For Critical Thinking and an Equivalent, Creativity

Starting, for April, I participated in many of the new Discover challenges that WordPress organized, to help bloggers write posts during the crisis.  Each morning, 6 AM in most cases in my time zone, a new word with additional suggestions became available for WordPress bloggers.

Each word theme was accompanied by suggestions about what to post.  I found the exercises helped me feel better about blogging because some things I enjoy discussing became the subject of new posts at the same time other bloggers addressed the same themes.  With each post, I had several visitors, and if you are among those and returning, please accept my thanks.

Now, today is May the 4th, Star Wars Day.  Star Wars The Clone Wars concludes its season 7 run today, a season devoted to the Seige of Mandalore.  I think the entire animated series lives on Disney+.

Today is also the day that all nine films of the Skywalker Saga are available with a Disney+ subscription.  “This will be a day long-remembered,” to quote Peter Cushing in Star Wars Episode IV.

Star Wars Celebration last spring in Chicago meant a week of hours and hours of daily streaming on YouTube.  I said something about it:  https://findingenvirons1.blog/2019/04/19/star-wars-celebration-on-youtube-whered-you-go-chicago/

I have a new strategy, I am starting by trying a serious-in-tone critical thinking post.  I was already writing the odd observation about techniques that might contribute to someone’s existing take on the science of being a blogger, tempered with humour, I suppose.  I reckoned that I was enjoying myself, that’s mostly what counted.

Photo by Lukáš Rychvalský from StockSnap

A definition of a hobby is this:

hob·by

n. pl. hob·bies

An activity or interest pursued outside one’s regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure.

The pleasure of blogging comes from the interaction on the world wide web with people who also blog.  I believe that social interaction is important at any age.  Why is social interaction important for psychological health, I asked Yahoo!.

“Social engagement is associated with a stronger immune system, especially for older adults,” Yahoo! answered.  “This means that you are better able to fight off colds, the flu, and even some types of cancer.  You will enjoy better mental health.

“Interacting with others boosts feelings of well-being and decreases feelings of depression.”

There are so many avenues that if you have access to the web, there are so many ways to reach people, and fulfill that desire, I know you know this.  It is always about more than the dollar, as it should be.  I’m not out to make a buck at all, I’m just experimenting with being an optimist.  

Recently I found a website page that takes a gander at the satisfaction that goes with the joy of a decent diversion.  Human resources psychologist Jessica Beltran addresses it in The Value of Hobbies  https://blogs.psychcentral.com/thrive/2014/05/the-value-of-hobbies/  “We are at our best when we are relaxed and in tune with ourselves.”

Photo by Snufkin from StockSnap

While we are capitalists, the playing field becomes more narrow if you consider that you can address people with the confidence of having many of the skills that they have.  There is any number of stations in the lives we lead, but lots of motivation speakers give the advice to get started with your creations, however possible.  “Do hobbies help with their careers?” I asked Yahoo!.

“While it may seem counterintuitive to make time for something outside of work to get ahead at work, career coaches have confirmed that having a hobby can help make you better at your job. Having a hobby helps you learn how to handle work-life stress and think creatively,” answered the search engine.

“What skills are needed to be a critical thinker?” I went on to ask.

In response Yahoo! informed me of several qualities, ten in fact, that you need to be a capable critical thinker:

1 Accuracy.

2 Adept.

3 Analytical.

4 Creativity.

5 Critical thinking.

6 Detail-oriented.

7 Efficiency.

8 Industriousness.

9 Innovative.

10 Logical thinking.

I have additional input.

Accuracy, for starters, I learned about in high school science.  Accuracy in that environment is measurably collecting data.  To determine accuracy, you might perform the same process several times, with only minor variants, to learn if your method is accurate.

It’s important.  Troubleshooting a computer station, for example, requires accuracy.

You need to determine what changes have gone on before and after a problem has happened at your terminal.  There is a joke about hapless computer users calling the Windows system crash the Blue Screen of Death, dire-sounding, but which means that you are losing your unsaved work, a bummer.  By the way, I enjoyed computer science in high school a lot more than I enjoyed chemistry and physics.

If what you were doing meant nine out of ten times you got a system crash, and then one out of ten times it worked out, hypothetically speaking, you could, if the measurements were accurate, you’re determining that those nine times of system crashes mean that you can’t proceed in that manner.  If five out of ten times, your computer works, and five times it doesn’t, you don’t have an accurate idea of what of your commands are leading to the system crash.  The results aren’t too useful in that case.

You need to check variables that contribute to your procedure’s success or failure and come up with a more accurate idea of what’s going to work.  Once you establish the variables that work out okay, by trial and error, you can figure out which instruction is awakening the Blue Screen of Death.

The second term in Yahoo!’s list is the word adept.  Adept means are adroit.  Critically, you have to be adept at forming interpretations.

