Critical Thinking

critical thinking

How I wish I could go back in time and undo many decisions that I’ve made. Hiring decisions. Buying decisions. Relationship ending decisions.

But I can’t, because time only moves forward.

If making poor choices were a disease, there might be a method, somewhere, that could completely cure this ill of mine. Probably not!

Yet, I’m drawn to the idea that a good dose of critical thinking, might ease the symptoms. I pride myself in that I choose to listen to a broad spectrum of news organizations from Fox News to  NBC and even C-SPAN. Yet, I recognize that I do indeed have a bias. It can lead me to overreach.

I acknowledge that I am somewhat selective and emotional to a fault. Therefore, I tend not to instinctively think critically about what I hear.

If critical thinking is the cure, I’ll now begin to redouble my effort to live by reason and not emotion.

Professors Moore and Parker in their book, Critical Thinking, outline an insightful long form characterization of critical thinking as follows:

  1. decide what information is or is not pertinent;
  2. distinguish between rational claims and emotional ones;
  3. separate fact from opinion;
  4. recognize the ways in which evidence might be limited or compromised;
  5. spot deception and holes in the arguments of others;
  6. present his /her own analysis of the data or information;
  7. recognize logical flaws in arguments;
  8. draw connections between discrete sources of data and information;
  9. attend to contradictory, inadequate, or ambiguous information;
  10. construct cogent arguments rooted in data and not opinion;
  11. select the strongest set of supporting data;
  12. avoid overstated conclusions;
  13. find holes in the evidence and suggest additional information to collect;
  14. recognize that a problem may have no clear answer or single solution;
  15. propose other options and weigh them in the decision;
  16. consider all stakeholders or affected parties in suggesting a course of action;
  17. articulate the argument and the context for that argument;
  18. correctly and precisely use evidence to defend the argument;
  19. logically and cohesively organize the argument;
  20. avoid extraneous elements in an argument’s development;
  21. present evidence in an order that contributes to a persuasive argument?

It’s an impressive list.

According to Moore  and Parker, if you achieve mastery over at least fifty plus one percent of the following twenty-one items, you will be well on your way to becoming a skilled critical thinker. That’s just 11 items, rounded to the nearest ones.

Yet, do good critical thinkers make better decisions? I need to consult an economist for that question.

Hiring a New Employee

Hiring managerHere’s some great suggestions from Michael Fina’s book, Perspectives on Managing Employees, for improving the effectiveness of the interview process.

  1. Begin to think of it as a conversation on a bus and not a process of asking a series of uniform questions
  2. Craft at least 3 questions you will use as a conversation starter
  3. Take ten minutes before the interview to check the candidates resume and research where the candidate has worked before
  4. Ask questions specific to the job being filled

And finally, the two suggestions I wish he had included in his book:

  1. during the interview look for reasons not to hire the person.
  2. if your gut says no (you picked up a red-flag) end the interview