Thinking Outside the Box

Often times when we read arguments on a controversial issue we tend to let our own assumptions dictate how we see that particular topic. The way we perceive the world along with our history, culture, and background also play a fundamental part in how we interpret what we read. So, in order to become a critical reader we must learn how to think critically despite what we may already believe is true. “To believe with certainty”, says a Polish proverb, “we must begin by doubting”. As critical thinkers, we should approach every argument with a curious skepticism and always be ready to ask questions.

critical.thinking

Image via: http://www.marcandangel.com/2009/05/10/generating-new-ideas-and-insights/

During my General Psychology class last semester, we talked a lot about perspectives and how they shape the way people view the world. We were challenged to develop our critical thinking skills and evaluate arguments, theories, and experiments with a scientific attitude. In one of our lectures our instructor explained what it means to have a scientific attitude, she said, “Putting a scientific attitude into practice requires not only curiosity and skepticism but also humility – an awareness of our own vulnerability to error and an openness to surprises and new perspectives. In the last analysis, what matters is not my opinion or yours, but the truths nature reveals in response to our questioning”.  In other words, if an opinion is not supported by evidence then you shouldn’t accept it as an absolute truth.

Critical thinkers do not blindly accept arguments and conclusions. Rather, they examine them carefully taking into account their veracity and also considering the other side of the issue. We can take the same approach towards reading and instead of accepting everything that is presented to us without questioning or doubting, we should put our thinking cap on and engage in a more critical way. According to the textbook “Practical Argument” by Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell, “reading critically means being an active rather than a passive reader”. We need to be willing to participate in the debate and think for ourselves. We also need to be open to different points of view, but most importantly we need to be okay with being wrong.

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3 thoughts on “Thinking Outside the Box

  1. Blogger is stating we need to make sure the information we are receiving is factual. A lof of internet stories don’t have any sources listed below to check to see if what we are reading is true or not. That’s how a lot of rumors get started. It only take one person and it will spread all over the world. I think it’s a good idea to get a second opinion or check out another source. A lot of the history stories that we are learning about is so one sided. We have to take the time to do our own research and make sure we are hearing and reading the truth. The internet has so many different topic of everything to read about nowadays. No matter what you type in the address box you will get choices to choose from that page. It’s easier to go to the internet then to go to the library to search for your answer of truth.

  2. I loved reading your response as a whole and especially the part were you wrote about your General Psychology class. Furthermore, I enjoyed the way you included the quotation from our book into your conclusion. The fact that you used the personal pronoun “we” at the end made your response even more convincing and incorporated your readers perfectly.
    The problem regarding “we need to be okay with being wrong” is getting more and more profound in our today’s society. Everyone wants or even has to be right, and being wrong is associated with a bad undertone and even being compared to losing. But isn’t being on the wrong track and admitting to that actuality something freeing and a symbol of an alert consciousness? In my opinion, starting to be convinced of an idea on the basis of facts, although they contradict our own opinion, indicates strength. We listen to the facts and the light starts dawning on us. Even if we don’t like what we hear, we have to admit that we were wrong. However, we didn’t accept the easy way out: to just stop listening to our counterpart trying to teach us. We listened to him or her, and in the end, we asserted that out earlier opinion was inaccurate. Isn’t that how we should approach arguments and the “dishonor” of being wrong: learning from factual defeat and emerging with knowledge?

  3. (Love the blog) No one likes to be wrong and that is why sometimes people can be stubborn on looking and listening on a view that is different than their own or sometimes just accepting it because it “sounds right”. We also tend to forget that we need to think for ourselves. In today’s world the media almost tells you how to think. For instance there are times when one looks at other people’s thoughts, tweets, or comments on an event/issue before they even make a comment on it themselves. So, it is important to be critical and active in the way we think and read. We not only set an identity for ourselves but become more knowledgeable.

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