Critical thinking

2023/12/13 STEAM-Hezkuntza (Elhuyar Zientzia)

Ed. Pernan Goñi

A critical attitude is essential to identify false information and negationist attitudes. Critical thinking is the person's ability to obtain and evaluate information. Based on evidence and ignoring prejudice, it is called an attempt to clarify the truthfulness of this information.

This decalogue for the development of critical thinking can be useful for students. It can help them self-evaluate their attitude:

  1. Questioning our beliefs: On many occasions, in order to approve the information we have, it is enough to hear from the mouth of another an argument according to one's own opinion. But a critical thinker questions his own opinions on a subject, takes into account other opinions and tries to understand his arguments.
  2. Argue based on evidence: The argumentation process can be compared to a chain, each argument is a link in the chain that, along with other arguments, serves to defend an assertion. As each argument should be defended based on evidence, if a single link fails, the argumentative process will not be valid. It is therefore essential that all links in the chain be a sound and consistent argument.
  3. Ask: The ability to question and question drives us to develop sound critical thinking. In addition, one question is usually transferred to another and, when searching for answers through research and analysis, we generate knowledge and viewpoints on a theme. Questions will allow us to deepen our thinking, question assumptions and better understand the situation. They also help us develop the capacity to generate new ideas and innovative solutions.
  4. Observe and experience: Experimentation and observation are fundamental elements for the development of critical thinking. Experimentation tests our ideas and results that serve as a basis for confirming or annulling our beliefs, which will be useful when it is not possible to make our own references eraikitzeko.Esperimentuak, due to lack of resources or the complexity of the experiments, it is important to use the opinion of reliable sources and the scientific community to obtain credible information. Combining experimentation, observation and the search for reliable information, we will develop capabilities to make informed decisions and have a precise and reasoned understanding of the world around us.
  5. Search data: If you can measure what you want to express in a statement, that is, using numbers to argue what you explain, it will be much more credible, because it will be more objective. What cannot be measured, being more ambiguous and qualitative, can have many subjective explanations and interpretations. This does not mean that something that cannot be measured is false; there is no doubt that a lot of qualitative data will yield truths, but without being based on data it is more difficult to defend its credibility.
  6. Working on the arguments of the debates: Nobody has the absolute truth in the debates. Anyone's opinion can be overturned with opposing arguments. But the opposite arguments used to prove that an argument is wrong, to be credible, must be based on evidence. A critical thinker will also explain with respect and understanding the opposite arguments, without ridiculing anyone and without demonstrating false consistency.
  7. Watch out for fake news! Social media has changed a lot the way we consume information and information bombards us constantly through many formats and media. But what happens when most of the information we receive is not true?

Fake news is spreading at great speed than biological viruses. That is why we have to be attentive to the information that comes to us and that we transmit and use critical thinking. Because fake news advances through people who believe everything they read or hear.

There are a few keys to identifying fake news:

  • Don't just look at the title of the news, read the full news.
  • Find the source of the information, see if it is reliable.
  • Skeptically analyze statements that are very surprising.
  • Contrast the information in several sources. Question whether the news appears in one place.
  1. To know the statements accepted by the scientific community: It can often happen that information is received through a famous person or a close person who has some authority (political, religious, scientific...) or that we give it credibility. But be careful! Being famous or trustworthy for us does not guarantee the authenticity of the information, even if it is a scientific authority. Being an expert in the information offered does not give this person any credibility, and it is essential to know the opinion of other experts in the field, the scientific community.

However, knowledge is not only in academia. We must complete the knowledge ecosystem around a subject. Otherwise, being an academic can cause legitimacy to be granted only to a certain knowledge and exclude, for example, traditional knowledge.

  1. Attention to negationism! Often, those who have the most economic interest are the ones who speak the most. Therefore, be attentive to what we believe. Any opinion is invalid. Scientists have been collecting data and evidence for decades. That's what your arguments are based on.

Sometimes reality is uncomfortable, and humans tend to deny it. There are negative movements between those who do not want to accept reality.

Although some types of negationism are obvious, they are not always easily identified: “There have always been changes in climate”, “there is no absolute consensus in science”, “green technologies are the solution to the climate emergency” (technological positivism), “there is no task” (climate pessimism), “species disappearance is normal”…

Attention, for example, to discourses that do not recognize that climate is changing. Look at the scientists' data, see what they say.

And look at those who accept climate change but are not willing to take the necessary action, those who propose only technologies to absorb CO2 instead of generating less CO2, or who are not willing to change their lifestyle.

Attention to those who say that the problem will be solved with new technologies. Electric cars pollute less, but is it enough to reduce the CO2 concentration sufficiently without rethinking the current transport volume? These kinds of speeches, on the pretext of the great potential of technology, prevent a real debate. The belief that technology will serve to solve problems delays effective action against these basic problems.

  1. To have their own opinion and format, there are learning pathways:It is clear that a person cannot know everything. Neither scientists nor experts in any field have training in all fields of knowledge, as they specialize in specific areas. But it is not bad not to know something or know little about a subject, if this ignorance is able to arouse curiosity about the subject. It should also be taken into account that one of the main learning paths is “doubt” or “asking questions” and that more doubts arise as more is known about a subject.


To delve into the contents click here.

This project, promoted by Elhuyar, is supported by the Department of Economic Promotion and Strategic Projects of the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa.

Gai honi buruzko eduki gehiago

Elhuyarrek garatutako teknologia