Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What the Heck are "Critical Thinking Skills" Anyway?

"Critical thinking" or "critical thinking skills" come up in two common scenarios.

One, when a leftist defends their worthless liberal arts degree, claiming it provides them with the rare and enviable skill of "critical thinking."


Two, when liberal arts professors defend their bogus fields of study by claiming the "#1 thing employers look for in college graduates is critical thinking!"

Of course, I never gave "critical thinking" much thought, writing it off as some kind of worthless, commonsensical skill your average person develops during childhood.  But because of the cacophony coming from academia, not to mention, the academic left's complete and utter reliance upon and championing of it, I decided to find out, once and for all, what the heck are "critical thinking skills anyway."

A standard google search will pull up a ton of results, but the first thing you'll notice is that there's NO standard definition of critical thinking skills.  You can go to Wikipedia and you'll see two amorphous definitions with pages and pages of text vainly trying to define it.  You can even go to the "Critical Thinking Community" (which serves, I presume, as the "professional association" of critical thinkers) and even they have four separate, equally amorphous definitions.  But as far as my evil, empirical, logical, and sane mind can tell me, critical thinking closely follows what I set out in my "reality principle" video.  It is merely the discovering of reality.  A commitment to intellectually honesty.  Or what we normal people, with normal jobs, who live in the real world call...

"getting to the bottom of things."

Naturally, leave it to the wanna-be adults of academia to take a simple concept your average 10 year old understands and turn it into an entire 4 year study unto itself.  Leave it to inferior-minded people to extrapolate thousands of painful pages from a concept as simple as "be intellectually honest."  And do you want pain?  Just imagine how anal retentive, unimaginative, and truly void of any intelligence you have to be to come up with a "Critical Thinking Community" replete with:

a bookstore
a library
professional development
assessment and testing.

But, as are with most things in academia, their championing of "critical thinking" is not merely an intellectually-void, navel-gazing, masturbation exercise to falsely validate handing out worthless doctorates and self-importance in a field that provides no value to society.  It is to provide them authority over the rest of society.  And it is here their nefarious and malicious intent is exposed.

On the face of it, any introductory video to critical thinking will explain it as intellectual honesty, the pursuit of reality, and (as we commoners call it) "getting to the bottom of things."  It is based in sanity, reason, logic, and reality.  However, if you delve into the world of academia and critical thinking "experts," you'll start to notice a common refrain.  They not only obfuscate a simple concept like "reality" in volumes of unnecessary pablum, but they always include some sort of "social awareness" or "adherence to other people's feelings/thoughts/opinions/culture" political component to that definition.  AND usually that component trumps reality.  Matter of fact, I rarely saw the word "empirical" or "empiricism" mentioned in these definitions.  And all one has to do is take a look at a sample definition from one of these "critical thinking authorities:"

"Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way.   People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, emphatically.    They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked.   They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies.   They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers – concepts and principles that enable them to analyze, assess, and improve thinking.   They work diligently to develop the intellectual virtues of intellectual integrity, intellectual humility, intellectual civility, intellectual empathy, intellectual sense of justice and confidence in reason.   They realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest.   They strive to improve the world in whatever ways they can and contribute to a more rational, civilized society.    At the same time, they recognize the complexities often inherent in doing so.   They avoid thinking simplistically about complicated issues and strive to appropriately consider the rights and needs of relevant others.   They recognize the complexities in developing as thinkers, and commit themselves to life-long practice toward self-improvement.   They embody the Socratic principle:   The unexamined life is not worth living , because they realize that many unexamined lives together result in an uncritical, unjust, dangerous world.               ~ Linda Elder, September, 2007"

That's a whole lot of SJW-ing and crusaderism when all we want to do is get down to the truth.  But keep in mind this overkill of verbosity is on purpose as they are more concerned about advancing political agendas (not to mention keeping their academic fiefdoms financed by leftist governments) than they are pursuing empiricism.  And they obfuscate these ulterior motives by attempting to not only hijack a concept like "critical thinking," but by self-appointing themselves as the final authorities and arbiters as to what is "reality," "truth," and "empiricism."  This not only grants them sweeping powers (in their minds anyway) to dictate to the rest of us what reality is and how society should be ran, but why when one of us "commoners" question their politics, their motives, and their incentives, they simply bog you down in minutiae, academic pablum, bogus studies, and of course, the always reliable accusation of "you lack critical thinking skills."  

