Critical Thinking

BrainWhat is critical thinking? Clinically defined as intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. Are you still with me?
I like Barry K Beyer’s definition. Critical thinking is making clear, reasoned judgments. This is a practical non-clinical definition. I’d like to follow up on his definition and see if I can help apply it to our everyday activities. I believe the opposite of clear reasoned judgment is cloudy thinking, non-clinically defined as unclear and unreasoned judgment. Now that was easy, wasn’t it?
I’m not demeaning those who are clinically foggy in their thought process. I have total and extensive empathy and sympathy for them. The rest of us may be able to fine tune our critical thinking process by following a few simple steps.
There are times when I’m speaking or writing when I find myself fighting unclear thinking or unreasoned judgment. When I’m aware this is happening, I stop and reflect on the “SOAR without Limits” process.
Here comes the commercial – a somewhat embellished SOAR process.

  • First, be clear on your desired outcome. What result are you seeking?
  • Second, recognize the issues getting in the way of achieving your desired outcome.
  • Third, seek out pertinent information to mitigate the negative issues and reinforce the positive ones.
  • Fourth, develop hypotheses to address the issues. What alternatives or options do you have?
  • Fifth, prioritize your intended actions. Do first things first.
  •  Sixth, test your thinking on others. Ouch!

The thinker
If all else fails, go back to the clinical definition and attack each element in order.
I’m looking forward to your comments on this one. I just know you’ll think about it.

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