We have many different levels of thinking. Some of the things that we do in our lives, such as breathing, walking, blinking, etc become almost instinctive and we really do not have to think much about them. Some things require more thought, such as deciding what to eat, or what to wear for a particular occasion. There are even higher levels of thinking and these include our critical thinking abilities. Many scholars have noted that critical thinking is more of a skill than a process and it mainly consists of evaluating arguments. It is a purposeful, self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanations of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, or contextual considerations upon which the judgment is based (Astleitner 2002). In general, "critical thinking" is a mental activity of evaluating arguments or propositions and making judgments that can guide the development of beliefs and taking action. It has also been found that experts from economy and education nominated critical thinking as the most important skill in knowledge management (Astleitner 2002).
It is very important to make decisions the right decisions quickly, and this usually requires critical thinking on the part of the decision maker (Abelson and Levi 1998; Carroll and Johnson 1990). Decisions can be very simple (deciding what you are going to eat for lunch today) or very complex (deciding where and how to build your house). Thus, how much time a person ends up making a decision depends on the complexity of the situation and the nature of the decision. For managers in an organization, some decisions can be very critical for the firm. It is important that managers take responsibility for their actions and learn to make the right decisions in the appropriate amount of time. Taking a long time to make a simple decision and making a complex decision quickly can both have drastic effects on the organization. This is why it is important for managers to be able to do some critical thinking before making the decisions. But, sometimes, the managers are not allowed to make certain decisions because of the nature of the organizational structure. A more centralized model of organization would not allow the managers to make certain decisions and a bureaucracy would also have its hindrances.
One of the places where I feel I have had to use my critical thinking skills is in the area of gauging information from the Internet. Gilster (1997, p. 87) regarded critical thinking as the most important skill when using the Internet, because the Internet is full of false, incomplete, obsolete, etc. information. In the era of the Internet and of information society, "critical thinking" represents a major qualification. In terms of using my critical thinking skills, I would say they consisted of identifying and analyzing arguments, of considering external influences on arguing, of scientific analytic reasoning, and of logical reasoning. As relevant synonyms for this definition of critical thinking, also everyday reasoning, informal reasoning, or pragmatic reasoning were used. There is also a close connection to research from Cognitive Psychology, Philosophy, and Linguistics referring to inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning, causal reasoning, to abductive reasoning/inference, to Bayesian reasoning, to probabilistic reasoning, to syllogistic reasoning, to nonmonotonic reasoning, to adaptive thinking, or to intuitive judgment (Astleitner 2002).
I have found that since there is so much information available on the net, it is extremely important for us to be able to find verifiable and reliable information. Even though most of this can be done by comparing the information with other sources, such as books, encyclopedias, and scientific journals. The Internet contains millions of sites that pertain to this issue but there is no way for anyone to be sure about what the truth really is. And since the Internet itself is the place where the information is most insecure, many people place false information on the Internet so that the people fall into their traps and end up divulging everything. Since there are so many articles and websites available on the Internet, it is very hard to determine what point of view the Internet as a whole is trying to give to the world. But if you are to write the words: “critical thinking” the first 5 results are most likely to be articles that address this issue from various sources. These websites can to give an account of how various people think about this issue. But at the same time, there might be many bogus articles on the Internet also. People sometimes just make up certain information. For instance, one might find an article on the Internet claiming that someone hacked into their computer and used certain private information to drive them bankrupt when this might all be lies. This makes the Internet a very unreliable source because there is no way to confirm and validate the information (unless the information on the websites is taken from some other source). There is a wealth of information available on the Internet and this is both the Internet's weakness as well as strength. The keen researcher should know exactly how to search for the relevant information on the Internet and should also learn to filter the right information from the wrong one by using critical thinking. The Internet, however, also provides some very useful solutions to the problems. There are many software that can be downloaded off the Internet and these can be used to enhance the safety of the computer. Many programs work to strengthen the computer so as to protect it from hackers and other anti-spyware and anti-adware programs do not let any other software to submit private information form computers.
Abelson, R. P., & Levi, A. (1998). “Decision-making and decision theory”. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology: Theory and method (Vol. 1, pp. 231-309). New York: Random House.
Astleitner, H. (2002). “Teaching Critical Thinking Online,” Journal of Instructional Psychology, 29, (2): 53
Carroll, J. S., & Johnson, E. J. (1990). “Decision research”. In L. Bickman & D. J. Rog (Series Eds.), Applied Social Research Methods Series (Vol. 22). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Gilster, P. (1997). Digital literacy. The thinking and survival skills new users need to make the internet personally and professionally meaningful. New York: Wiley.