There are many things that annoy me in life. To many to list out here but a few are for your further reading pleasure are anti-vaxxers, anti-facts and politics. With these and so many others it appears that people have chosen to ignore sanity and grasp at fantasy.
All these show us how people have allowed themselves to be lazy in their decision-making, short cutting this for feeling. There appears to be a natural predilection to forgo thought and go straight to bias. I watch shows where the link to reality so thin that at any moment I expect a witch to jump out of the screen, telling me to tap my heels and I’ll be in Kansas.
The one thing that I really believe would help the situation of that created “Alternative Facts” is critical thinking. I have heard enough about how the media should work harder to present the truth, or we should rely on politicians. What happened to personal accountability. If another person says they’re to busy to pay attention to make an evaluated decision I will throw their phone to the floor. What is more important than the fate of a human life, candy crush can wait.
Critical Thinking is something I pride myself on. I am not professing to be some sort of guru but I’d like to think of myself as an advocate. So many problems would be solved if critical thinking were to be applied, we would not have the inept politicians or ridiculous conspiracy theories.
The beauty of critical thinking is that I am not actually trying to sell you on an idea. I am trying to sell you on ideas. To question everything, unlike trying to convince you of my point of view I am saying think. Don’t believe me, employ critical thinking to make up your own mind.
Too many people are telling you what to think, I just say think. Critical thinking is important to my way of life and I’d like to share three thoughts with you on it. This weeks Big Three:
1. Scientology and Cults.
Cults (which Scientology is one) prey on the vulnerable to meet the ends of their powerful leadership. Cults take advantage of their followers for the enrichment of their leaders, wether it be for money, sex or just power. They use techniques to stop people’s thoughts.
I saw Leah Remini on Real Time and she explained that she wouldn’t even look at critical materials. The “church” would find out and punish you for it. In time you just stop taking in the information. She said she was shocked when she learnt about Scientology, decades in the “church” but hidden from it.
It’s not hard to imagine how this is possible. We all have the potential for bias that can cause you to make poor decisions. This even more strong when you have negative reinforcement applied.
We have all been in love, and at times we don’t make the best decisions. In the cult you are not just in love with a person but an immortal idea. I can imagine that would be a powerful feeling if you allowed yourself to believe.
Critical thinking burns through bias, to question breaks the power of a cult. If this was not true than why would questions be so damned. This is true of more conventional religions as well. Asking questions of even the most sensitive subjects expands your understanding, breaks the haze of taboo.
To follow a religion which professes the key to happiness is great if you live in a movie. In the real world it asks you to give your capacity for thought.
I have an interest in cults because I don’t fully understand how it happens. What I do know is that if members truly questioned they wouldn’t stay. Why can’t I see my family? If you give up this basic question what hope do you have.
If any cult had the answer they would not need to manipulate you to stay. If they had the true message then they would tell all, not just those who pay. It is not a giant leap to apply critical thought yet we seem incapable as a species.
2. Where Science is Strong, Religion is Weak.
It is not a coincidence that in societies that have a greater reliance on science, religion seems to shrink. If you think of scientific knowledge in general knowledge, those who embrace it seem to give up on religion.
This is an example of the power critical thinking has. Science is critical thinking, yes there is bias but it is to complicated for this little post. The power of science is to look out into the world and ask why? It’s as simple as that.
Science has brought a great deal of light to the world and it seems that when you have critical thinking you’re more inclined to give up on myth. You no longer believe Helios drags the sun behind his chariot to bring on the day. You know that we move around the sun due to gravitational forces.
Myth fills in the gaps, as the human mind detests not knowing. This is a downfall of critical thinking and where religion comes in to fill the void. Critical thinking can end with an answer of I don’t know. It is a scary proposition for many, this could be why so many cling to fallacies. This is why people believe the universe is thousands of years old and god created it.
The darkness of not know is easily filled. The more we know the less religion has a place. As we will never know all I think we are stuck with religion for the foreseeable future. It is a good case to prove the power of critical thinking though. For centuries we believed in a God that made the rules of the universe, but with every apple that falls we get closer to the truth.
3. How do we Develop Critical Thinking?
This is perhaps a question we should ask instead of how do we make others more truthful. This may seem bleak but we are inclined to mistruths. Critical thinking takes time to develop and its difficult. To question your reality, the most basic truths can be terrifying. What’s more is you could find that the comfort you believed in was a myth.
To ask why is to develop your critical thinking. To explore philosophy I truly believe will expand your critical thinking ability. The point of philosophy is to ask why? To question the most strongly held beliefs.
When I was at school philosophy was not a subject we studied, and when we touched on it it was dry. Frankly it was boring to be taught about ancient greek philosophers. To delve deep is to uncover something so beneficial. You have to break through the boredom, and we as a society need to find a way to engage better with young philosophers.
It is a strong belief that we should make our younger generations ask why. Not just where we have the answers but also were there are none, to get comfortable with not knowing. If that was possible then we would not have a public that reaches for the closest answer no matter its standing.
I remember the biggest thing I applied critical thought to and that was this question: is there a god? Now to those who know me now, and those who have read my blogs might be surprised by this. Now I am comfortable with my beliefs but when I started to question, it was terrifying.
I didn’t come from an overtly religious family but we believed in God. Then the things I saw, what I learnt made me question it. First I threw out the bible and its assertions. Then I threw out the idea of a religion knowing the truth. For a long time I was agnostic.
Then I took the plunge and with all the information I had I said I don’t believe in God. It was not without fear, and often I wish I could go back to having certainty. What I gained was truth, and critical thinking. That terrifying time made me realise the power of asking why.
I am not saying you need to go through something like that to develop critical thinking but you need to always ask why. No matter the subject or how much you love the idea. The truth is all we have but I understand why people go to the warmth of myth.
Writing this post I began to remember that time and also the fear of the truth. I also see the pain that so many falsehoods cause.
Our geopolitical environment exists as it does because of the lack of critical thinking. Apply it today, to something big or small. Apply it to this article, perhaps the irony of critically thinking about critical thinking is just what we need.