It seems to me that there is a natural affinity between evidence-based practice, scientific reasoning and critical thinking. I think Kuhn (quoted in Dawson, 2000) captures the essence of this symbiosis:
I have undertaken here to show that these two abilities–the ability to recognize the possible falsehood of a theory and the identification of evidence capable of disconfirming it–are the foundational abilities that lie at the heart of both informal and scientific reasoning. These abilities lie at the heart of critical thinking, which similarly can be regarded, at the most global level, as the ability to justify what one claims to be true (Kuhn, 1993).
Some background considerations and directions for future thoughts and research.
- I’m taking the perspective that what cognitive control we have over our decisions and actions, is mediated by our beliefs, theories, schemas and prior knowledge. Without this mediation everyday actions would represent an unbearable cognitive load.
- Although there are good strategies for enabling critical thinking, at it’s core, critical thinking is the ability and disposition to seek disconfirming evidence and use it to change our minds (beefs schemas, theories, etc. . . ).
- Although we often equate scientific thinking with the scientific method (hypothesis testing), the core of it’s reasoning is also the disposition to seek and make use of disconfirming evidence.
- Evidence-based organizations must actively support critical thinking through their culture and in the organization of their internal processes and practices.
- Practice validity (seeking evidence for the validity of organizational practices) is the ability to justify the efficacy of our actions, just as Kuhn considers critical thinking to be a way to justify our claims to truth.
A shout-out to Harold Jarche who’s post Critical thinking in the organization led me down this primrose path.
Dawson, R. (2000). Critical Thinking, Scientific Thinking, and Everyday Thinking: Metacognition about Cognition, Academic Exchange Quarterly, accessed 4-8–10 at http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Critical+Thinking,+Scientific+Thinking,+and+Everyday+Thinking:…-a067872702
Kuhn, D. (1993). Connecting scientific and informal reasoning. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 39(1), 74-103.