Critical Thinking, by Adam Wiggins
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With the basic definitions in place, I'll now list basic tenets of critical thinking. These are abstract principles which can be applied to almost any situation to produce good decisions based on whatever data you have available to you.

Much of the function of critical thinking may seem like common sense, and it is. You probably already do much of this in your own thinking. It becomes critical thinking when you apply it in a systematic and uniform fashion.

The Tenets

  1. Information is not to be trusted at face value, but instead quarantined and carefully scrutinized before acceptance. Only data is accepted. All other types of information are discarded, as they can be re-generated from the data.
  2. Past data is always subject to change pending new data.
  3. Data is put into context, i.e., "compared to what?" Data in a void is useless, regardless of its correctness.
  4. Conclusions are never accepted directly from any source. Conclusions can only be built up using logical rules from accepted data.
  5. Conclusions presented by a source are arguments. Arguments must meet certain criteria to be worth consideration; otherwise they are thrown out out-of-hand, unless it can be reformulated as a correctly-structured argument.
  6. Arguments presented by external sources must include data if it is not already known to you.
  7. Objective data must be externally verifiable to be of merit.
  8. Subjective data can only be used for limited purposes, such as supporting subjective conclusions or as a tie-breaker when objective data is in short supply or evenly divided.
  9. If the accepted data is changed, all conclusions upon with the data is based must be re-examined.
  10. When data is too limited, no conclusion can be drawn.
  11. No data or conclusion is unchallengeable or unchangeable.

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