Last night on Squatchdetective Radio, I went on a diatribe about Critical Thinking (CT).

I guess it really wasn’t meant towards critical thinking but rather the misguided thought processes by some, both skeptic and believer alike and calling it CT.

The components of CT are:

  • Observation
  • Interpretation
  • Analysis
  • Inference
  • Evaluation
  • Explanation,
  • Meta-cognition

But there is a subtle flaw in the CT process, which is not necessarily a problem with the process, but with people in general.

The problem with people is explored by Roderick Hindery, author of “Indoctrination and Self-Deception or Free and Critical Thought?”

 

“The dispositional dimension of critical thinking is characterological. Its focus is in learning and developing the habitual intention to be truth-seeking, open-minded, systematic, analytical, inquisitive, confident in reasoning, and prudent in making judgments.

Those who are ambivalent on one or more of these aspects of the disposition toward critical thinking or who have an opposite disposition (intellectually arrogant, biased, intolerant, emotional, disorganized, lazy, heedless of consequences, indifferent toward new information, mistrustful of reasoning, or imprudent) are more likely to encounter problems in using their critical-thinking skills.

Failure to recognize the importance of correct dispositions can lead to various forms of self-deception and closed-mindedness, both individually and collectively.”

 

In truth, if someone says the use CT to call something a hoax or real, then they should be able to tell you concisely and clearly what has lead them to that assumption.

I said assumption, because so far no one has proven a Sasquatch to be real, nor really proven half what we call hoaxes…hoaxes.

See folks the way I see it and I think that most may agree, as a rule of thumb, I use something that trumps CT every time: Common Sense (CS).

Merriam-Webster defines CS as “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts."

mroth

Professor Michael S. Roth

In CT, in many cases CT can be used improperly as “intellectual one-up-man-ship,” according to an article written by Professor Michael S. Roth, intellectual historian and president of Wesleyan University. He goes on to write in his essay:

“A common way to show that one has sharpened one’s critical thinking is to display an ability to see through or undermine statements made by (or beliefs held by) others. Thus, our best students are really good at one aspect of critical thinking­—being critical. For many students today, being smart means being critical. To be able to show that Hegel’s concept of narrative foreclosed the non-European, or that Butler’s stance on vulnerability contradicts her conception of performativity, or that a tenured professor has failed to account for his own "privilege"—these are marks of sophistication, signs of one’s ability to participate fully in the academic tribe. But this participation, being entirely negative, is not only seriously unsatisfying; it is ultimately counterproductive.

…..we should be wary of creating a class of self-satisfied debunkers or, to use a currently fashionable word on campuses, people who like to "trouble" ideas. In overdeveloping the capacity to show how texts, institutions, or people fail to accomplish what they set out to do, we may be depriving students of the capacity to learn as much as possible from what they study. In a humanities culture in which being smart often means being a critical unmasker, our students may become too good at showing how things don’t make sense. That very skill may diminish their capacity to find or create meaning and direction in the books they read and the world in which they live.

Once outside the university, our students continue to score points by displaying the critical prowess for which they were rewarded in school. They wind up contributing to a cultural climate that has little tolerance for finding or making meaning, whose intellectuals and cultural commentators delight in being able to show that somebody else is not to be believed.”

 

So as the reader can see, CT has its advantages as well as major flaws, whether it is bias or some often seen in the community as political or “academic” one up-man-ship, in either case, the things that trump all is hard facts and evidence.

You cannot prove something a Bigfoot through CT, nor can you prove a hoax, unless you have evidence and hard facts.

There is no substitute for getting your hands dirty and getting evidence and facts and boots on the ground. CT is not a justification for not doing the field work.

Never mind all this  hoopla over CT, because in my opinion it rarely works to its full effect, due to people’s predisposed bias and beliefs, on both sides of the argument. It is definitely no substitute for a good ole fashioned good investigation work.

Because no matter how much CT is done, it cannot change evidence or the facts in a given situation.

Less thinky….more worky people!! Smile

Till Next Time,

Squatch-D

Advertisements