ehowton (ehowton) wrote,

The Lovers, The Dreamers, and Me


Deny him his nature.

`An open mind is a mind of curiosity, wonder, learning, infinite possibilities and a beautiful desire for understanding.`

The Critical Thinking Community defines critical thinking as the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.

The Critical Thinking Company defines it as the identification and evaluation of evidence to guide decision making. A critical thinker uses broad in-depth analysis of evidence to make decisions and communicate his/her beliefs clearly and accurately.

CRITICALTHINKING.NET defines critical thinking as reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do.


In all three instances belief plays a role in critical thinking. Belief is a principle, a proposition or premise which is accepted as true. As belief is but the simplest form of mental representation - the lowest common denominator - it can be expanded through critical thinking. When someone learns a particular fact, they acquire a new belief.

Understand and acknowledge that facts can support beliefs, as well as disprove or nullify inaccurate or incorrect beliefs.

Therein lies two immediate issues with that:

  • People who "believe" only the former to be true, but not the latter.

  • People who don't "believe" facts.

Belief without substantiating evidence is fine; belief without personal understanding of that belief is not. WHY is it believed to be true? Critical thinking can help.

Analyzing, conceptualizing, defining, examining, inferring, listening, questioning, reasoning & synthesizing. Apply all of these to anything anyone says or any belief held and start taking personal responsibility through intellecutal independence which allows us to solve our own problems ourselves.

Critical thinking can be applied to everything, across the board by very easily asking or analyzing; Ask to clarify indistinct or ambiguous statements, ask for verification of statements, ask for specifics, rather than use of subjective language, consider the relationship of the statement to the issue, consider the superficiality of statements which do not address the complexity of the issue - to be truly fair and unbiased other points of view and different perspectives must be considered - and the combination of thoughts should be mutually supportive and make sense both individually and once assembled.*

But above all, be open-minded - how could one possibly think critically if the results were chosen to be ignored rather than applied? Critical thinkers are acutely aware of their own ignorance and biases and motivations and default societal rules and question it anyway, just in case they're wrong.

Its difficult at best to seriously consider ideas which may run contrary to decades of conditioning. `Humans can be very logical but more often than not are swayed from its use by many traps. Our long evolutionary history of reliance on the "herd" has compromised rational thought in favour of going along with consensus of opinion. To not do so places us outside the herd and thus into an unfavourable survival position.`* No taboo is presently known to be universal - can the mind be expanded to accept what is considered unnatural things?

Be passionate about critical thinking! I find each irrationality a challenge to unravel! For within lies truth and truth can soothe even the most hardened of disbelief in the closet critical thinker.

`Stop worrying about what job will bring you passion. What hobby. Or even what person. Be passionate and its spirit will call itself out, attracting life to a you that is ready, willing, and able to dance that kind of dance.`* Without a passion for effective communication and commitment to glorious mutual understanding, what else is left but confusion, and where confusion leads? Acting on a perception of what might have been said instead of asking for clarification skirts dangerously close to the opposite of critical thinking, which as I've come to understand it, is cognitive distortion.

And cognitive distortion is chock full of some of my most oft decried pet peeves:*

  • OVERGENEALIZATION – Extrapolating limited experiences and evidence to broad generalizations

  • WISHFUL THINKING - Expectation of certain outcomes based on performance of unrelated acts or utterances

  • DISQUALIFICATION OF POSITIVE - Discounting positive experiences for arbitrary, ad hoc reasons.

  • JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS - Reaching (usually negative) conclusions from little (if any) evidence.

    • MIND READING - Sense of access to special knowledge of the intentions or thoughts of others.

    • FORTUNE TELLING – Inflexible expectations for how things will turn out before they happen.

  • CATASTROPHIZING -Inability to foresee anything other than the worst possible outcome, however unlikely, or experiencing a situation as unbearable or impossible when it is just uncomfortable.

  • EMOTIONAL REASONING – Experiencing reality as a reflection of emotions, e.g. "I feel it, therefore it must be true."

  • SHOULD STATEMENTS – Patterns of thought which imply the way things "should" or "ought" to be rather than the actual situation the person is faced with, or having rigid rules which the person believes will "always apply" no matter what the circumstances are.

  • PERSONALIZATION - Attribution of personal responsibility (or causal role or blame) for events over which a person has no control.

And my personal favorite:

  • FALSE DICHOTOMY - All-or-nothing thinking; conception in absolute terms, like "always", "every", "never", and "there is no alternative"

More to the point, false dichotomy is generalized by BLACK AND WHITE THINKING:

What's wrong with the simplicity of black and white? To start with `using dichotomous language boosts dichotomous thinking, and the latter is a type of cognitive distortion that can negatively influence the way you feel about yourself. If you’re dealing with anxiety, casual usage of extremely polar words can lead you to magnify thoughts and events through a distorted lens that can ultimately make you more anxious.`*

Simply put, thinking critically can save us from the ill effects of polar words which can lead to polar moods. And this is something which can be accomplished from home! I imagine that critical thinking could very well be the cognitive behavioral therapy to less-severe cases of dysfunctional emotional-behavioral issues.

`If we think in false dichotomies we will tend to draw false conclusions. Black and white thinking often reflects an underlying reluctance or refusal to deal with the uncertainly that results from complexity in an absence of definite answers. But leaping to flawed conclusions because you can't tolerate the ambiguity of not knowing is not about truth or curiosity, but comfort.`*

Ah comfort. That warm blanket which is so effortless to draw up around us to shroud ourselves in the lazy pastime of assuming if we ignore the problem, it will surely go away. Or to even keep the pain we've so long identified with its now a part of our identity, intact.

Herein lies the crux, the everything about everything.

Most people don't care to think critically.

I was shocked by an epiphany I had concerning something I feel strongly about, that being not ever denying anyone their opinion. But if I am going to live by my own rules, I must certainly incorporate new information as it becomes available if I expect others to afford me the same courtesy. So here it goes:

If I arrive at my opinion through critical thinking and someone else arrives at their opinion though cognitive distortion, does that make their opinion wrong?

I am a critical thinker.

Its what I do.

Its what defines me.

Part time lover. Part time dreamer. Full time me.

`The process of being open-minded is tied to not judging, being flexible, learning, letting go of attachment. Those who can change their minds can change everything.`*

Tags: behavior, cognitive distortion, critical thinking, curiosity, personal responsibility, philosophy, psychology

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