Monday, January 16, 2012

Critical Tinking

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Critical Thinking is my life, its my philosophy of life. Its how I define myself... Im an educator because I think these ideas have meaning. Im convinced that what we believe in has to be able to stand the test of evaluation.

John Chaffee, author of Critical Thinking

Have you heard business executives, civic leaders, and educators talking about critical thinking, decision making and found yourself asking such reasonable questions as, “What is critical thinking?” “What is decision making?” “How they relate to each other?” “What are the benefits of critical thinking” “Are they present or absent at my work?” So have we. This essay looks at these questions

What is Critical thinking?

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“Critical thinking is the process of purposeful, self-regulatory judgment. This process reasoned consideration to evidence, context, conceptualizations, methods, and criteria.”

The APA Delphi Report,

Critical Thinking A Statement of Expert

Consensus for Purposes of Educational

Assessment and Instruction

10 ERIC Doc. NO. ED 15 4

Critical thinking as per the author of the book used in MGT 50, University of Phoenix, believes Critical thinking consists of an awareness of asset of interrelated critical questions, plus the ability and willingness to ask and answer them at appropriate times. While others like Robert H. Ennis, “Assumes that critical thinking is reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do, a critical thinker

1. Is open-minded and mindful of alternatives

. Tries to be well-informed

. 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

. 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 “

Everyone has their own belief about what is critical thinking? As per me I believe the critical thinking is

1. The process of asking questions

. Inquisitive

. Judicious

4. Analytical

5. Confident in Reasoning

6. Open minded

What is Decision making?

In dealing with most complex problems in todays work environment, there may be more than one good answer to a problem. The question then becomes one of picking the best answer; this is called decision-making.

According to the author of the MGT 50 Critical thing course, defines decision-making as -step process

1. Identifying the problem

. Defining criteria, goals and objectives

. Evaluate effect of the problem

4. Identify causes of the problem

5. Frame alternatives

6. Evaluate impacts of alternatives

7. Make the decision

8. Implement decision

. Measure Impacts

According to the authors of Whatever It Takes - The Realities of Managerial Decision Making, the six steps to critical thinking and decision making are

1. A problem is defined and isolated

. Information is gathered

. Alternatives are set forth

4. An end is established

5. Means are created to achieve the end

6. A choice is made.

The author’s say when applied in todays business environment, the six steps are mostly ineffective because executive decision-making is not a series of single linier acts. It is the interference of many other factors (such as murky information, poor information input, and multiple problems intersecting) that makes scientific study of real-life decision-making difficult. (McCall & Kaplan, 10, pg xvii - xviii)

According to me Decision-making is the process of

1. Identifying the problem

. Gathering information

. Make the decision

4. Evaluating the decision

5. Implementing decision

6. Measuring Impact

How they relate to each other?

The relationship between critical thinking and decision-making is very important. Critical thinking is about analyzing an argument to find the deductions and conclusions for a subject. Once this is completed then people’s decision can be correctly based on their personal preferences. Lets look at the following example

McCall and Kaplan (10) discuss dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima as an example of decision making. The question of whether or not to drop the atomic bomb on Japan was probably not weighed on its moral merits as much as it was based on its benefits, its deficits, and the necessity to the war effort. This same case, now that the event is history, can now be used as a critical thinking example. Today, the question could be posed Should we have dropped the atomic bomb on Japan? Did the benefits outweigh the loss of human life?

The leaders of the United States had a world changing decision to make. They weighed the pros and cons and all the facts they had and made the best decision they could. Posing this historical decision as a critical thinking problem we could state The United States was obligated to bomb Hiroshima. They did it to save lives, both American and Allied. Dropping the bomb prevented the Russians from learning of our atomic weapon capability. This further justified the means.

Benefits of the critical thinker

Critical thinking is an essential skill in todays business and personal environment as it allows us to think before we speak or make decisions, it helps to remove emotion from the equation and to make the proper decision based only on the facts.

Critical thinking seems to be more difficult than I imagined it would be. I seem to jump to the wrong conclusion too quickly. It is obvious to me that I am going to have to change the way I think about things to be a good critical thinker. I do believe that it will be beneficial for me to make the necessary changes to become a good critical thinker. Critical thinking skills will make anyone a better communicator. Finding the fallacies in deductions and the hidden or unspoken assumptions of arguments will allow anyone to communicate better.

At work it is present or absent

In my particular job as a Security Analyst, decision making and critical thinking go hand in hand. Analyzing complex security issues that cross multiple vendor platforms involves detailed, emotionless, unbiased decisions by the people involved in resolving the problem.

Occasionally, critical thinking never enters the equation. It never ceases to amaze me how people can become emotional and protective of their hardware or software. This emotional attachment prevents them from effectively troubleshooting. Even the suggestion that a problem could be caused by their equipment is taken as a personal affront. This close-mindedness often causes delays in security analysis.


It is my opinion that being open minded is the best tool an engineer or any person can have in his or her toolkit. Allowing oneself the time and energy needed for critical thinking will greatly enhance our personal and professional lives. Employing this valuable skill will enable us to have confidence in our decisions and beliefs, as we will know that we have thoroughly thought our decisions and opinions through.




McCall, M. W., & Kaplan, R. E. (10). Whatever It Takes - The Realities of Managerial

Dision Making (nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey Prentice Hall.

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