Critical thinking is not only looking for information that supports
what we want to hear, see, or believe. It helps us see the fallacies in our assumptions.
A few of the student success textbooks I wrote for Pearson Education focused on the RED Model for critical thinking. When followed, this simple model helps us process information in an accurate and rational manner based on facts.
First, let’s define two concepts. As I wrote in my Choices for College Success book in 2015:
- Assumptions. An assumption is an inference, an opinion, or a belief about (among other things) a person, place, or philosophical position. Whether it is a wild accusation heard during political campaigns, differing expectations of a supervisor and employee, or a misunderstanding between two friends, an assumption can get us into big trouble if not verified or fact checked. We must separate fact from fiction.
- Confirmation Bias. This happens when we lean toward or agree with only information that confirms already held personal beliefs. We tend to overlook or dismiss anything that may challenge or disprove our opinion. Hard to have an honest and meaningful fact check if any contrary information or source is eliminated.
Now for the model*.
Recognize Assumptions. When we assume we accept something as accurate—with or without proof. When we critically think we have to make sure we identify all that we accept as fact. The critical thinker is willing to say, “I may believe in this position (fact, source, person) but I need to challenge the assumption. Example: Our nation’s intelligence community engages in Red Team Analysis whereby they purposefully take a role that rebuts initial assumptions.
Evaluate Information. To challenge assumptions we need to gather information. Then, we need to examine the information. Is it wide-ranging? Or does it only come from certain sources that confirm the assumptions and biases we have? This step requires one to use information literacy skills.
Draw Conclusions. You have objectively separated fact from fiction and analyzed the information in front of you. You have identified confirmation biases. You draw a conclusion even if it goes counter to your original assumptions because the evidence dictates such a conclusion.
Critical thinking requires careful reflection and analysis. It reflects the ability to go counter to original assumptions if the information leads in that direction. It helps build a reasoned and sound case for a position in which we believe.
Critical thinking is not only looking for information that supports what we want to hear, see, or believe. It helps us see the fallacies in our assumptions.
(*Note: Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal, Forms A/B (WGCTA). Copyright © 2007 NCS Pearson, Inc. All rights reserved. “Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal” is a trademark, in the US and/or other countries, of Pearson Education, Inc. or its affiliates(s).)
Video recommendation for the week:
Digging into the archives. Here is quick overview of the model.
Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.
My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.
Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.
Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.
In the meantime, check out her blog.
And you can still order:
- My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
- Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.
My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.
You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®