Why Critical Thinking Skills Are So Important Right Now
The Age of AI -
In today’s rapidly changing world, critical thinking has become more important than ever before. Critical thinking refers to the ability to logically analyze and evaluate information accurately, to make sound judgments, and to solve problems. It is an essential skill for success in both personal and professional life. In this article, I will reveal why critical thinking is important right now, provide practical examples, and share some resources for improving critical thinking skills. The next revolution needs to be a revolution of the mind and our thoughts!
Why is Critical Thinking Important Currently?
In today’s society, we are bombarded with information from various sources, including social media, news outlets, and even our friends and family. With so much information available, it can be challenging to differentiate between “fake news,” facts, and opinions. Not having accurate facts can fatal if we are not careful. When it comes to information people should not focus on being right or who is wrong, but the actual truth. Critical thinking helps us to identify credible sources of information, evaluate arguments and evidence, and make informed decisions.
Moreover, the recent political issues and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of critical thinking. As the pandemic has unfolded, we have seen numerous claims and misinformation spread across various media platforms on both sides of the coin. Critical thinking skills are essential for distinguishing fact from fiction and making informed decisions about our lives, health, and well-being.
A civilization without critical thinking skills is likely to face numerous challenges and may struggle to progress and thrive in various ways.
Here are some potential consequences:
- Lack of innovation: Critical thinking is essential for innovation and progress. Without it, a civilization may struggle to come up with new ideas, technologies, and solutions to problems.
- Vulnerability to propaganda: A civilization without critical thinking skills is more vulnerable to propaganda, misinformation, and fake news. This can lead to a lack of informed decision-making, widespread confusion, and even conflict.
- Inability to solve complex problems: Critical thinking is necessary for solving complex problems, such as climate change, poverty, and inequality. Without it, a civilization may be unable to address these challenges effectively.
- Lack of diversity and inclusivity: Critical thinking helps to challenge biases and assumptions and encourages diversity of thought. Without it, a civilization may be less likely to embrace diversity and inclusivity, which can lead to social, political, and economic problems.
- Decreased competitiveness: In a globalized world, critical thinking is necessary for competitiveness. A civilization without critical thinking skills may struggle to compete with other nations and regions.
With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), critical thinking will become even more important than ever before. AI is already transforming the way we live and work, and it’s likely to become even more prevalent in the future. However, as AI systems become more advanced, they may not always provide accurate or unbiased information. This means that individuals will need to be able to critically evaluate the information they receive from AI systems to ensure its reliable and relevant. Additionally, critical thinking will be necessary to identify potential biases and ethical issues associated with the use of AI. As such, individuals with strong critical thinking skills will be better equipped to navigate the complexities of the AI landscape and make informed decisions about how to integrate it into their lives and work.
Critical thinking skills are essential for the success and progress of a civilization. Without these skills, a civilization may struggle to innovate, solve complex problems, make informed decisions, and thrive in a constantly changing world. I think people are becoming more aware of the possibility of this unfortunate potential future that we all may be facing. Holding on the old ways of doing things, pushing outdated ideas for political agendas and monetary gain, and systematically suppressing free and critical thinking is detrimental to all of us. If you haven’t read the book entitled 1984 or watched the movie, it might be a good time to give it a go.
Governments have been shaping the way their citizens think for millennia. Government dictates what is taught in schools and what narratives are being pushed to people via media. This helps keep people in line and the capitalism wheel turning. This has led ultimately to widespread corruption and broken systems that are now way overdue for reform. As John D. Rockefeller put it, “I don’t want a nation of thinkers, I want a nation of workers.” If you do some digging, you will find that the educations system was specifically designed to accomplish just that.
In 1903 he founded the General Education Board to handle his educational philanthropy. This document reveals the goal that he had of providing only vocational education, especially for poor youth. This base system has continued on to this day and has had very little progress and innovation since. The document goes on to say that while this might have started with some good intentions and some good programs, the report shows that while young poor people were being given a chance, that chance was limited to “training” programs that only focused on vocational work. It did serve a purpose at that time as many people were immigrants with no formal education.
