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Think Smarter: Critical Thinking to Improve Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills by Michael Kallet

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1 What Is Critical Thinking?

Thinking is the foundation of everything we do. Every action, every solution, and every decision we make is the result of thinking. We think when we decide what to eat for lunch, how to meet a project schedule, and what to say during a conversation. We think when we drive a car (although, unfortunately, we're not always thinking about driving). We're thinking all the time, and although not always filled with valuable thinking, our brains are always in gear. Even when sleeping, we're thinking.

Critical thinking is thinking but in a different way. Many people describe this process using terms such as analytical, thoughtful, questioning, probing, nonemotional, organized, innovative, Socratic, logical, methodical, not taking things for granted, examining, details, exhaustive, outside the box, scientific, and procedural. Odds are that you've heard and probably used a few of these terms. But what exactly do they mean?

Some paraphrase critical thinking as “thinking smarter.” I paraphrase it as “headscratching.” Most would agree critical thinking is not our everyday, automatic, not-really-thinking-about-it thinking.

Critical thinking is:

  • manual thinking (not automatic);
  • purposeful;
  • being aware of the partiality of your thinking;
  • a process; and
  • thinking that uses a tool set.

Here are the details of each of these:

Critical thinking is manual rather than automatic thinking. Let's first take a look at automatic thinking, the kind of thinking we do the most. Have ...

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