As millennials, we are exposed to unprecedented quantities of information through the advent of social media and the internet. The internet is full of traps: rich Nigerian princes, being the millionth visitor to a website, hexed downloads, pyramid schemes and the like. The ability to distinguish between true information and misinformation is vital due to the sheer volume of content we are consuming. “Fake news” has become a common term in our vernacular.
Critical thinking is the skillful analysis and evaluation of an issue to form a judgement. It something we use daily in our clinical decision-making – we relate scientific concepts to clinical application. When we are presented with new information, we have been taught to evaluate its relevance to evidence-based optometric practice.
Critical thinking should also occur outside the safety of our consultation room. Whether it’s navigating a job contract or evaluating a new lens design, diagnostic equipment or clinical procedure, we should always have our critical thinking caps on.
Consider the following...
Be skeptical: Approach what you see and hear rationally and critically. Does the proposal make sense (a distortion-free multifocal anti-scratch, uber thin, unbreakable, feather light lens, anyone?)? Why are they posing this to me? Is it trying to persuade me of a certain viewpoint? Who else are they offering this to?
Is the offer too good to be true?: A salary of $200k a year with full benefits should ring some alarm bells (after the initial “wow!”). Is this a sign that the job is having difficulty retaining applicants due to job conditions? Or do they really value you as an optometrist?
Verbal commitment to actual commitments: You should never walk away from a verbal commitment without solidifying it as a written one. It can be as simple as a quick email saying, “It was great meeting you, thank you for your generous offer of 60% off this product”. It is easy to renege on a verbal agreement as there is no physical evidence to follow through on. ‘Let’s shake on it”, they say. In a week’s time it can become forgotten promises.
Pick your sources: If it seems improbable, do some research. Consider the credibility of the source of the information – is the company/person who is presenting the information have suitable expertise and reputation? Is there more information available to you?
The ability to think critically is the ability to weigh the merits of contrasting arguments.
When you hear something, don’t just take the information at face value. Stop and wonder whether what is posed to you seems correct. Take the time to consider both sides of the story and think critically.