There are many ways to think. The choice depwnds on the purpose. Some are more appropriate than others.
I like magical best. Unfortunately, it’s not very reliable. One must notice that believing in miracles and counting on them is somehow different.
Analytical is another. It’s objective is to break things down into their component parts. By breaking down working objects, perhaps more than one, you can find differences and work toward improving outcomes. You examine checkable evidence, the rationality of their connections, and decide cause and effect. The dominant idea is to understand how the pieces work together to create their outcome and thus lead yourself to better ways.
Synthetic thinking is another form. Unlike analytical thinking based on differences, synthetic thinking looks for commonality. It is often surprising to discover that many exceptional outcomes have arisen by finding common key elements in different circumstances and achieving something entirely new. Synthetic thinking is expansive. Much of art and music creation involves synthetic thinking. Application comes later. When Picasso first observed the military’s camouflage uniforms, he said, “They understand cubism.”
Systemic thinking is different again. It involves the study of interconnected complex pieces working together. The hope is to optimize the collection of interactions rather than the best production of any piece. It often identifies consequences not readily visible when ignoring the environment in which it operates. Many systems self-correct, but not instantly. That shortcoming induces politicians and managers to take action when none is needed, or beneficial. Complex systems have unforeseen consequences when changes are imposed. When a secondary effect appears we should store it away as evidence of what’s possible. Society is a vast and interconnected system. If you don’t fully understand how the pieces work together, be reluctant to tinker.
Critical thinking is not so difficult as people think. Like analytical, it uses evidence and the logical uses of the evidence to reach conclusions. Where it differs is it also examines the validity of the evidence and the efficacy of the reasoning. Even more useful, it looks for what is missing or possible. The dog that didn’t bark effect. Contradictions are sought too. It results in a coherent optimized understanding of the device or situation.
Choosing the appropriate way to think about something enhances your ability to make good decisions.
Using more than one way is better still
Creativity derives from synthetic thinking. There is nothing original, just other ways of combining things.
Pay attention to subjects outside your normal use. They contain useful information.
Look for persistent tendencies. Across several disciples, you’ll get the idea of synthetic thinking. Quantum mechanics and psychology are not so different. Both rely on cumulative probabilities and no certainties.
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