He that cannot reason is a fool. He that will not is a bigot. He that dare not is a slave. – Andrew Carnegie
Logical thinking is often seen as a skill that only a select few possess. It seems like something for mathematicians and scientists in white lab coats, but the reality is that this is an ability anyone can develop. What is more, it is an ability that can massively benefit most people. Knowing logic can help us make better choices in all areas of our lives, avoid getting duped or scammed, and also predict and anticipate problems. Here is how you can develop your ability to think logically through different techniques.
Learn new things
Your logic can benefit from new information and practice. When you learn new skills, often you get new perspectives and ideas on the world and have to practice being critical and evaluating ideas presented to you. You get to broaden your horizons and improve your thinking.
Learning also helps you keep the mind sharp, which can help you be more logical in daily life and less driven by your biases. Try to consider what new tools and ideas you are exposed to and how you can integrate them into your cognitive toolbox, with all your thinking tools.
Seek out logic exercises
There are a lot of puzzles and games to grow your logical skill in an easy and fun way. While you might get a bit stuck as you begin your journey, it can also be a great way to exercise just the right muscles in your brain to apply logic and become familiar with general principles and ideas.
Many logic exercises can feel very abstract, not very applicable to real life. But at the same time, they help your brain get used to specific thinking patterns and then apply them to other situations. It’s a good way to practice logic.
The next strategy is to put it into practice in your daily life. When you make a decision or see other people make a choice, ask yourself what it will lead to. What consequences will it have? What will happen if the person does X or Y? Then, pay attention to the actual consequences. Were you right or wrong? If so, why? What did you need to take into account?
The second step is often ignored or forgotten, but at the same time, it is essential. Otherwise, we might assume we were right and simply reinforce our biases rather than work on our logic. We need to check and see if we are making the right inferences.
Admit your mistakes
Logic is a skill, and just like with any skill, you need to practice it and make mistakes along the way. Logic can require a lot of trial and error too, and you can do a lot to improve if you let yourself accept them.
Don’t push yourself to be always right. Instead, acknowledge and celebrate your mistakes. Let them be the best teachers you can have on the path to becoming a better thinker.
If you want to be a logical thinker, you can’t stick with just the things you are told. Ask questions, especially those that others seem to ignore or hide. You can ask: who benefits? Why do they tell this story and why is it told like this? What is not mentioned?
You might not always be able to actually ask these questions of the people involved. But it’s always useful to present them to yourself and consider what you are not seeing. Evaluate the narrative that is presented to you in a critical way and learn to question what you are being told. You can practice it with ads and promotional materials, news stories, influencer content and more. Also, when you ask questions, you also learn to do research. Find reliable sources and identify what makes them reliable.
Little by little, you can become a better critical thinker and develop a strong sense of logic. When you learn logic, you can understand causality – why X causes Y and how to achieve Y as well.