types of thinking

Types of Thinking

I always aspired to be a great thinker. My quest for this skill led me to various types of thinking from different sources. The ones I have encountered so far are summarized below. I am jotting down my thoughts on each of these areas.

Critical Thinking

This is the top in the list and is foundational for Socratic questioning. Here we try to see every nitty-gritty detail with skeptical eyes. 

The idea of asking the right question often comes up here. But I always had a hard time figuring out why some questions could be right and others not. 

We often check facts and figures against our previous understanding. It follows a pattern like, if this follows this, then this should be like this and so on. 

The bias plays a major role here. Since it is difficult to overcome confirmation bias, the only proven way to overcome that would be through peer review or discussing your ideas with someone else.

One important aspect and my gut feeling are critical thinking can be approached as a systematic process and the Socratic questioning stage if followed correctly might lead different people to follow a particular track.

The obvious question then is how breadth or deep one goes about a topic in critical thinking. There is possible for one to be thoughtful about all potential paths in front and to make a rational decision. Jordan Peterson says writing is an activity to be critical thinking.

Creative Thinking

How can one be creative? Does the mind map a way to creative thinking?. One thing we can do is to forget the underlying assumptions to be creative. 

Is there a systematic way to creative thinking?. Viewing the scenario from a different perspective might help. Other than breaking assumptions sometimes making assumptions might help. 

Imagination and association are key ingredients to creative thinking. It’s really enjoyable to listen to people’s imaginations. Kids are always creative. In a sense, creative thinking is kind of like a child. 

The thing we are creating should have value. That is what makes someone from a producer to a creator. 

Does changing your work environment to nature friendly/outside a garden make you creative?. Exposing yourself to the art may make you creative. 

Creative people add a slight change to Socratic questioning, instead of asking what, when, why, how, when, who, where they add one more term ‘not’. Then the question becomes why not, how not, what not, etc.

Creativity can be the ability to shamelessly come up with our ideas no matter how insignificant it may seem. Being an observer and seeing the unseen is another ingredient to creativity. 

Design Thinking

I understand this as a methodology to come up with solutions. Not exactly sure how it is related or different from agile practices. 

In design thinking, you look at a problem empathetically from the user’s perspective. Quickly brainstorm some ideas, implement a prototype, and evaluate it. 

The first state itself is the most challenging part according to me because it is not at all easy to identify the elephant in the room (or the exact problem to be solved). 

Feynman’s learning method is an application of design thinking I guess. The key part here is to identify things you don’t know. To do that you act like explaining to someone. 

Other than empathy, It could be also possible that the user/customer itself is not aware of what exactly they want!. 

I can see the model thinking itself has some elements of design thinking into it. It could be that design thinking is a top-down approach where you use the minimum energy and resources for maximum output and try to be efficient in the process we do. 

Hence it could be applicable in a wide variety of things like learning, product development, art, writing, and so on. 

Multidisciplinary Thinking

It is all about taking essential ideas from one domain and applying or relating ideas to an unrelated field. 

For example, the idea of exponential function can be found in finance, epidemiology, life-long learning, and possibly many other fields. 

We should have this translating ability to fit a model to every new knowledge so that when learning one field we also learn other fields. 

Solving problems in one field can be done by translating and solving them in another domain. The only way to do this known to me is to actively speculate and imagine concepts in different domains and make connections with them. Translating all ideas back to a common ancestor (e.g. Mathematics) might also help. 

Mathematical Thinking

The main idea here could be the idea of abstraction. Why do we need mathematical thinking is an important question. 

One reason I could see is it helps us to reason and get to correct answers which might seem counterintuitive in normal thinking!. I wonder if the guesstimate process a part of or type of mathematical thinking?.

Inquiry-Based Thinking

This seems to be an interesting technique at least for me. Here I ask questions that come to my mind and try to get an overview of the concept in a very short amount of time/till I lose interest in it. 

I see my mind as just like the procrastination monkey who always looks for new things. In inquiry-based thinking/learning, I think I am exploiting that weakness and turn it into a strength.

There are a lot of types of thinking left to think about. I will try to learn about it and update as I understand and get insight into those.

Types of Thinking Contd.

Following is a list of types thinking types I wish to explore on.

  • Model Thinking
  • Visual Thinking
  • Computational Thinking
  • Algorithmic Thinking
  • Statistical Thinking
  • Probabilistic Thinking
  • Artful/Musical Thinking
  • Philosophical Thinking
  • Mechanical Thinking
  • Circuit Thinking

Thinking Guideline

Let me brief minimal guidelines to force our thinking into different styles.

Guide to Visual Thinking

  • Represent the concept in visuals
  • Mind Maps

Guide to Creative Thinking

  • Try to come up with a lot of ideas
  • Challenge the Assumptions
  • Redefine the Problem

Guide to Critical Thinking

Guide to Multi-disciplinary Thinking

  • Relate it to real life
  • Break it down to your models
  • Construct New Models

Guide to Design Thinking

  • What is the smallest achievable target here
  • Iterate/improve it using feedback

Guide to Mathematical Thinking

  • Break down a concept into mathematical components

I understand this as a huge topic. I still want to add or improve many ideas which I will be updating as I encounter more.

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