If you'd like to learn more about "Critical Thinking," there's a free class this Sunday morning March 24, 2013, near downtown Portland. The class is sponsored by The Humanists of Greater Portland, and people of all belief systems are welcome to attend. Click here to see all details: http://tinyurl.com/HGP-class .
Critical thinking is actually a college level course at some universities. The point of critical thinking is to make sure one arrives at the best possible conclusions, and has the right attitude when thinking of such things. This involves analyzing premises and the thought processes that lead to conclusions. For the class this week, here are some of the main points that the authors of the textbook want to put across:
1. “Just because you believe something to be true doesn't mean that it is.” The illustrations had to do with people who think they can create reality by their thoughts. The most obvious example is that different people believe different contrary things, and obviously they can’t all be true if they are mutually exclusive.
2. “Just because a group of people believe that something is true doesn't mean that it is.” To make a truth claim based on the fact that the group believes it, amounts to the logical fallacy called “appeal to the masses.”
3. “There is an external reality that is independent of our representations of it.” The concept of objective reality is not optional. This principle is responsible for the great advancements in science, as we learn things through objective experimentation.
All of these ideas can be used in the workplace.
For example on number 1, a manager might say “I know our new product is going to be great because I know what the competition has, and ours is much better.” But if the competition knows how to keep a secret, then you really don’t know what they have. And in that case, thinking you have surety of success, you might let your guard down.
For example on number 2, a manager might say “We all agree this is the best path forward, so let’s put on blinders and charge forward!” However, the group may have missed something, and it would always be good to be on the look-out for changes that should be made to the program based on new data that is discovered. (If your competitors can react to changing situations and react better to new learned facts, then they will have a competitive advantage.)
For example on number 3, a manager might say “Our group does things differently because we have a different culture. What’s an effective process for your group is different than for our group.” Sure, there could be cultural differences in how things could be handled, but this might also be a lazy-thinking short-cut to the kind of thinking that says “what we have is good enough and we don’t want to think more deeply about it.” This is especially a problem if the competition thinks critically, and creates a better solution by looking at all potential processes, even unfamiliar ones; and puts a better process in place as a result of their more diligent thinking.
I hope these few examples show how "critical thinking" can greatly impact one's personal and work life.
Truman Ardent Smith is an atheist (former evangelical born-again Christian). He has participated in many Christian/atheist debates, which have been posted online for free viewing here: http://tinyurl.com/freeDebates .
Truman also offers a new free 10 page essay called “Modern Science and Philosophy Destroys Christian Theology." You can find it free at his website: www.TrumanSmith.com .