TO IMPROVE YOUR THINKING SKILLS
whole of Science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday
- The Purpose
We Improve Our Thinking Ability?
Should We Improve Our Thinking Skills
and Wrong Notions Regarding Thinking
- Errors in
Thinking is the highest mental activity
present in man. All human achievements and progress are simply
the products of thought. The evolution of culture, art,
literature, science and technology are all the results of
Thought and action are inseparable - they
are actually the two sides of the same coin. All our deliberate
action starts from our deliberate thinking. For a man to do
something, he should first see it in his mind's eye -- he
should imagine it, think about it first, before he can do it. All
creations-- whether artistic, literal or scientific --first occur
in the creator's mind before it is actually given life in the
The Purpose of Thinking
The purpose of thinking, paradoxically, is
to arrive at a state where thinking is no more necessary at all.
In other words, thinking starts with a problem and ends in a
solution. Thus, thinking is a tool for adapting ourselves to the
physical and social environment in which we are in.
Can We Improve Our Thinking Ability?
Dr. Edward de Bono says that thinking CAN be improved just like any
skill because thinking according to him is a skill. He has
developed many useful techniques for training thinking skills.
Why Should We Improve Our Thinking Skills
The benefits of developing thinking ability
are manifold. By developing one's thinking skills one can make
achievements; can become successful; can shine in social life;
can attain emotional, social and economic maturity and so on. By
developing one's thinking abilities it is possible to transform
one's aggressive tendencies, bad temper and other negative
tendencies creatively and constructively. It has been found by
Dr.Edward de Bono that when school students were taught to think
effectively, their ill-temper and aggressive tendencies reduced
significantly. Clinical Psychologists have also found that those
who have neuroses are poor thinkers compared to normals. Neurotics
scored significantly lower scores in decision making, problem
solving and creative thinking. Interestingly, when neurotics were
taught to think effectively, they showed a remarkable reduction
in their neurosis.
Misconceptions Regarding Thinking
There are a lot of misconceptions about
thinking even in highly educated people. These notions have been
deeply rooted in the society and thus have become very
detrimental to the development of thinking skills. It is time and
enough that we removed them. The most important of such
The present education system develops and
enhances thinking and so the more educated you are the better
thinker you are.
Actually, education suppresses free
thinking. Creative thinking has almost no place in current
education. Moreover, education even destroys creative thinking
abilities by its over emphasis on logical thnking and critical
thinking which are relatively lower types of human thinking.
Since reasoning, argument, problem solving
are given over importance a need to become correct and successful
all the time is developed in the student. Again, our present
education system is so information oriented that it gives
ready-made answers. This kills the student's natural tendency to
explore, experiment and to experience. Thus, the highly educated
person ends up having lesser ability to think creatively although
he/she may have a lot of information at his/her disposal and also
have admirable abilities in logical and critical thinking.
Less Educated or Uneducated can never
become good thinkers.
Actually, less educated display higher
abilities in creative thinking. This is because they do not have
an inflated ego that demands cent percent correct answers or
success in all endeavors. Again, they do not have
ready-made-answers (i.e., book-answers) and so are forced to
explore, experiment and experience things themselves. This
empowers them to go through less explored answers and even find
IQ and thinking ability are the same. The
more IQ one has, the better thinking ability one has. On the
contrary, those who have lower IQ have only low thinking
It is true that those who have greater
thinking ability, as a rule, have high IQ. But this does not mean
that all those who have high IQ are good thinkers. Usually high
IQ people use their thinking skills for logical thinking,
arguments, critical thinking. They very rarely use creative
thinking. Thus high IQ is actually a blockage to creative
thinking. It has also been found that those who have average IQ
can become better thinkers.
Thinking ability, decision making ability
and problem solving ability are inherent and there is very little
we can do to develop these.
This is the most terrible misconception
regarding thinking. In fact, Dr.Edward de Bono (and also many
others) have proved that thinking is a skill that can be enhanced
by training and practice. Thus decision making, problem solving
and creative thinking can be developed and improved.
