Overcoming Bias

To reduce one's bias, one can take various measures during the process of critical thinking.

Instead of asking "How does this contradict my beliefs?" ask: "What does this mean?"

In the earlier stages of gathering and evaluating information, one should first of all suspend judgment (as one does when reading a novel or watching a movie). Ways of doing this include adopting a perceptive rather than judgmental orientation; that is, avoiding moving from perception to judgment as one applies critical thinking to an issue. In the terminology of Edward De Bono's Six Thinking Hats, use white hat or blue hat thinking and delay black hat thinking for later stages.

One should become aware of one's own fallibility by:

1. accepting that everyone has subconscious biases, and accordingly questioning any reflexive judgments;

2. adopting an ego less and, indeed, humble stance

3. recalling previous beliefs that one once held strongly but now rejects

4. realizing one still has numerous blind spots, despite the foregoing

How does one ever eliminate biases without knowing what the ideal is? A possible answer: by referencing critical thinking against a "concept of man". Thus we can see that critical thinking and the formation of secure ethical codes form an integral whole, but a whole which remains limited without the backing of a concept of humanity.

Finally, one might use the Socratic method to evaluate an argument, asking open questions, such as the following:

* What do you mean by_______________?

* How did you come to that conclusion?

* Why do you believe that you are right?

* What is the source of your information?

* What assumption has led you to that conclusion?
* What happens if you are wrong?

* Can you give me two sources who disagree with you and explain why?

* Why is this significant?

* How do I know you are telling me the truth?

* What is an alternate explanation for this phenomenon?

Critical Thinking can be looked at within many frameworks or paradigms.

One is a four tiered system.

1: Dualistic reasoning: In this mode of thought things are thought of in terms of either/or, right/wrong or good/bad.

2: Multiplicity: At this level, the thinker understands that different agents may have different perspectives on a given object or matter.

3: Relativity: This level of thinking holds that different people have different perspectives, and that all are ultimately equal.

4: Relativity With Commitment: This level of thinking recognizes that different agents hold different perspectives and opinions, but that criteria for judgment can assess the validity of a given perspective, stance or opinion.