The Power of Critical Thinking

The Thinker by Rodin

As my family can attest, I get hot under the collar about things I feel are unjust.  I have been thinking about thinking and thought I would refresh myself and write a post about “critical thinking” .  I have been wondering if critical thinking has gone out the window as I read the headlines.  I sometimes feel as though we as a country of “freedom” are really going backwards and are not really a country of FREEDOM.  But is it because I have lost my “critical thinking” skills?

I went to the Wikipedia page for critical thinking.  Here are a few things I found:

“Different sources define critical thinking variously as:

  • “reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do”[2]
  • “thinking about thinking”[3]
  • “the 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”[4]
  • “purposeful, self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based”[5]

Within the philosophical frame of critical social theory, critical thinking is commonly understood to involve commitment to the social and political practice of participatory democracy, willingness to imagine or remain open to considering alternative perspectives, willingness to integrate new or revised perspectives into our ways of thinking and acting, and willingness to foster criticality in others.[3]

  1. Ennis, R.H., “Critical Thinking Assessment” in Fasko, Critical Thinking and Reasoning: Current Research, Theory, and Practice (2003). ISBN 978-1-57273-460-9
  2. Raiskums, B.W., An Analysis of the Concept Criticality in Adult Education (2008)
  3. Scriven, M., and Paul, R.W., Critical Thinking as Defined by the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking (1987)
  4. Facione, Peter A. Critical Thinking: What It is and Why It Counts,, 20011, page 26

The third bullet definition rang a bell in my mind.  Yes, that is what I thought “critical thinking” is.  I also liked the critical social theory.  What has become of these skills though?  When I read Facebook comments or read what some of the public says in the paper or on TV, I think “What?”  Where  have they read this or heard this?  Are they really thinking?  Where is the “commitment to the social and political practice of participatory democracy, willingness to imagine or remain open to considering alternative perspectives …” gone?  Just reading the headlines or hearing the news stories makes me think that we are not supposed to use those skills of thinking, but just believe whatever we are told.  Here’s an example:

Drought is devastating the corn crop.  Be prepared for higher food costs.  My husband and I just traveled across Nebraska, Iowa, northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, central Minnesota, southern North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Washington.  It was not until we got to eastern Washington that we saw any other crop other than corn.  The corn we saw all that way looked very good and healthy.  We get home and see the corn in the field behind our home and see the tallest corn I have ever seen and it is very healthy.  So, where is the devastated corn crop?  Is this just a ploy for the raising price of food products that have corn parts in them?  And, what was mind opening was how many of the crops were corn!

I don’t know if the above blog  makes sense to you, but I really hope that we as a nation are not losing our critical thinking skills, that we who listen to the news and read the news and books do not believe what is said or we read without analyzing and balancing it and evaluating it.


About Marilyn

I am a "retired senior" (I've been a school librarian and library tech for a government research facility) who is now pursuing a dream of a home business sewing bags of all sorts, crafting and being the creative person I have always wanted to be. I grew up in the center of Illinois and dreamed of actually living back in the state of Colorado where I was born and lived till the age of 7. That dream came true when I met my husband of 43 years while working together in Estes Park. I am interested in alternative medicine, continuing the good health I've always had, while returning to the pre-processed food era of: eating well, losing weight, and using products that do not harm the environment, me, my family and friends. I am for labeling GMO’s, using sustainable products, organics and finding solutions to everyday problems, like colds and sore muscles, using natural remedies. I have a positive attitude that has helped through a very hard year and will bring forth a life that will be full and happy. My family is wonderful and I am a happy lady, wife, mother, and grandma.

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