Hi, I'm Larry and welcome to the first edition of "L's Critical Thinking Corner".
This blog is an attempt to apply critical thinking, reason and objectivity to the various topics of the day. It's also about raising the level of honesty and civility in our public discourse.
I'll generally pick a topic or two and do my best to apply objective and critical thinking to that particular topic or topics. This week, however, I'll just do a intro on why I started this blog.
So, why am I here?
I write because I hope, however modestly, to encourage us to have a civil, honest and reasoned conversation on the topics of the day. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure the current state of dialouge could be upgraded more than a little bit.
I also hope to challenge the conventional thinking on a more than a few topics.
Politics or idealogies? I really don't care about either. As a strong Independent, I have no party or idealogical affiliation or allegiance. Republican/Democrat, Conservative/Liberal—who cares, really? These are just meaningless labels that mostly serve to divide us. What I do care about are the issues, not the labels or the parties.
If I had to categorize myself into a label, I'd say "all of the above"!
The important thing to me is that I apply critical thinking to those issues that are important to me. Most of the talking heads on TV and radio don't seem to do this—so I have to think for myself.
That's pretty much what this comes down to. How many times have we been told throughout the years to "Think for Yourself"!
The problem with this is that we can be shoddy thinkers, especially when our emotions get in the way of objectivity. Perhaps you have seen people in your lives make really bad decisions because they were not thinking clearly about something in their lives because of their emotions.
Or, perhaps you know someone who blindly follows what someone is telling them to think—and, as an outside observer, you know the person is misleading them but you just can't do anything about it.
There is real harm that comes from not thinking critically. This harm can be financial (miracle water anyone?), physical or mental. I'm sure you can think of many examples from your own life experiences of harm that has come to people you know from not thinking critically.
Critical thinking is a powerful tool to prevent this sort of harm from occuring.
"What's the Harm" is a website I follow that documents examples of real harm that has happened to people by not thinking critically.
Here is an excerpt from the "about" page from the site:
"We are all confronted with new information daily. It comes to us via newspapers, radio, television, websites, conversation, advertising and so on. Sometimes it seems like a deluge.
Not all information is created equal. Some of it is correct. Some of it is incorrect. Some of it is carefully balanced. Some of it is heavily biased. Some of it is just plain crazy.
It is vital in the midst of this deluge that each of us be able to sort through all of this, keeping the useful information and discarding the rest. This requires the skill of critical thinking. Unfortunately, this is a skill that is often neglected in schools."
I would encourage everyone reading this to check the "What's the Harm" website to find examples of the many harms caused by not thinking critically.
Shoddy thinking is an easy trap to fall into and it is a lifelong challenge to keep it at bay. This blog is an attempt to help us all develop our critical thinking skills so we can prevent, or at least limit, harm from coming to us or to those around us.
I look forward to the conversations.
Topic for my next post: Critical thinking applied to "Global Warming" or is it "Climate Change"?