Curiosity and Critical Thinking
By Jay Forte
As the phrase implies, it is used to discount any piece of information that is not in alignment with what the speaker feels to be supportive of his/her perspectives. It’s a catch phrase we’re hearing a lot lately, frequently used by our presidential administration and, as a result, regularly used by nearly every media outlet.
Though a simple definition, the phrase deserves to be reviewed in greater detail. Because of today’s 24/7 news cycle, our thinking is often done for us. No break in our information stream means we’re constantly hearing varied information, making it hard to tell what’s fact and what’s not, who can be trusted and who can’t.
Herein lies the real challenge: with a constant stream of information, we’re missing the chance to be critical thinkers. We need to hold ourselves accountable to draw our own conclusions. We need to do our own work, think deeply and focus on facts. To be a critical thinker requires curiosity; it requires you to want to know more, hear more, think more. It requires you to not take things at face value. Our world, however, makes it easy to move through life without thinking since the deluge of information essentially tells us what to buy, where to live, what to drive and what to believe.
So here’s your task. When someone says fake news, ask how and why. When someone tells us that we should invest or take our money out of the market, we should do our homework to understand what is going on and what our options are. When someone says you should go to a specific college, major in a certain subject or get a particular job, we should be curious about who we are and think critically about where we fit in today’s world.
Important Questions from a Coach
- How often do you take what others say as fact without any review or thought?
- How can you think more intentionally about the information you encounter each day?
- What areas in work and life deserve deeper thinking and greater curiosity?
Know the difference between perspective and fact, of editorializing and reporting. Develop your “show me” or “convince me” mindset. Be curious about everything. Do your own work. Think critically. Make up your own mind.