Lesson 2: Explore

Introduction

The this lesson, you will learn about controlling biases, interpreting information, identifying points of view in a problem arena, and the methodology for gathering content in a meaningful way.

critical thinking chart step two

At the end of this module, students will be able to:

  • List thinking biases
  • Define steps to follow when interpreting information
  • Identify points of view
  • Determine how to gather information in a meaningful way

This lesson will increase critical thinking skills and offer you a chance to assess your own thinking process. Learning these procedures, you will be able to enhance you critical thinking skills.

Thinking Biases

People tend to think in a biased way. Biased thinking is thinking in a way that humans have been taught to look at any situation. This idealism involves looking at either the "glass half full or half empty" scenario. This thinking creates idealism, here's an example:

I will offer $100 dollars to the first person who can pick out an orange jelly bean from a bowl of black ones. In this scenario, the individual is offered two different bowls. In the first bowl, bowl A, there are a total of 220 jelly beans, 200 are black and 20 are orange. The second bowl has a total of 1100 jelly beans, 100 beans are orange and there are 1,000 black beans.

mix of orange and black jelly beans

Conferring the stated scenario, which bowl is the better selection?
Bowl A
Bowl B

Kirkpatrick and Epstein (1992) suggested that most people thought in bowl B the selector would have a higher probability choosing the orange bean. However, both bowls have the exact same odds. Most students would have chosen the bowl with the most beans because looks are deceiving. This data is based on a biased way of thinking.

Most people tend to favor either the positive or negative outcome of any situation, this is biased thinking. An example of this kind of thinking is to always sway a particular outcome, no matter the situation.

Some individuals tend to remember only the good things of the past, while other people tend to remember the bad, negative things of any situation. This is biased thinking as a whole.

When thinking of the past, the positive thinkers tend to miss the bad feeling and events which have occurred. An example of this biased thinking behavior is women who go back to abusive husbands, individuals who want to move back to a specific location, not remembering why they left. This is biased thinking because individuals are not thinking of the raw data, they are only thinking of the positive experiences they felt while dealing with this situation in their lives.

In order to think critically we must have a way to look past biased information and look at all points of the situation. In order to stop thinking in a biased context, you must ask yourself these questions:

  • How am I looking at this information?
  • What exactly am I focusing my view on?
  • How are other people seeing this situation?

Once we understand our biases, we can begin to think critically and correctly, not favoring one outcome or another, but looking at all the data wholly. Biases must not contaminate the data and results. In order to be biased free, you must make "adjustments to your decision making, problem solving and learning patterns”. Young (2009)

Steps to Correctly Interpret Information

Daily, we are bombarded with the media suggesting specific news is occurring. We hardly question these claims, and take the news reports as correct information, never questioning the knowledge they are presenting. In this case, we will identify the recent "balloon boy" news information.

hot air balloon

October 15, 2009 a six year old boy was mistakenly thought to have been enclosed in a weather balloon that was flying, at a high speed of rate through Fort Collins, Co. After the media chased this weather balloon for hours and the public was very scared about the kid inside the balloon, it was reported the boy, Falcon Heene was upstairs hiding in the family's attic. That evening while talking to Larry King live Falcon said to his father, "You guys said that, um, we did this for the show." This comment lead to a speculation of the validity of the story, weeks later, the scam was broken and everyone knew it was a ploy the family used for media attention.

This was a true story, and it broke initially on CNN. At the time, it went viral, everyone knew something about the “balloon boy” story. This story, became a common conversation . The news media who first broadcast the report found out about the event because they were interpreting a specific radio conversation. However, in this case, the parents, presented a false story to get news headlines and eventually the truth came out. If the news media would have carefully investigated the parents background, perhaps this story would not have broken in the first place.

To look at raw data critically, we must ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Is this interpretation valid?
  • Have we reviewed all the data?
  • Is this content accurate?
  • How can we research the information to ensure it is true and correct?

By exercising critical thinking skills we can avoid misleading information and we can avoid becoming victims to the falseness of stories as they tend to break. Evaluating information, sources, evidence, and findings we can use reasoning skills to protect ourselves against becoming a victim of wrongful information. Only then can we walk carefully into any situation and assess what really is right, wrong and valid. We will always have useless, incorrect knowledge coming our way, but when we can think through the situation, we will be able to assess the validity.

Points of View

thinking statue
Point of view is the way you view ideas and information and how you assess other’s way of thinking. This is how you feel about a concept, how you look at problems and answers, how you understand data that comes your way. To be a successful critical thinker you must be able to identify your point of view and identify other's point of view and why they are thinking and feeling that way. To be successful in this prospect, you must learn how to respect what others are thinking and how they their data knowledge and approach. When assessing a point of view, you must ask yourself:
  • How am I looking at this information?
  • Is there another way to view this data?
  • How am I focused on the data?
  • Is my view the correct prospect of the problem?
  • From what other viewpoint can I fairly assess this situation?

In assessing the viewpoint, strive to be fair minded in looking at the information. Always be fair and look at your own point of view and others. This will ensure you are assessing the situation in a thorough way.

Gathering Information in a Meaningful Way

crowd of silhouettes

Gathering and analyzing information is a meaningful step in the critical thinking process. Part of gathering information is the sources where you will determine the usefulness of the data, the next step is deciding whether the research process is valid and relevant. Information gathering involves looking at the "facts, data, evidence, or experiences we use to figure things out. It does not necessarily imply accuracy or correctness. The information contained and used for the research procedures should be free from errors, and must be relevant to the topic addressed. Criticalthinking.org (2009)

When gathering information you should target the data specified. In assessing your information you must ask the following questions:

  • Is this information distorted or biased?
  • How accurate is this information?
  • Is further details required?

Gathering information is an important component to hosting data. Ensuring you have gathered the appropriate information is a critical step in the process of validating the correct information hosted.

Summary

In this lesson, you have learned how to control thinking biases, define the correct way to interpret information, review points of view from others viewpoint, and you can now identify how to organize information in a meaningful way. This module assisted you to control your thinking biases, and helped define how to interpret information. This lead you to look at the points of view and ways to interpret knowledge from another point of view and how to organize information in a meaningful way which defines the clarity of the origin.

Critical thinking is a developed approach and a learned skill that you can incorporate in assessing and solving open-ended problems.

In the next step, we will introduce you to the concept of prioritizing information to become a well rounded thinker.

Bibliography

Kirkpatrick, L. A., Epstein, S., (1992) Cognitive-experiential self-theory and subjective probability: further evidence for two conceptual systems. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63(4), 534-544.

The critical thinking community (2009). Retrieved November 29, 2009, from http://www.criticalthinking.org/.

Young, S. H., 7 stupid errors you probably make. Retrieved November, 29, 2009, from http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/7-stupid-thinking-errors-you-probably-make.html.

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