Posted by: magnussonllc | May 3, 2011

Process for Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is about being both willing and able to
evaluate your thinking.

Sometimes our thinking might be
criticized because we don’t demonstrate that we have all the relevant
information required or because we make unjustified inferences, use inappropriate
concepts, or fail to notice important implications.

Our thinking may be unclear, inaccurate, imprecise,
irrelevant, narrow, shallow, illogical, or trivial, due to ignorance or
misapplication of the appropriate learned skills of thinking.

On the other hand, our thinking might be criticized as being
the result of a sub-optimal disposition.

The dispositional dimension of critical thinking is focused
in learning and developing the intention to be truth-seeking, open-minded,
systematic, analytical, inquisitive, confident in reasoning, and prudent in
making judgments.

Failure to recognize the importance of logical dispositions
can lead to various forms of self-deception and closed-mindedness, both individually
and collectively. Critical thinking employs not only logic (either formal or,
much more often, informal) but broad criteria such as clarity, credibility,
accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, significance and fairness.

Critical thinkers use a process that ensures that they
evaluate their argument from a critical perspective:

According to the Foundation for Critical Thinking
(, there are seven standards that critical
thinkers should have in their mindset.


  • Ask for illustrations and examples
  • Get hard facts
  • Ask the person to elaborate

Relevance and

  • How does that statement connect to the issue?
  • What are the most important parts of the issue,
    argument, or evidence?


  • Apply common sense
  • Connect the dots between the points
  • Ask for clarification when points clash with
    each other


  • Look for supporting evidence
  • Check and double-check the facts
  • Get first-hand information whenever possible


  • Make sure you are not over-simplifying the
  • Are you covering all the issues?
  • Are you covering the most significant issues?


  • Ask for precise measurements (63% rather than “over
    half of the population”)
  • Watch out for vague words


  • Are you looking at all points of view?
  • How could you gain more perspective?
  • Look at it through someone else’s eyes (your
    children, your manager, etc.)


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