Purposeful mental activity over which we exercise control. Thinking is any mental activity that helps formulate or solve a problem, make a decision, or fulfill a desire to understand. A search for answers, a reach for meaning.
Importance of thinking
Succesful problem solving require factual knowledge - familiarity with the historical context of the problem or issue and relevant principles and concepts.
Executives do the the thinking and other employees merely carried out assigned tasks.
Employers have learned to value employees who are willing and able to contribute ideas for the improvement of the company.
Good thinkers tend to see the problem from many perspectives before choosing one, consider different investigative approaches, and produce many ideas before turning judgement.
The mind examines and evaluates what it has produced, makes its judgements, and, where appropriate, add refinements. Poor thinkers judge to quickly.
The contributions feelings can make to problem solving and decision making is immeasurable. Feelings often yield hunches, impressions, and intuitions, but also provide enthusiasm.
Learning to concentrate
Concentration is not so much something done to prevent distractions but is something done to overcome distraction. Returning our attention to our purpose or problem whenever it wanders.
Make discussion meaningful
Prepare in advance, set reasonable expectations, leave ego and personal agendas at the door, everyone contributes, avoid distracting speech mannerisms, listen actively, judge responsibly, resist interuptions.
Becoming an individual
The key to becoming an individual is to be honest and objective. By placing viewers in the role of spectators, television tends to promote passivity.
The process of being exposed to society - home, neighborhood, church, school, and so on.
Three steps to achieve individuality
1. Acknowledge the influences that have shaped your thinking.
2. Sort out and evaluate your ideas and attitudes.
3. Decide as objectively as you can which ideas deserve your endorsement and which attitudes are worth striving to acquire.
It begins in early childhood. Primitive societies tend to regard those who are different, as lesser beings. It destroys objectivity and prompts us to prefer self-flattering errors to unpleasant realities.
Psychologists call it a defense mechanism, meaning it is a strategy we use to protect our image. Rationalizing is a substitue for reasoning. You are reasoning if your belief follows the evidence. You are rationalizing if the evidence follows your belief.
Resistance to change
The tendency to reject new ideas and new ways of seeing or doing without examining them fairly. Having got used to things one way, we resent being asked to regard them another way.
It is what we do instead of thinking in order to belong to a group or to avoid the risk of being different. In time, it makes us more concerned about what others think than about what is right.
An extreme form of generalizing. Generalizations that go beyond the boundaries of reasonableness, are called overgeneralizations. The most common are racial, religious, and ethnic. Everything is presorted, predetermined, and prejudged.
The term combines the th from thinking, the o from opinion, and the b from believing. Whenever people think the opinion that pleases them and then believe it. Be aware of your initial impressions of problems and issues.
Is active, thoughtful examination, as opposed to passive acceptance, of what you read, hear, and see. It is most relevant, and necessary, when the message is intended to persuade people
Making important distinctions
Even a lunatic can have a good idea, and a genius will, on occasion be wrong. Listen more carefully to people you are inclined to dislike and more critically to people you are inclined to like.
The distinction between fact and Interpretation
A fact is something known with certainty, something either objectively verifiable or demonstrable. An interpretation is an explanation of meaning or significance.
The distinction between language and reality
A people's language develops according to its insights and observations, and because no single group has equal insight into all dimensions of reality, no language is perfectly suited to express all realities.
Strategy for critical reading
Five-step strategy for critical reading: skim, reflect, read, evaluate, and express your judgement
Strategy for critical listening
Set aside preconceptions, focus on the message, identify key assertions and supporting information, evaluate the message and express your judgement.
Strategy for Critical Viewing
To view graphics critically, decide on the meaning of the data from data itself rather than from the form in which it is presented. To view advertising critically, remember that it is usually aimed at your feelings rather than your mind.
Being creative means combining knowledge and imagination. Depends not on the possession of special talents, but on the useof talents that virtually everyone has but most have never learned to use.
Stages in the creativity process
The creativity process has four stages: searching for challenges, expressing the particular problem or issue, investigating it, and producing a range of ideas.
Distinguishing Problems from Issues
Solving problems means deciding what action will change the situatuon for the best, whereas resolving issues means deciding what belief or viewpoint is the most reasonable.
The form most effective in expressing problems is the "How can...?" Form. How can people learn to quit drugs? How can society support the federal government? How can students study more efficiently?
The question forms most effective in expressing issues are the "Is...?" "Does...?" or "Should...?" forms. Do not ask for simple facts, but probe the central elements of dispute.
