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Enhance Critical Thinking Skills through Daily Engagement with Puzzles
In today’s fast-paced world, where information is readily available at our fingertips, it’s crucial to develop and enhance critical thinking skills. One effective way to achieve this is by engaging in daily puzzles. Whether it’s a crossword, Sudoku, or a brain teaser, puzzles of the day can provide a fun and challenging exercise for your mind. In this article, we will explore the benefits of daily puzzle engagement and how it can sharpen your critical thinking skills.
Mental Stimulation and Problem-Solving Abilities
Engaging in puzzles on a regular basis provides mental stimulation that keeps your brain active and alert. When you tackle puzzles of the day, you are presented with various problems that require logical reasoning and problem-solving abilities. These challenges push you to think creatively and find innovative solutions.
By consistently engaging in puzzle solving, you train your brain to approach problems from different angles, improving your ability to think critically. This skillset extends beyond puzzle-solving scenarios and becomes applicable in various real-life situations such as decision-making processes or analyzing complex issues.
Memory Retention and Cognitive Function
Puzzles not only stimulate critical thinking but also help improve memory retention and cognitive function. When solving puzzles of the day, you are required to remember patterns, rules, or clues provided within the puzzle itself.
This constant exercise of memory retrieval strengthens neural connections in the brain responsible for storing information. As a result, you will notice an improvement in your ability to recall information quickly and accurately.
Moreover, engaging in regular puzzle-solving activities has been linked to enhanced cognitive function. It has been shown that individuals who regularly engage in puzzles perform better on tasks related to memory, processing speed, and attention span compared to those who do not engage in such activities.
Increased Concentration and Focus
In today’s digital age where distractions are abundant, maintaining concentration and focus has become a challenge for many. Engaging in puzzles of the day can help combat this problem.
When solving a puzzle, you need to concentrate on the task at hand, blocking out any distractions. This focused attention allows you to delve deep into the problem and analyze it thoroughly. Over time, regular engagement with puzzles improves your ability to concentrate for longer periods and enhances your overall focus.
Stress Reduction and Mental Well-being
Puzzles provide a wonderful escape from the daily stressors of life. When you immerse yourself in solving puzzles, you enter a state of flow where time seems to fly by, and your mind is fully engaged in the task.
This state of flow promotes relaxation and reduces stress levels. As you solve each piece of the puzzle, you experience a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, boosting your mood and mental well-being.
Additionally, engaging in puzzles can serve as a form of meditation or mindfulness practice. It allows you to disconnect from technology and be present in the moment, focusing solely on the task at hand.
In conclusion, incorporating daily puzzles into your routine can have numerous benefits for enhancing critical thinking skills. From mental stimulation to improved memory retention, increased concentration to stress reduction – puzzles provide a holistic approach to sharpening your cognitive abilities while having fun along the way. So why not make “puzzle of the day” part of your daily routine? Start challenging yourself today.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Derby
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Research fellow, University of York
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Associate Professor in Higher Education, The University of Melbourne
Senior Lecturer, Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, Australian National University
Associate Professor in Interaction Design, Queensland University of Technology
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Professor, Faculty of Education and Arts, Australian Catholic University
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Don’t Go Down the Rabbit Hole
Critical thinking, as we’re taught to do it, isn’t helping in the fight against misinformation.
By Charlie Warzel
Mr. Warzel is an Opinion writer at large.
For an academic, Michael Caulfield has an odd request: Stop overthinking what you see online.
Mr. Caulfield, a digital literacy expert at Washington State University Vancouver, knows all too well that at this very moment, more people are fighting for the opportunity to lie to you than at perhaps any other point in human history.
Misinformation rides the greased algorithmic rails of powerful social media platforms and travels at velocities and in volumes that make it nearly impossible to stop. That alone makes information warfare an unfair fight for the average internet user. But Mr. Caulfield argues that the deck is stacked even further against us. That the way we’re taught from a young age to evaluate and think critically about information is fundamentally flawed and out of step with the chaos of the current internet.
“We’re taught that, in order to protect ourselves from bad information, we need to deeply engage with the stuff that washes up in front of us,” Mr. Caulfield told me recently. He suggested that the dominant mode of media literacy (if kids get taught any at all) is that “you’ll get imperfect information and then use reasoning to fix that somehow. But in reality, that strategy can completely backfire.”
In other words: Resist the lure of rabbit holes, in part, by reimagining media literacy for the internet hellscape we occupy.
It’s often counterproductive to engage directly with content from an unknown source, and people can be led astray by false information. Influenced by the research of Sam Wineburg, a professor at Stanford, and Sarah McGrew, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, Mr. Caulfield argued that the best way to learn about a source of information is to leave it and look elsewhere , a concept called lateral reading .
For instance, imagine you were to visit Stormfront, a white supremacist message board, to try to understand racist claims in order to debunk them. “Even if you see through the horrible rhetoric, at the end of the day you gave that place however many minutes of your time,” Mr. Caulfield said. “Even with good intentions, you run the risk of misunderstanding something, because Stormfront users are way better at propaganda than you. You won’t get less racist reading Stormfront critically, but you might be overloaded by information and overwhelmed.”
Our current information crisis, Mr. Caulfield argues, is an attention crisis.
“The goal of disinformation is to capture attention, and critical thinking is deep attention,” he wrote in 2018 . People learn to think critically by focusing on something and contemplating it deeply — to follow the information’s logic and the inconsistencies.
