To think in this way is a complex process that requires a questioning outlook, analysis of the material and learning with an open mind.
Think: what are the facts; what are the sources and are they credible; how much opinion or bias is there; what key points are not given and what variables are there; does the author have a vested interest that I should take into consideration?
According to the Institute for Academic Development at the University of Edinburgh, there are 6 features of critical thinking:
- Identify a range of positions on the issue at hand. Compare and contrast opposing views.
- Judge the reliability of the sources. Think about whether there is any bias, prejudice or self-interest in the way the information is presented.
- Evaluate the opposing arguments.
- Synthesise by bringing together a range of evidence to make your points.
- Conclude – draw conclusions based on your own line of argument.
- Present your ideas clearly, in a manner that will convince others.
Whilst critical thinking is an undisputed educational goal, it is also useful in the wider world; think how much ‘fake News' is out there on the web and on social media. And it’s not just ‘fake News' that we need to be wary of. Even real, mainstream news from very reliable sources, should be viewed with caution.