Thinkers are persons who who thinks, as in a specified way or manner. A person who has a well-developed faculty for thinking, as a philosopher, theorist, or scholar.
Thinkers are of many types
1. A Freethinker is a person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established Belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics, secular humanists and rationalists.
No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation is invalid and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.
Freethinkers are naturalistic. Truth is the degree to which a statement corresponds with reality. Reality is limited to that which is directly perceivable through our natural senses or indirectly ascertained through the proper use of reason.
Freethinkers utilize free thought while thinking (when else?) but at other times they may simply enjoy the sensations of life without thinking at all.
2. Critical thinkers thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.()
It entails the examination of those structures or elements of thought implicit in all reasoning: purpose, problem, or question-at-issue; assumptions; concepts; empirical grounding; reasoning leading to conclusions; implications and consequences; objections from alternative viewpoints; and frame of reference. Critical thinking — in being responsive to variable subject matter, issues, and purposes — is incorporated in a family of interwoven modes of thinking, among them: scientific thinking, mathematical thinking, historical thinking, anthropological thinking, economic thinking, moral thinking, and philosophical thinking.
Critical thinking can be seen as having two components:
1) a set of information and belief generating and processing skills, and
2) the habit, based on intellectual commitment, of using those skills to guide behavior. It is thus to be contrasted with: 1) the mere acquisition and retention of information alone, because it involves a particular way in which information is sought and treated; 2) the mere possession of a set of skills, because it involves the continual use of them; and
3) the mere use of those skills (“as an exercise”) without acceptance of their results.
Critical thinking varies according to the motivation underlying it. When grounded in selfish motives, it is often manifested in the skillful manipulation of ideas in service of one’s own, or one’s groups’, vested interest. As such it is typically intellectually flawed, however pragmatically successful it might be. When grounded in fairmindedness and intellectual integrity, it is typically of a higher order intellectually, though subject to the charge of “idealism” by those habituated to its selfish use.
Critical thinking of any kind is never universal in any individual; everyone is subject to episodes of undisciplined or irrational thought. Its quality is therefore typically a matter of degree and dependent on, among other things, the quality and depth of experience in a given domain of thinking or with respect to a particular class of questions. No one is a critical thinker through-and-through, but only to such-and-such a degree, with such-and-such insights and blind spots, subject to such-and-such tendencies towards self-delusion. For this reason, the development of critical thinking skills and dispositions is a life-long endeavor.
8 Habits of Stellar Critical Thinkers
The best critical thinkers practice eight particular habits when processing information, solving problems, and reaching decisions:
Habit #1: They are more concerned about getting it right than about being right. They can put aside their egos to recognize that they do not need to have all the answers. They are willing to admit to not knowing something or to making mistakes. They know the importance of asking questions and seeking out the best available information.
Habit #2: They avoid jumping to conclusions and rushing to judgment. They take time to gather as much information as possible to better understand a complex situation before taking action. They recognize that the consequences of some decisions are more important than others and these decisions require more scrutiny.
Habit #3: They do not accept information at face value. They ask questions to discover what is behind the data. They recognize that it is important not only to confirm that the facts are correct but also to understand that information can be presented in a way designed to support a particular agenda. Similarly, they know to inquire about information that may have been left out because it does not lend support to a particular position.
Habit #4: They avoid over-analysis that leads to paralysis in decision-making. They seek clarity by looking for order or patterns in the data while avoiding the trap of forcing information to fit a particular need. By looking at both the forest (the big picture) and the trees (the details) they have a sense of when they have enough information to make a decision. They know that they will never have all the information they might like but are confident that once they have explored the available information fully and objectively, they will likely make sound decisions.
Habit #5: They are continuous learners and work to stay well-informed. They are inquisitive about a wide range of topics and issues, making a regular effort to read and to educate themselves, gathering information that may be important for making decisions now and in the future.
Habit #6: They show flexibility in their willingness to consider alternative ideas and opinions. They seek to understand the perspective of a potential customer or even a competitor. This ability to see more than one side of an issue allows them to position their approach more effectively and reflects their confidence in their ability to reason.
Habit #7: They use critical thinking on themselves. They can explain how they arrived at a conclusion, allowing others to follow their reasoning and understand their thinking. Through self-examination and sensitivity to their own biases, they ask themselves questions such as: “Do I have all the necessary information? If my conclusions are true, what are the likely implications?” They are willing to change their views when they are provided with more information that allows greater understanding.
Habit #8: They have a distinctive behavioral style. They are confident but not cocky, reflective yet able to take action, and decisive while showing reasonable analysis. They can demonstrate patience when the stakes are high and the issues are not black-and-white. They read more than the average person and communicate their ideas clearly. They can think independently but place value on different perspectives. They accept responsibility when things go wrong and seek to understand what happened so they can learn from their mistakes. ()
3. Creative Thinkers
A way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unorthodox solutions (which may look unsettling at first). Creative thinking can be stimulated both by an unstructured process such as brainstorming, and by a structured process such as lateral thinking.
Qualities of creative thinkers
- Ask Questions
- Practice Zero Based Thinking
- Change Your Mind
- Admit When You Are Wrong
- Continue to Learn
- Creative Thinkers Are Goal Oriented
- Eliminate Your Ego
- Creative Thinking Generates New Ideas
Thinkers are philosophers. Yhey practice and profess philosophies, thinkings and logics in a different manner. Although there are a large number of different philosophies, in practice they can be placed into one of three main groups. Within these groups there is a basic agreement as to how the philosophy works but each division will emphasise its own particular idea. The main groups are (Source-Handbook of Geography):
- Empiricist/positivist – These philosophies work on the notion that we know things through experience (epistemology) and that the only things we experience are the things that exist (ontology). This leaves us with a methodology that is concerned with the production of verifiable evidence, e.g. experimentation. Philosophies in this group emphasise the scientific approach to working. This group includes empiricism, pragmatism and positivism.
- Idealist/humanist – These philosophies argue that everything is based on perception – reality is a mental construction. Thus the epistemology argues that knowledge is created from subjectivity whilst the ontology states that what is perceived to exist, exists. The methodology would be examining subjective ideas and individuals rather than the theory-led, model-building approach of the empiricists. This group includes idealism, phenomenology and existentialism.
- Structuralist – This group is characterised by sharing on ontology which argues that what exists cannot be observed directly. A corresponding epistemology would note that appearances might not be true and that observations would not reveal the whole picture. Perhaps the best way of looking at these philosophies is to consider the puppet. What we see is a small wooden doll moving about. In reality, the puppet is connected to strings from which the puppeteer controls all the actions. Structuralist approaches would argue that the ‘truth’ is not the puppet but the puppeteer. This group includes structuralism, realism and functionalism.