Critical thinking occurs when one does not simply take what they are reading or hearing as it is. It requires one to carefully consider what they are being sold, viewing it in other ways, and considering the value of the information. This is a very important way of thinking for those in an academic situation, so that they can identify any potential biases and consider an author’s point of view, as well as the intentions of the author. Critical thinking does not only help with understanding what is being read, but also helps with understanding if what is being read is important, relevant, and reliable.
For example, when you analyze what you are reading, you are able to distinguish important elements, such as audience, purpose, argument, evidence, methods, and tone. As a scholar, it would be important to be reading something with strong evidence and an argument that is relevant to the topic at hand. Similarly, comparison is another critical reading element. It is important to consider as many viewpoints and evidence as possible. To take one person’s word for it is not enough. In order to be as thorough as possible, multiple sources should be taken into account. (Walden University Academic Skills Center, n.d.)
Also, it is important to evaluate what is being read. For example, the author and their notoriety are important. Someone who is well established in the given topic might be more resourceful than someone who is not. Their given discipline is also important. You would rather consider psychological research from a psychologist than a paleontologist. Similarly, you would want to consider the validity of the information and research. If the author was using sources that were extremely outdated, then their relevancy could be nonexistent. If the sources are from unscholarly websites, such as Wikipedia where anyone can edit and alter the information, then the reliability is questionable. If the study was conducted using a previously unused method, then there is greater potential for limitations and errors. If the sample size is super small, then the data would not pertain to a general population. These are all things that need to be considered, plus so much more, when determining the usefulness of information. To just blindly accept information because it is in front of you can lead to many mistakes and misassumptions, which, in turn, would make you very unreliable. (Walden University Academic Skills Center, n.d.)
Walden University Academic Skills Center. (n.d.). Critical thinking skills. Walden University. https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/ASCsuccess/critical
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