Those I think of as the external–the external is the object or scenario you’re critically thinking about.  You need to know what you’re examining, to form a critical judgement.  I have two ways for you to do this, and you can read about them a little further in.

Like for me, to decide whether, say, a popular film is “good,” in the sense that the motion picture proves that everybody involved did a good job, you have to understand enough about what makes a good film to be adept at reviewing it.  It would help if you’d contributed to the completion of a motion picture, to be properly critical, but it probably suffices to understand the structure of a film, the symbolism in the film visually, and previous attempts to make similar films.

The next term, the word analytical, this is a word like adept, but analytical is more about looking at a critiqued thing that calculates whether you should take it seriously or not.  You know what the thing is and what it’s for, but being analytical towards it means judging it in a way that you can comprehend additional specifics about it, forming your external.  What does it mean? is an analytical question that you might have about your object or scenario.

You would be analytical concluding that your problem works at all levels.

Photo by donterase from StockSnap

Next is creativity, a lovely word, for I feel I am creative, as would many bloggers regard themselves.  Creativity is reworking an established idea and making it yours.  It goes on constantly.

Like, back to film, when a successful film franchise follows up with a sequel, or a reboot, that’s an instance of creativity that is often quite impressive.  As with, say, the 1978 horror film Halloween, directed by John Carpenter, when two years later in 1980 the sequel Halloween II came out, again starring famed actress Jamie Lee Curtis, the film continued the story of the first movie by showing a lot more of what happened later that Halloween night, when the mad masked murderer had returned, (ghastly!).  However, John Carpenter was no longer directing the film.

Do you like horror films?

Halloween II has the same characters and the same locale and a continuation of the plot of the first film, all interesting for fans of the first movie, just with the point that somebody else is now directing.  That’s the creative part, in this example.

Next, Yahoo! repeats the phrase critical thinking.  I mean that Yahoo! includes critical thinking among the terms for critical thinking, which begs the question, Yahoo!.  I interpreted that as meaning that critical thinking refers here to the overall level of ability the interpreter brings to the noun being thought through critically.  It is having the skill to return to thinking critically, in a manner that applies other additional criteria.

In this case, we’re using the handy number ten.  The words, I derive, make an agenda for surveying an item or a situation.  It is redundant to include the phrase “critical thinking” in a list that explains critical thinking, pointing to a rabbit hole, a burrow that goes on and on when it opens.

You have to be firm with yourself what decisions you will make in the process of critical thinking or you will never conclude.  I have a little more to say about that in the conclusion.

Close up white cup of Coffee, latte on the wooden table

Detail-oriented refers to the organizer’s ability to put together a mental assessment of the details that have gone into the subject being thought about critically.  A job interview often includes a question along these lines, as in, “If you were taking this job, would you consider yourself a detail-oriented person?”  It means getting everything right.

Efficiency is the ability to get things done promptly.  You don’t lose time by making redundant decisions; everything works.  If you value efficiency, you want your scenario or your object to function smoothly, a swift external.

It means saving time.  A lot of people who need to complete many tasks highly value efficiency.

Industriousness refers to having the initiative to take bold steps.  Being industrious is good in that a person shows, say, leadership.  If what you are critical of is a tool for industriousness, it lends itself to a nature that assists people who have a success rate at reaching goals.

Innovative means thinking outside of the box.  Someone innovative has solutions that circumvent traditional stop signs that cause headaches.  Being innovative is positive.  You should recognize when innovation is happening and that it can have positive results.

Photo by Matthew Henry from StockSnap

Logical thinking is great for being “right.”  I first read a little about logical thinking in a high school English class.  I was daunted at the time because I’d never known that logical thinking existed like that, and I doubted I could learn enough about it to become competent, bizarrely, I suppose.

I was a diffident youth.  I wish I’d got that information earlier in life.  My teacher, Ms. M., outlined twelve specific styles of logical thinking and in fact, I wonder if I as yet have that same document.

I should have read it again and again.  At times I’ve been proud that I’m not completely obligated to be logical, but I don’t disregard logic.  I value things like the structure of an external, and that, for example, requires logic.

Logical thinking when it comes to being critical of a specific external is very useful, for if you can make a logical argument about the nature of your object or situation, you’re external, you are on your way to answering a riddle about it.  It is a regret I have that I didn’t take the introduction to logical thinking I got in high school more gravely and go to work at understanding it.

The ten criteria words stop at the letter L.  This is all about setting your sights on critically interpreting an external and taking it apart in a way that you can better understand what it means.  The terms are building blocks for evaluating your external.

There are some points where the process isn’t going to be scientific.  Starting with accurate, you need to look at more than one external and compare them to see how accurate your method is.  This word accurate is exciting because you can find parallels that aren’t necessarily immediately self-evident.

You are being analytical because you are trying to make a process occur that is accurate.  Those two a-letter words work together to open a method of diagramming your external to better understand what it is.

