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Critical Thinking and What Really Constitutes Critical Thinking Research Paper

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Updated: May 20th, 2019


Critical thinking originated back during the times of great Greek philosophers like Socrates and Clausewitz. Socrates used logic in his quest for reason and wisdom while Clausewitz viewed critical thinking as the strength of the mind. Currently, various definitions has led to misconceptions of what really constitutes critical thinking.

According to Guillot, critical thinking is “the ability to logically assess the quality of one’s thinking and the thinking of others to consistently arrive at greater understanding and achieve wise judgments” (2004).

Basing on this definition, critical thinking is simply a logical assessment of internal and external dimensions of our thinking. This essay is going to apply the elements of critical thinking to the report of September 11, 2001 concerning the attacks on the United States.

The purpose

The purpose is one of the elements of critical thinking which assesses our thinking and actions in a given situation. Assessment of the purpose is very important to a critical thinker to avoid self-deception on thoughts or actions (Guillot, 2004).The purpose of the 9/11 commission report is to explore terrorists’ threats and give out the appropriate recommendations to the United States government to be implemented.

Then report has both the right and the false purposes in trying to address the problem of terrorism. The right purpose of the report is to explore humane ways of addressing terrorism threats world wide like preventing the continued of Islamist terrorism, protecting against and preparing for any terrorists attacks (The 9/11 Commission Report, 2005).

The false purpose is of attacking terrorists and their organizations because critically thinking demands that the government should not be a terrorist in order to fight terrorism. If the government can prevent and prepare for any terrorist attacks, there will be no threat of terrorism to the United States Government and its citizens.

The question

There are three ways of looking at critical questions depending on their continual use, the need to ask and answer at the right time and their interrelationships in the identification of the real problem. The main objective of critical thinkers is to institute whether the point in question is about addressing the right issue or not. Three types of critical questions exist; questions about facts, preferences, and judgment.

Questions of facts have definite answers while questions of preference have indefinite answers. The questions of judgment are complex to answer and require critical thinking (Guillot 2004). The 9/11 Commission Report tries to answer many questions of judgment, for instance, who are terrorists? What is the best way of combating terrorism? Alternatively, how can American protect its citizens?


Information is very important in making day-to-day decisions as the decision we make depends on the quality and validity of the information analyzed in our minds. Critical thinking demands the mind to identify and filter the raw information obtained and the processed information in order to differentiate between quality and biased information.

Our minds can to take information in three ways. One way is to store information inertly which has no benefit, the other way is through activated ignorance which is a dangerous use of false information as truth while activated knowledge is the third way and entails powerful use of the true information, leading to deeper understanding and wise decision making (Guillot, 2004).

According to the 9/11 Commission Report (2005), the information on terrorists’ threats has been too much resulting into inert information that has no use. There have been also rumors of terrorists’ attacks providing a false information thus activating ignorance, which is the dangerous utilization of false information.


Concept stands out as the major critical component in the field of decisive thinking. Concepts enhance understanding of new challenges that we face in life. Multiple applications of concepts by conceptual thinkers enables them change their focus and the way of viewing challenges hence they are flexible in the light of new concepts.

In the 9/11 Commission report (2005), the United States is said to be “a nation transformed” as the new concept of terrorism to use planes as weapons made the Central intelligence Agency to reconsider their strategies and change their conceptual thinking.


Inferences here refer to the reason behind any conclusions made. Proper interpretations of the assumptions require critical judgments of the assumptions. In the 9/11 attacks, many people falsely concluded that people who were responsible for the attacks were Muslims but critical inference in the report proved that the people who were responsible for the attacks were Islamic extremists and not all Muslims.

The assumption that the masterminds and executors of these attacks were Muslims was inevitable given the fact that the Islamic insurgents involved are part of the Islamic society. Nevertheless, it is wrong to assume the attacks were “Islamic.” This is why critical thinking isolates Islamic insurgents from the Islamic community pointing out they were the ones involved in the 9/11 attacks.


Assumptions are very importance in making inferences given the concepts. These assumptions are believes made based on the reality or our expectations. When the information is lacking or limited, logical inferences are made consciously using assumptions.

Subconscious assumptions are dangerous as they give false inferences that can have serious implications. For example, the 9/11 attacks can give false inferences that Muslims are terrorists but thanks to critical thinkers who can turn subconscious assumptions into conscious assumptions to be assessed.

Point of view

Critical thinking involves having a view of a given situation from multiple points of view to have a complete picture if the situation. The 9/11 Commission Report (2005), viewed the concept of terrorism locally and internationally, from political and security points in drawing of necessary recommendations.


Implications are the expectations of the consequences of a decision in terms of beliefs, opinions, and actions. Critical thinking of implications must consider all reasonable possibilities from worst to best cases. The 9/11 Commission Report (2005) must have considered implications of declaring war on terrorism as it will cost lives and money.

In weighing the implications of the decision to fight terrorists and their organization at the expense of billions and losing the lives of their soldiers demands great critical thinking. Non-critical thinker would just opt to protect its citizens locally and reduce huge expenses in fighting what seem to be imaginary terrorists.


Critical thinking is an invaluable strategy of understanding complex situations that require logic in the understanding major challenges in life. Then internal and external dimensions of critical thinking provides basis of conflict resolution as the conflicting parties can share a common logic.

Since critical thinking is robust, it help leader to make decisions and mange strategic environments. Commissions employ critical thinkers in preparation of a report by considering all the critical thinking elements.


Guillot, Michael. (2004). Critical Thinking for the Military Professional. Air and Space Power Journal. Retrieved from

The 9/11 Commission Report. (2005). Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. The US Government Printing Office. Web.

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