People were hopeful that this education would provide their children more opportunities and it did, but with limited focus and pathways. Eventually these programs became enforced by law and some people began to make profits. Additionally, it states, “what remains remarkable is that they were not taught a liberal education or expected to go beyond manual occupations.” The Rockefellers continued to fund these types of schools and even required these programs follow contingencies to continue receive funding based on the Rockefellers goals.
Schools are either knowingly or unknowingly still operating similarly today by means of restricting children’s natural curiosity, impeding their behaviors by requiring them sit still (fight the urge to be a normal kid), follow rules (that are outdated, don’t make sense or are confusing), and be quiet for extended periods of time, focusing on only approved curricula, as well as demanding that they do not question authority.
The current system does not promote free thinking, creative thinking and critical thinking skills whatsoever. Why is it that we do not educate our child on money and finances, coping skills, entrepreneurship, leadership skills, and critical thinking (to name a few) as part of a comprehensive education? Why don’t we allow children and their families to decide what they want to study and how to attain that knowledge? What the system does do is create compliant citizens that are doing what they were told to do to live the “American Dream” all while focusing on superficial diversions and policing each other.
Teachers are not to blame; they were brought up believing this fallacy and were promised that they could make a difference in kids’ lives as many of them do. Imagine being a teacher right now in America; low pay, no support, disrespectful kids and parents, pressure to perform based on testing, and being limited to only teach certain subjects in specific approved ways.
As the world, culture and technologies change, so should our approach to educating our children. I’m not saying the current system doesn’t provide genuine education, but we definitely have room for improvement and innovation, as well as some catching up to do. We all remember that one teacher that taught a bit out of the box and I bet you recall more information from that teacher than most of your other teachers or classes.
Perhaps it’s time to provide more options to the masses, not just those who can afford it (i.e., private tutors, exclusive schools, home schooling, etc.). Could we live in a world where people teach children based on their strengths and in specific fields from the start? I mean people need jobs right, maybe this could be a solution while helping our children as the same time…a win/win? Maybe we could have a core set of fundamentals (math, science, reading, writing, history, arts) along with specialized education based on a child’s curiosity and preparing our children for their future. At bare minimum, the arts, music and physical education need to be reinstated where they were removed. Most people don’t even know that math is present in art and music as well. YouTube has numerous videos that highlight many aspects if you are curious.
The future of our civilization depends on our children learning better, thinking better and having more choices. In my opinion the better their problem-solving skills are the less violence and poverty we will have as a society. Having the ability to critically evaluate and think through their own actions and outcomes could even help children suffering with mental health issues and prevent children from bullying, being bullied and behaving violently.
I have digressed from the main point, as this could be an entire post of its own. I implore you to do more research for yourself and take action in your own communities and families.
Fortunately for me, as a nurse I learned that critical thinking is an extremely important component of nursing fundamentals. Nurses must be able to use critical thinking skills to make sound clinical judgments and decisions based on available evidence and make those decisions quickly. These decisions can determine whether someone will live or die. Critical thinking skills encompasses the ability to assess, objectively analyze, and synthesize information to make informed decisions. In healthcare, critical thinking is essential for ensuring patient safety, preventing errors, and improving patient outcomes based on evidence. I had no idea that I was never even taught critical thinking skills until nursing school. I also never heard of the Fibonacci Sequence until art history class in college, but again, that’s a topic for another post. These skills are not something we are born with, but it is something we ALL can learn and use.
Having optimal critical thinking skills allows you to leave the tribal thinking and conditioned responses behind. Benjamin Franklin and numerous other deep thinkers and philosophers have encouraged people to pursue free and critical thinking or fall victim to living a life that is based on the thoughts of others.
Here are some simple practical examples of critical thinking:
- Evaluating news sources: When reading, watching or listening to the news, it’s essential to evaluate the credibility of the source and be aware of their monetary gains. Critical thinking skills can help you determine whether the source is trustworthy or not. In case you weren’t aware CNN, as well as numerous other news sources receive money for running Pfizer advertisements, and I’m pretty sure they are going to bite the hand that feeds them with telling negative facts about Pfizer. In a global context, the U.S. is an anomaly when it comes to pharmaceutical advertising. The only other country where such advertising is allowed is New Zealand. FOLLOW THE MONEY…always!
