The ability to think logically is not an innate mental ability. It requires years of practice, in addition to growing up in a cultural context in which there is a level of development that allows it. Therefore, until several thousand years ago, practically no one was able to perceive reality from a perspective linked to logic.
Now, although mastering the habit of thinking logically requires a certain effort and learning, it is essential to live in today’s societies, both on a personal and professional level. Fundamentally, it is something that allows us to make the most of our intelligence and ability to think in abstract terms, with all the applications that this has when adapting to an environment as changing as that of human societies.
- Related article: “Are we rational or emotional beings?”
Tips to learn to think more logically
Follow this series of tips to get used to thinking logically in most situations. Yes indeed, you will have to adapt these key ideas to the characteristics of your life.
1. Learn to distinguish ideas
It is important make sure we don’t confuse concepts, making the same word actually have two imprecise meanings instead of just one that is clear and in accordance with its definition. For example, referring to “the people” when talking about the inhabitants of a country is not the same as talking about a State.
So, get into the habit of stopping to analyze if the most frequent terms you think of are consistent and if you don’t mix concepts.
2. Organize your thoughts
What aspects are most important to you regarding an issue? Is it reasonable that these should be your priorities when analyzing a fact or phenomenon? Do you stick unjustifiably to a very specific element of a much more complex reality? Organize thoughts and give them a certain hierarchy helps you think logically.
3. Analyze your leaps of faith
The information you have about the reality that surrounds you is limited, and that is why, to a certain extent, you will always have to assume things about facts that you don’t know. However… are these leaps of faith justified? Do your conclusions really follow from the premises from which you start? Or are you simplifying a problem simply to reach a conclusion that seems most comfortable to you?
4. Avoid argumentative fallacies
Remember that fallacies are not erroneous beliefs, but failed reasoning. It is impossible for us to know if all our beliefs are correct or not, but we can analyze whether there are consistency failures in our way of reasoning and arguing.
Therefore, familiarize yourself with the fallacies and check, on a day-to-day basis, if you fall into them. Most likely, you will do it several times, but these occasions should help you learn and correct your mistakes.
- You may be interested: “The 10 types of logical and argumentative fallacies”
5. Meet new people
The possibility of interacting with new people, especially if they are people who think differently than us, is a great help when it comes to getting used to thinking logically. Because? Because we find ourselves in situations that challenge our intelligence and lead us to have to argue our beliefs.
Thus, exposing ourselves to the clash of different and incompatible ideas leads us to review our convictions and see if there are cracks in our belief systems, which
6. Detect simplification patterns
Do you tend to attribute events to individuals that are more complex and have a social root (such as poverty)? Do you think abstract ideas can be treated like physical objects (for example, talking about the law of attraction)? These are common errors that lead you to think in a way that is far from logical and that give you a caricatured image of reality.
7. Adopt a distanced perspective
Don’t let your desires and feelings drag you down when thinking coldly about important things. Not doing so usually ends up in reaching conclusions that match how you feel, or those that best fit your desires. This is a form of dishonesty with oneself and does no good to our chances of having a fuller understanding of what is really going on.
8. Be careful with false references
Sometimes, we fallaciously believe that the most realistic and logical option is the one that we interpret as the most moderate between two opposite options. However, this does not have to be like this. For example, it is possible that our references of what “the extremes” are are anything.
Our position on what racism is, for example, can be a middle point between those who want to exterminate entire races and those who ignore the existence of these differences, if we stick to that logic. Therefore, before taking a position, we must ask ourselves if these extremes are representations of valid options in the first place.