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Critical Thought

Updated on May 14, 2010

Critical thinking is akin to the scientific method of solving problems in that objectivity is very prominent in the fact collecting and theorizing aspects of both. Critical thinking has six coherent steps.

The first step of critical thinking is restraining emotions. As wonderful as emotions are, they often cloud our judgment, interfere with our perceptions, and enable us to do things and say things that are not necessarily rational. In order to view a situation, or a piece of data, as it truly is we must control our emotions to ensure we are seeing things as they actually are and not just 'feeling' them. If we allow emotions to dictate something we are hearing, seeing, or reading we risk arriving at an erroneous judgment.

Looking at things differently is the second step of critical thinking. A good example of this is if someone said there's this great house with a blue roof over there. You happened to approach the house from the other side where the roof was painted red; if you don't walk around to the other side, look at things differently, you miss the point. So many things in life are like this, if we don't allow our minds to 'stretch' we find many problems are insurmountable, but if we let things go (our emotions, past experiences dictating that what we see is actually something we remember rather than what is actually in front of us) we often find in understanding the answers we seek.

The third step of critical thinking is vey important: analyzing information. So many subjects when taken as a whole seem to be so huge that understanding them can seem impossible. However if we break the information down into understandable parts, often times by looking at things differently, we can more easily understand the whole. A great example of this is any equation. Trying to solve the entire thing is often impossible with some equations, but if you break it down into pieces that are easily solved you can then unravel the entire problem.

A crucial step of critical thinking is the fourth step; that of asking questions. Only by asking open ended, unbiased questions can we hope to understand a subject, a statement, or even an opinion. By asking questions we learn something we didn't previously understand. Our curiosity is one of our species greatest strengths, allowing as it does understanding, discovery, and even invention. Will this work? Why not? How do I make it work?

Solving problems is the fifth step of critical thinking. One of the most important things to remember is that every problem has a solution. Often times we can only arrive at that solution by breaking it down into easily understood pieces, and looking at the problem with an open mind. It's absolutely important to sort through as many different solutions as possible - discarding those that are irrational or influenced by opinion - to arrive at solutions that are solidly based on viable facts.

It is incredibly important through out every step of critical thinking to distinguish fact from opinion, which is the sixth step in critical thinking. Research based on opinions only yields more opinions, truly having very little to do with finding solutions to problems. In order to fully grasp a statement, discussion, subject, or even an opinion we have to be able to sift through what is actual and what is 'felt'. Too often emotions overwhelm the fact collecting and decision making processes, giving us results that are merely opinions rather than facts. In order to actually be able to solve problems rationally we must be able to differentiate between the two.

All aspects of the critical thinking process work together to allow us to learn, solve, and reach solid conclusions to problems. By restraining our emotions, looking at things differently, analyzing the information we gather through asking questions we are able to solve problems with answers that are facts versus opinions.


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    • dyonder profile image

      dyonder 7 years ago from Colorado

      Thank you, BeiYin, for your words. I'm just learning (remembering) the error of controlling emotions in life. Delusion's in the process of being swept from my eyes as heart's bounty fills my being, visions of beauty in soul's eye, after a decade of blindness.

    • BeiYin profile image

      BeiYin 7 years ago from Ibiza Spain

      I like your hub very much! What you write here should hang over the bed of every body who is writing and reading at Hub pages. Unfortunately only very few people are ready and willing to apply it in their life, their self expression and when relating to what shows up in their daily encounters...

      By the way: Emotions shouldn't be 'controlled', it is enough if one is aware of them and can see what have caused them, then they will not disturb the result of ones thinking and investigation. If one controls them, then they will still influence from the unconscious background.

    • dyonder profile image

      dyonder 8 years ago from Colorado

      Sara Tonyn, thank you for stopping by and your kind words. I'm looking forward to reading more of your wonderful works.

    • Sara Tonyn profile image

      Sara Tonyn 8 years ago from Ohio, the Buckeye State

      Ooooooh, I love this hub! You've listed and explained the elements of critical thinking so clearly and thoroughly! I'll have to refer to this hub the next time I find myself in some type of conflict, argument or debate. Which could be only moments from now... ;)

      Great work. I'm so glad I checked out your hubs!

    • dyonder profile image

      dyonder 8 years ago from Colorado

      Thank you, Debby Bruck. Haven been very fortunate in the companions and associates in my life, I try to learn as much from them as I can. Another opportunity to grow & gain a bit more awareness is a welcome blessing indeed. It was a pleasure to discover the many informative hubs you had posted. May providence continue to smile benignly upon you.

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 8 years ago

      Deep and fascinating commentary on many great subjects. Thank you. Appreciate that you have visited my Hubs. in health. Debby

    • dyonder profile image

      dyonder 8 years ago from Colorado

      Thank you for your kindness, Glenda Klint. I appreciate the opportunity to learn and will delve into your hubs eagerly.

    • Glenda Klint profile image

      Glenda Klint 8 years ago

      Hello dyonder,

      Loved your hub article! But, if you ever get a chance to read any of my hubs you will probably see why. Critical thinking is critical for healthy living! I'd love to join your fan club.

      Glenda Klint