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Are You a
Critical Thinker?

Helping Your Mind

Before we conclude this discussion of building a better mind, we will spend a few minutes on things that can help you with your mind.  To return to our toolkit metaphor, there are a few other tools yet to be mentioned that can be used to help your existing tools work better.  We will place them into two categories:  technology and culture.

Technological Helps

A passing nod should be made to the book itself. We don’t view it as a technological advance these days, but the fairly recent discovery (from the 1500’s) of how to cheaply print and bind papers into books has revolutionized the thinking world.  Building a library of your own is a major means of building a great mind.

ebooks_Oct_2011

Of course today many are choosing the e-book over the physical book.  In our world of electronics, there are countless new technological aids to help our minds access information, keep it all ordered, and share that information with others.  In fact, the speed at which innovation moves in information technology development makes us hesitant to talk about too many specifics, because such things will date this course very quickly.  However, we can still talk about how technology can help.

Ease of Access – First, technology has placed a great deal at our fingertips.  It is easy to find out almost any information with a simple internet search.  But finding information is different from learning.  To learn and to think about the information you have found, you still have to come to terms with it, make judgments about its source and authority, and finally determine how to connect it with everything else you already know in some usable and valuable way.

Organizing – Technology also allows you to store and organize a great deal of knowledge in a very small area.  Your mind must bring the organizing principles to the technology, but using a computer or other device to order your work is a valuable way to save time and space.  Avail yourself of such help as often as you can.  Having a system of order that you use for all your information is an important part of building a better brain.  One great resource among many others for this kind of system would be the work by David Allen, “Getting Things Done.”

GTD

Sharing our mind with others – More than any other way that technology can help us today, the ability we have to share our knowledge with others is huge.  We already mentioned blogging in our discussion of writing.  The Internet offers many different ways (email, websites, forums, blogging, etc.) to share what we know with others.

While technology can be a huge help, it is not necessary for clear thinking.  Don’t feel you need all the latest gadgets to think well.  These helps are just that: aids to good thinking.  In the end, your thinking is only as good as your use of the things we have talked about that strengthen your use of the three acts of the mind.

Cultural Helps

Another great aid to clear thinking is the practice field of culture.  Training your mind while enjoying good music, movies, works of art, or some other great cultural event provides multiple benefits.  It is true that at times we need to simply shut down our thinking and relax, but if we can ever multi-task, it is all the better.  Applying the acts of your mind to a cultural experience is a great way to practice and sharpen those acts.