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6 Lessons on Thinking Critically

Just finished reading the short book Thinking it through by Martin Salter. The book is very helpful in helping us to think clearly about issues. Here are some very helpful observations I picked up from it:

1. A helpful tool for processing questions is the "six honest serving men": who is the authority; why are they the best person to speak on the question; how do they come to their conclusions; what exactly is the question for consideration; where, geographically and culturally, is the question being discussed; and, when, historically, are we thinking about the question? 

2. The challenge of sound thinking is determining which authority (or combination of authorities) is best placed to inform a particular decision. We all appeal to some authority; the question is whether that's a good call or not. 

3. It is important to recognise the limit of each authority's voice in the discussion if we are to come to an informed and balanced conclusion. This means that we need to devote sufficient care to sifting multiple perspectives in an objective manner.

4. There are six competing authorities that influence our thinking on issues : tradition (forebears); reason (experts); intuition (ourselves); book (religious or otherwise); experience (ourselves or others); and, society at large (majority view).

5. We need to remember that the strength with which we hold any view is no measure of its truthfulness. It is possible to be sincerely wrong. In the same vein, an argument is not discredited merely by the status of the person holding it.  

6. It is not enough for our authority to have knowledge, we also need them to be good. We need an authority who knows all about our problem and the solution, and who can be trusted to be good in telling us that which is most beneficial to us, whether we like it or not (not a Harold Shipman). 

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2019

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