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7 Puzzles to Challenge Your Critical Thinking

Specifically, questions 2,4 and 6 evaluate the knowledge or ideas the reader has on general topics, to a certain degree, rather than testing his reasoning skills. For instance, if I am aware, that human walking speed is somewhere in the range between 5-10 km/h, while most cars can move at a speed between 100 km/h-200 km/h, while I also know that the cruise speed for airplanes used in commercial flights is somewhere around 850km/h, etc. then there is no doubt I would place such options correctly when asked to order them from slowest to fastest. In order to give the right answer to this kind of questions, you only have to possess the piece of knowledge on a given topic and be able to recall the data, while the amount of actual reasoning thereafter is close to zero.( I can also agree with "Andra" user on the issue with question 6, i.e. volume of a creek). So they can hardly be described either as "critical thinking puzzles" or "puzzles" at all. Regarding the rest of the questions (1,3,5 and 7), they mostly call for the knowledge of definitions of respective items, where once again, as long as you know the definitions, you can automatically give at least one correct answer to them. Problems arise if you don't possess the necessary knowledge, but that's a different story. In any case, these 4 questions, similar to the other 3 can hardly evaluate your "critical thinking" skills.

An example of a low level "puzzle" to evaluate your critical thinking skills would be e.g. some variety of multiple choice test. A more complex alternative would be a text where you have to identify the issue(s), the conclusion(s), evaluate the consistency of the argumentation backing up the conclusion(s), reach your own conclusion about the authors conclusions...A somewhat different in nature and at the same time more abstract example would be to solve a mathematical problem or to prove a mathematical theorem.

I think an important idea is that, although we all inherently possess at least a bit of critical

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thinking capacity, so to speak, in order for this to make any sense at all you must develop critical thinking as a skill, much like you learn a language or mathematics...it's not about playing to see if you got something right or made an error per se, it's about acquiring and incorporating it as a habit for everyday life.

"Critical thinking" isn't primarily about knowing anything in particular. It has more to do with doubt and skepticism about information you have to deal with rather than with possessing or memorizing any particular piece of information. Critical thinking is mainly about the skills necessary to rigorously analyze and filter the incoming information, whatever it happens to be, and since we as humans made our verbal communication the most prestigious language to use, critical thinking is, as a matter of fact, mostly about the capability to evaluate the soundness of arguments of some sort.

So if you want to develop good critical thinking skills, the first option is reading some basic literature on the topic (there are many books of varying degrees of difficulty, although mostly accessible to "laypeople", treating specifically the topic of "critical thinking"). Ideally, you would want to study logic, which is basically the foundation of all critical thinking, paying special attention to fallacies, both formal and informal. If that doesn't happen to satisfy your thirst, then you can continue with the argumentation theory, the scientific method, cognitive science... epistemology, philosophy of science, mathematics (with its undeniably rigorous nature).

But for "beginners" and for those interested in the topic, you can check out the introductory books on critical thinking by Richard Paul (mentioned in this article) Richard Parker, Stuart Keeley, Debrah Jackson, Tracy Bowell and many more. There's a very short and simply written book, called "Being Logical - A Guide to Good Thinking" by D.Q. McInerny, which is probably a good choice if you want something simple and concise, but which I personally wouldn't recommend except for absolute beginners and only as a starting point before taking on some better and more comprehensive textbooks.


Category: Critical thinking

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