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Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

You have to take all the information and arguments we presented earlier to filter out the good from the bad. Then you evaluate all the information to make a judgment based on the facts and logic.

A critical thinker doesn't let ideas become identity. You apply just as much effort in disproving what you believe as you do building it up. Facts, results and data win over hunches, beliefs and speculation.


What is Critical Thinking? (Simple Explanation)


What is Critical Thinking? (More Detailed Explanation)


Five simple strategies to sharpen your critical thinking | BBC Ideas


The psychologist Adam Grant identified three common modes people enter into when evaluating new information. The preacher, the politician or the prosecutor.

  • The preacher is convinced they are infallible and always correct. New data is irrelevant.
  • The prosecutor is trying to prove the other arguments wrong. Flaws in arguments are only considered if they help prove your case.
  • The politician is trying to win the approval of the audience. Opinions can change based on how others are reacting, not with the data.

When sharing that information, you mustn't always be trying to prove your point. You need to be open to outside information.


Ask Better Questions

In an article for the Harvard Business Review, John Coleman explains that "Critical Thinking is About Asking Better Questions." Here's a summary of those questions to help you.

Most people start exploring something by making a hypothesis. That's a proposition that can provide a framework to guide an investigation. Don't view the hypotheses as fact if you want to look at something critically. Allow yourself to make changes to the hypotheses as new information emerges.

Listen to multiple explanations before forming an opinion. The first argument you hear may sound convincing, but the same might be valid for the second and third arguments. Look for trends to emerge so you can group things into categories and then dig deeper into where those ideas came from.

Ask open-ended questions to gather more details. Anything that can be answered with a simple yes or no should be avoided at this point. You want your sources to open up because the things they mention may lead to even more valuable questions.

Argue against your own conclusion. Try to find flaws in what you proposed. Sometimes a single mistake can prove your belief is wrong. Arguing against your ideas can help you understand things on a deeper level and help you move closer to the truth.

Sleep on the problem. If possible, go back to your answer a day or two later to see it fresh. Taking a step back can help you spot apparent issues that weren't obvious when you were in the middle of putting it all together.

Don't stop questioning, even when it's over. We've been writing a health a fitness column for more than 18 years. At the bottom of every article is the date we first released it. However, as new information emerges, we re-evaluate the article and our conclusions. Every time we make a change, we document the updated date. Sometimes the argument grows stronger, but there are cases where our original findings were wrong. As more thorough, more extensive or better-controlled studies are released, we can improve the information we're sharing with the world.

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3/17/2022
Updated 3/22/2022
Updated 4/24/2022