Thinking critically is essential for success in life, yet it’s not always easy. That’s why so many of us fall back on less effective thinking patterns. But what exactly are these poor critical thinking examples?
In this article, we’ll outline some of the most common examples of poor critical thinking and explain why they don’t hold up to rigorous scrutiny. We’ll also share an actionable approach to help you start thinking more critically and be more successful in your daily life.
So, whether you’re struggling with the idea of critical thinking or have already embraced the concept, read on to find what are bad critical thinking examples, learn some useful tips and insights that can help you become a better thinker.
Table of Contents
What Is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking is the process of actively and skillfully gathering, evaluating, and discussing information to reach an informed decision or conclusion. It involves analyzing evidence, addressing different perspectives, making connections between ideas, and creating arguments and conclusions.
However, there are some common pitfalls to critical thinking that can prevent you from arriving at the best conclusions.
For example, using overly simplistic solutions to complex problems, such as basing decisions solely on emotions rather than facts and logical reasoning, making assumptions without considering the evidence, or not questioning your own biases,
Ultimately, poor critical thinking skills can lead to rushed decisions that do not fully consider all of the available information or evidence.
As a result, it is important to practice critical thinking regularly to develop strong analytical skills that are necessary for any decision-making process.
Do you know there are some types of Critical Thinking Skills – 7 Types of Critical Thinking: A Guide to Analyzing Problems
Bad Critical Thinking Examples
These examples highlight just how easy it is to get caught up in our own biases rather than relying on facts and data to reach conclusions. So, if you want to practice better critical thinking skills, try to identify these traps before they ensnare your reasoning skills.
1. Substituting Emotion for Reason
Have you ever found yourself substituting emotion for reason? It’s a common mistake. But what does that mean exactly?
It is when you make important decisions based purely on your feelings, rather than on facts and logic. Your emotions may tell you something’s wrong, but if you don’t use facts to back up your feelings, chances are you’re making an ill-informed decision.
One example of substituting emotion for reason is forming an opinion about someone else’s choices without considering their point of view. In this situation, you may have a strongly held belief about how certain scenarios “should” turn out, but if you don’t consider the other person’s reason for making their decision, you could be missing key information.
This might look like deciding something before considering all of the evidence or relying on assumptions instead of facts.
Tip – The best way to avoid substituting emotion for reason is to take a step back and ask yourself, “Am I looking at the whole picture?” If not, use critical thinking skills like fact-checking or asking questions to gain a more complete understanding of the situation.
With an open mind and an objective approach, it’s possible to make decisions based on facts instead of feelings.
2. Jumping to Conclusions Without Evaluating Evidence
It’s easy to come to a conclusion based on assumptions rather than facts and reasoning.
Let’s say someone told you that Bob always arrives late for work. Without looking into the evidence, you might assume he’s lazy and not a team player. But after looking at the evidence, for example, if Bob was in a car accident or his commute was particularly long that week, you’d realize there were other factors at play here.
So what can we learn from this? Well, it comes down to seeing things from multiple perspectives and understanding there may be more than one explanation for something. Before concluding,
Tip – It’s important to evaluate the evidence surrounding it and consider all possible factors influencing the situation. This way, you can get closer to the truth rather than making assumptions based on an incomplete picture.
3. Ignoring Information and Facts
You might not know this, but one of the most common examples is ignoring information and facts. It’s like you have blinders on and you’re determined to stick to your own opinion no matter what, even though there is evidence that contradicts it.
Ignoring important information and facts is bad news because facts are the foundation of critical thinking. If you don’t consider relevant data when reaching a conclusion, then you can’t have an accurate opinion; it will just be based on assumptions and your own biases.
Tip – So, here are some things to look out for when it comes to avoiding this mistake:
- Don’t dismiss facts that are presented by people who present them in an unfamiliar way, even if the information seems overwhelming or confusing at first glance.
- Consider all angles of a situation before making an opinion or forming an argument.
- Don’t take things at face value; check sources, view multiple perspectives, and try to find reliable sources for your beliefs.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek out people with different perspectives to better understand the issue at hand.
4. Not Considering Other Perspectives
Another thing to consider when it comes to poor critical thinking is failing to consider other perspectives. After all, if you’re not taking the time to look at things from different angles, then you are limiting yourself.
For example, say you’re trying to come up with solutions for a problem at work. You might think that the first solution you come up with is the best one. But if you take the time to really brainstorm and consider other perspectives and options, then you might find a better solution.
Assumptions: It’s easy when dissecting an issue to assume that other people’s ideas apply only to them and not necessarily to everyone. Not considering other perspectives oftentimes results in making false assumptions about someone else’s ideas or beliefs. These assumptions can lead to miscommunication or worse.
