Critical thinking can be organized into an easy-to-interpret 3-step “RED” model. Learn it and you’ll make better decisions… more consistently!
Step 1: Recognize Assumptions
Assumptions are statements that are implied to be true in the absence of proof. Identifying assumptions helps in discovery of information gaps and enriches views of issues. Assumptions can be unstated or directly stated. The ability to recognize assumptions in presentations, strategies, plans, and ideas is a key element in critical thinking. Being aware of assumptions and directly assessing their appropriateness to the situation helps individuals evaluate the merits of a proposal, policy, or practice.
Step 2: Evaluate Arguments
Arguments are assertions that are intended to persuade someone to believe or act a certain way. Evaluating arguments is the ability to analyze such assertions objectively and accurately. Analyzing arguments helps in determining whether to believe them or act accordingly. It includes the ability to overcome a confirmation bias – the tendency to look for and agree with information that confirms prior beliefs. Emotion plays a key role in evaluating arguments as well. A high level of emotion can cloud objectivity and the ability to accurately evaluate arguments.
Step 3: Draw Conclusions
Drawing conclusions consists of arriving at conclusions that logically follow from the available evidence. It includes evaluating all relevant information before drawing a conclusion, judging the plausibility of different conclusions, selecting the most appropriate conclusion, and avoiding overgeneralization beyond the evidence.