Critical Thinking Skills

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The ability to apply critical thinking skills is paramount for today’s Special Operations Forces (SOF) leaders. By utilizing critical thinking skills, leaders can quickly determine the root of a problem, develop courses of action, and ensure they are not being influenced by internal or external bias. These techniques can be used regardless of the immediacy of a problem; whether a problem needs a solution in fifteen seconds, or fifteen days, the use of critical thinking skills can still help guide the leader to the proper solutions. According to Haselton, Nettle, and Andrews (2005), “Humans, like other animals, see the world through the lens of evolved adaptations.” The term for those lenses in our thought processes is cognitive bias, and …show more content…
Additionally, as leaders we’re not only responsible for regulating our own thoughts, but for evaluating information that is presented to us for making a decision. It is not uncommon for someone to present a version of reality that is skewed by their personal motivations. With an awareness of logical fallacies and application of the intellectual standards we can see clearly their motivation and purpose to help formulate a decision. Critical thinking is an essential element to formulating decisions reflexively or reflectively. The difference between the two is the former requires you to have practiced critical thinking so as to know your biases, while the latter allows for thoughtful gestation and a deliberate application of critical thought. Reflexive and reflective decision making themselves (often labeled as System1 and System 2) are a function of psychology as described by Kahneman …show more content…
As previously shown, we can utilize critical thinking in either situation by having practiced it in our daily thought; this allows us to be confident with our decisions based on reflexive thought. For example, there exists an alternative to the Army’s Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) called the Recognition-Primed Decision Model (RPM). MDMP consists of seven steps with one hundred and seventeen sub-steps, each designed to ensure that every relevant piece of information has been identified, examined, and addressed. It is a very System 2 model for decision making. The RPM bypasses several of these steps by relying on the most experienced leader (typically the Commander) to develop Courses of Action (COAs) based on pattern recognition and intuition, a more System 1 model for decision making. The RPM model has been used successfully in combat by some units (Bushey, 2006) and is strong evidence that reflexive decision making based on critical thinking can be useful, especially among today’s rapidly shifting environment. To summarize, using critical thinking skills based on the foundation of intellectual standards and avoiding logical fallacies helps us create the mental models necessary to make the best possible decisions as SOF leaders. Furthermore, having those correct mental models allows us to apply either reflexive or reflective thought as

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