Thinking Is in Critical Condition

By Mackay, Harvey | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, July 16, 2012 | Go to article overview

Thinking Is in Critical Condition


Mackay, Harvey, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


A Midwestern university professor complained: We are now focusing more on how to use the tools of communication than we are on how to effectively communicate. As a result, we are turning out computer and Internet gurus who cant write and think creatively.

Are writing and thinking creatively important?

Is substance important?

Is critical thinking important?

You bet they are. Making your points to your boss or anyone else requires more than information. It demands the critical thinking that convinces them of your point of view.

I would venture as far as saying that technology has set us back in the general field of thinking because we are trusting gadgets to do some of our thinking rather than using them to enhance our lives.

Critical thinking has never been more important or more challenging. With so much information bombarding us 24/7, sifting through the content to find factual, legitimate and useful material is no small task. Do you believe everything you read or hear? Do you check sources?

Thomas Edison, the genius of invention, had a way of thinking that was both critical and creative. Fortunately, it isnt only a natural-born talent. Its a habit you can cultivate. Take some lessons from Edisons thinking processes:

Question all assumptions. Dont accept the conventional wisdom without first examining and challenging it. Its said that Edison, when hiring a new employee, would invite the person to have some soup with him. If the candidate salted the soup before tasting it, he didnt get the job because he assumed it would require salt without testing the theory first.

Generate as many ideas as possible. The more ideas you have to test, the more likely youll find one that works, as long as you keep at it. Edison is reported to have conducted more than 50,000 experiments before perfecting the alkaline storage cell battery.

Analyze your failures. When an experiment fails, take some time to consider what you can learn. Keep detailed notes so that when an idea works, you can go back and re-examine your efforts in light of your success.

Adapt other ideas. Edison often used the inventions and ideas of other people as a mental springboard. …

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