Applied CT


Related Links:

The Biology of Scepticism Part 1 and Part 2

Clarifying SASHAR

Critical Thinking Academy





What is Critical Thinking?

To think critically means to be able to think independently. The mental tools acquired enable us to detect when someone is trying to manipulate us or convince us of their own opinion expecting no resistance or intellectual opposition.

Critical thinking is a technique that helps to evaluate arguments, their consistency, veracity and plausibility. In an age of information overload, it is important to identify which information to trust and what to discard. Many believe in what others tell us, without questioning the source or asking for proof. Learning how to think critically is a cross disciplinary skill, useful not only for those working in science, but also for people interested in ethical reasoning and decision making, information management and even in our daily routines.

Critical thinking helps is to assess what advertisers are telling us is acceptable and or how biased is the information provided by the media or governments. Critical thinking protects us from being manipulated, helping us to identify flawed reasoning and badly constructed arguments.It is a crucial skill to have in modern times.


How is it different from philosophy?

In fact, the first thing students of philosophy must learn is how to think critically. A great deal of this process includes the application of logical reasoning. This is a process that was developed by philosophers since Classical Greece. Logic provides us with the basic understanding of how reason works. But although philosophy can’t thrive without the application of critical thinking, we can and should apply these skills in other aspects of our daily life, even when we are not philosophising about complex ideas such as what the meaning of life and what is consciousness.

We apply critical thinking every day, when we go shopping, when we take sides, when we vote, who we are going to marry. It helps us to evaluate aspects of our life that are important in our decisions.
However, with the amount of information constantly buzzing around us, it is difficult to tell if our decisions are the most adequate for us, or are we simply being influenced by advertising, our friends, and the things we hear repeated in the media. We would like to think that we are independent thinkers, but it would surprise you how much of your pinions were not formulated by you.  You are most likely parroting alien claims that somehow infiltrated your brain.    

So although the art of thinking critically includes many aspects from philosophy, it is also supported by the understanding of how we use language, and how hour brain and psychology works. So the study of critical thinking goes well beyond philosophical aspects.

Critical thinking offers a set of tools which analysis the structure of our beliefs and seeks justification for why do we belive in it?


Is critical thinking the same as scepticism?

The word scepticism (or skepticism in American English) refers to an attitude of doubt. Those who adopt this stance are constantly questioning the truth of something and by doing so they investigate and see for evidence.
It is impossible for someone to be 100% sceptic because if we didn’t take some information for granted, we wouldn’t be able to progress. The issue is to ascertain what information should we accept and what to reject.  In a time where lie, conspiracy theories and deception is widespread, we need to keep our scepticism well oiled. We need to understand what is reasonable to accept as truth and dismiss what is misleading. Critical thinking provides the intelectual tools to analyse information.

Scepticism vs. Gullibilty



Are sceptics atheists?

Sceptics may choose to apply these tools to some of their beliefs and not others. Thus, there are people who can be sceptical about the truth of claims expressed by a particular politician or adverts but still accepting of other beliefs that characterize the social setting that shaped our personalities and cultural imprinting. Some people my ring fence some areas of their belief to the erosion of scepticism. This is answers the question, why some scientists who were supposedly trained to think rationally, continue to embrace a religion? This is one of the many questions debated in our society.

We welcome those who choose to stick to their religious beliefs but want to apply the tools of critical thinking to other areas of their life. This means that some people can be sceptical about secular information, but abstain from questioning their religious beliefs. Since nobody can be 100% sceptic, then the answer to the question is that some people can be partially sceptical and not be atheist.