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07 June 2007

Define: Critical Thinking Skills

One of the most prominent things that you will read about time and time again is how employers want people with 'critical thinking skills' or problem solving abilities. However, we spend up to 16-20 years in school to learn a lot of 'facts' and how to regurgitate those facts. There is one course that I took at a university level that has had the biggest impact on me in my personal and professional life. I can cite its influence on my work almost every day.

If I had to choose just one course for my own children to attend, it would be this - Logic.

According to Wikipedia, Logic is defined as

"the study of the principles and criteria of valid inference and demonstration. As a formal science, logic investigates and classifies the structure of statements and arguments, both through the study of formal systems of inference and through the study of arguments in natural language. The scope of logic is, therefore, wide. Ranging from core topics such as the study of fallacies and paradoxes, to specialized analyses of reasoning using probability and to arguments involving causality. Logic is also commonly used today in argumentation theory."

Everyone should have a sound foundation in informal logic – the study of the elements of language that work together to create an argument and how to ferret out fallacious arguments. Increasingly, we are asked to digest data more frequently and at a faster pace. Advertisers, politician, theologians, teachers, employers, friends and family all, consciously or unconsciously, throw their versions of truth at us daily. Too many of us are content to let someone else do our critical thinking for us.

If you've never taken a class in logic, read up on at least informal logic via the links provided in this post or visit your local community college and take a class. If you have taken one before, dust off that old philosophy book and sharpen your critical thinking skills.

This post was written by Rob Neville from If you are interested in contributing to the thinking process and become a guest writer on The Thinking Blog, find out more information here and be my guest!

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