That natural human mind-set is a liability in an attention economy. It allows grifters, conspiracy theorists, trolls and savvy attention hijackers to take advantage of us and steal our focus. “Whenever you give your attention to a bad actor, you allow them to steal your attention from better treatments of an issue, and give them the opportunity to warp your perspective,” Mr. Caulfield wrote.
One way to combat this dynamic is to change how we teach media literacy: Internet users need to learn that our attention is a scarce commodity that is to be spent wisely.
In 2016, Mr. Caulfield met Mr. Wineburg, who suggested modeling the process after the way professional fact checkers assess information. Mr. Caulfield refined the practice into four simple principles:
2. Investigate the source.
3. Find better coverage.
4. Trace claims, quotes and media to the original context.
Otherwise known as SIFT.
Mr. Caulfield walked me through the process using an Instagram post from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent anti-vaccine activist, falsely alleging a link between the human papillomavirus vaccine and cancer. “If this is not a claim where I have a depth of understanding, then I want to stop for a second and, before going further, just investigate the source,” Mr. Caulfield said. He copied Mr. Kennedy’s name in the Instagram post and popped it into Google. “Look how fast this is,” he told me as he counted the seconds out loud. In 15 seconds, he navigated to Wikipedia and scrolled through the introductory section of the page, highlighting with his cursor the last sentence, which reads that Mr. Kennedy is an anti-vaccine activist and a conspiracy theorist.
“Is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. the best, unbiased source on information about a vaccine? I’d argue no. And that’s good enough to know we should probably just move on,” he said.
He probed deeper into the method to find better coverage by copying the main claim in Mr. Kennedy’s post and pasting that into a Google search. The first two results came from Agence France-Presse’s fact-check website and the National Institutes of Health. His quick searches showed a pattern: Mr. Kennedy’s claims were outside the consensus — a sign they were motivated by something other than science.
The SIFT method and the instructional teaching unit (about six hours of class work) that accompanies it has been picked up by dozens of universities across the country and in some Canadian high schools. What is potentially revolutionary about SIFT is that it focuses on making quick judgments. A SIFT fact check can and should take just 30, 60, 90 seconds to evaluate a piece of content.
The four steps are based on the premise that you often make a better decision with less information than you do with more. Also, spending 15 minutes to determine a single fact in order to decipher a tweet or a piece of news coming from a source you’ve never seen before will often leave you more confused than you were before. “The question we want students asking is: Is this a good source for this purpose, or could I find something better relatively quickly?” Mr. Caulfield said. “I’ve seen in the classroom where a student finds a great answer in three minutes but then keeps going and ends up won over by bad information.”
SIFT has its limits. It’s designed for casual news consumers, not experts or those attempting to do deep research. A reporter working on an investigative story or trying to synthesize complex information will have to go deep. But for someone just trying to figure out a basic fact, it’s helpful not to get bogged down. “We’ve been trained to think that Googling or just checking one resource we trust is almost like cheating,” he said. “But when people search Google, the best results may not always be first, but the good information is usually near the top. Often you see a pattern in the links of a consensus that’s been formed. But deeper into the process, it often gets weirder. It’s important to know when to stop.”
Christina Ladam, an assistant political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, has seen the damage firsthand. While teaching an introductory class as a Ph.D. student in 2015, she noticed her students had trouble vetting sources and distinguishing credible news from untrustworthy information. During one research assignment on the 2016 presidential race, multiple students cited a debunked claim from a satirical website claiming that Ben Carson, a candidate that year, had been endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. “Some of these students had never had somebody even talk to them about checking sources or looking for fake news,” she told me. “It was just uncritical acceptance if it fit with the narrative in their head or complete rejection if it didn’t.”
Ms. Ladam started teaching a SIFT-based media literacy unit in her political science classes because of the method’s practical application. The unit is short, only two weeks long. Her students latched onto quick tricks like how to hover over a Twitter handle and see if the account looks legitimate or is a parody account or impersonation. They learned how to reverse image search using Google to check if a photo had been doctored or if similar photos had been published by trusted news outlets. Students were taught to identify claims in Facebook or Instagram posts and, with a few searches, decide — even if they’re unsure of the veracity — whether the account seems to be a trustworthy guide or if they should look elsewhere.
The goal isn’t to make political judgments or to talk students out of a particular point of view, but to try to get them to understand the context of a source of information and make decisions about its credibility. The course is not precious about overly academic sources, either.
“The students are confused when I tell them to try and trace something down with a quick Wikipedia search, because they’ve been told not to do it,” she said. “Not for research papers, but if you’re trying to find out if a site is legitimate or if somebody has a history as a conspiracy theorist and you show them how to follow the page’s citation, it’s quick and effective, which means it’s more likely to be used.”
As a journalist who can be a bit of a snob about research methods, it makes me anxious to type this advice. Use Wikipedia for quick guidance! Spend less time torturing yourself with complex primary sources! A part of my brain hears this and reflexively worries these methods could be exploited by conspiracy theorists. But listening to Ms. Ladam and Mr. Caulfield describe disinformation dynamics, it seems that snobs like me have it backward.
Think about YouTube conspiracy theorists or many QAnon or anti-vaccine influencers. Their tactic, as Mr. Caulfield noted, is to flatter viewers while overloading them with three-hour videos laced with debunked claims and pseudoscience, as well as legitimate information. “The internet offers this illusion of explanatory depth,” he said. “Until 20 seconds ago, you’d never thought about, say, race and IQ, but now, suddenly, somebody is treating you like an expert. It’s flattering your intellect, and so you engage, but you don’t really stand a chance.”
What he described is a kind of informational hubris we have that is quite difficult to fight. But what SIFT and Mr. Caulfield’s lessons seem to do is flatter their students in a different way: by reminding us our attention is precious.