Errors in Thinking
It is necessary that we should be aware of
the errors in thinking. There are five such errors in thinking:
1. Partialism 2. Adversary Thinking 3. Time Scale Error 4.
Initial Judgement and 5.Arrogance and Conceit.
This error occurs when the thinker observes the problem
through one perspective only. That is, the thinker
examines only one or two factors of the problem and
arrives at a premature solution.
- Adversary Thinking
This is a "you are wrong. So, I should be
right." type of reasoning. Politicians are the
masters in this type of thinking and they use it to their
- Time Scale Error
This is a kind of partialism in thinking in which the
thinker sees the problem from a limited time-frame. It
can be likened to short-sightedness.
- Initial Judgement
Here, the thinker becomes very subjective. Instead of
considering the issue or problem objectively, the thinker
approaches it with prejudice or bias.
- Arrogance and Conceit
This error is sometimes called the "Village Venus
Effect" because like the villagers who think that
the most beautiful girl in the world is the most
beautiful girl in their village, the thinker believes
that there is no better solution other than that he has
already found. This blocks creativity. Not only
individuals but societies and even the whole mankind
sometimes fall prey to this error. For example, before
Einstein, the whole scientific community (and thus the
whole mankind) believed that time was absolute.
Dr. de Bono has devised some thinking
formulae to help us practice thinking as a skilll. Most important
of them are: 1. AGO 2. CAF 3. PMI 4.OPV 5.APC
AGO stands for Aims Goals Objectives. Since deliberate
thinking is actually the manifestation of deliberate use
of Will Power, it is important that the thinker should be
well aware of the aims, goals and objectives. In other
words, a sense of direction is required if one is to use
his thinking effectively.
CAF stands for Consider All Factors. It reminds us that
all factors or parameters of a problem should be
considered to analyze it. By doing so, one can avoid the
error of partialism in thinking.
PMI is the abbreviation for Plus Minus Interesting. When
making decisions, this technique is very useful. First
write down all the plus (i.e., positive) suggestions or
aspects of a solution. Then write down all the minus
(i.e., negative) aspects. Lastly, write down the
interesting ideas or suggestions or aspects of the same.
Now it is easy to arrive at the best suitable solution of
the issue or problem at hand.
OPV means Other People's Views. In this technique, the
thinker thinks from the perspectibve of the different
people involved in or affected by the decision or
solution. For example, a change in syllabus mainly
affects the students, teachers, management and parents
either directly or indirectly. So, before implementing a
new syllabus, we should think from the perspective of all
these people. This is especially important when the
decision is enacted upon and through other people.
APC is the short form for Alternatives Possibilities
Choices. In this technique, the thinker generates as much
alternatives, possibilities and choices for the solution
of the problem. The best suitable one can then be
selected by applying PMI or OPV.
Dr. de Bono speaks about two types of
thinking -- Vertical thinking and Lateral thinking. Vertical
thinking is high probability thinking, whereas lateral thinking
is low probability thinking. In the former type, the thinker
selects the most logical solution possible. This will be the one
that is the most used and the most tested one. For example,
suppose you want to cut a cake or hard boiled egg into two. Using
a knife or a sharp blade to cut it is the most probable and most
logical solution. But there are other less probable ways: for
example, you can use a twine. The former is an example of a
solution arrived at Vertical thinking while the later is an
example of a solution arrived at using Lateral thinking.
Dr. de Bono argues that creativity comes
from Lateral thinking. He also says that it is possible to
improve lateral thinking ( and thus creativity) by deliberate
application and practice of the techniques he has devised. He
gives two main techniques for improving our problem solving by
- Divide the Problem into Small
This allows the thinker to perceive the problem in detail
because he is able to approach each sub-problem
individually and thus he is able to consider more
- Move Attention from One Part of the
Problem to Another Part
When we move our attention from one part of the problem
to another, it is possible to view the problem from a new
perspective. This would in turn help you solve the
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