It is tempting to look at thinking as an all-or-none phenomenon – we are too logical or too illogical, calm and calculated or whimsical dreamers. But what annoys you the most – logical or illogical people?
Are you a logical or illogical thinker? Or maybe it is easier to shift the focus away from people and think about some situations where you have encountered logical and illogical thinking.
Too Logical or Too Illogical
To explore our own assumptions about thinking, let us stop for a moment and reflect on some of the following questions and statements.
- Illogical thinking is more common than logical thinking.
- Are you happy when you see the logic within a suggestion?
- Is there a link between logical thinking and scientific thinking?
- Is creative thinking the same as illogical thinking?
- Can thinking be too logical?
- Is confusion the opposite of clear thinking?
- Do you have the right level of logical skills?
- Illogical people are intentionally ignorant.
- Illogical thinking and emotional thinking is the same thing.
- Logical thinkers are calm and calculated.
- Illogical thinkers get excited and too carried away with their ideas.
- How do you react when someone says something illogical?
Evaluating Information and Thoughts
Our daily life is filled with challenges where we constantly evaluate information as well as our own thoughts. A common way to assess situations is to use a critical approach to thinking, which is often linked to logic. An essential feature of a logical approach is that relationship between facts and the chain of reasoning needs to make sense. A search for truth is carried out and a decision is made regarding the practical level of truth.
A critical approach to thinking means to think through a situation about what to believe or how to act. It can be involved in different situations such as improving an artistic performance, or deciding how to act in a social situation. Often it may be difficult to decide an appropriate action where the situation is problematic and complex. Critical thinking skills are also used to see if further truths can be obtained from the “true” statement. This approach to thinking could be compared to walking down the stairs in a careful manner. We consider each step so that the goal can be reached without making any mistakes on the way.
This thinking skill is often considered as a personal characteristic: the ultimate goal and purpose of education, particularly higher education, has been to gain critical thinking skills. Perfecting the skill to use the critical thinking framework is regarded as a life-long learning process, where exposure to certain problems is a necessary part of learning. A wide range of intellectual criteria is included in critical thinking such as credibility, accuracy, precision, and relevance. Logic plays an important role in critical thinking and logical analysis helps us to judge almost any situation based on a careful examination of the situation.
In logic, there is a movement from the present position to a new position by using the available information to draw a conclusion. Information is fitted into existing patterns and it rarely aims to form a new pattern. It is an independent, questioning style of thinking, where we do not accept everything that is presented to us. We analyse the underlying argument to decide if something is true.
The opposite of critical thinking is thinking that reaches a conclusion at face value without assessing the basis for the suggestion. In uncritical thinking, almost all decisions and judgements spring from assumptions – the thinking process lacks questioning and reflection. Is the conclusion fair to everyone? Is it possible to carry out the proposal? What will happen if the idea is carried out? Signs of lack of a critical approach to thinking are that we blindly accept justifications given by others. We trust political propaganda or TV commercials, we may also believe stories and information reported in newspapers, books or on the Internet without questioning the motives behind the message. Yet a critical approach is not negative rather it is a positive process with the explicit goal to put things in a more realistic perspective.
Photo: “Ice Cubes” by Salvatore Vuono