The goal of SIFT isn’t to be the arbiter of truth but to instill a reflex that asks if something is worth one’s time and attention and to turn away if not. Because the method is less interested in political judgments, Mr. Caulfield and Ms. Ladam noticed, students across the political spectrum are more likely to embrace it. By the end of the two-week course, Ms. Ladam said, students are better at finding primary sources for research papers. In discussions they’re less likely to fall back on motivated reasoning. Students tend to be less defensive when confronted with a piece of information they disagree with. Even if their opinions on a broader issue don’t change, a window is open that makes conversation possible. Perhaps most promising, she has seen her students share the methods with family members who post dubious news stories online. “It sounds so simple, but I think that teaching people how to check their news source by even a quick Wikipedia can have profound effects,” she said.
SIFT is not an antidote to misinformation. Poor media literacy is just one component of a broader problem that includes more culpable actors like politicians, platforms and conspiracy peddlers. If powerful, influential people with the ability to command vast quantities of attention use that power to warp reality and platforms don’t intervene, no mnemonic device can stop them. But SIFT may add a bit of friction into the system. Most important, it urges us to take the attention we save with SIFT and apply it to issues that matter to us.
“Right now we are taking the scarcest, most valuable resource we have — our attention — and we’re using it to try to repair the horribly broken information ecosystem,” Mr. Caulfield said. “We’re throwing good money after bad.”
Our focus isn’t free, and yet we’re giving it away with every glance at a screen. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, the economics are in our favor. Demand for our attention is at an all-time high, and we control supply. It’s time we increased our price.
The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .
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An earlier version of this article misattributed a quotation about determining the reliability of a news source. It was Michael Caulfield — not Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — who said, “The question we want students asking is: Is this a good source for this purpose, or could I find something better relatively quickly?”
How we handle corrections
Charlie Warzel , a New York Times Opinion writer at large, covers technology, media, politics and online extremism. He welcomes your tips and feedback: [email protected] | @ cwarzel
The News Literacy Project
Using the news to develop students’ critical thinking
Published on March 10, 2022 Updates
By Pamela Brunskill
Students today are immersed in a news and information landscape that pervades every aspect of their lives. From TikTok to Instagram to Twitter, they are inundated with posts, and many of them are not credible or legitimately grounded. It is difficult to know what is true. Because this environment is complex and riddled with misinformation, it provides a prime opportunity to authentically develop students’ critical thinking abilities.
Critical thinking defined
One of the most highly sought goals of educators is to get students to think critically. In a rough sense, this involves the skills and dispositions necessary to make an informed judgment. According to a meta-analysis on the subject, critical thinking is purposeful, methodical, and habitually inquisitive. Critical thinkers have the skills to interpret, analyze, and evaluate content; they are diligent and persistent in considering a question, and they approach life honestly and with an open mind.
While there is some debate whether the best approach to teaching critical thinking is through generic traits or through discipline-specific skills, a compromised approach allows students to develop both . If we follow the belief that students need context to accurately reason about a subject, then they must have some background knowledge in that subject. How else can they think critically about something? Further, how would that naive thinking compare to that of experts in the field? Regarding the news and information landscape, if students are going to think critically and be discerning with the content they share, then they must learn news literacy.
How to use news literacy to teach critical thinking
Step 1: develop disciplinary literacy in the news.
In an era of misinformation, students can evaluate information by learning how news is made. This includes explicit instruction in concepts and content such as identifying different types of information, recognizing the purpose or intent of pieces, understanding the watchdog role of the press, and recognizing quality arguments and evidence. It also includes explicit instruction of skills such as evaluating sources, identifying branded content, recognizing bias and motivated reasoning, and verifying evidence. Of course, students also need to demonstrate understanding of these concepts and practice these skills. In so doing, they gain disciplinary literacy, the notion of specialized reading practices for a field of study. Often, disciplinary literacy is framed as thinking like a mathematician, a historian , or a computer programmer . Regardless of the content area, students gain greater depth in their understanding of the underpinnings of that discipline. In this case, students learn to “think like a journalist.”
Example of developing disciplinary literacy: Jennifer Liang Twitter thread
Step 2: Teach topical content
Once students comprehend how news is made, they can deconstruct it and analyze its creation. But they also need the context surrounding the piece of news they’re reading and/or studying. To this end, teachers should provide explicit instruction in the topic at hand, whether it involves immigration, global warming, sports, health, statistics, or any other content area. This is where each discipline offers its own guidance, and as with all good teaching, this requires an effective approach to tackling reading comprehension . This might include studying vocabulary, writing about text through think sheets and short responses, and discussions, among other strategies. Then, students can explain a disciplinary concept such as immigration and explain why not all images of border walls are accurately portrayed in memes.
Why news literacy?
Of course, integrated studies between all subjects are possible, but there is a special partnership between English and social studies in relation to news literacy. The stakes are high: think about the consequences of misinformation as well as the potential for civic action. A lack of news literacy threatens democracy and our public health — just look at the conspiratorial thinking that led to the Capitol riots and erroneous claims about COVID-19 . Conversely, when individuals have the competency to judge reliable and credible news, they can take civic action such as correcting a piece of misinformation, contacting elected officials, and participating responsibly in political discussions. Being accurately informed is crucial to participating in a democracy.
