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How to improve your logical reasoning

All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others

How logical thinking can help you

If we do not logically reason when faced with a problem we subject ourselves to fleeting, erratic or unpredictable emotions. Logical reasoning allows us to make rational decisions. It also increases our efficiency at finding resolutions to problems. For example, look at how the following large problem question is tackled logically;

Problem: “How do we solve global warming?” Large and overwhelming. But, what about if we break it into manageable chunks..

How do we reduce global carbon emissions by 2% every 6 months?” Ok, better.

Now what about, “What are the top three biggest contributors to global warming? How can we reduce their emissions by 2% every 6 months.” Even more specific, because it’s a smaller chunk. You can just keep going and going until you get chunks that you can digest.

So instead of thinking, “how can I solve this intractable problem?” try instead asking, “how many things cause this intractable problem?”  Then ask, how many things cause those problems. Eventually you will get to units small enough for you to make sense of them.

Techniques to improve your logical reasoning

An untrained mind should expect to master logical reasoning as much as an unpractised hand can master a piano. Here are the best methods to train your mind to logically reason;

1)  Try to differentiate between Observation and Inferences:

To improve your Logical Reasoning skills, it is important to differentiate between observations and inferences. Observation means using your senses such as hearing, seeing, smelling, touching to collect the required data or information. Inference is the conclusion we draw from that observation. Observation is more factual, whereas, inference is one’s opinion based on the observation. Similarly, try to differentiate between established facts and conjecturesFacts are things that are proved or believed to be true based on real occurrences, whereas, a conjecture is a calculated guess which is based on some prior knowledge or incomplete information. Once you have a clear understanding about facts, observations, inferences, your will be able to take better decisions.

2)  Make logical conclusions by thinking in conditional statements

Though it may sound silly, try to think in conditional statements and find causes and consequences of small and even insignificant facts. For example, let us assume that every time when it is snowing, it is cold outside. The sentence would say: “If it is snowing, it is cold outside”. In conditional sentences, if the premise (the first part of the sentence) is true, than the conclusion (the second part) is true also. Try to do that with other things to (If I drop my phone, it will break; If I do not eat, I will be hungry, etc), and constantly test if the relationship of the premise and the conclusion functions.

3)  Play card games

Challenging card games are not only fun to play, but they also improve your memory, focus and analytical skills.

4)  Read/watch murder mysteries

Reading/watching crime stories and detective novels requires logical thinking from readers. Try and solve the mystery before the author gives the plot away. A great tip is: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” So eliminate the impossible and the solution may become clearer to you. Breaking codes (found on the web) is another great brain exercise.

5)  Try to recognise patterns

Pattern recognition skills are necessary to improve your logical reasoning skills. Pattern recognition strengthens your mental, spatial abilities and your IQ. You must have come across a sequence of numbers, where you need to guess the next number based on a certain pattern. For taking effective decisions and coming to accurate conclusions, recognizing patterns is crucial.

6)  Have basic analytical values

Try to ensure your thought process is underpinned by the following values: anticipating (thinking about what is ahead), critical thinking (question everything), interpreting (seeking patterns), deciding (coming to a conclusion), and learning (from your mistakes).

Important takeaway

Just as it is important to physically exercise, it is also crucial to keep your brain active with challenging tasks. Logical reasoning has been proven to increase your cognitive abilities, memory retention and overall I.Q. In the same stroke remember that lots of decisions have been taken intuitively and people have become very successful from following their gut. So, acknowledging the limitation of logic is just as essential as applying it.

For more information on logical reasoning read Sophie Smith’s blog on Easy ways to sharpen your logical thinking

Image courtesy of Chakrapong Zyn on Shutterstock