My View From The Country

Thoughts On Critical Thinking & Evaluation

The complexity of the world and the difficulty of predicting outcomes have become more difficult.

We live in a rapidly changing and complex world, which makes forecasting the future increasingly difficult. Three decades ago, a beef producer certainly didn’t have a clear picture of what the future held but he could pretty much rely on the dynamics of his business. Compared to today’s market dynamics, it was a much simpler world.

Today, however, we’re part of a global market in which everything is shaped by the demands and events on a much larger scale. In addition, government has encroached today into nearly every area of production, shaping not only the global economic structure but the most basic of input prices and management decisions.

My View From The Country Blog: The Big 5 Management Areas

Perhaps the great irony is that as the complexity of the world and the difficulty of predicting outcomes has become more difficult, the need for and reward for making the right decision has been greatly expanded. So how does one do a more effective job of critical thinking?

Robert H. Ennis, author of The Cornell Critical Thinking Tests, offers this very streamlined version of what is a good critical evaluator:

  1. Open-minded and mindful of alternatives.
  2. Tries to be well-informed.
  3. Judges well the credibility of sources.
  4. Identifies conclusions, reasons and assumptions.
  5. Judges well the quality of an argument, including the acceptability of its reasons, assumptions and evidence.
  6. Can well develop and defend a reasonable position.
  7. Asks appropriate clarifying questions.
  8. Formulates plausible hypotheses; plans experiments well.
  9. Defines terms in a way appropriate for the context.
  10. Draws conclusions when warranted, but with caution.
  11. Integrates all items in this list when deciding what to believe or do.

Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Steve Hammack (not verified)
on Sep 14, 2012

The polarization of today's political parties has the effect of polarizing everything, political or not. There is a tendency to listen to, read, and watch only sources that confirm our opinions. And most of us associate with people who share our opinion. Critical thinking often suffers as a result.

Nostradamus (not verified)
on Sep 14, 2012

I do not see any problems here! The colleges and unversities are using data and information from fifty plus years ago as if it were cutting edge technology and farmers and ranchers are following along quite nicely! As far as predicting the future, I suggest chicken entrails or consulting the bones. If you really want some exact information, then you will have to resort to the use of concotions!

steve roth (not verified)
on Sep 17, 2012

This assumes that in a "critical" situation one has all the time academia does.

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.


Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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