Ignorance: Not listening and attempting to understand other perspectives can also lead to ignorance. Rather than trying hard to understand how someone else thinks or believes, we can stick with our narrow view of the world and be closed off from new information and experiences that could benefit us in some way.
By not taking the step of trying to engage with different points of view, we risk missing out on important insights and valuable context that can help us make more informed decisions or form a deeper understanding of an issue or situation.
Tip – So next time you’re approaching an issue or problem critically, try zooming out and looking at things from multiple angles. You’ll soon see why it pays off.
This is when you take a single experience or observation and use it to draw conclusions about an entire group or situation. People might do this when they oversimplify their views instead of looking at all the evidence and weighing it up objectively first.
Let’s look at this with an example: You see a tourist asking for directions, and the person who helps them gives some very helpful advice. You might think that all tourists are friendly, but this isn’t necessarily true; you don’t have enough evidence to make such a broad assumption.
Tip – The next time you think of making a snap judgment call about something, consider taking the time to look at all sides of the story first before coming to any conclusions.
6. Neglecting Creative Thinking
Poor critical thinking examples can also include neglecting to come up with creative ideas or solutions. It’s great to be able to analyze a situation and make decisions based on facts, but sometimes it’s just as important to challenge the status quo and come up with new, innovative solutions.
Creative thinking is about being able to blend facts and existing ideas together in a way that produces something new, is more effective, or increases efficiency. Neglecting this form of critical thinking can lead to missed opportunities as well as poor decision-making.
It helps you assess a situation from different angles and perspectives. It’s not enough to just identify the problem; you have to find a solution that works best for everyone involved.
Tip – Here are some ways you can start incorporating creative thinking into your problem-solving:
- Brainstorming: Give yourself time to think of different approaches and techniques.
- Incorporating input from others: Get feedback from others who are knowledgeable about the issue.
- Identifying trends: look for patterns that could inform your approach.
- Re-framing the problem: ask yourself if there is another way you could interpret the issue.
- Experimenting: Try different methods until you find one that works best.
7. Listening to Biased Sources
When it comes to critical thinking, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is listening to biased sources. They are ones that already have an agenda when it comes to your opinion. They want you to believe a certain way, and they’re going to do whatever they can to make that happen.
This kind of source will often present “facts” in a way that skews your perspective, and even if they’re telling the truth, they’ll leave out important context. This is why it’s always important to find multiple sources and look at the information objectively.
Here are some red flags that might tip you off when someone is being biased:
- They use inflammatory language or negative stereotypes.
- They cherry-pick data and leave out essential context.
- Their arguments rely more on personal attacks than on facts.
- They bring up irrelevant topics just to distract from the facts.
Tip – If you start seeing any of these signs, it’s time to take a step back, recognize what’s happening, and look for more reliable sources instead. Remember: critical thinking requires an open mind and plenty of research.
8. Confirmation Bias: Seeking Data That Confirms Your Own Beliefs
Another critical thinking error is confirmation bias. This typically happens when you’re trying to prove a point you already believe in and only seek out or interpret data that confirms what you already think.
For example, if you happen to be a firm believer in the benefits of the keto diet but are presented with evidence that shows the diet is bad for your health, chances are your confirmation bias will kick in. You’ll ignore or discount the evidence and instead look for data that confirms your own beliefs.
Tip – Confirmation bias can happen through a deliberate attempt to ignore contradictory information. The result is that you end up creating a false illusion. All the information out there supports your beliefs. So be aware of every step when making decisions and act accordingly.
9. False Dilemma
This is when someone presents two options as if there were no other alternatives, but usually there are more options than just those two.
For example, say a member of your team tells you that you have to either choose her idea or put the project on hold. This is a false dilemma; in reality, the project could move forward using some combination of ideas from all members of the team.
Tip – False dilemmas are sometimes used to manipulate people into making decisions they wouldn’t otherwise make. If someone ever presents you with only two options and claims that it’s an either/or situation, be sure to stop and think critically about whether or not there are truly any other possibilities.
10. Straw Man Argument
A straw man argument is a logical fallacy that involves misrepresenting or distorting an opponent’s position to make it easier to refute. It’s a common tactic used to make an argument look stronger than it is.
It’s important to remember that using straw man arguments does not help support an argument; rather, it detracts from its validity and damages its credibility.
Tip – The best way to win an argument is to focus on the facts and present well-thought-out evidence in support of your positions rather than resorting to logical fallacies like the straw man argument.
11. Slippery Slope Fallacy
The slippery slope fallacy is a particularly dangerous one to make in critical thinking. It’s an attempt to predict a seemingly inevitable outcome from a supposed “first step.” When you use this fallacy, you might find yourself saying something like, “If A happens, then it’s only a matter of time before Z happens; obviously, A must be prevented.”
