Critical thinking is a terminology that is not very new to many. It is used to sensitize on the importance of making abstract decisions, without considering the views and suggestions from others. In short, people get inspiration to think critically, to question without fear where they find the benefits of doubts, to find different solutions to rising problems, and to speak out without fear or favor. Thinking critically is made easy when people read deeply and widely for intellectual growth. It has its roots in hard work and determination. Critical thinking needs no fear, and one has to remain dumb to criticism from friends, parents, teachers or even the government.
There are different definitions of the term critical thinking. Before we define the term, Martin Luther King Jr. says that the most dangerous thing in the universe is ignorance that one is aware of at any moment. He terms it as sincere stupidity. From this perspective, we can define critical thinking as a purposeful and a reflective judgment. In addition to this, it is the absence of ignorance in rising facts and questions that need answers. It may also be termed as the urge to read widely so as to reduce stupidity. This will enable one to be in the forefront in making excellent decisions. I bend towards this definition as befitting to critical thinking.
To approach is to come nearer and nearer to something, or somebody. When we talk of different approaches or steps in critical thinking, we mean using different methods so as to convince ourselves that we are thinking in the right way. There are a number of approaches to critical thinking, which are based, on fallacies such as a fallacy of accident, hasty generalization, fallacy of composition and straw man amongst others. Different approaches are applied in different ways subject to the issue at hand.
Fallacy of accident bases the argument on the fact that, for example, where there was war, victims were injured because they were in the place of war when it happened, but were not the targets. According to case studies, people who are not armed are not supposed to be targeted. This is especially in the case of occurrence of violence. Sometimes an order is issued on the attack of enemy's camp, which might result to harm of civilians if, for example, there is a hospital nearby. However, civilians remain immune to attacks, and in case of deaths, it is as a resultant accident (Elder, Paul & Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2007).
Another example of an approach to critical thinking is inference. To explain what inference is, consider a case whereby abortion is termed illegal, since there is a belief that a human life starts at conception. Consider a woman who is prescribed with cancer of the cervix, and the doctor insists on the removal of the uterus so as to save the woman, but the preacher insists on the vitality of saving the unborn child, who of the two is, right? Here, we must think critically. We must know whose life we are interested in. Recall that when a woman dies, even the child dies, but the vise-versa is not true. At this level, therefore, there is a need to infer, or to identify and gather elements that will enable one to get reasonable and mature conclusions. Since this is a complex matter, there is a need to get quality interpretations of the outcomes. These interpretations are highly dependent on an individual’s skills in critical thinking. It also depends on the ability to implement this knowledge.
Finally, straw man is a form of critical thinking approach whereby a person takes an argument and contradicts it using another finding. For example, consider Sir. Charles Darwin. He argues that human beings originated from a variety of primary relatives such as chimpanzees and gorillas (evolutionary theory). However, Darwin is not right since the bible states very clearly that we were created by God. This is an illustration of a manner in which scientific theory defers from religious teachings and beliefs. It, therefore, requires critical thinking skills for one to be able to make a decision in regards to what one believes.
Another example of a straw man thinking is the case of abortion. Remember that abortion is illegal because it is the murder of the unborn. The unborn have the right to live just like the already born children. However, recall that there are many lives of children that are lost due to other reasons such as domestic violence, hunger, war and child labor amongst other bad things that children are subjected to throughout their lives. We, therefore, better solve political violence in Kenya, Somalia, Libya and other countries before we term abortion as the only way through which children die (Hughes, Lavery & Doran, 2009).
In conclusion, critical thinking is necessary since it sharpens memory towards understanding the realities. Without critical thinking, we are as well as moving gargets that can not make any decisions on their own. This is what leads to dictatorial leadership, unproductive citizens and increase in social vices such as prostitution. They are connected to failure to think critically. It is extremely crucial for individuals to analyze situations in such a manner that they make informed decisions. By doing this, they will be using the notions of critical thinking. This will help in making firm decisions on what one believes in regarding an issue. It will also form a basis of how the decision arrived at is chosen.