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Thinking with Information

It is impossible to reason without using some set of facts, data, or experiences as a constituent part of one's thinking. Finding trustworthy sources of information and refining one's own experience critically are important goals of critical thinkers. We must be vigilant about the sources of information we use. We must be analytically critical of the use we make of our own experience. Experience may be the best teacher, but biased experience supports bias, distorted experience supports distortion, and self-deluded experience supports self-delusion. We, therefore, must not think of our experience as sacred in any way but, instead, as one important dimension of thought that must, like all others, be critically analyzed and assessed.

Numerous problems exist in human life because people fail to understand the important role that information plays in everything we do. People often, for example, fail to see that they are excluding important information from their thinking when reasoning through a complex problem. People often operate on automatic pilot when it comes to their use of information. But when they are explicitly aware of the importance of information, they are much more careful in the conclusions they come to. They seek information when others would ignore the need to do so. They question the information they have, as well as the information that others are using. They realize that their thinking can only be as good as the information they use to come to conclusions.

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