Simply getting more information won’t make you smarter
Everyone wants to be smarter. Sometimes, we’re just amazed by those who can think quickly and deeply. To be like them, we easily make the assumption that the larger our knowledge bases are, the smarter we become. While this assumption is true in some sense, it doesn’t present the whole picture. Compared with how much information we come across, it’s more important to pay attention to how we interpret the information.
To ensure that we can absorb information more efficiently, we have to work on improving on our critical thinking skills. Actually, all truly smart people have gone through the following four stages to gain their well-developed minds. Check the following to see which critical thinking stage you’re staying at now and how you can reach the final stage:1
Level 1 thinker: believing in what others tell you
When you fail to think independently, you will start to believe everything the majority tells you. People at this level of thinking tend to believe what other people or society tell them to believe. To change this mindset, it all starts with you. You should feel confident in your ability to use your own mind to solve your own problems. So, stop relying on the majority and start to think on your own.2
Level 2 thinker: trapped in binary opposition
Do you think in terms of binary? If so, you may view the world as either black or white. You are unable to accept the ambiguities in your everyday life. You might find that you fall into the trap of confirmation bias, which means that you only accept information compatible with your stance and simply filter out opposing ideas. So, learn to recognize the in-between area’s in your everyday life and stop filtering out opposing ideas. Absorb different areas of interest and learn to look at things from new angles.
Level 3 thinker: being able to see things from more than one dimension
This type of thinker is able to judge things from more than one dimension. For example, when buying a cup, they know that cups with higher prices are more durable, and cups with lower quality cost less money. They can see the pros and cons in everything and are able to judge the validity of information they read logically. However, they have a narrower perspective than the level 4 thinkers. To reach level 3, you should first realize the fact there is no definite answer for everything, and then you should keep challenging the assumptions you have, especially those you’ve adhered to for a long time. With constant practice in this, you can develop your own point of view when analysing an issue.
Level 4 thinker: connecting the dots and thinking in multiple dimensions
When you become a level 4 thinker, people will be amazed by your strong intuition when making decisions. But deep down you know that mature critical thinking ability enables you to connect the seemingly irrelevant dots, and so you can see things from a much wider perspective than others. While you’re used to thinking outside the box, even when you encounter an unfamiliar problem, you can instantly identify the root of the problem, and come up with the most effective solution.
When you start to progress through the stages of critical thinking development, you will start to learn how to connect the dots. When you connect the dots, you learn to think for yourself and form a full and complete picture. Yet, the most amazing thing you will find is that you now have the ability to possess insights that other people simply cannot.
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