What is the value of critical thinking to one's personal, academic, or professional life?

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George Bernard Shaw remarked that few people think more than two or three times a year and that he had made an international reputation for himself by thinking once or twice a week. Significantly, it was also Shaw who pointed out that the unconscious mind is the real genius, since...

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George Bernard Shaw remarked that few people think more than two or three times a year and that he had made an international reputation for himself by thinking once or twice a week. Significantly, it was also Shaw who pointed out that the unconscious mind is the real genius, since your breathing goes wrong the moment your conscious self starts to meddle with it. These two observations taken together are helpful in determining the nature and scope of critical thinking in any area of life. Few people think critically about their breathing, and it is probably almost always pointless to do so. It is also unlikely to be useful to perform a sustained critical evaluation of the arguments for and against getting out of bed every morning. Most tasks do not require critical thinking, and twice a week may well be about the right frequency with which to engage in it.

The value of critical thinking comes when making a vital decision which will have important long-term ramifications. Should you accept or make a proposal of marriage? Should you have children? Where should you live? These are matters in your personal life that require critical thinking. Similar problems in academic or professional life might be questions like these: What subject should you study at university? Should you change your major in the light of experience? Should you study for an advanced degree? Should you accept or apply for a particular job? Should you take a stand on principle that might adversely affect your career?

Everybody thinks about these matters, but the word "thinking" is used very loosely to involve mental activities such as reiterating and rearranging prejudices, or, very often, merely fretting. The process of critical thinking involves examining and evaluating all the relevant criteria to reach a conclusion. This does not mean excluding emotion. "I love her" is a relevant criterion in deciding whether to get married, but a critical thinker would then ask various important questions: What do I mean by love? What relevant past experience can I bring to bear in determining how long it is likely to last? How long have I known her? How well do I know her? How compatible are our temperaments? How much do we argue and about what? How do we resolve those arguments?

The list is a long one, but once worked through, it need not be repeated. This is one of the most important differences between critical thinking and mere fretting or worrying. Once you have reached a conclusion, that conclusion ought to be good until you have new data to work on.

The comments I have made here refer to where critical thinking is most valuable in general terms. Obviously, if your work or your interests (reading poetry, for instance) involve critical evaluation, then you will think critically much more frequently than Bernard Shaw's once or twice a week.

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Critical thinking is defined as the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement. It is an intellectually disciplined process that is developed differently in each individual.

The value of critical thinking to one's personal life is essential in making life decisions. It allows one to think through each decision thoroughly enough to make an informed decision on any personal matter. Rushing through any personal life decision can result in negative consequences.

Critical thinking in a professional setting is key in any sort of profession. It is important if you are a leader of others in a professional environment, as one's critical thinking skills will not only affect one, but all. Others look to those who are in charge of making decisions in order to mold their own decisions in the work place as well.

Academically, critical thinking is crucial to success. It is extremely important to look at all aspects of a problem, regardless of subject area, in order to make an informed, well-thought response. Even yes/no or right/wrong answers require critical thinking skills in order to form a well-rounded, accurate response.

While it is important, at times, to not overthink a given situation, it is equally important to make a decision based upon thorough thought out scenarios. Critical thinking is a valuable skills to have in all aspects of one's life.

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Critical thinking, or the ability to problem solve, argue why you believe something, and communicate thoughts effectively, is a rare skill.  It is important in life personally, academically, and professionally, for many reasons.  First, the skill enables a person to think and act in a purposeful way.  Most would agree that those who make informed decisions based on both fact andbelief tend to avoid thinking and acting on incorrect beliefs or making mistakes based on misinformation.  It allows a person to answer questions, give logical reasons for specific behaviors, and persuade others into similar thoughts and actions.

Critical thinking is a necessary skill for leadership, both personally and professionally.  Leaders are expected to make informed decisions, solve problems, and guide others into doing the right thing.  All of this is impossible for people who are unable to think critically.  Critical thinkers consider many points of view, aren't afraid to ask questions, consider multiple ideas, and change the course when necessary.  Critical thinkers are not afraid to be wrong, but are often able to turn mistakes into productivity.  In any company or business, this is a valuable skill.  Even in personal pursuits, such as family life and building relationships, this is a valuable skill.

In the persuit of futhering education, the most well-read and notable scholars in the world were critical thinkers.  These are people who do not simply take a correct answer at face value, but seek to discover why things are "right" and "wrong."  Their understanding goes beyond they have simply been told.  As a result, many famous critical thinkers were able to discover deeper truths, solve scientific, medical, and other world mysteries, and provide information for others that has become necessary for our current world to function the way it does.

Critical thinking is a rare skill, but one that can certainly be developed and improved upon.  It requires thought, patience, and strength of character, which means that those who persue it, also have a leg up in competition for anything.  

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