The next word, adept, is applicable because you need to run your process with adept skill.  What I’m doing here is being creative with Yahoo!’s list of critical thinking terms.  I’m making the argument that they are useful.

The search engine believes it.  So, too, should you.  Together the terms have an impact that you can draw upon for inspiration.

It does bother my sensibilities that critical thinking could itself be a term for critical thinking, but as there is a connection between all three a-letter words, so too I noticed a connection between the two c-letter words.  Critical thinking and creativity are two different sides of the same coin.

I’ve had to stir my reserve of critical thinking to identify what that means, but it is so.  Creativity is letting reason fly in the wind, whereas critical thinking is unearthing the truth about your external that wouldn’t be evident if you didn’t possess some definitions that assist in critical thinking.

For d, we have detail-oriented, taking your analysis and better developing it.

For e, we have efficiency, reducing creativity in favour of a strategy that is more pure critical thinking and not as open-minded as the word creative would imply.

Next, we have i-letter words, industrious and innovative, words that strengthen the process of analyzing the external by accelerating the process.  Those words apply to the analyst as much as they apply to the object or scenario being looked at.  Being industrious is keeping at it and being innovative is keeping open-minded.

Both these reflect the analyst as much or more than the external being explored.  Logical thinking is a phrase that means much the same as analysis.  If you took these ten terms, you could assemble them this way:   You have the creativity and you have critical thinking (the c-words).

If you want creativity to rule the process of investigating the external, what you have is industriousness and innovation for the matter at hand.

To proceed down the avenue of critical thinking that is more logical and detail-oriented, you can reduce your creative input and begin letting a process unfold without the benefit of a creative assignment.  In either case, you need to be adept at thinking, and further, to return to the a-letter words, you are being more purely analytical and accurate if you pursue critical thinking without the requirement of innovation ruling your process.  So, your basic process either follows one c-path or the other c-path, critical thinking or creativity and then to round out outreaching your external you have the accuracy, the analytics, the detail-oriented questions, the efficiency and the logical thinking; and down the other c-path, you have industriousness and innovation.

These are subcategories from the ten we started with.

Photographer:
Tim Gouw

The terms favour an analysis-heavy approach to critical thinking, meaning there are more components of more purely critical thinking than terms that include creativity.  Where that leaves us is what I started with, the word hobby.  A creative design is better for a hobby; analysis is better suited for more profound comprehension.

All the same, creativity can be as hard to comprehend as analysis.  If you reach an external by analysis, it is beginning to fall outside the field of the hobbyist and more closely approach the realm of the expert.

A more complicated external lends itself to critical thinking; a simpler external is suitable for creativity.  This isn’t always true, but that’s a guideline that you could start with if you are deciding whether you want to approach an external with a lens of more complicated and comprehensive critical thinking or with a simpler but also effective creative paintbrush, so to speak.

That’s the rabbit hole, that if you don’t have a handle on your creativity, flights of fancy can take you far afield of a suitable stopping place.  That’s why creativity isn’t a super useful strategy for analyzing an external that’s become complex.  That’s when your critical thinking approach needs to take over.

I’ve enjoyed writing about this, my first post since the April Discover challenges ended.  Do you like the idea that a simpler object might benefit from creative analysis and a more complicated object require a more detailed critical analysis?  You’re welcome to follow and/or to comment.

Read more about me here:  about.me/patrickcoholan

Happy Star Wars Day

Photographer:
Thomas Kelley

How Is It We Came Across This?

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt is the word awkward. Here are a few words to the effect that being caught awkward is a compelling reason to rush a catch-up.

What catches me most off guard, most frequently, is the “brain fog” I get from being overwhelmed with too many new facts and figures. It is always a hard measure to make that new information could require a say so, or if it is better to sit back and let the storm take it course.

Dimensions: 4813 x 3213
Photographer: Nao Triponez

That’s the essence of demonstrating research skills–judgments about the usefulness of info that is easy to slip up on when nothing but smooth sailing was expected. It can resemble trial by fire.

The most significant decision is whether the new info is only a time waster, or if it does benefit you to react. Coming up with an appropriate reaction is the hardest decision to make in the whole process. It’s awkward because sometimes there is a sense of damage having been done.

When new facts are discomfiting, while I surely believe that a lot of people get angry in the face of trouble, I don’t find matters to be very easily resolved by simply getting mad and responding with contempt. It is necessary to see a positive in every negative scenario.

I belong to a not-for-profit operated by family and in the course the work I do occasionally experience unexpected problems which demand physical, real-world responses. The trouble of the “data science” variety feels a bit slimy in that you don’t know if the impact of what’s become apparent is going to have a measurable impact on your efforts. I am trying to candidly address the problem of being found awkward in the professional sense and to give a few thoughts on handling it.

Those are the most stressful times I encounter. Prompt is the word awkward.