However, rather than fight them in their own turf, allow me to simply debunk, disprove, and destroy them in a much simpler, and sniper like way from the opposite direction.  If they are so committed to reality.  If they are so correct.  And if they truly know better than all of us.  Then why have nearly all the liberal arts and humanities failed to improve, let alone solve, any of the social ills they purport to be solving?

The wage gap between blacks and whites has not closed, nor has the wage gap between men and women.

Income distribution has worsened since the academic left's wet dream of The Great Society has been implemented.

Divorce, single-parenthood, and broken families have skyrocketed.

And they never seem to point to any success they've had in solving the social ills they purport to (thus always resulting in a hypocritical clamoring for more money and funding).

It is exactly like the laughable Keynesian economists, whose economic policies have spectacularly failed to combat the great recession, but still have the gall to demand the taxpayer "didn't pay enough, because if they did THEN our policies would have worked."

In short, the irony is that if we were to use GENUINE critical thinking, we'd look at all those academic left champions of critical thinking, see that they have made virtually NO progress in their OWN respective fields, and empirically deduce they not only have failed, but are con-artists, charlatans, and parasites cowardly using "critical thinking" as a means to avoid working real jobs in the real world so they may continue to live off of the rest of us.  So the next time you hear an academian, a liberal arts graduate, or any other variety of leftist boast about their "critical thinking skills" tell them the truth.  Critical thinking as a skill is no more impressive than wiping your own ass.  And sadly, most of them lack the intelligence to do either.

A related somewhat response
Amazon Affiliate


Eric Mueller said...

I went to college in my 30's when I was ready, and got a STEM degree. I had to take one of those "Critical Thinking" classes prior to getting my degree. They used books by people like Linda Elder, whom you cited in your post. The "critical thinking" books lay out some rules for critical thinking, then proceed to break every single one of them while the author goes on a leftist rant. I brought this up to my professor, who agreed with my assessment. The book was picked by the school; not by him.

I've found critical thinking in real life involves being able to identify logical fallacies and contradictions. It also involves using basic logic.

kurt9 said...

Cappy, I'm sure you're correct about the obfuscation about "critical thinking skills".

Jones said...

"Critical thinking", as in the kind of thinking that results when you layer everything with a gooey, impenetrable coating of Critical Theory-influenced patois ...

Also known as, "Would you like extra Marxism with your fries?"

liberranter said...

Your fourth-grade definition of "critical thinking skills" is spot on.

One, when a leftist defends their worthless liberal arts degree, claiming it provides them with the rare and enviable skill of "critical thinking."

Easily proven lie, as LA degrees are contingent upon regurgitating politically palatable BS back to the tenured morons who first dish it out. "Critical thinking" in a LA environment will get you tossed out of college for "hate speech" faster than a Baptist would be chased out of Mecca.


Two, when liberal arts professors defend their bogus fields of study by claiming the "#1 thing employers look for in college graduates is critical thinking!"

Another easily proven lie. What employers, especially in large corporate settings, look for first and foremost are employees who are as close to robots as possible - that is, people who STFU and do what they're told, who don't rock the boat, and who don't stand out in such as manner as to expose the bosses for the clueless, talentless, incompetent dolts that they almost all are. Forget about the verbal vomitus from slimy recruiters and HR shills about how employers want "innovators" and "critical thinkers." No, they want "team players" - by which they mean lemmings who will all march in one direction.

TL;DR version: critical thinking skills have little application in any modern western institution.

Anonymous said...

There are liberal arts courses that teach "critical thinking", but you probably won't find any SJWs in them. I never saw any taking them in the 90s.

Tucanae Services said...

My ole man always said "Be the guy that can connect the dots. If you can, you will do ok." Implicit in that pontification is another trait -- The ability to observe, that there are dots to connect and that some dots may have not value.

Well if that is critical thinking, then its nothing new.

TroperA said...

