another in the world, people have questioned what they had be told.
They questioned that the world was not ﬂat, and were ridiculed. A
famous quote from a Chinese Proverb states, “ One who asks a question
is a fool for ﬁve minutes; one who does not ask a question remains a fool
A critical thinker understands that we learn new things every day, and
confusion is apart of that learning process. Socrates, considered one of
the wisest men of the history of the world, once said “I know nothing
except the fact of my ignorance.” This quote is extremely profound
saying that the only thing that we know is that we know nothing.
When working on analyzing data and thinking critically, it is important
to avoid irrelevancies also known as “red herrings.” Going astray from
an inference is the sign of one who is not a critical thinker. They will
remain on the original argument in order to come to a conclusion.
Knowledge, which is argued to be from nature or nurture,
needs to be justiﬁed, true, and believed in order to be
considered knowledge according to Plato.
A critical thinker can distinguish what might actually be
true from something they wish were true. They could
realize that probability of an outcome determines whether
it could be true or not.
Sir Francis Bacon once said “ Knowledge is Power” and
this statement could not be more true. With knowledge,
the sky is the limit and you have no limitations. The more
knowledge you obtain through questioning, and the
willingness to wonder why the world is the way it is.
Having an Open Mind
Having an open mind is such a vital part of being critical
thinker, because there is an endless amount of knowledge in the
world, and one person could never consume all of it. Also, no
one person is always right, and you need to be open-minded
enough to realize when you are wrong and get past it. The
people who were open-minded in the past are the people we are
talking about today.
Aristotle had an open-mind about whether the world is ﬂat or
not. This open-minded thinking led to him ﬁguring out that the
shadows on the moon being a crescent shape was proof enough
for him that the earth was not ﬂat. No one at the time was open-
minded enough to believe that this was a possibility, because of
course the world is not round, because the ground is ﬂat that we
are standing on, duh!
The ﬁrst step to having an open mind is being about to admit
when you do not know something. You learn from asking
questions, not from knowing the answer. When you are about to
say that you do not know something, then you are more likely
to be open-minded about learning what you admittedly do not
Critical Thinker in the Real World
The world is not as black and white as some might see it. It is
always changing and learning to adapt and resolve
situations is an important part of any critical thinkers life.
Critical thinkers should have the ability to use previous
knowledge and experience to come to a conclusion to solve a
In an article by Michael Spindler he talks about how the
ability to analyze and evaluate a situation, and then develop
a strategic plan to act upon in order to resolve the situation,
Review, investigate, and implement the plan is a important
part of applying critical thinking towards real world
situations that would work in both school and your career.
How to Know if You Are a Critical Thinker
After reading this powerpoint slide show, you might be
wondering, “Do I think critically?” Critical Thinking is an
acquired skill, and even if you feel like your analytical reasoning
and critical thinking is not up to par, you can always work at
improving your skills. According to the Critical Thinking
Community, a well cultivated critical thinker does the following:
raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and
gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to
interpret it effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and
solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards.
thinks open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought,
recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions,
implications, and practical consequences.
communicates effectively with others in ﬁguring out solutions to