Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Opposite of Critical Thinking

The opposite of critical thinking is mindless thinking.

There are many types of thinking. Many of them overlap with each other. They are all happening in the same sphere of influence of an individual human or groups of humans, or humans interacting with knowledge of the past, or connection with some "super-conscious" field. Critical Thinking is the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion. What’s the opposite of Critical Thinking though?

The opposite of critical thinking is passive thinking: Critical thinking is analyzing, looking beyond the surface, not just accepting things at face value but asking questions and being active in your thought process. Passive thinking is taking things as they come and not really asking questions or analyzing the information presented for its value. More practically, critical thinking implies some systematic methodology, employing and applying the criteria deemed appropriate by the thinkers involved, to arrive at the tangible and reproducible truth - the commonly accepted objective, testable or measurable, time-bound reality. Still, we all have a cognitive bias, whether individually or collectively, such truths derived by imperfect people using imperfect processes will necessarily leave a measure of uncertainty. Thus, any question, whether perfect or imperfect, will by definition be imperfectly answered or unanswered.

The opposite of critical thinking would be unimaginative, evidence-driven, limited, and impoverished thinking that leads to the same old expected solutions: Critical thinking doesn't always cross over to include imaginative or resourceful thinking. The combination is truly powerful to conceptualize, communicate, develop and execute solutions, not just based on evidence, but on trends and discovery of hidden connections. "Trends and discovery of hidden connections" might be the new critical thinking, or some call it as “Agile critical thinking” with creativity deeply embedded in. It far outweighs than what we usually call critical thinking; reason, logic, calculation, and conscious weighing of expected outcomes, etc…For example, innovation can be a process with one step creative and the others involving significant critical thinking elements relying heavily on the judgment in evaluating ideas, and planning implementations and evaluating results. Also, when the environment is "fast," we have to employ good thinking fast. It is the employment of CRT-T - a Critical Thinking "Trigger," before deciding on a course of action. The "trigger" is infused in training and takes place in the chain of acting on your training, reaching a conclusion, and taking action - in less than a second in some career fields. The Critical Thinking Trigger ( CRT-T) can become a part of the thinking-to-action chain that does NOT slow actions but gains a second opinion of its rightness.

The opposite of critical thinking is mindless thinking: In this age of information overload, it's hard to find the truth - let alone your own truth. In the truest sense of the word - to be mindless is to "not think," but rather follow down some well-worn grooves of behavior. While the form of science-based mindful thinking incorporates being mindful - being present, noticing new things - with critical thinking. Asking questions to get at the truth of a situation while being mindful is a powerful tool. There are two trends of thinking — convenience and complexity. On one hand, organizations today are tasked with making information and knowledge more accessible and convenient. On the other, they need to find and develop people for whom convenience is no motivation. They’re looking for mental agility and curiosity — thinkers of consequence, not thinkers of convenience. They want intellectually engaged people motivated by hard problems. They’re looking for workers with what psychologists call “need for cognition.” People with that need relish a good debate and are in a world of clashing ideas.

Due to the hyper connected and over-complex nature of Digital era, it is time to think more profoundly, not only avoid the symptom of the opposite of critical thinking, but harness the thinking skill optimization as well - to synthesize Critical-, Visual-, Design-, Systems-, Meta-, and Creative-Thinking. And real thinking is a multidimensional and integral thought processes to keep the mind flow and understand things in profundity.


We are always told to ask questions and never be hesitating, but there are some people who are unable to grow this habit. I think for a healthy mind, this is very critical. As mentioned in this article, we can still teach ourselves with cognitive behavioral therapy to think real and in various directions.

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