- Solving problems: Critical thinking skills are essential for efficient and accurate problem-solving. For instance, when faced with a challenging situation at work or home, you can use critical thinking skills to analyze the situation, identify the root cause of the problem, and develop a solution.
- Decision-making: Critical thinking is crucial for making informed decisions. It helps you weigh the pros and cons of different options and choose the best course of action.
There are several reasons why people may not have been taught critical thinking skills:
- Lack of emphasis in education: Many educational systems do not emphasize critical thinking skills. Schools and universities often prioritize memorization and regurgitation of information over the ability to analyze and evaluate information.
- Cultural norms: In some cultures, questioning authority or challenging the status quo is not encouraged. This can lead to a lack of critical thinking skills and a reluctance to challenge ideas or beliefs.
- Religion and Political Affiliations: When people shape their entire lives around their religion or political affiliation, that can become their identity. Within both aspects, thinking outside of the box has been shown to bring judgement and shame by one’s peers. Faith is based on beliefs regardless of proof or facts. Political division counts on people censoring themselves, reenforcing the tribal (party) beliefs regardless of right or wrong and having faith in the “moral righteousness” of the party (whether truly moral or not) despite knowing contradictory truths. If you dare write something online opposing the narrative of the party you are affiliated with you now risk being ostracized by friends, and family and being “called out” or humiliated by the masses (or even the dreaded block). Friendships, relationships and lives have been destroyed over this silliness. FYI — You can be associated with a political party and still have your own beliefs and thoughts despite what the party believes. Ex: You might really think freedom of speech is important, but if your political party thinks that it’s ok to “cancel” certain people or remove offensive language in the name of protecting the innocent, would you be considered an outcast and/or shamed if you go against the grain and question that logic or authority? Let’s say that same party has been benefiting monetarily by canceling those people, would you still mindlessly follow along, agree with the masses and push the agenda? Obviously, there is a fine line sometimes, but issues should be discussed, and enforceable policies can be created with conversations and critical thinking, not so-called moral superiority and/or sweeping the root issue under the rug. Don’t yall
- Availability of information: With the availability of information at our fingertips, people may not feel the need to critically evaluate information. They may rely on their initial impressions or biases rather than analyzing the information objectively.
- Time constraints: In today’s fast-paced world, people may not have the time to critically evaluate information. They may rely on quick judgments and snap decisions to save time.
- Lack of awareness: Some people may not be aware of the importance of critical thinking skills or how to develop them.
Step by Step Process
- Define the problem: The first step is to clearly define the problem. For example, let’s say the problem is that you’re having trouble sticking to a budget.
- Gather information: Next, gather all the relevant information related to the problem. This may include your income, expenses, and spending habits.
- Analyze the information: Once you have all the relevant information, analyze it to identify patterns, trends, and potential causes of the problem. For example, you may notice that you’re spending too much money on eating out or unnecessary subscriptions.
- Generate alternative solutions: Based on your analysis, generate alternative solutions to the problem. For example, you may decide to reduce your eating out expenses or cancel some subscriptions to save money.
- Evaluate the solutions: Evaluate each solution based on its feasibility, potential effectiveness, and potential consequences. For example, you may evaluate the eating out solution by considering how much money it will save you, how feasible it is based on your lifestyle, and whether it will negatively impact your social life.
- Choose the best solution: Based on your evaluation, choose the best solution to the problem. In this example, you may decide to reduce your eating out expenses by cooking at home more often.
- Implement the solution: Once you’ve chosen the best solution, implement it and monitor its effectiveness. Keep track of your spending and adjust your budget as needed.
- Reflect on the process: After implementing the solution, reflect on the process to identify what worked well and what could be improved upon. This will help you develop better critical thinking skills and be more effective in solving future problems.
Overall, using critical thinking skills involves gathering and analyzing information, generating alternative solutions, evaluating those solutions, and choosing the best one to solve the problem. This process can be applied to almost any problem, and with practice, can become a valuable tool for success in both personal and professional life.
Here are some resources that can help improve your critical thinking skills:
- Online courses: There are numerous online courses available that can help you improve your critical thinking skills. For instance, Coursera offers a free course on critical thinking, which covers the basics of critical thinking, evaluating arguments, and making decisions.
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