How does information stored in your long-term memory affect your critical thinking skills?

3 Answers

David Gill Profile
David Gill answered
Information stored in the long-term memory can affect critical thinking. In order to address how and why this is the case we need to look at what the purpose of critical thinking is. One definition sees critical thinking as "self-guided, self-disciplined thinking, which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way".

If we use this definition then we can immediately see the effect long-term memory may have on this process. Long-term memory is established in one of three ways; via extensive study, repetitive experience or through continual exposure to information. Therefore, while critical thinking is ideally a way of disassociating oneself and seeking the truth whatever that may be, our subconscious mind with its hard-wired experience may unconsciously affect the way in which we go about looking at a certain subject, with inherent biases and preconceptions formed from our long-term memory infecting the process of critical thinking.

  • The origin of critical thinking
The Greek philosopher Socrates is credited with being the father of critical thinking. In one of his most famous quotes Socrates decrees "I know that I know nothing" this is complete humility and resignation to the idea that we only know what we are taught, and demonstrates the idealistic state for critical thinking to flourish.

The 'Socratic Method' involved discourse between parties with conflicting opinions; through inquiry and examination it would provoke debate and criticism of commonly held viewpoints of the time.

  • The religion of critical thinking
The vast majority of religions actively discourage critical thinking and in former years outright suppressed and in some cases punished it, including all of the main Abrahamic religions which are based on doctrine and dogma.

Buddhism on the other hand has since its inception through the principals outlined by The Buddha, actively encouraged debate and discussion, with the belief that the physical world is by its very nature transient. How could fixed rules be compatible with this way of thinking? The answer is that they can't.
Herbert S. Profile
Herbert S. answered
Information stored in a person's long-term memory "compartment" absolutely affects a person's critical thinking skills. By adding previous knowledge with newer ones, thoughts become more complex and logical.
Pete (the Idiot) Profile
They increase the amount of information I can consider when thinking about things.  Hopefully this improves the quality.

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