Tom Chatfield is a British author and philosopher specialized in new technology. His most famous works, such as Critical Thinking and Live This Book! have been translated in over thirty languages. A professor at Oxford, he also works as a consultant for major tech companies. He holds the strong conviction that the key to success in the 21st century depends on well-developed critical thinking skills.
It’s no secret that the digital revolution has greatly impacted both our private and professional lives. And it doesn’t look like it will be slowing down anytime soon. The arrival of 5G, advancements in AI, and the expansion of innovative digital platforms that have come to redefine business models are only just the very beginning of this exponential growth. In a world of such unprecedented advancement, how can one take the reins, make a change, and succeed? Human beings possess the amazing ability to think critically, which allows us to look at and analyze things objectively. Skepticism plays a role, too. Thanks to critical thinking, we refuse to accept things at face value and examine and verify anything before declaring it true. It also helps us go beyond our first impressions of any given subject to form rational, unbiased judgments.
And according to Tom Chatfield, success in the digital age comes down to critical thinking. This is for two reasons.
First off, critical thinking is what distinguishes us from machines. Technological tools are becoming increasingly powerful and have already surpassed us in many ways. But with these skills, we possess something they will never have. We dominate the machines, thanks to our critical thinking.
These skills are also important because they allow us to pick out the pertinent information from the constant flow that we receive. Machines drown us in data, but it’s up to us to analyze, evaluate, and judge its pertinence. Critical thinking therefore helps us from being manipulated.
And the good news is, according to Tom Chatfield, these skills can be achieved and developed. The critical thinking expert has identified a few good habits and tips that are easy to put into place. Time management, for example, is crucial, due to the rate at which our digital society is going. Refusing to succumb to the hectic pace of various digital distractions helps us maintain our analytical skills and therefore control our environment. Another piece of advice? Stop multitasking. This behavior has become commonplace with the coming of screens. We are constantly jumping from one app to another. At work, we also tend to manage many tasks at once. Because of this, we lose our ability to be efficient and accurate. Concentrating on one task at a time frees us from the tyranny of new technology.
But Tom Chatfield goes even further and draws on philosophy. Since ancient times, philosophers have pondered how the human mind can understand the truth. They came up with tools and methods that reveal to be highly useful in the digital world of today, which has distorted how we view reality and reason.
Tom Chatfield recommends, for example:
- That we be wary of our unconscious biases. We tend to believe our vision of reality, though this is often much deeper and more complicated than we may think. Pay heed to deeply entrenched beliefs!
- It is important we examine our convictions from multiple angles to fully grasp what’s true. The best way to do this is by refuting our beliefs rather than defending them. Don’t focus on what appears to be true, but on what cannot be proven false.
- Clarify preconceived notions from our reasoning. What notions are hidden in our logical sequence of thought? If we reject particular notions for being false, we’ll realize our reasoning is also.
Tom Chatfield’s “Sharpen Your Critical Thinking” course explores through concrete examples how to effectively evolve and perform in the digital world.
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