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Critical Thinking

Updated: May 4, 2020

Critical Thinking as Defined by the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking, 1987

A statement by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul, presented at the 8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform, Summer 1987.

Critical thinking is 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.  In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.

Critical thinking defined by Wikipedia: 

Critical thinking is the objective analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex, and several different definitions exist, which generally include the rational, skeptical, unbiased analysis, or evaluation of factual evidence. Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposed assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command to their use. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities, as well as a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.

As Henry Ford put it: “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”

In today’s fast paced world I believe that Critical Thinking is something practiced less and less.  I believe it is extremely important to deploy critical thinking to formulate a thoughtful approach to accomplishing goals.  Critical thinking is important to categorizing and prioritizing tasks and initiatives as infinite capacity is something few of us possess.  Considering the capacity dilemma, Critical Thinking seems counter-intuitive.  “How can we possible take the time to think when I only possess so much time and capacity.”

Taking the time to Critically Think through a problem, challenge, opportunity, etc. just might be what we need to develop the best approach to meeting our goals.  In the world of consulting we need to be good listeners and good thinkers.  It is easy to jump to action and be a flurry of activity but it may be more important to take the time to think it out first.  In the end we all get paid for results, not the activity to achieve the results.  Critical Thought just might help produce the results that we seek.

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