Chapter 5

Critical Thinking Is Like . . . Solving Puzzles: Reasoning by Analogy

In This Chapter

arrow Creating compelling comparisons

arrow Spotting dodgy analogies

arrow Carrying out thought experiments

By three methods, we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience which is the bitterest.


With this chapter's title I don’t mean to imply that Critical Thinking is literally another term for solving puzzles, but instead that the two actions share areas of similarity. The connection is that solving puzzles, like Critical Thinking, involves the use of insight, of creative imagination — the tool that produces that famous ‘Eureka’ moment (see the nearby sidebar ‘Eureka!’). If Critical Thinking is using the same kinds of hidden abilities as puzzle-solving then it’s clearly doing something right.

Brilliant insights are the stuff of legend, whether they’re in science, business or the arts. No one really knows the secret to obtaining them — despite the huge number of books offering tips. But certain strategies do seem to be related, and I take a look at some of them in this chapter. I guide you through the world of analogies ...

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