Today’s helpful tidbit comes from Lifehacker, who has a great (common sense?) article on improving your critical thinking skills—which, by the way, are often sorely lacking. Next time you see a news article going viral, or someone’s “analysis” on something, stop and follow these 5 steps. You’ll find yourself being a lot more effective in separating the wheat from the chaff.

  • Formulate your question: Know what you’re looking for specifically. If you’re considering going on a diet, for example, know whether you’re trying to lose weight, have more energy, or just to improve your nutrition. Break things down to their base level.

  • Gather your information: Now that you know what’s relevant to your problem or decision, research it. Reach out to an expert, read up on the subject, or talk to people who have experience with the same subject matter.

  • Apply the information and ask critical questions: What concepts are at work? What assumptions exist? Is your interpretation of the information logically sound?

  • Consider the implications: Look beyond the short-term and think about how your decision will shape things in the long-term. Something that will benefit you now may not benefit you in the future. What’s at stake? What can go wrong?

  • Explore other points of view: By understanding other perspectives, you learn more about the subject. You’re also given an opportunity to reflect on the information you have and how you feel. For example, if you learn why people are against the diet you’re considering, that may affect your decision.

 

Watch the TED talk on this here. Also try this article on critical thinking. Remember—facts don’t care about your feelings, your agenda, your likes or dislikes. Follow the truth, no matter where it leads.

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