Friday, January 13, 2012

Essay: " The Rules Of Thinking Critically "

The seven blocks to critical thinking are things we need to, as a judge says, disregard in order to learn to think critically like any rational human being. So the rules for learning critical thinking must be designed by avoidance of the blocks to critical thinking.

BLOCK NUMBER ONE: Cultural conditioning and egocentric thinking. This is defined at the website <> as: "...Cultural conditioning refers to the process by which society’s attitudes and values are passed on to its members. Although the precise nature of cultural conditioning, including how it operates and what lasting effects it has is uncertain, cultures unquestionably condition their members. In other words, you and I are to a large degree the products of the particular place and time in which we were raised. We have been significantly shaped by the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of that setting. The assumptions derived from this conditioning are so embedded in our view of things that we probably aren’t even aware of much of it."
So, in order to be free of the burdens of cultural conditioning and egocentric thinking we need to completely disregard anything we think we know and start off fresh with relative sources of information, as described as "...customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits".

1) Opinion is never valid. The lesson here is that we have to assume that everything that we may have heard COULD BE COMPLETELY WRONG. Opinion doesn't count when it comes to normal everyday discourse or dialogue having to do with anything real and most of us live in the world of reality. Also, because with age and maturity we learn that the reason people who cherish their "opinion" do so because that is all they have. (E.G. "...To hell with facts and information, I have my opinion.") In a logical debate team they would be laughed off the podium.
2) Relevant knowledge is based on investigation of what has actually been proven to work instead of what you think might work based on the theories of someone else. Whenever we check closely the sources that tell us their theories then we find that they have to qualify every statement when confronted with inadequacies, with the IF THIS, THEN THIS statement that was never present in the original theory. (E.G. "... IF a) the cost of living went down and b) the amount of wages went up and c) there was NEVER ANY unemployment - THEN supply side spending would work properly.)
3) Next, one has to learn to find reliable sources of information and use a dictionary to define your own definition instead of what you THINK you know, based on (rule one) your opinion. First, since I said that, let's define what an opinion is. Most people know the old expression that, "... opinions are like assholes, everyone has one." (Most of us also have experienced having to live with someone who thinks sharing theirs is their right when what they are actually trying to do is control you and make you understand their opinion, even when it is based on zero factual information and has NO MERIT.)

Opinion is not part of critical thinking and according to it is defined as : "...
1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
2. A personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
3. The formal expression of a professional judgment: to ask for a second medical opinion.
4. Law . the formal statement by a judge or court of the reasoning and the principles of law used in reaching a decision of a case.
5. A judgment or estimate of a person or thing with respect to character, merit, etc.: to forfeit someone's good opinion. ..."

For our purposes, the most common one (first definition, highlighted) that applies to the everyday use of the word is sufficient. So opinion, as it is defined, rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty and according to the other definitions, they always use a professional, which most of us ARE NOT, to give an opinion about any important decision. That means that we base our opinions on somethng we assume to be true without the benefit of factual information. That is WRONG and we have to learn to remember that it is a mistake. We can no longer rely on "authority figures" or the general public around us as these have both been proven wrong time and time again. This is the first rule to critical thinking.