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March 9, 2011

Critical Thinking and Decision Making essay

The ability to think critically and incorporate decision making abilities into one’s judgment rely upon factors that are consistently joined in the human experience. The authors of the primary text in this course refer to critical thinking as several abilities. All these abilities have one common factor. That factor is the understanding of how decision making is effective. To understand critical thinking one must not only realize the attributes but also the benefits of possessing the qualities of a critical thinker. Also, one must be able to incorporate this understanding into their present working atmosphere.

The authors of the e-text, state that critical thinking is comprised of three things. First, a critical thinker must have an awareness of a set of interrelated critical questions. Second, the ability to ask and answer critical questions at appropriate times is crucial. Finally, the thinker must desire to actively use the critical questions. (p.4).I would like to add to this definition. The key to all these habits is questions. One must question the obvious and accepted, in order to derive a higher form of understanding. Questions can happen for many reasons. We question to understand a situation, and the facts and opinions that surround it. We question to reapply the accepted and understood in hopes of finding a realization that will sharpen our perspective on a particular topic. We also question to form an argument upon which a foundation of dialog may exist and grow. By asking questions, “a spirit of curiosity, wonder, and intellectual adventure…” is created.(p.3). This becomes a true melting pot from which critical questions and the decisions made beyond those questions come from.

Knowledge comes from information. Without information many arguments stray towards the use of fallacy to derive foundation. This is a foundation that will build an argument but because it is based on fallacy, critical thinking can not be applied to it. Therefore the argument becomes unsound. In order to avoid incorporation of fallacy into an argument, three options must be recognized and put aside. The first of those three are erroneous or incorrect assumptions. The second is the use of distracting or irrelevant information. The final option is the support of a false conclusion. (p.118).

The critical thinking and decision making process is not a simple process by any means of the imagination. There are two crucial blockades that must be hurdled when one begins to think critically. The first is the ability to separate our emotions from our logic and reasoning.

Complicating the critical thinking process with emotions adds to the complexity of the issue at hand. The logic of critical thinking is inherently based on simplicity. Emotions cloud judgment and perceptions The second is the uncommon ability to question one’s own views and beliefs after decisions have already been made. Although, while one creates an argument, there is a good chance you will apply these two abilities to other people’s beliefs, it is the self recognition that is most difficult to observe and compare.

In my current working environment logical thought is tested as the standard everyday. In some situations, critical thought is prevalent as an automatic assumption. In others, decision making is clouded by fallacies and unclear facts and opinions. It is during these moments where only higher thinking through critical questioning can prevail. The “tough” decisions usually occur when all the facts have not been properly gathered or identified and someone or something has called for an early conclusion. It is during these tough decisions that somehow critical thinking is replaced by opinions and feeling that cloud the mind. A true critical thinker not only ignores such factors when making a decision but also embraces these factors for what they are. Being able to recognize feelings and opinions through critical thought allows one to set them aside in order to make a clearer picture.

What does all this accomplish? The ability to filter information through critical questioning gives one the understanding of an entire issue. From that understanding we can make well rounded decisions that affect everyone and everything around us. The complex process of critical thinking and decision making involve both learning tools and experience. These factors filter what we perceive in this life versus what is the truth.

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