You can learn to argue with yourself. That’s actually how I get a lot of my thinking done.  I say, “Okay this is what I think.  What’s the counter argument to that or why do I think that way?” 

So force yourself almost to be in the debater mindset always.  It doesn't just make you more critical of yourself, it makes you critical of all the information that you're taking in, of everything that you’re reading, of everything that you’re watching, of all the constant news and other inputs that you get every day. 

The other good thing to do is get yourself a Watson [Sherlock Holmes character]. In the sense of get yourself someone with whom you can discuss things, someone who listens to you.  It's really good to talk things through and I think you often find that you see gaps in logic when you say something out loud that before you never really voiced. 

And so one of the ways you can do that is if you think that you know what you’re doing, actually pretend that you need to explain it to somebody else and explain it via out loud or you can even write it out.  So writing is a good exercise to which you can say, “Hey, did I really understand this” because writing shows gaps in logic very, very strongly.  So if I write something and I’m like wait that made total sense of my head but on the page it suddenly doesn’t make sense I have to try to figure out why that’s the case.  And anyone can do that. 

You don’t need anyone else, you don’t need to talk to yourself, you don’t need to imagine conversations.  All you have to do is write out your argument as if you were explaining it to someone else or write out your thinking as if you were explaining it to someone else. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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