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Ask the following questions of any evidence you encounter: Take, for example, a study showing the health benefits of a sugary cereal. That is, until you learn that a sugary cereal company funded it.You can’t automatically assume that this invalidates the study’s results, but you should certainly question them when a conflict of interests is so apparent.Once you get out into the real world, critical thinking matters even more.
What they will expect, though, is for you to be able to think; to know how to make connections between ideas and evaluate information critically.
And now that I’m in college, my professors often mention that the ability to think through and solve difficult problems matters more in the “real world” than specific content.
It’s a tool that musician Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt created to aid creative problem solving.
Some of the “cards” are specific to music, but most work for any time you’re stuck on a problem.
A great way to get “unstuck” on a hard problem is to try reversing things.
It may seem obvious that X causes Y, but what if Y caused X?
From Newton to Einstein to Yitang Zhang, questioning assumptions is where innovation happens. All these things can be a reality if you just question your assumptions and critically evaluate your beliefs about what’s prudent, appropriate, or possible.
You don’t even have to be an aspiring Einstein to benefit from questioning your assumptions. If you’re looking for some help with this process, then check out Oblique Strategies.
The “chicken and egg problem” a classic example of this.
At first, it seems obvious that the chicken had to come first. But then you quickly realize that the chicken had to come from somewhere, and since chickens come from eggs, the egg must have come first. Even if it turns out that the reverse When you’re trying to solve a problem, it’s always helpful to look at other work that has been done in the same area.