Critical thinking in an arena of abundant information
November 28, 2014 2 Comments
Here is the start of a list of themes for critical thinking in an arena of abundant information, namely, the internet:
- Critical thinking depends on inquiry being informed by a strong sense of how things could be otherwise. You understand things better when you have placed established facts, theories, and practices in tension with alternatives (Taylor 2001).
- If you come across an unconventional idea, google the idea along with the terms “criticism,” “debunked,” or “refuted.”
- If you find research that sounds interesting mentioned in a news article or opinion piece, look up the original and then look into responses to it (e.g., via citations in google scholar).
- Remind yourself of the thrust of the topic before searching on the internet lest you locate and get distracted by abundant information that does not speak to that thrust. (For example, suppose you were in a class on the way Darwin used multiple layers of argument to convince his audience of his theory of natural selection, do not search for “Darwin natural selection”—You’ll find hours of interesting reading most of which will not be relevant to his use of multiple layers of argument.)
- If someone who has authority (e.g., an instructor) introduces an alternative to the position you had adopted, do not feel that you have to abandon your view and adopt theirs. The challenge, however, is to a) acknowledge the alternative and b) adjust your position if need be, and, at the very least, c) comment on when and how each view applies.
- Provide a reference to support each and every assertion you make or fact you state. Doing this nudges you to check how solid your assertions and facts are and rephrase or omit accordingly. It also allows readers to assess the solidity for themselves (as well as helping them to inquire further when you get them interested).
- to be continued (suggestions welcome)
Taylor, P. J. (2001) “We know more than we are, at first, prepared to acknowledge: Journeying to develop critical thinking,” http://www.faculty.umb.edu/pjt/journey.html (viewed 28 Nov. 2014). Published as ____ (2008). “Developing Critical Thinking is Like a Journey.” In Ollington, G. F., Teachers and Teaching Strategies, Problems and Innovations. Hauppauge, NY, Nova Science Publishers.