Dr. Grant T. Hammond
Air War College
29 July 2004
Why This is Important?
Even in combat, how well you think is more important to how well you fight than how physically fit you are
A wrong decision, an unasked question, a forgotten task, an incomplete analysis, or a poor synthesis can kill you
You must exert mental sweat as well as physical sweat to be “Fit to Fight”
Good decisions require good thinking!
To form or conceive in the mind
To meditate, ponder, analyze or examine
To have in mind as a plan, intent, or purpose; intend
To hold as an opinion; believe; suppose
To reflect upon the matter in question
To anticipate or expect
To make a mental discovery
any conception existing in the mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness or activity
a thought, conception or notion
a plan of action; an intention
Why Do We Use A Light Bulb For An Idea?
“Let there be light!”
See where there was dark before
Come to know and understand because we can see better...
Who invented the light bulb?
Thomas Alva Edison in 1879
America’s most famous inventor
Light bulb = invention = idea
Pertaining to concepts or the forming of concepts
a general notion or idea; conception
an idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars: a construct
a directly conceived or intuited object
Why Conceptual Thinking Is Difficult
We emphasize analysis
taking things apart
Need to emphasize synthesis
putting things together
Must think both ways
Otherwise, we are “half wits”
We don’t emphasize it, reinforce it, reward it and practice it
Utility and Value
Concepts should be broad enough to be useful
Concepts should be specific enough to be of value
The “Goldilocks Problem”
Able to be amended and modified
Not limited by time and place
Government is a concept
It refers to a process, a means of decision making
It is not bounded by time, size, place but links means and ends
It is about both purposes and processes
It permits comparison across cultures
Focuses on how people make rules for living together
Air Power is a concept
What are the attributes of air power?
How is it defined? Measured? Assessed?
There are different kinds of air power
Concepts can be used in myriad ways
Inclined to find fault or judge with severity
Occupied with or skilled in criticism
Involving skilful judgment as to truth, merit. etc.
Pertaining to or of the nature of crisis
Involving grave uncertainty, risk, peril, etc.; dangerous
Critical Thinking Is . . .
It is easy–almost natural—to criticize
We can all improve on someone else’s ideas, behavior, performance, etc.
Difficult--to do well and effectively
To find root causes of why things are sub-par
Perfection is elusive and there is always room for improvement
The Two Cultures
You will be irritated with how critical civilian academics are
Academics are by nature critical—they are educated by asking hard questions
Those in the military are trained to be team players
It is essential to mission effectiveness
It will be a challenge for many of you to learn how to ask tough questions of yourself and others
Critical Thinking Is . . .
Asking Why? Why not? How?
Testing motives, bias, incompleteness
Deals with alternative explanations
Formulation and testing of hypotheses
If … then statements, and conditions
Looking for mismatches
Analysis and synthesis
Good Critical Thinking
Requires ability to assess premises of argument
Premises state the assumptions of logic to follow
They are the starting point of argumentation
If the premises are faulty, then the argument is also
Critical thinking begins with an assessment of the premises
to be continued...