Critical thinking

It sounds like an old fashioned idea – critical thinking. It’s something that we live and breathe every day in my department – Organizational Psychology at Birkbeck, University of London. But we think critical thinking is as valid now as it ever has been. In fact, with the wall of nonsense you find online, you need to be sure to pick through it extremely carefully. We teach students to demand evidence before coming to conclusions. And then to pick apart the evidence and question endlessly.

So that’s what a university does. Why am I writing about this in my business blog? In everyone’s work life, dozens of decisions are needed every day and we are training students to be questioning in the way they make decisions. So yes, I am of the settled view that critical thinking is vital at work. And we should remember the political backdrop in the USA which has shown that a blizzard of false information created significant chaos in last year’s presidential election.

Here is a very good point made well by Gary Kasparov:

“The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”

So make sure you keep your critical faculties exercised. Question. Demand evidence. Critique the evidence. Come to your own conclusions based on the evidence – and only the evidence.

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