Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. -- Lorraine Hansberry

T is for Thinking: the ICYouSee Guide To Critical Thinking

Know what's happening.


Knowing who created a Web site is one thing. Trying to identify the reason the Web page was created is an even more important factor in judging its content. Determine if the main purpose of the site to inform, to persuade, or to sell you something.
  • Keep in mind that marketing and opinion can both be disguised.
  • Individuals who have a point of view or a product to sell are not usually trying to deceive you, but they may not be objective.
Another thing to look for is the site's intended audience.
  • Scholars exchanging information with their colleagues will use a different vocabulary than they would when trying to make their ideas accessible to the general public.
  • Even if a page simply provides facts, simplification can distort them.
  • On the other hand, if the language is too technical, it won't do you any good if you can't understand it.
An important, if difficult, question to ask is "What is not being said?"
  • Political, religious, and social advocacy groups are notorious for "cherry-picking" or selectively presenting only the facts that support their cause.
  • Scholars just might be guilty of that, too.

Questions to think about:

  • Is the purpose of the information clearly stated?
  • Do you understand what is being said? 
  • Is the language simple or technical and demanding?
  • What has been omitted or still needs to be addressed?

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ICYouSee T is for Thinking
John R. Henderson
Last modified: November 17, 2015