Critical thinking is essential in any academic field and, consequently, developing it should be a priority for anyone engaging in intellectual pursuits. At its core, critical thinking is about assessing arguments, and one may define it as the ability to structure, analyze, and evaluate claims based on evidence and logic (Bowell et al., 2020). The primary purpose of critical thinking is to empower one to judge whether the reasons given for a particular case are good or not (Bowell et al., 2020). By extension, critical thinking serves to establish whether the claims based on the evaluated reasons deserve to be believed and endorsed.
To think critically, one has to follow the necessary steps of the process. First of all, it is necessary to “identify the issue being discussed” – that is, what the claim is about (Bowell et al., 2020, p. 9). Secondly, one must comprehend the structure of the argument about the issue at hand (Bowell et al., 2020). Thirdly, one has to evaluate the argument, including its structure, base assumptions, and reasoning (Bowell et al., 2020). Together, these steps allow understanding the nature and validity of a given argument or collection thereof.
People can often persist in falsehoods and refuse to reevaluate their opinions. One reason for this may be a deep-seated bias that prevents them from assessing the assumptions and arguments behind their convictions. Another possible reason might be convenience – for example, people may willingly support a myth that the concept of truth is always relative as a way of avoiding proper engagement with the opponents’ arguments (Bowell et al., 2020). In any case, the perpetuation of myths and falsehoods usually has its roots in the inability or reluctance to engage in critical thinking.
Bowell, T., Cowan, R., & Kemp, G. (2020). Critical thinking: A concise guide (5th ed.) Routledge.