Example of disciplinary-specific content : Conspiratorial Thinking poster
Critical thinking is critical in today’s world
Using the news in classrooms can authentically develop higher-level thinking skills and dispositions. Combining understanding of how journalism works along with topical content allows students to determine the credibility of information they encounter. This integration enables students to interpret, analyze, evaluate, explain, and make judgments — to think critically. By teaching news literacy, we can teach students the skills and habits of mind to not only navigate today’s information landscape, but also to navigate our society.
Productive conversations without confrontation
Learn how to have productive, civil conversations when discussing misinformation and conspiracy theories.
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Brunskill’s commentary featured in The Horn Book Magazine
The November-December issue of The Horn Book Magazine, a noted publication in the field of children’s literature, features a piece by Pam Brunskill, senior manager of education design, on teaching news literacy across grades and subject areas.
Published on Nov 1, 2023 NLP in the News
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News & Announcements
New Podcast Series! - September 18, 2023 Critical Thinking: Revealed
In the new Critical Thinking Revealed podcast, we interview those who have shown exceptional reasoning in a given area and explicate the examples of critical thinking therein.
Episode 1 has been posted on YouTube:
"Dr. Alex Hall, UCLA Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, UCLA - On the Climate Crisis"
Guest Presentation Program Posted for The 43rd Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking - June 12, 2023
Again this year, Guest Presenters from around the world will share their critical thinking ideas, experiences, and research at the world's longest-running critical thinking conference!
The full Guest Presentation program is online now. Some Guest Presenters will also lead live Q&A sessions, which are listed on the conference Daily Schedule .
The Critical Thinking: Going Deeper Podcast Reaches Its 20th Episode - June 6, 2023
In Critical Thinking: Going Deeper , Drs. Linda Elder and Gerald Nosich go beyond the fundamentals to explore deeper layers of critical thinking theory and how these more complex ideas can be applied to learning, teaching, work, and life. Today, the series released its 20th episode.
The full archive of the podcast is available exclusively to members of The Center for Critical Thinking Community Online!
New Research from Taiwan Utilizes Paul & Elder's Universal Intellectual Standards - March 29, 2023
New research from National Cheng Kung University's College of Medicine, published in BMC Medical Education, utilizes nine of the universal intellectual standards in assessing the reasoning of healthcare students. Researchers Yueh-Ren Ho, Bao-Yu Chen, and Chien-Ming Li have authored this paper, titled, "Thinking More Wisely: Using the Socratic Method to Develop Critical Thinking Skills Amongst Healthcare Students." Read the paper here .
Many Classic Articles Restored on CriticalThinking.Org - March 21, 2023
A number of article previews in our C riticalThinking.Org Library have been reverted to full articles, including the first nine articles under the "Fundamentals of Critical Thinking" section and the first 2-3 articles in all of the remaining sections.
All articles under the "About Critical Thinking" section continue to be offered in full, along with those mentioned above.
New Footage Appearing on YouTube Regularly - November 10, 2022
The Foundation for Critical Thinking YouTube channel is posting one or two new videos each week. Footage will include clips from the Critical Thinking: Going Deeper podcast , clips from our exclusive Community Online webinars , clips from conference sessions, and more!
Dr. Linda Elder Interview on The Propwatch Project with Serena Balani - July 14, 2022
Click here to view the interview on YouTube.
New Podcast with Drs. Linda Elder and Gerald Nosich in the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online - March 30, 2022
Join Drs. Linda Elder and Gerald Nosich for their new podcast, Critical Thinking: Going Deeper , as they uncover ever-deeper layers of critical thinking theory and explore how these insights can be applied to everyday work, life, learning, and teaching!
View episodes here - only in the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online!
Dr. Gerald Nosich Interview on the Controversy & Clarity podcast with Damien O'Connell - March 25, 2022
Click here to hear the interview on anchor.fm.
Fourth Edition Release of Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning & Your Life - February 1, 2022
The latest edition of this seminal critical-thinking textbook, by Drs. Richard Paul and Linda Elder, is available now through Rowman & Littlefield. Electronic and print copies can be ordered here .
Dr. Linda Elder's Second Interview on the Beyond Perception podcast with Simon Rilling - March 5, 2022
Appreciation Video from Gladys Mangiduyos - December 2nd, 2021
An educator at Wesleyan University in the Philippines, Gladys Mangiduyos is a longtime member of the global critical thinking movement. She has been a champion for critical thinking at her institution for many years, and has created a new video expressing gratitude to critical thinking pedagogues who have helped advance ethical critical thinking in our world.
Watch a copy of the video here .
ThinkTech Hawaii's Interview with Dr. Brian Barnes: "Igniting Criticality and Creativity" - November 23, 2021
Click here to see the interview on YouTube.
Dr. Linda Elder Interview on the Beyond Perception podcast with Simon Rilling - November 9, 2021
Alison Morrow's Interview with Dr. Linda Elder - April 27, 2021
Forthcoming Book Announcement - January 21, 2021
Dr. Linda Elder is currently authoring a book with the working title, Critical Thinking Therapy . Release is expected in 2022. To read more on the topic of Critical Thinking Therapy, click here .
New Book Release by Dr. Gerald Nosich - January 15, 2021
Dr. Nosich's new book, Critical Writing: A Guide to Writing a Paper Using the Concepts and Processes of Critical Thinking , is available now in multiple formats. Orders can be placed with Rowman & Littlefield here .
New Publication Release - November 2020
Fact over Fake: A Critical Thinker's Guide to Media Bias and Political Propaganda is available now in multiple formats. Orders can be placed with Rowman & Littlefield here .
This title entails extensive revision and expansion of the classic Thinker's Guide to Media Bias & Propaganda , which Drs. Elder and Paul co-authored in 2008. This new reelase includes discussion of the many changes to news distribution over the last decade, including the rise of social media and growing influence of fake news and conspiracy theorists in the mainstream.
