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Learn how to develop critical thinking skills and problem solving skills to outsmart the fact-checkers. Use the contact form in the right side bar to book a free 20 minute Skype or Zoom session.
By Abby Eagle (2022)
Click the Image to Watch on YouTube
In this article I would like to give you an overview of how you can develop your critical thinking skills.
So let’s start with a definition of critical thinking? Critical thinking is an objective analysis and evaluation of a particular topic. It should start with curiosity – and as such is the process of asking questions and gathering information – challenging your assumptions – accepting that you are probably going to be wrong at least 50% of the time – putting aside your own subjectivity, biases, beliefs, feelings and preferences – focusing on factual information – evaluating the information – being open to new learnings – allowing new understandings to arise with no specific outcome or conclusion in mind – and being slow to form a belief – and even when a belief is formed being aware that as you gather more information that this belief may have to be replaced with a new one.
So how do different personality types approach critical thinking?
You may have noticed that some people are more open to new ideas and are willing to ask questions and pursue a process of inquiry and yet others for example act as-if they already know the truth and are absolutely closed to new information.
I don’t have an explanation for that though it could be related to the Myers Briggs personality type and the dominant cognitive function. Perceiving functions are how you gather information – either through intuition or sensing. Judging functions are how you make a decision – either from facts and logic, or feelings. Those who lead with a judging function may have already formed an opinion and thus be closed to new information – while those who lead with a perceiving function may be more open to new information - though I have no actual evidence for that idea.
A fun fact to keep in mind though is that the left prefrontal lobe manages the judging functions while the right prefrontal lobe manages the perceiving functions.
Critical thinking ability may also correlate with the use of the left brain or the right brain. Iain McGilchrist – the Scottish neuroscientist and author of “The Master and His Emissary” is quoted as saying that, “the left brain has an extraordinary capacity for denial” – which means that those people who have a preference for using left brain functions may be more closed to new information. Academics and bureaucrats tend to be more left brain dominant – hence the term, “Left brained bureaucrat”.
Jonathan Haidt, the American social psychologist and author of, “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Race and Religion”, has observed that Liberals and Conservatives do not view the world through the same moral values and in fact noted that Conservatives have a broader set of values than Liberals.
Now none of what I just said may make sense to you but don’t worry because my intention is not to judge people but to invite you to look for patterns in behaviour. That is all. And now a quick look at NLP Meta Programs. Meta Programs are perceptual filters that generally operate out of conscious awareness. They filter perception and determine your preferences in how you think, feel and act. For example:
Negative / Positive: are you focusing on the negative or focusing on the positive? Are you looking for what is wrong or how something could be improved?
Global / Details: are you a big picture person or do you focus on the details - and do you have the ability to abstract up and down?
Decision Process: do you make decisions based upon facts and logic or how you feel about something?
Self / Other: is your attention on self or is your attention on the other? This is also an aspect of narcism.
Sameness / Difference: are you sorting for information that is the same and matches your understanding or sorting for information that is different? Are you agreeable or disagreeable and in which contexts?
Authority Sort: the frame of reference used in making a decision. Are you the authority or is someone else the authority? Do you go to the effort to get a second opinion or do you already know the truth? The ideal authority sort is an internal reference with an external check.
Black and White Thinking: are you thinking in terms of ‘either or’ or ‘and’? So are you thinking in terms of absolutes or are you more of a relativist and looking for shades of gray and nuances?
Counting / Discounting: Do you notice what is in the foreground or the background? Are you discounting and minimizing information because it does not fit your narrative or do you count and acknowledge all sources of information?
Convincer Strategy: how do you know something to be true? Are you easily convinced or do you always hold some doubt? At what point do you know something to be true – and yet even so are you still willing to hold a conversation and gather more information?
So how do you do the process of critical thinking?
Step 1. It starts with meta-stating and having functional frames of mind. Curiosity and fascination are useful frames of mind that will allow you to focus in as a dispassionate observer and gather information without forming any conclusions. So what other frames of mind do you think would be useful? Playfulness perhaps?
Step 2. Challenge your assumptions.
Now we all make the mistake at sometime of trusting the media, the government and the experts - and assuming they have our best interests at heart or what they are saying is based upon truth. But what you will find is that a lot of the time your assumptions will be wrong. So what is the solution? The solution is to make it a habit to challenge your assumptions at the outset and learn to ask questions. You can do this by playing the NLP Match Box game also known as the NLP Peace Mapping game.
Step 3. The map is not the territory
Understand that you don't operate on the world directly but that you take in information through your sense organs and using the three universal modelling processes of distortion, generalisation and deletion you form an internal representation (a map) in pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes and smells in your mind. The maps that we make in our minds are not the world itself but an internal representation of it. Alfred Korzybski, founder of General Semantics coined the phrase, “The map is not the territory”. It is important to understand that everyone’s map is impoverished to some degree and that there is always something new to be learned.
Step 4. Hierarchy of ideas
It is a really good idea to imagine that you have a massive grid structure in your mind and then sort all the knowledge that you have into that structure according to its logical level and logical type keeping in mind the concept of time.
Step 5. The NLP Meta Model
The NLP Meta Model is a linguistic tool that sorts the verbal and written language that we use into three categories comprising ten language patterns and then gives you questions to challenge the statements to gather high quality information and bring people out of trance.
For example, “The cat sat on the mat” presupposes that there is such a thing as a cat and a mat – and that a cat can do the process of sitting. This might look simple but if you were to challenge every presupposition that you hear today you would be blown away with the information that you gather. I encourage everyone to learn the NLP Meta Model. It could take a lot of practice but it is going to be well worth the effort.
Step 6. The NLP Peace Mapping Model
The NLP Peace Mapping model brings together the most important parts of the NLP Communication model and gives you an amazing set of tools to critically analyse just about anything. The NLP Peace Mapping model also unleashes the full potential of the NLP Meta Model.
And if you would like to collaborate with me in some way or another to wake up the sheep then please leave a comment below or send me an email using the webform top right of this page so that we can have a chat on Skype or Zoom. One of the things that you could do is make it a habit to teach people the NLP Match Box Game and the second is to introduce them to the NLP Meta Model and form practice groups with your friends. And if you have not done so then please join us over at the Facebook NLP & Hypnotherapy Group.