Critical Thinking

  • What is critical thinking?

The disciplined process in which you analyze, reflect and apply prior knowledge (making connections and using schema) to get the best answer possible. It’s about learning “how” to think rather than “what” to think.

  • Why is critical thinking important?

All actions, decisions and judgments spring from assumptions-if they are unchecked or inappropriate, we will make poor decisions and wrong judgments.

Answer with a yes or a no: (think of it first before you check the answer!)

Police: Sorry, but only people with a special ZZ permit can park here

Driver: Well, since I have a ZZ permit, that means I can park here.

Is the driver right?


When the police officer told the driver, “Sorry, but only people with a special ZZ permit can park here,” the driver thought “Well, since I have a ZZ permit, that means I can park here.” But, as it turns out, the driver is incorrect in thinking that this follows. Now, can you explain WHY the driver’s inference was faulty?

Answer: the important little word here is ‘only.’ When the parking policy is that only those with a ZZ permit can park in the lot, that means that having a ZZ permit is necessary in order to park there, but it doesn’t state that having a ZZ permit is a sufficient condition to park there. So, while the driver may have met one condition for parking in the lot, there may be other conditions that are yet unmet that are barring them from parking. The word ‘only’ is quite technical. When the IRS says “only those who have done such-and-such are eligible for a deduction,” that doesn’t mean that doing such-and-such automatically gets you that deduction. Knowing how the word ‘only’ behaves is very important!

A whole bunch of other tricky questions here.

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One response to “Critical Thinking

  1. That’s an interesting way of putting it, but the example above is not very practical. IF the policeman is saying you should have a ZZ permit to park here, the analysis that makes most sense is “although there might be several conditions for someone to park here-like having a drivers licence and not to appear heavily intoxicated and not being naked…etc- but the fact that he only mentioned the ZZ parking means it’s the only reason he’s not allowing that driver to park there”

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