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Thoughts On Critical Thinking & Evaluation

Thoughts On Critical Thinking & Evaluation

We live in a rapidly changing and complex world, which makes forecasting the future increasingly difficult. Three decades ago, a beef producer certainly didn’t have a clear picture of what the future held but he could pretty much rely on the dynamics of his business. Compared to today’s market dynamics, it was a much simpler world.

Today, however, we’re part of a global market [3] in which everything is shaped by the demands and events on a much larger scale. In addition, government has encroached today into nearly every area of production, shaping not only the global economic structure but the most basic of input prices and management decisions.

My View From The Country Blog: The Big 5 Management Areas [4]

Perhaps the great irony is that as the complexity of the world and the difficulty of predicting outcomes has become more difficult, the need for and reward for making the right decision has been greatly expanded. So how does one do a more effective job of critical thinking?

Robert H. Ennis, author of The Cornell Critical Thinking Tests [5], offers this very streamlined version of what is a good critical evaluator:

  1. Open-minded and mindful of alternatives.
  2. Tries to be well-informed.
  3. Judges well the credibility of sources.
  4. Identifies conclusions, reasons and assumptions.
  5. Judges well the quality of an argument, including the acceptability of its reasons, assumptions and evidence.
  6. Can well develop and defend a reasonable position.
  7. Asks appropriate clarifying questions.
  8. Formulates plausible hypotheses; plans experiments well.
  9. Defines terms in a way appropriate for the context.
  10. Draws conclusions when warranted, but with caution.
  11. Integrates all items in this list when deciding what to believe or do.