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A Guide to Critical Thinking

Nowadays, when people are faced with a question and they need information, all they have to do is pick up their mobile phone, type in a few letters, and press a button. Modern technology in the information age has done wonders for society, but as we have already mentioned, it also comes with a couple of problems. One could assume that with a rapid dissemination of news and information, made possible by the Internet, knowledge would progress and the truth could easily be obtained. But recent events have shown that this is not the case. Fake news and misinformation are, in fact, very efficient and in many cases spread even faster than facts.

Things were different in the past – if you wanted to find information, you had to go and look for it. You had to do some research, examine several sources, or use other means to check for authenticity. There were also fewer media outlets, and moreover, the news that was passing through printed media or television was verified more rigorously. In the digital age anyone can publish information online and practically no safeguard exists to confirm it. More than ever, fake news spreads from online sources to the mainstream media, and people simply believe it, not giving it a second thought.

There is a way to stop this problem, and it is called critical thinking. Unfortunately, several studies show that we are not doing enough of it. The issue is spreading throughout society as a whole, so it is not surprising that we can see it in the crypto and blockchain communities as well – where it can have significant consequences. It is very important to carefully think about your contribution decisions, because carelessness could be costly. So read our guide to critical thinking, and make sure you always pursue excellence in thought.

What is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is defined as the ability to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe. It is a mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem, so crypto offers a great platform to try it out. You may improve the quality of your thinking by skilfully analysing, assessing, and reconstructing your thoughts. Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective, so only you yourself are responsible for it. By mastering it, you will be able to raise and formulate essential questions as well as gather, assess, and interpret relevant information to arrive at well-rounded conclusions.

This means that critical thinking is not a matter of memory and the accumulation of information, but rather a way to deduce consequences from what you know, use the information available to solve complex problems, and also seek out verified and relevant sources of news and information. Even though it can be used to expose falsehoods and misinformation, critical thinking should not be mistaken for pure criticism of others as it can lay an important role in cooperating and facilitating constructive arguments.

How to Think Critically

People usually tend to think in any way but critically, especially when affected by emotions such as anger, grief, joy, or desire. Much of our thinking, if left to itself, is biased or distorted, and therefore has an impact on decision-making processes. Most of the time, though, it is possible to improve this and learn critical thinking by developing certain tactics and applying them to problems that present themselves. To do this it is important to keep a couple of guidelines in mind.

Follow a Specific Goal

One of the most important aspects of critical thinking is to know what you are aiming to achieve. Once that has been decided, all future situations need to be carefully thought out based on this goal. It is important to keep the goal in mind and stay on track until circumstances change to the point where a revisit of the decision making process is needed.

Be Aware of Your Thought Processes

The speed and automation of our thought process can be a huge disadvantage when trying to think critically. In our everyday lives we tend to use mental shortcuts to explain what is happening around us and keep our brain from being overloaded. This can have significant consequences when trying to make important decisions. A critical thinker should always be aware of cognitive biases, learnt behaviours, and personal preferences as well as how they can influence seemingly objective decisions. The more clearly we achieve self-awareness the more possible it is for us to have a clear thought process.

Don’t Rely on a Single Source

Relying on the first source of information can be a significant problem when doing research, especially in the cryptocurrency world. Fake news is everywhere, and if you want to base your decisions on verified information, you should not be satisfied by less than three different sources stating the same information. With comparison it is fairly easy to tell fact from fiction, and doing your own in-depth research will also improve critical thinking and comprehension.

Keep in Mind the Motive Behind the Information

Most things you read has a hidden motive, and this is especially true for the news you read on the Internet. If you want to be a critical thinker, keep this in mind. It is important to evaluate the information critically and question the evidence you encounter. Look at the author and think about their motive. Are they trying to influence your decisions? Don’t automatically assume that the information presented is wrong, but certainly question it.

How do you Make it Easier?

Having all the news and information you need, gathered and presented in one place, can certainly help foster critical thinking. By following several sources at the same time along with being able to see clearly which sources of information are more credible than others is a great way to stay objective. This is exactly why the BLOCKBIRD platform aggregates and enriches all the relevant crypto news and information coming from any part of the World Wide Web. If you want to learn more about it, read our blueprint and join the BLOCKBIRD movement!

January 30, 2019, Nejc Horvat