An introduction to Critical Thinking
I’m a bit of an anomaly. I was a shaman’s apprentice for over two decades, and am sort of a mystic, yet I have a deep respect and interest in critical thinking. Critical thinking is the analysis of evidence-based facts in order to form a fairly accurate judgment. The subject is complex, and several different definitions exist, which generally include the rational, skeptical, unbiased, analysis, or evaluation of factual evidence. Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities as well as a commitment to overcome native egocentrism and sociocentrism.
Being that I get so much joy out of the exploration of critical thinking (and its limitations), I believe you will be amused by a somewhat unconventional hobby that I have taken up, and greatly enjoy.
My closest friends find it a bit strange, though they do humor me, and I appreciate this. If others choose to judge me for this simple pleasure. I don’t care.
My hobby is talking on the phone with conspiracy theorists.
I love doing this, and I’m a good listener. Chemtrails, anti-vaxxers, Covid deniers, flat earthers, moon landing deniers, deep state, Qanon, the Swamp! I listen to all of them.
Keep in mind as I do this, that I don’t take anything they say seriously, but then again, I am not doing this to be being charitable. I take my time, what my friends describe as wasting my time, so I can learn to be a more tolerant, critical thinker.
Any person who has respect for evidence-based facts, deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, Bayes theorem of Conditional Probability, and how cognitive biases, and logical fallacies lead to circular reasoning, needs to be charitable enough to engage and listen to polite, communicative conspiracy theorists.
In my life, I am a committed game theorist. To strategize effectively in life one needs to see the importance of facts, rational thinking, and common sense. Most conspiracy theorists will lack two of the three. I say two of the three because if they lacked all three they probably would not and could not survive. In the jungle, they would be eaten by lions.
Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.
One of my favorite subjects of exploration, when I speak with conspiracy theorists, is the difference between correlation and causation.
Correlation means there is some relationship or pattern between the values of two variables, even if it is a minimal relationship or pattern. … Causation means that one event causes another event to occur.
An example of correlation would be a person who is whistling a tune for no apparent reason, who then turns on the radio and hears that song playing on the radio immediately.
Causation would be a person having too much to drink, falling down, and getting a concussion.
Correlation and causation are subjects that conspiracy theorists know nothing about, and if you told them about it, they would insist you are “using semantics to play mind games, just so you can ignore the fact that the earth is actually flat.”
One of these conspiracy theorists said he would listen to my point of view but only 2–3 paragraphs at a time.
My friend thinks this is all a waste of time, yet I disagree. I was often reminded by my Zen teacher that a beach is made up of billions of grains of sand, and any great idea was built on millions, if not billions of ideas that came before it.
Some conspiracy theorists have emotional issues that cannot be easily transcended. These folks just need to be right about everything, all of the time. There is likely nothing you can present, no matter how much sense it makes, that will change this person’s way of thinking.
But, there are some folks, who really want to learn. The challenge for them has always been that no one ever took the time to present and guide them with a road map for EEPPASA (effective, efficient, precise, productive, accurate, and self-aware) thinking.
When my friends hear what I do, why I do it, and who I do it with, they may become sympathetic but more often than not they will simply say, “I don’t have the mental or emotional band-with to deal with these people and their stupid ideas”.
This is my response to them. In life, we all need to do what gives us pleasure, and which gives our life meaning. I love teaching people and sharing ideas with them. It’s how I connect to humanity. Some people like to teach children, train dogs, give transformational speeches. I love to give certain types of people a chance to be heard, and a chance to learn things that can help them make wiser choices. Idea’s that if heard, understood, and applied might make their lives better and improve the lives of those they interact with. Do I succeed most of the time? No! Yet listening to these conspiracy theorists can be a type of meditation. No, much of what they believe does not make sense and even borders on the absurd.
Once you become a skilled critical thinker, you can then apply what you know to prospering in many unique ways. Below, Tim Deming describes 13 ways to change your life.
When you understand that outside circumstance do not take place in a vacuum; that they are a step in a long chain of unseen causes and effects then your entire perspective on life will change. By seeing where you fit in the big picture, you can come to know where your freedom lies. It also makes you more conscious when making choices. In this state, you are less inclined to complain about anything. Ponder the choices you have made in your life. How have these choices brought you to where you are?
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
A mind defined by a clarity of thought will create a life free of struggle, suffering, and complaints. Of course, to get anything done in life, you will need to make some basic predictions. Make them without attachment or expectation concerning the results. In such a situation, understanding the Butterfly Effect in the workings of your mind will help you to solve problems by effectively understanding the patterns that form cause-and-effect reactions.
About The Author: Lewis Harrison is a best-selling author who uses predictive analytics and applied game theory to isolate cost-effective solutions to all levels of business and social problems. His website is AskLewis.com.
Lewis created the Life Strategies Playbook Mentoring Program, the premier 8-week personalized and customized mentoring program
He can be reached by email at LewisCoaches@gmail.com. I will respond within 24-hours.