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There’s no reason to start solving a problem from scratch when someone has already laid the groundwork.It’s important, however, to evaluate this information critically, or else you can easily reach the wrong conclusion.
A critical thinker is aware of their cognitive biases and personal prejudices and how they influence seemingly “objective” decisions and solutions. Becoming aware of them is what makes critical thinking possible.
From Newton to Einstein to Yitang Zhang, questioning assumptions is where innovation happens. All these things can be a reality if you just question your assumptions and critically evaluate your beliefs about what’s prudent, appropriate, or possible.
You don’t even have to be an aspiring Einstein to benefit from questioning your assumptions. If you’re looking for some help with this process, then check out Oblique Strategies.
What they will expect, though, is for you to be able to think; to know how to make connections between ideas and evaluate information critically.
And now that I’m in college, my professors often mention that the ability to think through and solve difficult problems matters more in the “real world” than specific content.