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A Beautiful Mind

Stanovich and West's Actively Open-Minded Thinking Scale

Posted on 2012.08.09 at 00:00
Current Location: 67114
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Anything is possible; everything is negotiable. Whatever the outer circumstances, I am ever perceiving inner pattern-forms and using real-world materials to operationalize them. Others may see what is and wonder why; I see what might be and say "Why not?!"*

I don't argue about money or children or lifestyles or work or politics or religion or the neighbors. Those are all simple byproducts of what I do argue about: communication. And the 3SD crowd can already see where this is headed - the inherent difficulty in communicating about communication, for if there were a level of communication already evident in any personal/professional relationship, communicating about communication wouldn't be an issue; nor would the arguments surrounding those simple byproducts have reason to exist.

But this isn't entirely where I tie my own hands and back myself into a corner. You see, I believe, wholly and sincerely, that behavior should be consistent no matter the subject. The nemesis of that belief is that behavior can and should be justified dependent upon the subject. At this level of communication, its difficult to avoid applying critical thinking skills if the argument is going to made that behavior shouldn't be expected to be consistent. Knowing what we know about behavior however, exposes pre-developmental comprehension of values if applied non-consistently. But I could be wrong. If I believe that behavior should be consistent despite the subject, it is my job to emotionally detach from the subject and view it as data. Why would we treat one bit of data differently than another bit of data? Once the arguments have been made on both sides, emotions can then be reapplied and examined objectively.

Those in the other school of thought believe they are capable of open-minded and non-subjective arguments across a dizzying array of subjects, save a few. In those few instances, open-mindedness should not be applied because their opinion is right and counter opinions are wrong. Its this I find most fascinating!

According to Baron (1991), “good thinking” is a complex process that incorporates, “optimal search for possibilities, evidence, and goals, and fairness in the search for evidence and in inference” (p. 172). Conversely, Baron characterizes aspects of “poor thinking” as inadequate search for evidence and the general tendency of people to allow their own biases to affect their reasoning (Baron, 1991, p. 172). Baron further delineates good and poor thinking by identifying what he believes to be the defining aspect of good thinking; that it is actively open-minded. This actively open-minded thinking component of good thinking incorporates a search for evidence, the extent to which is determined by the importance of the question, and an objectivity in one’s consideration and review of the evidence (Baron, 1991).*

These are the standardized questions which are weighed to determine if someone is a good thinker or a poor thinker. And remember to apply the the classic folk psychology test: If you’re concerned enough to ponder this question, you probably don’t have much to worry about. That said, as I've sifted through these questions I realize I know some really poor thinkers who think they are great thinkers - and that scares the bejesus outta me. Not the ones who don't honestly believe these things, rather those who believe it should apply to only some things. Because in the end, that's what it really boils down to. Being able to apply good thinking across the board, despite your beliefs.

  1. Even though freedom of speech for all groups is a worthwhile goal, it is unfortunately necessary to restrict the freedom of certain political groups.

  2. What beliefs you hold have more to do with your own personal character than the experiences that may have given rise to them.

  3. I tend to classify people as either for me or against me.

  4. A person should always consider new possibilities.

  5. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are for the truth and those who are against the truth.

  6. Changing your mind is a sign of weakness.

  7. I believe we should look to our religious authorities for decisions on moral issues.

  8. I think there are many wrong ways, but only one right way, to almost anything.

  9. It makes me happy and proud when someone famous holds the same beliefs that I do.

  10. Difficulties can usually be overcome by thinking about the problem, rather than through waiting for good fortune.

  11. There are a number of people I have come to hate because of the things they stand for.

  12. Abandoning a previous belief is a sign of strong character.

  13. No one can talk me out of something I know is right.

  14. Basically, I know everything I need to know about the important things in life.

  15. It is important to persevere in your beliefs even when evidence is brought to bear against them.

  16. Considering too many different opinions often leads to bad decisions.

  17. There are basically two kinds of people in this world, good and bad.

  18. I consider myself broad-minded and tolerant of other people's lifestyles.

  19. Certain beliefs are just too important to abandon no matter how good a case can be made against them.

  20. Most people just don't know what's good for them.

  21. It is a noble thing when someone holds the same beliefs as their parents.

  22. Coming to decisions quickly is a sign of wisdom.

  23. I believe that loyalty to one's ideals and principles is more important than "open-mindedness."

  24. Of all the different philosophies which exist in the world there is probably only one which is correct.

  25. My beliefs would not have been very different if I had been raised by a different set of parents.

  26. If I think longer about a problem I will be more likely to solve it.

  27. I believe that the different ideas of right and wrong that people in other societies have may be valid for them.

  28. Even if my environment (family, neighborhood, schools) had been different, I probably would have the same religious views.

  29. There is nothing wrong with being undecided about many issues.

  30. I believe that laws and social policies should change to reflect the needs of a changing world.

  31. My blood boils over whenever a person stubbornly refuses to admit he's wrong.

  32. I believe that the "new morality" of permissiveness is no morality at all.

  33. One should disregard evidence that conflicts with your established beliefs.

  34. Someone who attacks my beliefs is not insulting me personally.

  35. A group which tolerates too much difference of opinion among its members cannot exist for long.

  36. Often, when people criticize me, they don't have their facts straight.

  37. Beliefs should always be revised in response to new information or evidence.

  38. I think that if people don't know what they believe in by the time they're 25, there's something wrong with them.

  39. I believe letting students hear controversial speakers can only confuse and mislead them.

  40. Intuition is the best guide in making decisions.

  41. People should always take into consideration evidence that goes against their beliefs.



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