Dr. 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 into 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.
Success in the digital age comes down to critical thinking 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 that these skills can be learned and developed. Critical thinking experts have 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 moves. 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 proliferation 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 are highly useful in the digital world of today, which has distorted how we view reality and reason.
Dr. Chatfield gives the following advice:
- 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.
- Recognize preconceived notions in your 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.
Writing Well: A Must in the Digital Age
It’s a unique bit of advice. Honing writing skills is a good way to succeed in a world that has gone digital. Good writing and good thinking are closely related. Writing helps us clarify our thoughts and allows us to reflect on the best way to win over our public.
Delivering short, concise thoughts is a priority in today’s world. However, it’s also important to take time to research, analyze, and properly structure ideas.
As a result, the message will be more effective. Writing that is articulate and polished is more likely to gain the support of readers. Finally, by focusing on our readership rather than ourselves, we wield the most influence over our message.
Tom Chatfield joined us to explore the importance of critical thinking in this period of accelerated digital transformation, and gave practical tips your employees and managers can put into practice.