Choices, decisions and information overload, oh my! Part 1

Thinking more critically about the world around you.

At any given time on any given day we are thinking about a variety of issues. Those issues may include what to eat for dinner, what song shall I listen to, why the gas prices are what they are, why is wearing a seat belt the law, and that stealing another person property is illegal according to the law. We are constantly bombarded with issues, questions, laws, preferences, choices and this not only occurs in our own home, but our neighborhood, city, town, state, and tribe, country and beyond! How do we begin to make the best choices for us, our family, tribe, and community? As we have moved into the era of accessible information at our finger tips we are able to review an abundant amount of data on any of the questions and situations that we face on a daily basis. But how do we synthesize all the information that we are seeing, hearing, reading, and experiencing? A better question is why would we want to synthesize and think critically? The answer simply is to ensure that we are creating a quality of life that we make or build which is based on our quality of thought.

If decisions are made based strictly on our biases, prejudices, or inaccurate information then the decisions we make may be very costly in the long run. However, it takes practice, discipline, self-direction and self-corrective thinking to come to a well informed decision.

The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools written by Richard Paul and Lind Elder, stated there are eight key elements of thought- all reasoning:

  • has a purpose
  • an attempt to figure something out
  • based on assumptions
  • is done from some point of view
  • based on data, information and evidence
  • expressed through, and shaped by concepts and ideas
  • contains inferences or interpretations by which we draw conclusions and give meaning to data
  • leads somewhere or had implications and consequences

As we continue to explore these eight key elements we must keep in mind that the results of this process will create a well-rounded and cultivated critical thinker. A person, who asks key and clear questions, gathers and interprets vital information, thinks open-mindedly, recognizes their own assumptions and communications effectively and efficiently. Please stay tuned for that second part of Choices, decisions, and information overload, oh my! Thinking more critically about the world around you. 

To learn more about Government and Public Policy and the Leadership and Community Engagement programs offered through Michigan State University Extension please contact me, Tribal Extension educator with questions or comments at (231)-439-8927 or To contact an expert in your area, visit the webpage, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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