Choices, decisions and information overload, oh my! Part 3

Results of egocentric and critical thinking.

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 and why is wearing a seat belt 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, tribe, country and beyond! How do we begin to make the best choices for us, our family, our tribe and our community? As we have moved into an era of technology where information is 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 is simply to ensure that we are creating a quality of life which is based on our quality of thought.        

As we explore critical thinking, there are established universal intellectual standards and questions which are used to reason a problem, issue or situation. Oftentimes, the universal intellectual standards are integrated with lesson plans and are executed through the use of questions posed to students. Even though there are several universal standards, the Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools written by Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Lind Elder, touch upon the following standards:

  • Clarity: A gateway standard. The statement must be clear in order to determine whether it is accurate or relevant. Could you elaborate further on that point? Could you express that point in another way?
  • Accuracy: A statement can be clear, but not accurate. Is that really true? How could we check that?
  • Precision: A statement can be both clear and accurate but not precise. Could you give me more details? Could you be more specific?
  •  Relevance: A statement may not be relevant, but can be clear, accurate and precise. How is that connected to the question? How does that bear on the issue?
  • Depth: A statement may be superficial. How does your answer address the complexities in the question? How are you taking into account the problems in the question? Is that dealing with the most significant factors?
  • Breadth: A statement may lack insight from other perspectives. Do we need to consider another point of view? Is there another way to look at this question? What would this look like from the point of view of…..?
  • Logic: When we bring a variety of thoughts together into some order. When the combination of thoughts is supporting and makes sense. Does this really make sense? Does that follow from what you said? How does that follow?

Critical thinking and the universal intellectual standards are applied when a person is interested in determining the quality of reasoning about a topic, issues or event. When reviewing articles, research or policies, this set of universal intellectual standards will assist you in assuring your information is reflective of many difference perspectives and was created with sound logic, clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance and depth. One question to ask yourself is who created and established the Universal Intellectual Standards? Please stay tuned for the next article on critical thinking.

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

Other articles in this series:

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