Critical thinking devils on the door step

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Critical thinking devils on the door step

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Keeping an Open Mind Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open. After reviewing how and why thinking gets channeled into mental ruts, this chapter looks at mental tools to help analysts keep an open mind, question assumptions, see different perspectives, develop new ideas, and recognize when it is time to change their minds.

A new idea is the beginning, not the end, of the creative process. It must jump over many hurdles before being embraced as an organizational product or solution.

The organizational climate plays a crucial role in determining whether new ideas bubble to the surface or are suppressed.

Relevant information is discounted, misinterpreted, ignored, rejected, or overlooked because it fails to fit a prevailing mental model or mind-set. Beliefs, assumptions, concepts, and information retrieved from memory form a mind-set or mental model that guides perception and processing of new information.

The nature of the intelligence business forces us to deal with issues at an early stage when hard information is incomplete.

Critical thinking devils on the door step

If there were no gaps in the information on an issue or situation, and no ambiguity, it would not be an interesting intelligence problem. When information is lacking, analysts often have no choice but to lean heavily on prior beliefs and assumptions about how and why events normally transpire in a given country.

Critical thinking devils on the door step

A mind-set is neither good nor bad. It is, in essence, a distillation of all that analysts think they know about a subject. It forms a lens through which they perceive the world, and once formed, it resists change.

Understanding Mental Ruts Chapter 3 on memory suggested thinking of information in memory as somehow interconnected like a massive, multidimensional spider web. It is possible to connect any point within this web to any other point.

When analysts connect the same points frequently, they form a path that makes it easier to take that route in the future. Once they start thinking along certain channels, they tend to continue thinking the same way and the path may become a rut. The path seems like the obvious and natural way to go.

Information and concepts located near that path are readily available, so the same images keep coming up. Information not located near that path is less likely to come to mind. Talking about breaking mind-sets, or creativity, or even just openness to new information is really talking about spinning new links and new paths through the web of memory.

These are links among facts and concepts, or between schemata for organizing facts or concepts, that were not directly connected or only weakly connected before. New ideas result from the association of old elements in new combinations. Previously remote elements of thought suddenly become associated in a new and useful combination.

This ability to bring previously unrelated information and ideas together in meaningful ways is what marks the open-minded, imaginative, creative analyst. To illustrate how the mind works, consider my personal experience with a kind of mental block familiar to all analysts--writer's block.I rated this an A grade for the twist and turns involved in the plot that have you thinking.

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Thinking Outside the Box: A Misguided Idea The truth behind the universal, but flawed, catchphrase for creativity. Posted Feb 06, Critical thinking is really just a way to try and solve our daily problems using reasoning that has been corrupted by uncritical “vampires” and “devils” whose only motive is Profit and Destruction of values.

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The Work Of A Nation. The Center of Intelligence.

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