Most powerful weapon; our thought

Cognitive abilities like thinking, reasoning and problem-solving may be considered to be some of the chief characteristics which distinguish human beings from other species including the higher animals.

The challenges and problems faced by the individual or by society, in general, are solved through a series of efforts involving thinking and reasoning. The powers of thinking and reasoning may thus be considered to be the essential tools for the welfare and meaningful existence of the individual as well as society.

On this definition, thinking simply equates to conscious cognitive processes. I think this definition is too broad, and we make more scientific and philosophical progress if we tighten it up a bit. 

People of a psychodynamic persuasion might even want to talk about “unconscious thinking,” but I think that makes the term so broad as to be quite useless. Of course, there are tremendously important unconscious cognitive processes shaping the way we make sense of the world, but “thinking” seems to me to be quintessentially conscious.

Thinking can be classified as follows:

1. Perceptual or Concrete Thinking:

This is the simplest form of thinking the basis of this type is perception, i.e. interpretation of sensation according to one’s experience. It is also called concrete thinking as it is carried out on the perception of actual or concrete objects and events.

2. Conceptual or Abstract Thinking:

Here one makes use of concepts, the generalized objects and languages, it is regarded as being superior to perceptual thinking as it economizes efforts in understanding and problem-solving.

3. Reflective Thinking:

This type of thinking aims in solving complex problems, thus it requires reorganization of all the relevant experiences to a situation or removing obstacles instead of relating with that experiences or ideas.

This is an insightful cognitive approach in reflective thinking as the mental activity here does not involve the mechanical trial and error type of efforts.

In this type, thinking processes take all the relevant facts arranged in a logical order into an account to solve the problem.

4. Creative Thinking:

This type of thinking is associated with one’s ability to create or construct something new, novel or unusual. It looks for new relationships and associations to describe and interpret the nature of things, events and situations. Here the individual himself usually formulates the evidences and tools for its solution. For example; scientists, artists or inventors.

5. Critical Thinking:

It is a type of thinking that helps a person in stepping aside from his personal beliefs, prejudices and opinions to sort out the faiths and discover the truth, even at the expense of his basic belief system.

Here one resorts to set higher cognitive abilities and skills for the proper interpretation, analysis, evaluation and inference, as well as explanation of the gathered or communicated information resulting in a purposeful unbiased and self-regulatory judgement.

An ideal thinker is habitually inquisitive, well-informed, open-minded, flexible, fair-minded in evaluation, free from personal bias and prejudices, honest in seeking relevant information, skilled in the proper use of the abilities like interpretation, analysis, synthesis, evaluation and drawing conclusion and inferences, etc.

The critical thinking is of a higher order well-disciplined thought process which involves the use of cognitive skills like conceptualization, interpretation, analysis, synthesis and evaluation for arriving at an unbiased, valid and reliable judgment of the gathered or communicated information or data as a guide to one’s belief and action.

6. Non-directed or Associative Thinking:

There are times when we find ourselves engaged in a unique type of thinking which is non-directed and without goal. It is reflected through dreaming and other free-flowing uncontrolled activities. Psychologically these forms of thought are termed as associative thinking.

8 Common Thinking Mistakes Our Brains Make Every Day and How to Prevent Them

1. We surround ourselves with information that matches our beliefs

We tend to like people who think like us. If we agree with someone’s beliefs, we’re more likely to be friends with them. While this makes sense, it means that we subconsciously begin to ignore or dismiss anything that threatens our world views, since we surround ourselves with people and information that confirm what we already think.

2. We believe in the “swimmer’s body” illusion

The “swimmer’s body illusion” occurs when we confuse selection factors with results. Another good example is top-performing universities: are they the best schools, or do they choose the best students, who do well regardless of the school’s influence? Our mind often plays tricks on us and that is one of the key ones to be aware of.

3. We worry about things we’ve already lost

No matter how much I pay attention to the sunk cost fallacy, I still naturally gravitate towards it.

The term sunk cost refers to any cost (not just monetary, but also time and effort) that has been paid already and cannot be recovered. So, a payment of time or money that’s gone forever.

4. We incorrectly predict odds

Imagine you’re playing Heads or Tails with a friend. You flip a coin, over and over, each time guessing whether it will turn up heads or tails. You have a 50/50 chance of being right each time.

5. We believe our memories more than facts

Our memories are highly fallible and plastic. And yet, we tend to subconsciously favour them over objective facts.

6. We pay more attention to stereotypes than we think

The funny thing about lots of these thinking mistakes especially related to memory is that they’re so ingrained, I had to think long and hard about why they’re mistakes at all! This one is a good example—it took me a while to understand how illogical this pattern of thinking is.