This type of reasoning is usually flawed because it ignores reality. For example, if someone argues that legalizing marijuana will inevitably lead to addiction and economic ruin, they are ignoring the fact that there are several factors at play, not just the legalization.
Tip – It’s important to avoid this fallacy when critically examining an argument because it can often lead people astray or cloud their judgment. Make sure to check your premises carefully and ask yourself if what you’re saying is based on reality or just speculation.
12. Expecting Perfection or the Impossible
A common mistake people make when trying to think critically is expecting perfection or the impossible. This occurs when a person outlines a goal that is either unattainable or not completely realistic.
For example, someone might set out to solve a complicated problem in one day, even though it requires time and effort to build up the skills or resources needed to get the job done. Instead of setting themselves up for failure from the beginning, they should break down the problem into smaller, more attainable tasks.
It’s important to recognize that critical thinking isn’t about being perfect; it’s about understanding your limitations and working within them to come up with creative solutions.
Letting go of expectations that are unrealistic or unattainable will help you become a better problem solver and critical thinker.
13. Misinterpreting Data and Statistics
When it comes to critical thinking, data, and statistics, they don’t lie, or do they? Unfortunately, many times people misinterpret data and statistics, which can be a major critical thinking mistake.
Take the example of a study that claims eating pizza is healthier than eating chicken. Sure, that could be true based on this particular study. But without looking further into the details of the study, such as the number of participants or sample size, you can’t form an accurate opinion.
Drawing Conclusions Too Quickly: It’s important to analyze background information and other data points in order to draw more meaningful conclusions. Without looking at the complete picture, you could come away with a conclusion based solely on surface-level information that just isn’t accurate.
Drawing the Wrong Conclusions: Critical thinking is key here. While one might conclude that pizza is healthier than chicken from the first example, it’s possible that there were elements of bias in the study. well-rounded.
Tip – Do not jump to conclusions or accept claims without evidence. Look for patterns, trends and outliers in the data. Ask questions and seek explanations. Evaluate the arguments and evidence from different perspectives.
14. Circular Reasoning
If you’re not familiar, this is a logical fallacy where the argument doesn’t have any actual basis or supporting evidence.
Instead, it just keeps going around in circles, with the conclusion supporting the same premise that was already established in the original statement. It’s an assumption masquerading as an argument.
So how can you recognize this fallacy when you see it? Here are some common examples:
- “People should obey the law because it is the law.” This statement presumes that people should accept and obey laws simply because they exist. There is no further explanation or evidence provided as to why they exist or why they should be obeyed.
- Circular reasoning provides a false sense of security. It might sound convincing at first, but when you look at it, you’ll quickly see that there’s no real evidence or supporting facts behind it. Critical thinkers recognize this practice for what it is: an invalid argument that’s desperately trying to pass itself off as convincing logic.
Tip – To avoid circular reasoning, one should provide independent evidence or reasons to support the conclusion, and avoid restating the conclusion in different words.
Examples of Poor Reasoning
Critical thinking doesn’t always get the best press, and that’s probably because it gets abused. Poor critical thinking is littered with fallacies, confirmation biases, and leaps of logic that make it a frustrating affair.
We often see Bad critical thinking in everyday life. Here are some examples:
- jumping to conclusions and reaching a decision too quickly without considering all of the evidence.
- overgeneralizing and drawing broad conclusions from a single event or data point
- Selective Thinking Focus on selected pieces of evidence that support your position and ignore other information.
- Emotional reasoning: making decisions based on how you feel rather than facts and logic.
- Ad hominem attacks attack someone personally to invalidate their arguments instead of focusing on the argument itself.
- False dilemma: assuming there are only two possible sides to an issue or two possible outcomes when in reality there are more options or scenarios.
In conclusion, examples of bad critical thinking can be found in many aspects of our lives, such as politics, media, education, and personal decisions. They can lead to faulty reasoning, biased arguments, fallacious claims, and poor judgment.
To avoid bad critical thinking, we should always question our assumptions, seek evidence, consider alternative perspectives, and evaluate the consequences of our actions. By doing so, we can improve our thinking skills and make better choices for ourselves and others.
- When Critical Thinking goes wrong – There is a fragile line between Critical thinking and Overthinking. by Hoang Nguyen Published in Prototypr
- No Such Thing as ‘Good’ Critical Thinking – A process outline of what it means to be a critical thinker. by Christopher Dwyer Ph.D. (2018) published in Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/)
- Risks Associated with Weak Critical Thinkers from Insight Assessment (https://www.insightassessment.com/)
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