Building Critical Thinking Skills
Assumptions vs. Inferences;
from the Cognitive Treatments website.
Building critical thinking is essential for overcoming
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and other mental disorders.
This technique can benefit you in many ways because you can use
critical thinking to dissect your thoughts systematically.
By dissecting your thoughts you can analyze each
part and then study the messages you discover to find ways to
To build your critical mind you have to
understand the parts of your thinking and its elements of reason.
These elements include purpose, questions, information, inference,
assumptions, viewpoints, concepts and implications.
When the mind is reasoning, these elements exist.
To take control of oneís thoughts, one needs to formulate both oneís
purpose and questions clearly. We can use our learning (Information)
to find relevant answers to our questions. This is when you meet the
subliminal and unconscious mind in which the answers to your
questions will become accurate. (Boost confidence and self-esteem)
Our minds can make logical inferences, which are
usually based on our assumptions. To understand these inferences is
to understand our viewpoints in which you will study to find
relevant viewpoints. Using concepts, we might justify and follow
implications of our decisions that we consider.
Focus on the elements of reasoning
When we build a critical mind it helps us to eliminate problems. We
need to focus on inferences and assumptions. When one focuses on the
elements one can learn to distinguish which inferences from oneís
assumptions are important to oneís intellectual skills. Since most
people confuse the two critical elements one might consider
inferences and compare them to assumptions.
Inferences compared to Assumptions
Inferences occur from stressors, yet they are intellectual acts
because we deduce or conjecture something in which one might decide
if something is true or false or if it assumed to be true. For
example, if you came at me with strong convictions, blaming me for
some action, I might infer that you are challenging me. This
inferred response may be real, imagined, or logical, illogical,
justified or unfair.
BPD patients can benefit from building critical
thinking skills because often their conjectures are illogical,
imagined, or unfair. This is not something that the patient can help
because it is a symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder Ė BPD.
Assumptions are hypotheses or theories, often
based on beliefs. We often assume something of others which turns
out to be unfair. For example, Jill doesnít like me. Yet, Jill says
hi every time she sees you. We assumed based on illogical reasoning.
(Mind reading) We recommend that you study information on mind
readers also from educational sources. These assumptions often lead
people to believe they can read minds or predict the future. This is
a symptom that is out of control and has no basis inlogic, realism,
justification and so forth because none of us has the ability to
read othersí minds.
Most of our assumptions are based on something we
learned, yet failed to question. This action becomes the part of a
system of beliefs.
System of beliefs explained
We may assume something based on our beliefs. Based on what we
believe we may assume that something is true. We use these beliefs
to interpret the world around us. If one believes that it is
dangerous to walk during the night in Detroit, one of the most
dangerous cities in the country, it is usually based on their
beliefs and comes from the stories they heard in the past. If our
belief has soundness, then our assumptions are sound as well. If our
belief is unjustified however, our assumptions are not realistic.
Our beliefs are often based on assumptions. For
example, you may assume that you will go to hell if you are a bad
person. This is part of a belief system that has been set up for
centuries and yet it has no realistic facts to prove such
Naturally, humans assume something based on their
beliefs. We make inferences based on those assumptions. It is our
natural way to make sense of who we are, what we are about, where we
are going and what are happening to us. We use these assumptions to
judge others, form interpretations and conclude our final decision
based on our beliefs that we have formed over the years.
Most times if you put a person in a situation,
they will find some meaning. People routinely infer to gain some
basis of understanding actions. Thus, like robots we make inferences
based on our beliefs; yet, without training, we notice these
assumptions as inferences.
Examples of inferences
When someone sees dark clouds in the sky they automatically assume
it will rain. Their inferences come from past experiences when they
had seen dark clouds in the sky and it rained. They do not think
further often because they expect rain. But, if they look back in
history they would know that dark clouds can move on quickly and sun
can shine in.
When someone with BPD sees a familiar person
frowning, they automatically think that the person is hurt, sad or
angry. People with BPD tend to infer that the person is hurt because
of something they had done or angry at them. A normal person with
critical thinking skills would consider all possibilities and all
aspects of the matter. Some people who are critical thinkers rarely
smile so an average person or someone with a mental disorder may
assume the person is hurt or angry. There is no justification behind
their assumptions in this case.
Inferences come from a strong belief system that
has not been challenged or reformed. It is due to the lack of
self-development that these belief systems continue into the future.
We see this when a person notices a tall man walking down the
streets. The person may automatically infer that the man is a
basketball player. Without critical thinking skills, the person may
not know that just because a person is tall it doesnít mean that he
is a basketball player. Another example: we see someone of Asian
culture and may automatically infer that this person is a genius at
solving math equations. The truth is not everyone who is Asian is
good at math. Most people base inferences and assumptions on what
they learned in the past.
