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Students Clarify 
ByEdMo   posted on10 Jan, 12 2708 Views 0 Comments Regular Feature Add to favorite

I find it difficult to think. No one has taught me how to think. After reading a few issues of your magazine I think you are the right person to give me some hints on how to think.
Viju Naravane,
New Delhi

Though you profess that it is difficult for you to think your third sentence suggests that you think.

First of all you should know that you cannot think without drawing comparisons, and you cannot draw comparisons without thinking. For instance, when we describe something as big we are actually making a tacit comparison.Though big is not ostensibly a comparative term, it is practically meaningless unless we think about it comparatively. However, you need to guard against false analogy. Dont allow yourself to be misled into treating something that is intrinsically subjective as objective. For instance, questions in the humanities tend to be subjective, as no controlled experiments can be carried out to prove or disprove hypotheses conclusively. Look out for the argument from authority, which is generally disguised as something else.

Try every possibility.

Remember the two basic criteria of a valid argument: Is it based on facts? Is it logical? If possible, restate arguments in syllogistic form in order to test their validity. Thanks to the efforts of Dr Edward de Bono we have lateral thinking. There is no necessary conflict between lateral thinking and vertical thinking. One should use lateral thinking to find the right approach to ones problem and then apply vertical thinking to reach a solution.

Think in categories rather than in isolated hit-or-miss fashion. Look out for the after-this-therefore-on-account-of-this fallacy.

Remember the five canons of causal explanation devised by John Stuart Mill, commonly known as Mills Methods, of inductive inference, which provide a useful checklist of causal explanations: (a) Method of agreement; (b) Method of difference; (c) Joint method of agreement and difference; (d) Method of residues and (v) Method of concomitant variation.

To simplify complex problems, do as a computer does and think in Yes/No terms. Though computers are capable of processing large masses of data and of solving some very complex problems, the way they think is very simple indeed. The binary system on which a computer works recognises only two possibilities at any stage, ON or OFF,translated in to 1 or 0, which is reflected in flowcharting.

Thinking is a complex activity and it cannot be explained in a few paragraphs. So, continue to think about thinking!

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