Critical Thinking: Evaluating Patterns of Thinking
Jan 14, 2012 Learning Methodology 2948 Views
This article is written with the intent of fostering more effective written and verbal communication. Are you reflecting (thinking) right now about the degree of validity and accuracy of the pattern of thinking shared in the first sentence? If so, then you are engaged in critical thinking!
To evaluate the degree of validity of the thought shared in the first sentence, I'm the only person who can state with a rather high degree of certainty that the statement has a high degree of "validity" (truth). Since the reader has no means of knowing what patterns of thinking are actually being created in my brain, then the reader can only infer the degree of validity of the shared thought -- for all you know, I could be communicating some pattern of thinking that does not reflect my "true" thoughts about my intent in writing this article -- so you can only guess about the degree of validity of the shared thought. My "true" intent could be to promote a certain product or a certain website!
Regarding the degree of accuracy of labeling some written or verbal communication "effective," I ask myself if any written or verbal communication can, actually, have a characteristic labeled "effective." I'm thinking "No" -- no written or verbal communication can have, actually, a characteristic labeled "effective" anymore than a painting can have, actually, a characteristic labeled "beautiful." What? You are thinking that some communications do have the characteristic of "effective" and that some paintings do have a characteristic labeled "beautiful?" If you are having such thoughts, then please continue to read (and critically evaluate) these shared thoughts about using critical thinking to evaluate patterns of thinking.
When I ask myself the question "Is it accurate to label some pattern of thinking 'effective'," I answer "No." The label "effective" does NOT describe ANY characteristic of ANY thought BUT, actually, it represents some person having that thought engaged in evaluating the communication being labeled "effective." Review that sentence at least two more times, please! So instead of being descriptive of some characteristic of some written or verbal communication, the use of the word "effective" is, more accurately, a statement of the person's evaluation of the written or verbal shared thoughts. So in using "effective," I'm actually attempting to communicate my evaluation of something BUT, instead, I'm communicating that I'm describing a characteristic (which doesn't actually exist) of that "thing" -- that doesn't increase the chances that another will develop the understanding of my communication I'm expecting him or her to develop, does it?
How might I use this critical evaluation of my thinking to create for myself a pattern of thinking that might increase the chances another might understand my communication as intended? Might it be a more accurate representation for me to state "This article is written with the intent of fostering written or verbal communications that more closely meet the expectations of the author." Isn't that a more accurate statement of what is actually occurring? So what understanding ("understanding" being some pattern of thinking about something) might you be developing of these thoughts being shared?
Similarly, just because a person admires some painting, that does NOT result in that painting having, actually, a characteristic labeled "beautiful." Just like when using "effective" to label a pattern of thinking, using "beautiful" to label a painting is NOT an accurate description of what is actually occurring. What is actually occurring is the person is sharing his or her evaluation of the painting and is NOT describing some characteristic of the painting. So wouldn't something like "I admire that painting" be a more accurate pattern of thinking to communicate what is actually occurring instead of inaccurately communicating "That painting is beautiful?"
The thinking examples I've just described illustrate what is known as a fallacy in thinking labeled "false attribution" and is quiet common. Might the reader identify other examples of false attribution either in his or her own patterns of thinking or in the verbal or written communications of others including those shared in this article?
What understanding might you be developing of how to use critical thinking to evaluate the degree of validity and accuracy of some pattern of thinking that you do "internally" or that you or others share via some verbal or written communication?
To return to the first sentence, I might ask some similar questions about the use of the word "fostering" -- no matter what thoughts I share in this written communication, I have no power to "foster" you to do anything -- I can only provide YOU an opportunity to develop some new or different patterns of thinking for yourself regarding critically evaluating the degree of validity and accuracy of some thoughts -- either your own or those shared by another. So perhaps a more accurate first sentence might be "This article is written with the intent of providing the reader an opportunity to develop some new or different patterns of thinking about using critical thinking to evaluate the degree of validity and accuracy of either non-verbal communications to self or verbal or written communications to and from others." Might you agree that this is a more accurate written communication about what is occurring, actually, in this article?
As a result of reading this article, are you developing any new or different patterns of thinking? If so, please inform me! Also, you might visit http://www.criticalthinking.net/ - a website totally unrelated to this author but a website this author likes!