Critical Thinking on The Internet can Change the World!
After reading the paper by Elder and Paul critical thinking titled “The Thinker’s Guide to Analytic Thinking,” I came away with some thoughts on critical thinking and some of the elements of the critical thinking process which might be: definition of purpose, framing within context-point of view, illumination of assumptions, implications-consequences, data-facts-experiences, inferences-judgments, concepts-theories, and answers to questions/recommendations (Elder, L., Paul, R., 2007).
I was thinking on the Internet today while there is some amazing thinking going on and wonderful communities developing; we all could benefit by greater levels of critical thinking on-line.
I like the idea of greater integration of critical thinking into the online world in general, and I think the possibilities for knowledge growth and value creation are tremendous. In many cases on the Internet because getting lots of eyes on your content equates to monetary gain, I wonder if critical thinking is not really at the forefront of people’s minds (especially in a day and age when so many people are simply trying to survive).
It follows that a guided critical thinking process in on-line communities might be an interesting idea that has the potential to raise the quality of the content on the Internet. Introducing artificial intelligence into on-line programming and using it to facilitate critical-thinking processes is a fascinating, powerful and very scary possibility.
Artificially Intelligent computer programs could encourage a greater level of critical-thinking instead of emotional based responses on the Internet, but these processes might also have the potential to be influenced in a negative way by the bot-masters who run them. On-line automated “bots” flying around the Internet have the potential for evil or good. Artificially intelligent critical thinking engines” might facilitate good on-line thinking and better content. The training of on-line facilitators to encourage critical thinking might also be a great direction for us to go in.
I also think Benjamin Franklin was a great critical thinker ahead of his time, his principles include:
- Conversations purpose is to “give or receive information, attain truth or enjoyment.”
- Conversations are not debates
- “Humility is a necessary means to our conversation ends of truth and enjoyment”
- Listening closely and “well” to others
- Modestly in expression, accepting we might be wrong
- Looking for truth in others beliefs and expressions
(Warren, Dona., (2012), Benjamin Franklin on Thinking Well with Others)
These are outstanding and each express some element of critical thinking. I admire and respect Franklin for his relentless search for ways to improve himself and his unceasing pursuit of these wonderful principles.
Finally I leave you with a definition of critical thinking which I came up with as part of an excellent course at Excelsior University:
An active process which synergistically combines: investigative thinking, challenging of accepted assumptions, use of deep cognitive thinking processes-learned-skill-sets, reflecting of contextual points-of-view to arrive at a decision which is logical, beneficial to self and others, and supportable by scholarly researched references and resources.
Happy Critical Thinking to us All!
Christopher C. Welber
Warren, Dona., (2012), Benjamin Franklin on Thinking Well with Others, uwsp.edu, retrieved
from the Internet on 1-10-2014:
Elder, L., Paul, R., (2007). The Thinker’s Guide to Analytic Thinking, ISBN 0-944-583-19-9