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Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts

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Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts
Peter A. Facione
The late George Carlin worked “critical thinking” into one of his comedic monologue rants on the perils of trusting our lives and fortunes to the decision-making of people who were gullible, uninformed, and unreflective. Had he lived to experience the economic collapse of 2008 and 2009, he would have surely added more to his caustic but accurate assessments regarding how failing to anticipate the consequences of one’s decisions often leads to disastrous results not only for the decision maker, but for many other people as well. After years of viewing higher education as more of a private good which benefits only the student, we are again beginning to appreciate higher education as being also a public good which benefits society. Is it not a wiser social policy to invest in the education of the future workforce, rather than to suffer the financial costs and endure the fiscal and social burdens associated with economic weakness, public health problems, crime, and avoidable poverty? Perhaps that realization, along with its obvious advantages for high level strategic decision making, is what lead the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to comment on critical thinking in his commencement address to a graduating class of military officers.

Teach people to make good decisions and you equip them to improve

© 2013, 2011, 2006, 2004, 1998, 1992, Peter A. Facione, Measured Reasons and The California Academic Press, Millbrae, CA Permission to Reprint for Non-Commercial Uses This essay is published by Insight Assessment. The original appeared in 1992 and has been updated many times over the years. Although the author and the publisher hold all copyrights, in the interests of advancing education and improving critical thinking, permission is hereby granted for paper, electronic, or digital copies to be made...

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