New Book Release by Dr. Linda Elder - December 2019
Dr. Elder's new book, Liberating the Mind: Overcoming Sociocentric Thought and Egocentric Tendencies , is available now in multiple formats. Orders can be placed with Rowman & Littlefield here .
Moneywise Guys Interview with Dr. Gerald Nosich - October 4, 2018
Click here to hear the hosts of the Moneywise Guys podcast interview Dr. Gerald Nosich.
Eighth Edition of The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking: Concepts & Tools Released - September 2019
One of the most widely-distributed texts on critical thinking ever written , The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking has roughly doubled its content in the 8th edition, but still provides a highly portable overview of critical thinking principles and theory. Digital and paper copies are available from Rowman & Littlefield here .
The Foundation for Critical Thinking Launches The Center for Critical Thinking Community Online - August 2019
The world's largest collection of critical thinking resources, activities, and discussion has just come online. The subscription-based Center for Critical Thinking Community Online features an enormous library of publications, videos, and exercises on critical thinking, as well as a social media component and opportunities to interact with our Fellows and Scholars not available anywhere else.
Join us today !
Michael Frank of Life Lessons Interviews Dr. Gerald Nosich - August 30, 2018
Click here for a transcript of Michael Frank's interview with Dr. Gerald Nosich.
Critical Thinking for Everyone 's Dr. Brian Barnes and Dr. Patty Payette Interview Dr. Gerald Nosich - August 9, 2018 on Forward Radio
Click here to hear Dr. Barnes and Dr. Payette of Critical Thinking for Everyone interview Dr. Gerald Nosich.
Critical Thinking for Everyone 's Dr. Brian Barnes and Dr. Patty Payette Interview Dr. Linda Elder - July 26, 2018 on Forward Radio
Click here to hear Dr. Barnes and Dr. Payette of Critical Thinking for Everyone interview Dr. Linda Elder.
Think Bigger Think Better 's Paul Gibbons Interviews Dr. Linda Elder - December 15, 2017
Click here to listen to Paul Gibbons' interview with Dr. Linda Elder.
Report to Congress on Critical Thinking & Child Education - July 4, 2015
Article by Dr. Linda Elder.
"Essentials of Citizenship for a Complex, Interdependent World: Critical Thinking and Ethical Values" by Paula Fraser - September 23, 2013
In this editorial, Ms. Paula Frasier advocates for the Paul-Elder Framework for Critical Thinking in education.
Click here to read.
Entrepeneur Magazine Quotes Dr. Linda Elder in Article, "How to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills and Make Better Business Decisions” - April 29, 2013
Click here to read the article.
"Achieving Critical Mass" - November 25, 2010
Article in Times Higher Education by Dr. Linda Elder.
Dr. Richard Paul on Mark Deo's Radio Show - September 17, 2010
Click here to listen. Skip to 22:46 for the interview.
Dr. Linda Elder Interview on The Secular Budhhist - August 2010
Click here to listen.
"Race to the Top of the Bottom: A Failure of Insight" - August 31, 2010
Editorial by Dr. Linda Elder.
"Reason to Live" - February 18, 2010
"I Think Critically, Therefore I Am" - August 6, 2009
Article in TImes Higher Education by Dr. Linder Elder.
"Are You a Critical Thinker?" - March 12, 2009
Article in The Christian Science Monitor by Dr. Linda Elder.
"Teaching Kids to Think Critically in the Age of Standardized Testing"
Interview with Dr. Linda Elder on West Marin Community Radio (KWMR).
"Re-Thinking the SAT: Rhetoric or Substance?" - October 2, 2002
Editorial by Dr. Richard Paul in Education Week .
An Interview with Linda Elder About Using Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools - April 2002
Interview by Michael F. Shaughnessy of Eastern New Mexico University.
An Interview with Linda Elder: About Critical Thinking and Gifted Education - 2002
Interview by Michael F. Shaughnessy of Eastern New Mexico University and Randy Seevers of the University of Houston,
"Collaborative Learning: Collaborative Mislearning" - March 19, 1997
Editorial by Dr. Linda Elder in Education Week .
"The New Standards: The Case for Intellectual Discipline in the Classroom" - March 11, 1997
Editorial by Dr. Linda Elder in the Community College Times .
"The Practical Impractical (K-12)" - May 29, 1996
Editorial by Dr. Richard Paul published in Education Week .
Students say misinformation abounds online. Experts say critical thinking helps them navigate it
Students know misinformation is a real issue and want strategies, says myth-debunker timothy caulfield.
Whether it's young kids watching YouTube videos, older ones logging on for games or teens scrolling TikTok, students today encounter all manner of content online and often simply accept it as truth, according to 14-year-old Ainara Alleyne.
"I don't think [younger kids] really know the difference between misinformation, disinformation and true news ... These are just things that people are saying. You don't really know that people can have hidden agendas or misinterpret different things," noted the Hamilton-based Grade 8 student.
It's part of why the teen has joined one of a growing wave of initiatives hoping to boost students' digital literacy and critical thinking skills, so they can better distinguish what's what amid the storm of facts and misinformation flying around the chaotic online spaces they're navigating.
"As younger people we're so used to using social media, things like Instagram and Snapchat and TikTok, and it's so easy to spread misinformation on those apps — and even disinformation, where someone purposefully wants to spread information that's wrong," said 17-year-old high school senior Arjun Ram.
"It's super important that kids today understand and can decipher what's real and what's not."
