Language As A Help And As A Hindrance

The way a sentence is written, the way it is said, and the language used can all have a huge impact on our interpretation of the actual meaning. Critical thinking can help us analyze the words, the meaning of the speaker, and the facts in the world that determine if the sentence or statement is accurate or not.

Sometimes language is deliberately chosen to emphasize or ignore an important fact. This is an unfair use of language and many would argue disrespectful to the audience of readers or listeners. It is the definition of ‘propaganda’. Critical thinking can help us identify it and once we have identified it we will not be swayed by its so-called arguments.

Sometimes, the speaker or writer is simply lacking in the skills required to pass on information in a clear and precise way. This happens frequently, and makes for a lot of misunderstanding, some of which can be dangerous if the context is genuinely a matter of life and death (such as correct dosages of medicines). Again, critical thinking can help us deal with such issues by asking for clarification before proceeding with our task.

Sometimes, information is not structured logically. If someone is to follow a complex set of instructions or rules, they need to be given in the correct order, so that the recipient can see the logic, or time-frame that connects the different points. Without this, all we have is incoherent messages and we need to guess how they relate to each other or in what order they are to be understood or followed. Once again, critical thinking can assist by narrowing down the options by using logic, and by encouraging us to ask for further clarification on any ambiguous or downright unclear bits of information.