21 The Conclusion

Putting It All Together

Conclusions are solutions to our headscratchers. Recall the components we detailed in the prior chapters: facts, observations, experiences, beliefs, and assumptions. Collectively, these make up the premise. Now we'll put them together and see how they form a conclusion. Then we'll cover why some conclusions are more reliable than others and how to strengthen confidence in a conclusion. Finally, I'll explain how our personalities play a role in the conclusions we make and what to do when people have different conclusions than we do—how to resolve and agree.

This is a bigger chapter than the others, because conclusions are a big deal. They're what allow you to solve your headscratcher. Although clarity is the first step in critical thinking, and you can't solve a problem well without being clear about what that problem is, it's the conclusion that moves you from problem to solution.

Creating the Premise

We combine facts, observations, and experiences to form an assumption. Figure 21.1 shows how everything in this process relates.

In Figure 21.1, facts, observations, and experiences form the foundation for assumptions. That's why they are below assumptions in our visual; they support them. We then apply our belief filter to yield a conclusion and figure out what to do.


Figure 21.1 The Conclusion Process

Here are a few examples to show you ...

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