Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Critical Thinking and History

Post (c) Doris McCraw-writing as Angela Raines

The on-line dictionary defines Critical Thinking as: the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.

As many may know, the other Doris part of me researches and writes about historic events and people, specifically Colorado and Colorado Springs history, along with the women doctors who lived and worked in Colorado prior to 1900.

As I've stated before, it is difficult to divorce myself from preconceived ideas and my own personal experiences. When I find pieces of information, I try to collect as much and from as many different sources as I can, without making any opinion or judgment about what I find, until I've exhausted all options available. Believe me, much easier said than done.

One example: The murder trial that took place in Colorado Springs in 1879. If all I did was accept what I read in the paper, a man shot and killed another and later got what he deserved by being killed in a remote area of the state. There are both fact and opinion stated in the newspaper. But by digging deeper, the story is not so cut and dried. There are still many sources to be found and read beyond those I've located already. Once I have just the facts, then comes the distillation of those facts to find a conclusion. So far I've two other men who were outlaws, living and 'working' during the same time period. In fact two were in the territorial prison at the same time. So, the story is not so cut and dried. The information gathered definitely will require major critical thinking to find the truth based on any and all information found.

When it comes to the women doctors, the standard 'belief and opinion' based on what others have done, is that women had a difficult time entering and practicing in this profession. This had been the case for some, but as more information and resources have become available, the facts are not necessarily supporting the accepted belief. It will take more research, finding more of the stories of these women, before a definite answer is available. However, the answer will not be found if one doesn't question. That is a joy and frustration of research and critical thinking. It is also what drives one to learn and grow.

Have I reach a conclusion regarding the above pieces I'm researching. NO. That will take more research. What I do know is, to accept blindly what everyone says, without being objective and evaluating the information, is doing myself and others a disservice. To me, it has become important that I use critical thinking and do all I can to find the truth to the best of my ability, and form my judgment from there.  I am and never have been comfortable accepting 'opinions' without doing my 'due diligence' as we said when I worked in the Criminal Justice field. 

I had a music teacher once who told be I could sing the song anyway I liked, but in order to do it well, I had to learn it the correct way first.  I took those words to heart, and use them in my historic fiction and non-fiction. I can tell the stories I would like, but first I have to know the facts before I can manipulate them. 

So happy writing and keep the stories coming from your fingertips.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -

also writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 

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Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

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