To be critical has often been perceived as a negative thing. Words like criticism and skeptic have become bywords for curmudgeonly complaining about everything from movies to politics. But to academics, such words have far more important meanings. To be critical is to be rational and discerning when approaching new information from any source. It is the skill, at its heart, of attempting to discern truth.
All Sources are Biased
Everyone has an agenda. If an article makes it into the paper or the nightly news, then it’s done so primarily because the provider thinks it will be of interest to their viewers but also because, in some way, it advances the provider's views and opinions, even in the case where the agenda in question is a commitment to neutrality.
The critical thinker understands this and tries to understand the difference between facts (something that can be objectively measured) from opinions (something that cannot). For example, a fact may be something as simple as 2+2 =4, whereas an opinion would be that dogs are better than cats. In the first case, the result of an equation can be measured objectively, but you cannot do the same for a preference in opinion.
Facts, however, are not necessarily correct. For example, one could claim that Dinosaurs lived 3 months ago. It is something that can be accurately measured (passage of time, records) but it is something that is unsupported by the evidence. In this case, the fact is regarded as an error.
An Essential Academic Skill
To succeed as an academic, you need the ability to think critically. Research and self-discovery is an essential part of the learning process and that is why it is invaluable that you become able to analyse different sources of knowledge and filter through them to discover what is true, what is false and what can only be fairly stated as opinion.
ADL’s Critical Thinking course is an ideal short course for getting experience in this key academic discipline.
Amongst other things you’ll learn:
- The difference between facts and opinions.
- Rhetoric versus critical thinking.
- How to check your facts are correct.
- Deductive and Inductive reasoning
- How to write academic work from a critical perspective.
This single assignment tutor supported course is available for only £25 or free to current and future students with any other course. Students can now benefit both from our Academic Writing and Critical Thinking courses.