Methods of Critical Thinking

Critical thinking has a useful sequence to follow:

1. Itemize opinion(s) from all relevant sides of an issue and collect Logical argument(s) supporting each.

2. Break the arguments into their constituent statements and draw out various additional implication(s) from these statements.

3. Examine these statements and implications for internal contradictions.

4. Locate opposing claims between the various arguments and assign relative weightings to opposing claims:

* Increase the weighting when the claims have strong support especially distinct chains of reasoning or different news sources, decrease the weighting when the claims have contradictions.

* Adjust weighting depending on relevance of information to central issue.

* Require sufficient support to justify any incredible claims; otherwise, ignore these claims when forming a judgment.

5. Assess the weights of the various claims.

Mind maps provide an effective tool for organizing and evaluating this information; in the final stages, one can assign numeric weights to various branches of the mind map.

Critical thinking does not assure that one will reach either the truth or correct conclusions. First, one may not have all the relevant information; indeed, important information may remain undiscovered, or the information may not even be knowable. Second, one's bias(es) may prevent effective gathering and evaluation of the available information.

Critical thinking may be distinguished, but not separated, from feeling. Refusal to recognize their interaction in real life leads to various forms of self-deception, individually and socially; and at the left, right, and mainstream of economic, political, and religious issues.