“The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.” — Christopher Hitchens
We are gathered here today to mourn the death of a dear friend and powerful ally — our Critical Thinking.
Its death could have been prevented had we not ignored it for so long, had we paid attention to its many warnings, had we watched less TV, had we scrolled less in search likes and little hearts.
Good bye, good friend. The effects of your death will be sorely felt across humanity.
What’s Around You?
Look around you. How many people do you know with whom you can have an intelligent, informed conversation?
Contrast that with the number of people you know who are self-absorbed ninnies constantly watching their reflection in the mirror.
How about the number of opinionated people shouting their unfounded beliefs from the rooftops, armed with figurative pitchforks, ready to fight (and sometimes kill) those who don’t agree with their illogical and unreasonable arguments?
Critical thinkers are quickly becoming a minority… and the effects of this can be felt nationwide, even world-wide if you’re strong enough to watch global news.
At this critical point in time, we have no time to cast blame and point fingers — although we have several conspicuous suspects.
At this point, we should be more interested in trying to resuscitate critical thinking. We should be giving it CPR and thumping its chest to the rhythm of “Staying Alive.”
The 5 Steps of Critical Thinking
This should go without saying, but the amount of people out there basing their opinions on every BUT knowledge is astounding.
You should not have an opinion on something if you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know.”
If you really care about the issue, dig deep and do your research. And remember, Facebook IS NOT a reliable source of reputable facts.
Now that you read all that information, make sure you understand it. This is a critical part of Critical Thinking. You cannot think critically if you don’t comprehend the information you read.
Comprehension is a funny thing because you don’t really comprehend anything until you understand it the way the author intended it. This has to be said because today, many people are hell-bent on misusing, misrepresenting, and distorting information. They take quotes out of context. They break, cut, glue, and tape together the information they like to use it to their own advantage.
Now that you understood the information and you have a general sense of the panorama, take everything apart as you would a puzzle, and examine each piece methodically. Why is this piece round? Why is this part crucial to the rest of the information?
Watch out — analyzing and understanding are not the same thing. I can understand why my neighbor is being such an asshole (his dog died recently), but I haven’t analyzed his situation. I don’t know why his dog died, how long he had it for, where he got it from, or what the dog meant to him.
Now that I know every piece of the puzzle, now that I understand in depth every argument, I combine this newly learned information with the information I already knew, thus enriching my own pre-existing puzzle.
This is the most exciting part of all! You get to form your own ideas, judgments and opinions based on what you learned! And who doesn’t enjoy having opinions?
You get to decide whether your previous belief is worth sticking to or if you should upgrade.
Note that critical thinking requires that you be willing to change your mind. If you want to be a critical thinker, you cannot get attached to any idea, hypothesis or belief, because new knowledge may be available later to flip everything on its head.
So don’t be a traditionalist. If your phone gets updates every month, why shouldn’t you?
Now that you learned how to think critically, go and preach your new knowledge. I mean it! Get up, and yell it from the rooftops. Civilization as we know may depend on it.
Good life and good health!