Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Critical Thinking & Evaluating Information

This guide is meant to present a brief overview on critical thinking and evaluating information.

What is Bias?

                Sources of bias image bubble

Biases also play a role in how you approach all information. The short video below provides definitions of 12 types of cognitive biases.

There are two forms of bias of particular importance given today's information laden landscape, implicit bias and confirmation bias.

Implicit Bias & Confirmation Bias

Implicit / Unconscious Bias 

"Original definition (neutral) - Any personal preference, attitude, or expectation that unconsciously affects a person's outlook or behaviour.

Current definition (negative) - Unconscious favouritism towards or prejudice against people of a particular race, gender, or group that influences one's actions or perceptions; an instance of this."

"unconscious bias, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, December 2020, www.oed.com/view/Entry/88686003.

"Thoughts and feelings are “implicit” if we are unaware of them or mistaken about their nature. We have a bias when, rather than being neutral, we have a preference for (or aversion to) a person or group of people. Thus, we use the term “implicit bias” to describe when we have attitudes towards people or associate stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge." 

https://perception.org/research/implicit-bias/

 

Confirmation Bias – "Originating in the field of psychology; the tendency to seek or favour new information which supports one’s existing theories or beliefs, while avoiding or rejecting that which disrupts them." 

Addition of definition to the Oxford Dictionary in 2019 

"confirmation, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, December 2020, www.oed.com/view/Entry/38852. 

Simply put, confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out and/ or interpret new information as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories and to exclude contradictory or opposing information or points of view.

Put Bias in Check!

                Who, what, when, where, why, how blocks image

Now that you are aware of bias, your personal biases and bias that can be found in sources of information, you can put it in check. You should approach information objectively, neutrally and critically evaluate it. Numerous tools included in this course can help you do this, like the critical thinking cheat sheet in the previous module.