4-word critical thinking process

I was skimming through one of my go to news sites this morning and was presented with three headlines (in large bold text) about AstraZeneca’s vaccine causing blood clots and being halted in a majority of European countries. Three minutes later those headlines disappeared and were replaced by “EU regulator ‘convinced’ vax benefit outweighs risk.”

This reminded me of the “4-word critical thinking process” that someone had taught me a long time ago (sadly, I don’t remember who):

The 4-word critical thinking process: Huh? Really? And? So? — question meaning, then question facts, then question completeness of information, then question significance.

Huh? Do I really understand the claim? Say what? Excuse me?
Really? Is it in fact true? Can I locate the evidence behind the claim? Are you absolutely certain?
And? Is anything important or any relevant fact not being mentioned? Do I have all the pertinent information? Are you giving me all the facts from all perspectives?
So? or So what?, does anything important depend on the claim being true or not? Where does this all lead?

And finally, if you want to take it one step further, you could ask, “Now What?”

In this particular case, I understood the claim but that’s as far as I could proceed before concluding that all the facts aren’t being presented. See https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9366963/Coronavirus-Pfizers-Covid-vaccine-linked-blood-clots-AstraZenecas-UK.html for a counter-perspective.

I’ve found these four words very useful when questioning claims and statements like:

  • Long-lived stable teams are the best
  • The answer is within the person being coached
  • You must Be Agile
  • etc.

Would love to hear if you’ve used something similar and what your experiences have been.

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