This video game makes kids savvier online
Alleyne and Ram are part of Reporting 101: Misinformation , a new CBC Kids News initiative designed to teach students in Grade 4 through 8 about separating fact from fiction, via the ultra-popular, blocky, 3D-gaming world of Minecraft . Launched this past week, the new world taps players as budding journalists investigating a story tip: summer vacation has been cancelled. Players must find and speak with different sources, verify gathered information, determine the truth and write an article from their research.
"This game will help kids understand that you should care and that it's important to track down where your information stems from, and it's important to decipher whether that's true or not," Ram said.
Embedding this kind of learning inside a space where young people love spending time is an approach that gets a thumbs up from Kara Brisson-Boivin, director of research at MediaSmarts, a Canadian non-profit organization focused on digital and media literacy.
"It's building in those educational moments and opportunities within their game play," she said from Windsor, Ont.
"They're going to embrace those educational opportunities all the more, because it's already within the spaces and the online activities that they're engaged in."
WATCH | Tips on navigating online spaces amid misinformation:
Tips for wading through misinformation online
For more than 20 years, MediaSmarts has been running a comprehensive research study into young Canadians' attitudes and behaviours on digital technology and the internet. One recent report specifically explored older teen and young adult perceptions and concerns about misinformation and disinformation in online platforms and communities .
Though respondents reported enjoying the interactive vibe and immersive feeling of their favourite spaces, they also revealed how often they've come across misinformation and disinformation. They're aware of how this kind of content connects with online hate — misogyny, racism, homophobia and more, Brisson-Boivin noted — and young people want to see more transparency, effort and action from decision-makers to combat it, within the platform itself.
"Young people want to be in this space. They like the vibe. They don't want to have to completely leave it," she explained, noting the challenge of pausing or withdrawing to fact-check information in another space or external source.
Brisson-Boivin believes building up digital literacy knowledge from an early age is another important approach to fighting misinformation, whether students are researching for school or scrolling for entertainment.
"Introducing this at as early an age possible is absolutely critical. I have a six year old [and] we talk quite frequently about the kinds of content we're seeing online: what is real and what is imagined, how we can know these things," she explained, noting a recent conversation sparked when they encountered an amazing "upside-down waterfall" video.
Some quick internet research conducted together determined it wasn't real, but cleverly crafted footage.
"There are lessons and opportunities as a family or as a household where you can embrace this with really young children," Brisson-Boivin said, adding that as students mature into teens and adults, additional approaches can be introduced, for instance finding the original source, authenticating information via reputable outlets, employing fact-checking tools, sites and experts, and so forth.
"It is something that we all need to continually be learning and practicing and developing."
Students 'hungry for this information'
Notable myth-debunker Timothy Caulfield agrees, saying that it can even be as simple as taking a few seconds to think or reflect on something you see online. "If you get people to take that beat, they're more likely to adopt a critical thinking perspective, less likely to believe misinformation, less likely to share misinformation," said the University of Alberta professor and Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy.
"A lot of it happens in the moment with the extreme headline, that funny meme. But if you just get people to reflect and think about accuracy ... that action alone can make a difference."
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The bestselling author and popular public speaker thinks teaching younger kids to "put on their thinking cap and really kind of investigate" must transition into introducing teens and young adults to more complex approaches exploring "the nature of the evidence being used" to make arguments.
"I've had the opportunity to talk to kids of all ages and they're hungry for this information. They recognize that this is an issue: they're not naive. They know that the spread of misinformation is a real issue. So they want strategies," he said in Edmonton.
Rather than turning students into "hyper-skeptics," he likens teaching students critical thinking to teaching them to think like a scientist: applying reason and looking at a body of evidence. He refutes those who believe that this skills-building is about brainwashing anyone. "We're not talking about the content here. We're talking about giving people skills — neutral skills — that will allow them to go out and assess the information environment."
Caulfield feels misinformation is "one of the defining issues of our time" and among the greatest challenges we currently face.
"It's a generational challenge, so that means we really need to teach our youth, the children, how to spot and counter misinformation. And this means giving them the skills that will endure over time."
With files from Deana Sumanac-Johnson and Nazima Walji
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The news and critical thinking: Why is it important?
Every day, we’re bombarded with a huge amount of news and information from all around the world. Whether it’s through websites, social media or TV, it’s never been easier to access the news.
Think about how many bits of news you’ve seen on your Instagram feed today. But how much of it can you really trust?
What is media literacy and why is it important?
Media literacy is the ability to spot different types of media and to understand the messages they are communicating. It involves questioning what you’re watching, listening to or reading, so that you can make better judgements about the messages you’re being presented with.
Media includes all the different ways a message is communicated – from the news we read online to the ads we see on TV. The media we consume can inform, educate, entertain or convince us. It influences the way we see and think about ourselves and the world around us.
If we have good media literacy, it can stop us from getting stressed out by the confusing or negative things we see in the media. It can also help us focus on all the useful media that helps us to learn, connect and relax.
How can I improve my media literacy when it comes to the news?
1. Switch off and take a break
News has a 24-hour cycle – its output is never-ending. It can therefore be overwhelming and exhausting, especially as some media outlets tend to report mostly negative stories (because they get an emotional reaction).
Turn off the news and do something you enjoy to clear your mind . Challenge yourself to a tech-free hour and spend it going for a walk or reading a book. You could do something that will refresh your mind and body, like shooting some hoops or dancing to your favourite music.
Whatever you decide to do, remember that it’s important to take a break from the news every once in a while. Taking time out helps you to think critically about and not be overwhelmed by the news. It’ll help you with all the other tips in this article!
