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How to develop analytical thinking skills

Have you ever thought about the difference between analytical and critical thinking? Unfortunately, most people do not see much difference here, and therefore they do not use to their full potential either the possibility of a critical attitude towards reality, or the potential of the analysis underlying logic.

Meanwhile, understanding these intellectual tools and developing them, we gain the ability not only to get to know the world more deeply, but also to transform it more effectively! How exactly do these brain processes help our brain?

Criticism VS Analytics

Critical thinking helps us:

• assess whether the event actually took place,

• make sure that you can trust the information received, and to what extent,

• find out whether the phenomenon, object or situation is useful for us or not;

• make the conclusion and give your assessment.

In other words, critical thinking helps us form an opinion or belief about this or that information. Critical thinking can be called evaluative.

In its turn, to think analytically means:

• to understand the essence of the phenomenon;

• to understand cause-effect relationships;

• to be able to break down a complex problem into its component parts;

• to compare probable solutions to the problem and choose the optimal one.

We use our ability for analytical thinking when we are required to divide the information into separate “pieces” and, moving forward step by step, understand its essence and logic. Analytical thinking can be called rational, logical.

But how to develop analytical thinking?

Development of analytical thinking

Developed analytical skills are useful to us both in everyday life and in professional activities.

A highly qualified specialist, regardless of the field in which he works, must be able to:

• identify what is the main and what is the secondary quickly,

• solve complex problems

• find strengths and weaknesses in the event that happened,

• identify opportunities and limitations

• make reasonable conclusions,

• make decisions based on statistics

• design its activities in accordance with the objectives,

• divide the process into stages.

Let us play!

Let us look at the special games on the development of analytical thinking.

1. Puzzles. Usually for mental training it is recommended to collect jigsaw puzzles. But, if you really strive to develop your attention and ability for mental analysis, it is better not to collect puzzles, but ... to do them yourself. Such a creative way of training is much more complex and therefore more productive for the mental development of a person.

2. Quest. If your family likes to spend time together, then treasure hunting with the map will be an excellent developmental exercise for everyone. If this game is aimed only at children, then you should make a map that is understandable for the child. But still the best solution would be a joint quest in which children and their parents combine their efforts by reading the map and moving step by step to the place where the treasure is hidden. Reading maps requires a mental translation of real objects into symbols that designate them, and vice versa. That is why such a game is equally useful for those who draw the map and for those who will subsequently try to read and decipher it.

3. Ciphers and codes. By the way, any ciphers can also act as simulators for analytical thinking. Comparison of the cipher and the key to it, transfer from one conditional language to another is a great game method of mental development.

4. Mind-teasers. Let it be even the usual "Rubik's Cube". But its different variations appeared long time ago. The mind-teaser is good because it makes us calculate our actions a few steps ahead.

5. Board games. It may seem archaic to someone, but a very effective means of developing the ability to analyze is traditional board games. However, we are not talking about those games where success is determined solely by luck, as, for example, in children's games with a dice indicating the number of moves allowed to the player. Only those games are really useful, where players should carefully consider each of their next steps, taking into account the actions of the enemy and, if possible, by foreseeing or even provoking the opponent to certain moves. In such games, you develop such skills:

• recognize the motives of others;

• understand the logic of other people's actions,

• anticipate the possible decisions of others,

• choose accurate ways to respond to the actions of others.

Online games such as "Erudite" contribute to the development of skills for rapid analysis and evaluation of information, as well as the choice of the correct wording or the right word.

And, of course, we should not forget about chess, a game that has been developed over the centuries! Chess is one of those types of games that require the player to be able to analyze the situation on the board and develop a strategy for their actions, while trying to uncover the opponent's intention. So, in addition to analytic thought, a strategic vision is also required here.

Thought experiments or mind games

But, perhaps, the brain receives the most effective training due to our propensity for mental experimentation. This brain-disturbing question “What if ...?” attracts not only scientists, but also all those who like to pamper their mind with unusual tasks. They accumulated quite a lot, for every taste and different levels of complexity.

The most famous of these puzzle games is the Prisoner Dilemma.

However, it is no less fascinating to try, for example, an experiment called “Mary's Room”. Maria is a scholarly researcher, very talented and capable. She sits in a special room and observes the world through special windows that are designed in such a way that Mary sees the world only in black and white. She knows everything about light waves and how color arises and changes. But, alas, her knowledge is purely theoretical. She has never left her room. What happens when Maria leaves the room and sees the real world in all its colors? Can she recognize colors? For example, to distinguish a red apple from a gray one? The essence of this thought experiment is, after analyzing the situation, to work out and substantiate all possible strategies for Mary to know the world of colors.

And the experiment-game “Ideological Turing test” will not only entertain players, but also serve as a good simulator for developing skills in analyzing the position of your opponent. In order to win, the first participant in the discussion must carefully analyze the argument of his opponent in the dispute and apply it in his speech so that the judges do not guess who the author of these arguments is - the first participant or his opponent.

More exquisite erudites can be attracted by unresolved scientific problems. There are still unanswered philosophical questions that continue to haunt our mind. Trying to simply realize the depth of the question and enjoy the game of your mind, trying to find the answer, all these stimulate our brain activity.

These issues include, for example:

• Why is there always “something” but never “nothing”?

• Why does our brain consist of atoms, and the consciousness, which is a product of the brain, does not consist of atoms?

• What gives us the right to say that we and our whole world are really real and not a simulacrum, an illusion?

• Do we have free will or are we something like a zombie without knowing it?

• Are we able to be impartial and, if yes, in what situations?

There are not so many talented analysts. But regular classes, even if they are just games, may help you to become a good analyst. That, actually, is not bad.


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