Guidelines For Expressing Problems and Issues
Identify the challenge, express the problem or issue, refine your expression.
Benefits of Careful Expression
It helps you move beyond the familiar and habitual, keeps your thinking flexible, open many lines of thought.
Getting information others overlook by searching in ways and places that never occur to the uncreative. It means using our resourcefulness and originality, being imaginative in our search. Sometimes a single fact can make a significant difference.
Sources of information in Research
Eyewitness testimony, unpublished report, published report, expert opinion, experiment, statistics, survey, observational study, research review, personal experience, using the Library, using the Internet.
Managing An Interview
Call or write ahead for an appointment, make an effort to learn the fundamentals of the subject, prepare questions in advance, anticipate the responses to your initial questions and prepare follow-up questions, arrive on time, don't make the person wait while you are taking notes.
Keep Creativity Alive
The more information you accumulate, the greater the potential for confusion. Whenever you are confused by complexity of information, pause for a moment, look back at your statement of the problem, and use that statement to decide what is relevant and what is not.
Stimulating Your Imagination
Force uncommon responses, use free association, use alalogy, look for unusual combinations, visualize the solution, construct pro and con arguments, construct relevant scenarios.
Force Uncommon Responses
Familiar ideas tend to come first. Your best approach is to expect them, even encourage them, to free your mind for more original ideas.
Use Free Association
Free association means letting one idea suggest another. You are not directing your mind at but giving it free rein, relaxing your control over it momentarily and observing what ideas and associations result. The purpose of this strategy is to help you retrieve relevant information you originally classified too restrictively.
A reference to one or more similarities between two otherwise very different things. Creative breakthroughs often occur when a person makes a connection between something outside his or her field.
Visualize the solution
This strategy consists of imagining the problem solved and visualizing what it would look like then.
Construct Pro and Con Arguments
This strategy consists of listing all conceivable arguments that might be advanced on either side of the issue. Expect yourself to be biased, and expect your bias to affect your efforts to construct arguments.
Construct Relevant Scenarios
We often tend to think of ideas excusively as assertions, claims about what is or should be. Well constructed scenarios have a special value that assertions lack: they represent reality itself and not just conclusions about reality.
Thoughts occuring on the edge or fringe of consciousness, much the same way objects appear on the periphery of our vision. Since original ideas often appear first on the fringe of consciousness, the more alert you are to what is happening there, the more original ideas you will discover.
Research has documented that thinkers who resist judging ideas during the idea-producing stage and who extend their effort to produce ideas beyond the point where they are tempted to stop are rewarded with a greater proportion of good ideas.
This obstacle is characterized by too many ideas of one type, with little or no variation. It is caused by unconsciously directing your thinking along one narrow line of thought.
Focus on your Ideas
You are probably blind to the need for criticism of your own thinking. Ego is inclined against self-criticism. The longer you work on a problem or an issue, the more accustomed you become to details.
Overcoming Obstacles To Critical Thinking
Say to yourself, before you begin to take a critical look at any idea, "I know this idea is going to look good to me and that I am going to feel it's pointless to look for flaws." Whenever you find yourself ready to stop evaluating your idea before you really should, reflect for a moment on how it would feel to have a serious flaw pointed out by someone else, particularly by someone you don't much care for.
You can look at an idea again and again and still not see its flaws. To be effective you need to examine the idea from different perspectives. That is where curiosity comes in. By approaching criticism inquisitively, you will increase your chances of finding the imperfections and complications that need to be addressed.
To assume is to take something for granted, to expect that things will be a certain way because they have been that way in the past or because you want them to be that way. When you are evaluating and refining your ideas, you should make an effort to identify assumptions. What you take for granted you will not examine critically.
Refining Your Solutions To Problems
Refining your solutions means making good ideas even better - that is, making the results of your creative thinking more effective, more workable, more attractable. Ask and answer these four questions:
1. How exactly will your solution be applied? List all steps and important details.
2. What difficulties could arise in its implementation, and how would these best be overcome?
3. What reasons might others find for opposing your solution? What modifications could you make to overcome their opposition?
4. Who, specifically, will have to be persuaded of the merit of your solution? What presentation would be most likely to persuade them?
Refining Your Position On Issues
The aim of issue resolving is to find the most reasonable belief, and so we express problems and issues differently. Decide not whether the idea works but whether it meets the test of logic.
1. State your argument.
2. Examine your evidence for relevance, comprehensiveness, and reliability.
3. Examine your argument for flaws in reasoning - for example, oversimplification or contradiction.