Sometimes it can be hard to navigate this world of ours. It’s so easy to be led down the wrong paths by the charlatan map-makers of human society. Merely trusting in this system ensures that you will be misled and scammed and made a fool. Without critical thinking ability, there is nothing standing between you and the lies. However, with critical thinking ability, there is nothing standing between you and the truth.
[Edit]Value being truthful.
- Make a choice. The truth is that sometimes the lies are kinder to the mind and heart. It’s easier to find comfort in the falsehood and fantasies human beings have made for themselves. You have to make the choice between truth and comfort. They aren’t always separate, or mutually exclusive, but they often are.
- You must be willing to endure the heartache and the mental distress for the sake of what is true. If you can’t accept that, you will never be able to truly think critically. You will always be biased based upon what you would rather believe to be true.
[Edit]Examine your own beliefs.
- Anyone can be critical of the things other people believe. You can point and laugh and consider them silly for the things they believe to be true. Meanwhile, you may hold onto something even more ridiculous and laughable, but you cannot see it.
- Make a list of the things that you hold to be true. Things that really mean something to you. Your personal philosophies and religious beliefs, the things you think about yourself, your biases about people and art and culture. This takes a long time, but it isn’t meant to be done all at once. It’s something you do everyday. When a thought occurs to you, ask yourself ‘Is this true or is this just something I’m hanging on to?’
- Wisdom comes from understanding other people, but enlightenment comes from understanding yourself. Start with and be most focused on yourself. You’re the only person that you can control. It’s most important that you are a critical thinker, not that you run everyone else’s beliefs through a series of tests.
[Edit]Don’t make false assumptions.
- Abandon assumption. There is no coincidence that we find ourselves often apologizing in the form of ‘Well, I assumed you meant…’ An assumption is where you sacrifice your senses and mental faculties for the sake of a guess. Why assume when you can deduce? Why believe when you can know? Stop assuming. The fact is, you get no credit for a guess even if you’re right. Don’t assume that the car next to you will yield, watch carefully and react accordingly. Don’t assume that you’re well and healthy, go to the doctor and find out.
- Assumption is what leads us to our most convincing, yet most incorrect beliefs. Ask yourself ‘Why do I believe this to be true? Is it founded?’ If not, abandon it. You might end up being right, but having evidence for your beliefs is more important than making correct guesses.
- There are a thousand books on logic. Go find one and read it. Learn about what is logically valid and what isn’t. For instance, populace bias. The number of people that believe in something does not correlate to its truth. Lies and fantasies are seductive and easier to adopt than hard truths. The greatest scientific discoveries in history have been rallied against and disbelieved passionately at one time or another. Don’t assume that what is popular is what’s true. Reason it out. Does it really make sense? Is there evidence?
[Edit]Use different perspectives.
- Have a broad basis of knowledge. While not everyone needs to learn the ins and outs of quantum physics, it’s important to remain well-informed. That which you are blind to can be used against you. Someone can convince you, perhaps, that the Latin sentence vini vidi vici means ‘Buy Paul’s snake oil’. That is, unless you know that it actually means ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’ or bother to look it up. Know your stuff.
- Especially science and history. The energy healers would try to sell you on their ability to regulate your levels of vital energy, or chi. Despite the fact that no scientific research has ever proven such energy to exist. Unless you know that, you might end up parting with a couple of hundred dollars for a stranger to wave his hands over you for twenty minutes. Unless you know the scientific method, you can’t identify pseudo-science.
[Edit]Don’t use too much jargon.
- Recognize Jargon. It’s literally everywhere. Advertising, medical research, natural ‘cures’, spirituality, self-help books, car salesmen, lawyers, banking institutions, and insurance companies. What does ‘all natural’ mean and how different is it from the alternative? Five dollars? What is ‘energy’ and has it been identified in scientific research? What are auras and past lives and are there possibly other ways a ‘psychic’ could know so much about you?
- You’ve got to be watchful. Most of the time, we glaze over these terms as though they actually mean something. It isn’t until we are enlightened about the subject that we can spot it all. Well, don’t wait to be scammed or made a fool of, recognize jargon for what it is. A bunch of empty words used to spruce up something you wouldn’t otherwise fall for.
- Ask as many as you want. If someone becomes nervous or something starts to fall apart because you’re asking too many questions, that’s a big red flag. Truthful, helpful and informative people want to be asked questions. Deceitful con-artists do not.
[Edit]Know the difference between impossible and improbable.
- A truly critical thinker isn’t even limited by the laws of logic. You may not adopt a belief without evidence, but a critical thinker also doesn’t hold a strong disbelief in the absence of it. There are trillions of things that we can know, but there are likely just as many things that we can’t. A critical thinker is hesitant to judge anything to be impossible. Implausible or improbable, yes. Impossible is much harder to prove.
- Take things one step at a time. The things that we latch on to, despite how false they are, become a part of the floorboards beneath our feet. They support who we are. If we remove them all at once with haste, we end up falling through this foundation and become lost. Replace these floorboards with solid reasoning and new beliefs, based on evidence, so that you will have a place to stand.
- Some truths are extremely difficult to deal with, such as truths about rape and molestation or deaths you have yet to accept. For these truths, it is suggested that you seek the help of others. A therapist if you can afford one, good friends if you have them, or a support group of some sort which can be found all over the internet and in your local area. The truth doesn’t have to be tackled alone.
- Use the Socratic Method of Questioning to get to the root of your beliefs. A critical thinker, above all else, knows that they know nothing but that they know nothing at all.
- Remember that people latch onto the fantasies you may have liberated yourself from. Think about the false beliefs we hang on to being an infected thumb. Now, imagine that someone comes along and tries to cut that thumb off all at once. Wouldn’t you do everything you could to defend yourself? Wouldn’t you fight and yell and plead with them that there is nothing wrong with your thumb? So, too, will the people you hope to inform. Tread lightly and ease people into the truths you discover. Be gentle. Let them diagnose the problem themselves, they will never believe your arguments. No matter how many times you tell them and how convincing you are.
- ↑ https://medium.com/zero-infinity/cognitive-dissonance-3e6f63c36a
- ↑ https://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/the-critical-mind-is-a-questioning-mind/481
- ↑ https://library.louisville.edu/ekstrom/criticalthinking/assumptions
- ↑ https://www.wired.com/2011/03/the-importance-of-logic-critical-thinking/
- ↑ https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4037