The term critical thinking has been defined by various scholars in different ways, but the consensus is that it is one of the most important attributes which human beings possess to allow them to make sensible judgments (Joyce, 2013; Moore et al., 2012). In this paper, critical thinking is defined as the careful and deliberate application of reason to investigate the validity of a claim. Consider that this definition barely appreciates the manner in which a claim is generated. Therefore, it follows that one engages in critical thinking when they consider whether a claim is valid and sensible, regardless of how the owner came up with it (Moore et al., 2012; Renatovna, 2019). Thus, to enhance one’s critical thinking, one needs such skills as separating fact from opinion, distinguishing between claims which are emotional and the ones which are rational, and selecting the strongest and most practical claim.
It is important for the critical thinking process to rely on facts than opinion. Opinions are susceptible to bias from the source of information, which makes them less appropriate than facts as a basis for one’s critical thinking process (Moore et al., 2012). To understand this argument, suppose Bill and Will are brothers, and the latter is known to steal money from her mother’s savings jar, which she keeps in her bedroom. Therefore, if at any moment it is discovered that money has been stolen from the jar, it is likely that the opinion of someone investigating the matter will be that Will is the guilty party. However, suppose further that Will was away from home when the money was stolen. In this case, the fact is that Will did not steal the money, which renders the opinion that Will is guilty unsuitable. Thus, it is always important to rely more on facts than opinion throughout the critical thinking process.
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The next important skill required in critical thinking is the ability to select the strongest and most practical claim even when the claims under investigation are supported by facts (Moore et al., 2012). To demonstrate this argument, consider the case of the siblings used earlier in the paper.
Suppose that both Bill and Will were both at home when the money was stolen. Their mother saw only Bill walk into her bedroom but later finds exactly the missing amount of money in the back pocket of Will’s trousers when she is doing their laundry. In this case, both the claims that Bill stole the money because he was the only one seen entering their mother’s bedroom and that Will stole the money because he has been found in possession of exactly the missing amount are supported by money.
However, there can only be one guilty party, which means that the mother needs to decide which claim is the most valid. In such a case, enhanced critical thinking would involve evaluating other facts concerning the boys’ behavior to determine which one of them stole the money.
References Joyce, D. (Ed.). (2013). 21st-century skills: Critical thinking and problem-solving. Phoenix, AZ: Grand Canyon University. Moore, B. N., Parker, R., Rosenstand, N., & Silversa, A. (2012). Critical thinking (pp. 185-194). New York: McGraw-Hill. Renatovna, A. G. (2019). Modern approaches to the development of critical thinking of students. European Journal of Research and Reflection in Educational Sciences Vol, 7(10).