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Question everything! Why?

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In a world where fiction is increasingly confused with reality, it is important to develop a critical spirit. In the era in which the web submits to our attention a huge cauldron of information and news every day, some of which is real, others seasoned with journalistic ploys and others invented to obtain views, be able to identify the reliability of sources. From what they write, it is essential not to end up at the mercy of a reality that is not real. The same goes clearly for what is offered to us on TV and what we hear daily from the people around us.

In the workplace, being able to think critically is a requirement; in the scholastic context, it represents a plus which, especially in the economic and political fields, allows one to acquire training made up of assimilated concepts and not simply memorized to pass the exams.

Unfortunately, today, thanks to the influence of the internet, society is characterized by a clear standardization of thought. In other words, we tend to think collectively and become victims of manipulation implemented at various levels by the context around us.

This is why we have decided to address the issue in this post and provide those who wish to open their minds with the tools and strategies to learn and/or strengthen their ability to think critically.

The Niccolò Cusano Telematic University of Cagliari has collected in the following paragraphs five suggestions to follow to learn how to develop more keys to understanding reality, a fundamental premise on which personal opinions are built.

How to build critical thinking

A person trained to think critically can solve problems independently and effectively. To train yourself to read reality from different perspectives, using multiple interpretations and not simply those that are proposed to us, in a more or less hidden way, by those who receive an economic return from the fact that society thinks in a certain way, we must adopt a series of constructive attitudes. Here are those considered most effective to achieve a fair level of critical thinking.

1 — QUESTION YOURSELF

Technological progress and the constant possibility of accessing internet resources have, on the one hand, facilitated some daily processes and activities, but on the other, have caused a sort of ‘disaccustomed’ to self-interrogation.
People no longer ask themselves questions. Rather than thinking for themselves, they flock to the web for a standardized and artfully pre-packaged solution/answer when presented with some obstacle, doubt or question.

In other words, we no longer need to acquire knowledge: we have the web!

The result is that we no longer know how to formulate constructive questions and can no longer make even a small effort to try to understand and deepen; we take everything the internet offers us for granted and as reliable. The first step in developing a critical spirit is to observe the reality that surrounds us more analytically and profoundly, asking ourselves questions and trying to give objective answers to them, possibly without being influenced by the outside.

2 — ANALYZE THE REASONING OF OTHERS

Critical skills mean not considering what other people say or think at face value.

We specify that by ‘others’ we do not mean only to refer to the people closest to us, with whom we interact and compare ourselves more or less directly daily; in a much broader sense, we include everything proposed by news, television programs, magazines, newspapers, social networks, portals and websites.

Out of laziness or a tendency consolidated by the frenetic lifestyle of today’s society, we are led to consider objective reality in everything transmitted/communicated to us by the world around us, totally losing the ability to analyze and criticise.

Developing analytical skills is one of the indispensable prerequisites for becoming critical in thinking. Beyond what may be scientific evidence supported by objective data, we should always learn to question the reasoning of others.

The goal is to acquire the ability to carefully analyze what others say, to distinguish objective information and deductions from those that come from rooted beliefs, personal emotions and subjective experiences, therefore often without logical foundation- coherent.

3 — LEARN TO READ THE NUANCES

In today’s society, especially among the generations of young people, extreme thinking, technically defined as ‘dichotomous’, is in fashion. A ‘thing’ is defined as right or wrong, black or white, so the habit of considering nuances is completely lost.

By its very nature, which tends to divide into two parts, the dichotomy collides with critical thinking, instead based on analysing multiple aspects of reality.

We must therefore learn to identify, read and analyze even the small, seemingly trivial details of everything that surrounds us: people, events, situations, conditions, ideologies, and trends … Curiosity and being mentally projected to consider multiple options are
attitudes that lead the individual towards profound personal enrichment.

According to educationist Robert Ennis, one of the critical skills of a critical thinker is having an open mind. The assumption becomes necessary when the illusion provided by the web tends to be considered real, to the point of becoming objective, even if it sometimes completely departs from scientific reality.

4 — DEVELOP IMPARTIAL CRITICAL SENSE

Critical thinking requires a challenging process; for those not used to develop a personal point of view, and therefore tend to consider objective what is offered to them from the outside, it can even become tiring.

We must add a fair amount of intellectual humility to the’ commitment’ element, which often clashes with the Ego. Based on the evaluation criteria proposed by psychologists Richard Paul and Laura Elder, people are classified, according to the critical sense shown, into three categories:

  1. Uncritical people: individuals without a critical sense and who cannot use logic in everyday life. They tend to conform to the ideas of others.
  2. Critical but self-centred people: individuals with a weak critical sense but firmly determined to defend their positions despite objectivity.
  3. Impartial critical people: individuals with a strong critical sense, willing to assert their points of view with objectivity and impartiality.

Anyone aspiring to develop critical-constructive thinking must therefore strive to fall into the third category, impartial and non-egocentric.

5 — BE WELL INFORMED

As much as it may tend towards objectivity, the information transmitted by the mass media is subject to journalistic filters and tricks aimed at attracting the public’s attention. The same selection of news is carried out following criteria which are sometimes purely television.

It is not so much the criterion of choice being questioned here as they are considered objectively important simply because the media have picked them up.

The trend topics of the web determine, more or less with the same criterion, the topics and themes to be highlighted for which users undergo information whose selection is carried out by an algorithm.

To develop a critical sense, it is necessary to have a broad and complete overview of the issue, which does not only include what others decide to bring to our attention.
In this sense, it is important to pay attention to the authoritativeness of the sources and, therefore, to the reliability of the news.

We have explained how to develop a critical spirit; all you have to do is start putting our suggestions into practice and get used to it day after day, not to passively accept the opinion of others but questioning what they think and say constructively.

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