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5 Benefits of Critical Thinking: Why You Need to Develop This Essential Skill

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pink and turquoise sunset with moon above a mountain range

The world is lacking in it and we all need more of it...critical thinking. It is an essential skill that everyone should develop to become more successful and help navigate today's world of pervasive misinformation. Incorporating critical thinking into your life can reap numerous benefits.

Here are five key advantages of critical thinking.

  • Improved Decision-Making: Who wouldn't want to make more informed decisions? Achieved by analyzing information, weighing the pros and cons, and identifying potential biases and assumptions. This can help you avoid impulsive decisions that could lead to unfavorable situations and outcomes.
  • Problem-Solving: Critical thinking gets down to it. It helps identify the root cause of a problem, evaluate different solutions, and select the best course of action. It can help you become more creative and innovative in finding solutions to complicated situations.
  • Better Understanding: Knowledge is power. Critical thinking helps you gain a deeper understanding of complex concepts, theories, and ideas. By asking layers of questions, seeking information, and evaluating evidence, you can develop a more comprehensive understanding of any subject matter. Forge a higher intellect.
  • Increased Confidence: 85% of the human population struggles with some level of confidence and self-esteem. Confidence is critical - and critical thinking can help you develop confidence in your decision-making. It can increase problem-solving skills along with increasing intelligence. Who cares? Because this can help you express your opinions and defend your views more effectively...and studies have shown that high levels of confidence are linked to happiness and success. (Source)
  • Personal and Professional Growth: The skills gained through critical thinking can uplevel your personal and professional life. By making better decisions, communicating more effectively with confidence, and continuing to learn and grow, you can achieve personal and professional success.

Here are a couple of real-life examples of how critical thinking can look…

Let's say you are a manager at a company, and you need to decide whether to invest in a new promising project. The project is risky and requires a significant amount of time and money. To make an informed decision, you need critical thinking to evaluate the potential risks and benefits. You would start by gathering all the available information about the project, including market research, financial projections, feedback from experts in the field, etc.

Next, you would analyze that information and try to pinpoint biases or assumptions that could potentially affect your decision-making process (For example, you could realize that you have a personal bias towards the project based on your eagerness to increase potential profits and might launch you up the ladder into a promotion). You would also consider factors such as the likelihood of success, the potential return on investment, and the impact on the company's reputation and resources. You would consider potential obstacles and challenges that the project might face, such as changes in the market or unexpected costs. After all of the above, you would use this information to make a more informed, critical-thinking-backed decision. A better decision. 

Another example of critical thinking can be related to debunking conspiracy theories. Let’s take the conspiracy theory about the moon landing and the importance of critical thinking in debunking it.

If you were not aware already, there has been a conspiracy theory floating around for decades about the moon landing - the theory claims that the United States government faked the moon landing in 1969 as part of a propaganda campaign to win the Cold War. Some people are still not convinced it happened, 50 years after the fact.

The theory proposes a range of arguments, including supposed discrepancies in photographic and video evidence, as well as claims about the technical challenges of landing on the moon. Let’s break it down. If you use critical thinking skills to evaluate the evidence for this theory, you quickly realize that it is weak, illogical, and defies common sense. 

  • Lack of motive: The theory assumes that the US government had a strong motive to fake the moon landing, but fails to provide a credible reason why this would be the case. It also ignores the fact that there were significant political risks associated with such a deception, and the US would have been exposed by the Soviet Union and other countries at the time. One motive I heard was, “The United States would lie about the moon landing so they could claim that they were the first country to do it so they could be #1.” That doesn’t hold up under critical thinking, if it were a tacit competition among countries or a bragging rights situation...many countries would have accused the USA of lying consistently for over 50 years now. Perhaps some countries would have falsely claimed that they also landed on the moon?…but no one else claimed it, and no countries ever protested the validity of the landing. Quite the contrary, all governments, and respective scientists acknowledge it as fact. A global consensus. Furthermore, how would the USA benefit from such a lie? There would be no benefit other than the pure ego nature of claiming to be the first. That seems like A LOT to plan, plot, and execute for a checkmark in the global history books. Really?
  • Scientific evidence: The theory ignores scientific evidence that supports the authenticity of the moon landing, including samples of moon rock and the scientific instruments that were left on the lunar surface, and more.
  • Logical fallacies: The theory relies on several logical fallacies, such as attacking the character of those who disagree with the theory rather than addressing their arguments...and cherry-picking evidence (selecting only evidence that supports the theory while ignoring contradictory evidence).
  • Occam’s Razor: With a degree in Philosophy, I often revisit this principle which states that the simplest explanation for a phenomenon is usually the most likely one. In the case of the moon landing conspiracy theory, the simplest explanation is that the moon landing occurred as it was officially reported. The conspiracy theory that the moon landing was faked involves a complex set of assumptions and claims, including the involvement of thousands of people in a vast government conspiracy, the use of sophisticated technology to create fake footage and images, and the suppression of any evidence that would have exposed the big deception. Thousands of people, scientists, and multiple industries including all forms of media (around the entire world) would have had to collectively keep a massively huge secret for over 50 years. The likelihood of this being the case or that such an endeavor could ever be successful given human nature…is extremely far-fetched.

Bottom line. Other than facing conspiracy theorists which hopefully won't happen often, the juicy stuff of critical thinking are the aspects that help you succeed in life by helping you make more informed decisions and increasing confidence in your knowledge and intellectual skills. 

About the author:  Elle Russ is a #1 bestselling author and master coach. Take her FREE Confidence Masterclass HERE

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