In decision making, critical thinking means challenging accepted wisdom. Instead of accepting rationales that have been passed down as best practice, critical thinkers consider all the different options a decision presents and act according to what they know. Applying critical thinking to the decision-making process can help you make decisions based on reason instead of biased modes of thinking, whether your own or the ones you have been taught.
When presented with potential evidence for making decisions, people have a tendency to interpret facts to suit their own tastes. For example, someone who wants to believe that he can make a lot of money by making a particular investment may overlook evidence indicating that the investment is probably not a good idea. By critically examining your own thought processes, you can make sure that you do not let your desire for a particular outcome bias your decisions. This is not easy to do, of course, but stopping for moment to consider your own emotions before you make a decision can help you catch yourself before you make a biased decision.
One of the key ways you can fail to think critically before making a decision is not being willing to admit, either to yourself or others, that you lack knowledge or expertise. For example, a salesman at a car lot may give you a lot of impressive-sounding facts you don't understand to influence you to buy a car. In this case, you have to critically examine the way the other party is trying to play on your emotions. In such a case, you may need to rely on the knowledge of other people you can trust. This doesn't mean you are dumb; on the contrary, it means you are smart enough to know your own limitations.
You should critically evaluate the credibility of people offering evidence before making a decision. In many decisions, you have to rely on information that you might not entirely understand because you are not an expert in that particular field. If you are trying to decide about a potential investment opportunity, you may not be able to scientifically examine all the factual claims being presented to you, but you can at least find out if there are people with professional expertise willing to back those claims up. The safest option is to find someone you know personally who has knowledge in finance or investments, but failing this, you should always get more than one person's opinion before you accept a claim.
One method of applying critical thinking to decisions is the Socratic method. This was the method that the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates used to encourage people to question their own modes of thinking by asking simple questions. In the example given before of examining an investment, apply the Socratic method by asking yourself simple questions such as "Who would want to by this product?" or "Are there enough people who would want to buy the product for it to be profitable?"
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