2. Question the credibility of the news source
Whether you read the news from Instagram or a website, it’s important to know who is publishing the content. A credible or trustworthy news provider will make sure their reporting is impartial and free of errors.
Check out a news provider’s ‘About Us’ section on their website to learn more about their mission, values and approach to reporting.
For example, as a not-for-profit, The Conversation ’s mission is ‘to provide access to quality explanatory journalism’ through articles written by ‘academics and journalists working together’. Factors like these will influence the way a story is reported.
3. Find news from a variety of sources
Get a balanced picture of news stories by consuming different news sources. This will give you a range of different perspectives on an issue. Media sites are often funded by advertisers, which means their reporting is driven by clicks (how people engage with the content). This causes them to report their stories in certain ways. If a news site is funded by an organisation with a particular political view, it can lead to reporting that promotes their way of thinking.
Read a mix of local publications and international news providers such as Reuters . This will help you to develop a well-informed opinion on a story.
4. Think about the purpose of the article
Why was the story written? Was it to:
- inform you about something that happened (news report)?
- change your mind or behaviour (opinion piece)?
- sell you something and promote a brand (branded content)?
A news provider might produce many different types of articles and should label them to make their purpose clear to the reader.
When it comes to the news, start with reports that contain facts, statistics from a trustworthy source (like from the government or an academic institution) and quotes from experts. Once you have the background details on a story, you’ll be able to make your own conclusions about an opinion piece written in response to it. This is especially important because prejudice against a person or group is common in mainstream media coverage.
5. Spot misinformation or fake news
Although social media has helped us become better connected, it has also driven the viral spread of fake news, or ‘misinformation’. Fake news is created using false or inaccurate information, with the intention of deceiving the reader. It works by grabbing a reader’s attention with a sensational or wild claim in the hope they’ll then click through and share it.
Our social media feeds are based on an algorithm or system of rules that sorts posts based on the type of content you normally interact with and how popular the content is. The more people who interact with the content, the quicker the fake news spreads and the more money the site makes from advertisers who pay to put up their ads on the site. Here are a few signs the story you’re reading could be fake news:
- No evidence : It contains no evidence for its claims and is often based on one person’s side of the story.
- Sensational headline and images : It uses an outrageous headline and images to lure you in (e.g. ‘Celebrity kills off dad in latest prank’). The stories may also include many bizarre claims.
- Not reported anywhere else : If you can’t find the story through any other news source, it’s reasonable to question its credibility.
- Contains errors: The article contains spelling and grammatical mistakes or incorrect dates.
- Unusual URL: For example, the site URL ends in “.com.co” or “.lo”.
6. Talk to your family and friends about the news you’re reading
Discussing news stories with other people will challenge and broaden your own perspective. Be open to talking with and listening to people whose views differ from yours.
If the conversation starts to become difficult or makes you feel uncomfortable, ask someone neutral to join the discussion. Or you can always stop the conversation and simply agree to disagree. There’s no point arguing with someone who doesn’t want to listen to anyone else’s perspective.
What can I do now?
- Find out how to deal with bad world news.
- Take a break from social media for a while.
- Chat to other young people on ReachOut's online community.
Why Critical Thinking Matters in Your Business
Table of contents.
Many professionals hope to pursue careers they’re passionate about so they can find joy and meaning in their work. Caring deeply about your work is vital for engagement and productivity, but balancing emotions with critical thinking is essential in the workplace.
When employees engage in critical thinking, they use an independent, reflective thought process to evaluate issues and solve problems based on knowledge and objective evidence.
Critical thinking skills can guide your organization toward success, but to truly maximize the problem-solving benefits of critical thinking, it’s crucial to teach this skill to your entire team. We’ll explore critical thinking skills and how to teach them in the workplace to help your business improve its decision-making and problem-solving.
What is critical thinking?
Jen Lawrence, co-author of Engage the Fox: A Business Fable About Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team , defines critical thinking as “the ability to solve problems effectively by systematically gathering information about an issue, generating further ideas involving a variety of perspectives, evaluating the information using logic, and making sure everyone involved is on board.”
This is a complex definition for a challenging concept. Though critical thinking might seem as straightforward as stepping back and using a formal thinking process instead of reacting instinctively to conflicts or problems, it is actually a much more challenging task.
Critical thinking’s ultimate goal is ensuring you have the best answer to a problem with maximum buy-in from all parties involved – an outcome that will ultimately save your business time, money and stress.
Why is critical thinking essential in the workplace?
A World Economic Forum report revealed that critical thinking is one of the most in-demand career skills employers seek when trying to attract and retain the best employees – and employers believe critical thinking skills will become even more necessary in the coming years.
Critical thinking in the workplace guarantees objective and efficient problem-solving, ultimately reducing costly errors and ensuring that your organization’s resources are used wisely. Team members employing critical thinking can connect ideas, spot errors and inconsistencies, and make the best decisions most often.
Employees with critical thinking are also more likely to accomplish the following:
- Analyzing information
- Thinking outside the box
- Coming up with creative solutions to sudden problems
- Devising thought-through, systematic plans
- Requiring less supervision
Critical thinkers are sure about the reasoning behind their decisions, allowing them to communicate with employees clearly. This level of communication enhances employee engagement .
What are critical thinking skills?
Critical thinking is a soft skill that comprises multiple interpersonal and analytical abilities and attributes. Here are some essential critical thinking skills that can support workforce success.