I had a reasonable introduction to critical thinking in, of all places, my philosophy class (which back in the nineties, actually explored work pertaining to early male Western philosophers like Plato and Kant.) What I took from critical thinking was basically the idea that everyone has an angle. Everyone you talk to - teachers, parents, advisors, coworkers, bosses, etc. - they ALL want you to do things for them and it's up to you to decide if obeying them is in your best interest. That was pretty much all critical thinking meant to me: being "critical" of everyone you meet.

Robert of Ottawa said...

Traditionally, critical thinking is concerned with understanding logical fallacies and other rhetorical devices.

Cul-De-Sac Hero said...

I tell my sons that critical thinking involves the following basics (although I use simpler words for the kids):
What thesis is being presented and what are its ramifications (logical ends)?
What evidence do I have that supports or contradicts said thesis?
What motivation does the presenter have for presenting said thesis?
Where can I find more information and evidence to help prove the thesis for myself?

Only give as much faith in the thesis presented as the evidence supports.

Their school lessons bring up "critical thinking" constantly, but, I haven't seen anything of the sort actually presented under that title. I don't trust the school further than I can throw its fat principal.

tim in vermont said...

I always figured that the one thing most human beings were able to confidently assess with their "critical thinking" skills was whether it was their ox that was getting gored. I have a degree in lit. Yes, an English major! But it was in the '70s, and I think has worked out for me fine over the years, but critical thinking was what you brought to the work, and what doing the work sharpened. I never took a class in "critical thinking" ever. I did take a lot of math and physics classes, however. Those classes have paid the bills for 40 years, but so too have what rigorous philosophy classes I did take, and all the writing I did.

What you are really on about is that one can't teach IQ, but under the guise of teaching IQ, these people are attempting to teach kids what to think while pretending to teach them how to think. Whatever your major, it should be like a set of monkey bars on the playground, it should be a place where you develop strengths in your mind and confidence in it. If you do that, you will do fine in life with most traditional liberal arts majors. Not maybe as well as you might studying petroleum engineering, but still, you will do fine.

Borepatch said...

These professors are an outstanding example of Rich People's Leftism.

Tal Hartsfeld said...

Academic types (and officials) always get too clinical about even the most basic subjects and matters.
That can only result in "turning simple arithmetic into algebra problems" (or something along that line).

Bike Bubba said...

"Critical thinking" is really attempting to be what our grandfathers knew as "logic." Unfortunately, since they don't teach the tools of logic and rhetoric anymore, it ends up being "how to succumb to propaganda in socially approved ways."

Anonymous said...

Lmao, if these courses are required for graduation how is it possible that the majority of graduates are liberals?

Unless you mean it the way the Frankfurt school does, and not the dictionary definition.

Standard occult practice of giving another meaning to a commonly used word so that you can use it within a mixed crowd and send different signals to different people, since people read into the definition of commonly used words and symbols rather than ascertaining intent. I saw the same tactic of interspersion within my textbooks for political science (I changed to STEM for my degree). I was not surprised to see liberal and even marxist loaded words in my poli sci books. That I also found words utilized in the occult made me reconsider sites/sources I formerly disregarded as guilty entertainment.

After all it is impossible for a logic class to produce a liberal. Either the class failed or the student did.

Anonymous said...

Hey, i'm programmer by trade, but studied art. So i can speak from experience. Having liberal arts background does help with problem solving skills. If you take studing seriously. But maybe that is with every kind of school.

J.C. Loophole said...

Your criticism of leftist tautology is correct, but one mistake we tend to make is completely tying "liberal arts" to the left, when in fact the left decries traditional liberal arts and anything approaching reason and critical thinking. Being able to reason, think for oneself, look at a problem or statement and weigh it out on its merits and assess biases is essentially critical thinking. It always has been. Just because the left has hijacked it and redefined it doesn't make it so. And to denegrate liberal arts,LA degrees or even denegrate intellectuals is to abandon them and the field to the left. A classical liberal arts education is traditional, it is invaluable. Look at how many people fall, hook, line, and sinker for so much of the twaddle that leftist peddle; everything from global warming go our current culture wars. They don't want history to be taught, they oppose reasom, the oppose Western civilization and it's literature, and they absolutely do not want anyone to think for themselves. We are much better than that. We need to rescure traditional liberal arts and restore it, not just at the university level, but in secondary education. Otherwise we become nothing more than robots for the left.