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  • 00:01

    TOM CHATFIELD: What is critical thinking?And why should I care?If I've been critical of you, youmay say, why can't you be more supportive?People don't tend to like being criticizedor to react to it well.But critical thinking isn't critical in this sense.It's much more interesting than this.Although, it too can make people uncomfortable.

  • 00:21

    TOM CHATFIELD [continued]: When in fact, making yourself uncomfortableis a large part of what happens when you think critically,because it's all about taking a moment to go beyond the obviousand ask what you do and don't actually know.Now, critical thinking is tricky to pin down.But it's opposite uncritical thinkingis obvious and all around us.

  • 00:43

    TOM CHATFIELD [continued]: Thinking uncritically involves accepting somethingat face value without pausing to consider whether it'ssensible or justified.An advert says a beer is the best in the worldand I believe it.A politician says they genuinely care and I nod.A leading academic comments that eating fatis good for me and I go out and buy some bacon.

  • 01:05

    TOM CHATFIELD [continued]: Most importantly, uncritical thinkingis not the same as being stupid.Uncritical thinking is not somethingthat smart people always do.Most of the time, most people don't and can'tthink critically about what they're doing.We don't have the time.We don't have the energy.It simply isn't practical for me to wonder every time

  • 01:26

    TOM CHATFIELD [continued]: whether a green light means I really should goor whether spaghetti is truly a superior pasta to tagliatelle.Knowing when and how to engage criticallyis a question of habit and strategymore than of intellect.But once I have the right tools, I can question almost anything.And these tools are embodied in two related concepts--

  • 01:49

    TOM CHATFIELD [continued]: skepticism and objectivity.Skepticism means doubting the truth of something.And objectivity means trying to see somethingfrom a more neutral point of view,trying to set aside my own feelingsand bias as far as possible and to establishthe facts that matter.

  • 02:09

    TOM CHATFIELD [continued]: And this, it may sound easy and obvious.Yet, it's at once difficult and achingly unnatural.As the British author George Orwell once rather neatlyput it, to see what is in front of one's noseneeds a constant struggle.And in general, one is only rightwhen either wish or fear coincides with reality.

  • 02:33

    TOM CHATFIELD [continued]: People used to think the world was flatbecause it looked and felt flat, until new knowledge promptedskeptical thinkers to challenge this view.People used to think that the sun orbited around the Earth,because it looks like it does, until graduallythe accumulation and analysis of new knowledgebrought new understandings that were themselves updated

  • 02:54

    TOM CHATFIELD [continued]: as we learned more about the universe.A rigorous critical thinking, in other words,means not only explaining why we believe something to be true,but also being obliged to change our minds whenthe facts change.People don't tend to like changing their minds,especially if they're in the business of looking

  • 03:14

    TOM CHATFIELD [continued]: confident and telling other people what to do.Perfect objectivity is impossible.But progress isn't.In 100 years time, quite a few of today's beliefswill be considered laughable in the light of new knowledge.Can you think of any ideas ripe for challenge or replacement?

  • 03:38

    TOM CHATFIELD [continued]: This is how knowledge and understanding grow over time.If and when they do, when we test our thinking notby seeking confirmation, but by looking hard for things westill cannot explain.So ask what doesn't add up in the world around youand where the world falls short of what itmight be comfortable to assume.

  • 03:59

    TOM CHATFIELD [continued]: That is critical thinking.

Video Info

Series Name: Critical Thinking

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd

Publication Year: 2018

Video Type:Tutorial

Methods: Critical reading, writing and thinking

Keywords: thinking (psychology); thinking skills

Segment Info

Segment Num.: 1

Persons Discussed:

Events Discussed:



Tom Chatfield explains that critical thinking is the process of not taking things at face value, pushing for objectivity and embracing skepticism.

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What is Critical Thinking?

Tom Chatfield explains that critical thinking is the process of not taking things at face value, pushing for objectivity and embracing skepticism.

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