- Observation: Employees with critical thinking can easily sense and identify an existing problem – and even predict potential issues – based on their experience and sharp perception. They’re willing to embrace multiple points of view and look at the big picture.
- Analytical thinking: Analytical thinkers collect data from multiple sources, reject bias, and ask thoughtful questions. When approaching a problem, they gather and double-check facts, assess independent research, and sift through information to determine what’s accurate and what can help resolve the problem.
- Open-mindedness: Employees who demonstrate critical thinking are open-minded – not afraid to consider opinions and information that differ from their beliefs and assumptions. They listen to colleagues; they can let go of personal biases and recognize that a problem’s solution can come from unexpected sources.
- Problem-solving attitude: Critical thinkers possess a positive attitude toward problem-solving and look for optimal solutions to issues they’ve identified and analyzed. They are usually proactive and willing to offer suggestions based on all the information they receive. [Related article: How to Develop a Positive Attitude in the Workplace ]
- Communication: When managers make a decision, they must share it with the rest of the team and other stakeholders. Critical thinkers demonstrate excellent communication skills and can provide supporting arguments and evidence that substantiate the decision to ensure the entire team is on the same page.
What are the benefits of critical thinking in the workplace?
Many workplaces operate at a frantic tempo that reinforces hasty thinking and rushed business decisions, resulting in costly mistakes and blunders. When employees are trained in critical thinking, they learn to slow the pace and gather crucial information before making decisions.
Along with reducing costly errors, critical thinking in the workplace brings the following benefits:
- Critical thinking improves communication. When employees think more clearly and aren’t swayed by emotion, they communicate better. “If you can think more clearly and better articulate your positions, you can better engage in discussions and make a much more meaningful contribution in your job,” said David Welton, managing partner at Grove Critical Thinking.
- Critical thinking boosts emotional intelligence. It might seem counterintuitive to associate analytical rationality with emotional intelligence . However, team members who possess critical thinking skills are less prone to rash, emotion-driven decisions. Instead, they take time to analyze the situation and make the most informed decision while being mindful and respectful of the emotional and ethical implications.
- Critical thinking encourages creativity. Critical thinkers are open to new ideas and perspectives and accumulate a significant amount of information when facing decisions. Because of this, they’re more likely to come up with creative solutions . They are also curious and don’t shy away from asking open-ended questions.
- Critical thinking saves time and money. By encouraging critical thinking in the workplace, you minimize the need for supervision, catch potential problems early, promote independence and initiative, and free managers to focus on other duties. All this helps your company save valuable time and resources.
Critical thinking skills are essential for dealing with difficult customers because they help your team make informed decisions while managing stressful situations.
How do you teach critical thinking in the workplace?
Experts agree that critical thinking is a teachable skill. Both Lawrence and Welton recommend exploring critical thinking training programs and methods to improve your workplace’s critical thinking proficiency. Here’s a breakdown of how to teach critical thinking in the workplace:
- Identify problem areas. Executives and managers should assess workplace areas most lacking in critical thinking. If mistakes are consistently made, determine whether the issue is a lack of critical thinking or an inherent issue with a team or process. After identifying areas that lack critical thinking, research the type of training best suited to your organization.
- Start small. Employees newly embracing critical thinking might have trouble tackling large issues immediately. Instead, present them with smaller challenges. “Start practicing critical thinking as a skill with smaller problems as examples, and then work your way up to larger problems,” Lawrence said.
- Act preemptively. Teaching and implementing critical thinking training and methodology takes time and patience. Lawrence emphasized that critical thinking skills are best acquired during a time of calm. It might feel urgent to seek critical thinking during a crisis, but critical thinking is a challenging skill to learn amid panic and stress. Critical thinking training is best done preemptively so that when a crisis hits, employees will be prepared and critical thinking will come naturally.
- Allow sufficient time. From a managerial perspective, giving employees extra time on projects or problems might feel stressful in the middle of deadlines and executive pressures. But if you want those working for you to engage in critical thinking processes, it’s imperative to give them ample time. Allowing employees sufficient time to work through their critical thinking process can save the company time and money in the long run.
How do you identify successful critical thinking?
Successful critical thinking happens during a crisis, not after.
Lawrence provided an example involving restaurants and waitstaff: If a customer has a bad experience at a restaurant, a server using critical thinking skills will be more likely to figure out a solution to save the interaction, such as offering a free appetizer or discount. “This can save the hard-earned customer relationship you spent a lot of marketing dollars to create,” Lawrence said. This concept is applicable across many business and organizational structures.
You should also be aware of signs of a lack of critical thinking. Lawrence pointed out that companies that change strategy rapidly, moving from one thing to the next, are likely not engaging in critical thinking. This is also the case at companies that seem to have good ideas but have trouble executing them.
As with many issues in business, company leadership determines how the rest of the organization acts. If leaders have excellent ideas but don’t follow critical thinking processes, their team will not buy into those ideas, and the company will suffer. This is why critical thinking skills often accompany positive communication skills.
“Critical thinking doesn’t just help you arrive at the best answer, but at a solution most people embrace,” Lawrence said. Modeling critical thinking at the top will help the skill trickle down to the rest of the organization, no matter your company’s type or size.
To get your employees thinking critically, conduct employee surveys with well-designed questions to help them identify issues and solutions.
Critical thinking is the key to your business success
When critical thinking is actively implemented in an organization, mistakes are minimized, and operations run more seamlessly.
With training, time and patience, critical thinking can become a second-nature skill for employees at all levels of experience and seniority. The money, time and conflict you’ll save in the long run are worth the extra effort of implementing critical thinking in your workplace.
Rebecka Green contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.
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