Blog: Challenging Assumptions - 2018-09-13

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F0.png Challenging Assumptions September 13, 2018, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large

We all know that assuming is bad because it makes an ass out of you and me, right? But beyond that sort of childish word play, do we really look at the assumptions we make every single day? And could it help us to do so? Could it be a valuable part of our critical thinking skillset to be aware not only that assumptions exist but what kind of things we assume to be true? I think so.

I've talked in other critical thinking videos about the role of emotions in our thought process and I've also gone over things like labels, beliefs vs facts and thought-stopping cliches. Recent discussions and reading I've done about the state of affairs in other countries as well as subjects like the Middle East and Islam have challenged a lot of my basic assumptions about the world and made me realize what an important part of critical thinking this can be. Critical thinking isn't just having strategies to win arguments. The best critical thinking we can do for ourselves is to deeply examine not just what we think but why we think it and confirm that our reasoning is built on solid foundations. When we just assume things to be true that aren't necessarily true at all, we can make some really big blunders. I think any of us can see how preconceived ideas get in the way of how we view things.

According to the Foundation for Critical Thinking website, here's the difference between an inference and an assumption.