Critical Think importance
The critical mind is a powerful weapon that allows us to tap into
the subliminal and unconscious mind to discover answers to our
questions and achieve a level of conscious realization. Recognition
comes to mind as we get to this level.
When one reaches a higher level of conscious awareness they begin to
recognize that their experiences are shaped by our inferences that
we made during those experiences. When one achieves recognition he
or she can separate experiences by dividing them into two
The mind in category one will evaluate the raw
data from our past experiences and compare it with his or her
interpretations of that data. The person then moves to consider the
inferences to determine what makes sense to them.
We all need to realize that our inferences are
severely influenced by oneís viewpoints and assumptions we made
about situations and people. Recognition is part of building the
critical mind so that we have a broader outlook that allows us to
explore situations and people more effectively. We develop an open
We all have different viewpoints. Therefore, to
infer that someone will abandon you based on your past experiences
and beliefs, is illogical thinking that causes major symptoms such
as suicidal threats, promiscuous behaviors, violence and so forth.
This means that people with BPD need to accept that everyone is
When you develop critical thinking skills, you
see the raw data in a different view. In other words, what you
assume will be more profoundly considered. For example, at one time
you may have inferred that Jill didnít like you, but after you build
your critical thinking skills you will see that Jill has viewpoints
just like you, which leads her to discover something new as well.
Jillís time is likely consumed in solving her own problems and this
has nothing to do with you. These assumptions connect to each
otherís viewpoints about situations and people.
An example of viewpoints is noted when one person may assume that
people who take care of themselves are responsible. Another person
may see that some things that happen in life are out of our control.
Does it mean that because the person sees that our survival is based
on major forces and events that are often out of our control, and
that if someone becomes ill, that the person is irresponsible? Not
at all, diseases develop and target both healthy and unhealthy
When you build critical thinking skills you
notice your inferences when they emerge. You also notice the
assumptions and the basis of those inferences as well as the
viewpoint of the world. You see more clearly that everything does
not revolve around you.
Critical Thinking - To develop such
skills, you need to start by practicing Ė notice your inferences and
try to discover which assumptions you drew lead up to this
inference. Once you notice your inferences write them down
immediately to help you evaluate your assumptions more effectively.
Commander of Critical Thinking
When you become aware of your inferences you make better decisions
because you will evaluate the underlying inferences based on your
assumptions. You will begin to see that you are the commander of
your critical thinking, especially when you gain more control over
Since most human inferences are embedded in your
assumptions we need to check all possible meanings before we make a
decision. For example, am I worthless? Do I have value? What good
qualities do I have that can help me to see my worth?
Every one of us daily continues to assume
something about ourselves, our mates, friends, jobs, children and
the world in general. Most of us will take something for granted
because we fail to question everything surrounding the situation or
person. Some of us often take things the wrong way. For example,
someone may go into a public place believing that people are judging
them. Most of these people do not realize that most people are so
busy trying to survive and develop themselves that they do not have
time to judge everyone on the streets.
Some people make assumptions without knowing it
or thinking about what they are considering. This means that most
times the assumptions these people make has no ground for fairness.
Thus, the question becomes apparent. How can we recognize our
inferences? How do our assumptions factor into our inferences? What
is our viewpoint of the world?
Critical thinking is built on studying
inferences and assumptions.
As a matter of daily practice, then, we can help people begin to
notice the inferences they are making within the content we teach.
We can help them identify inferences made by authors of a textbook
or of an article. Once they have identified these inferences, we can
ask them to figure out the assumptions that led to those inferences.
When we give them routine practice in identifying inferences and
assumptions, they begin to see that inferences will be illogical
when the assumptions that led to them are not justifiable. They
begin to see that whenever they make an inference, there are other
(perhaps more logical) inferences they could have made. They begin
to see high quality inferences as coming from good reasoning.
We can also help people think about the
inferences they make in daily situations and the assumptions that
lead to those inferences. As they become skilled in identifying
their inferences and assumptions, they are in a better position to
question the extent to which any of their assumptions are justified.
They can begin to ask questions, for example, Am I justified in
assuming that everyone eats lunch at 12:00 noon? Am I justified in
assuming that it usually rains when there are black clouds in the
sky? Am I justified in assuming that bumps on the head are only
caused by blows?
The point is that we all make many assumptions as we go about our
daily life and we ought to be able to recognize and question them.
As a person develops these critical intuitions, they increasingly
notice their inferences and those of others. They increasingly
notice what they and others are taking for granted. They
increasingly notice how their point of view shapes their
experiences. In turn, you feel better about yourself and about what
others think about you.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a painful disorder that
rarely gets better due to negligence on professional therapists part
and the patients. Yet, through a series of treatment programs that
addresses the symptoms and isolates them, one can in fact conquer
Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD.
This article was published on Thursday 25