Saturday, October 20, 2012

Critical Thinking

Anytime I have a discussion with most people on practically any subject, I find that they will go way out of their way to "win". Of course, it's only natural to want to appear intelligent and not have to humble one's self at any cost, especially if the subject is about something they have strong beliefs in or they are very passionate about. Occasionally, during a heated discussion, I've wound up agreeing with them, yet they are still trying to argue. On other occasions, they find themselves agreeing with me, but rather than responding with, "I see what you're saying, that makes sense," or " I never looked at it that way, interesting", they will attack my character, or change subjects immediately, or the popular "talk over me" technique comes into play. One of the hardest things to learn or admit, is you don't know everything, and sometimes you're wrong.

You don't have to have the IQ of a genius to learn critical thinking, but you do have to learn to discipline your thought process. In order to learn, you first have to realize you don't know. You then have to take a journey down the path of information gathering. Go directly to the source whenever possible, go where ever the path leads you, and accept what you discover. Once you've gathered your "facts", then you have to filter out your own emotions. Emotions are very important in this process. You cannot allow them to override the truth. You have to be honest with yourself through out this entire process. You will wind up with one of two conclusions. You were either right, or you were wrong. That's it. Either way, you are miles ahead by going though the exercise. If you were wrong, you've learned the truth. If you were right, you will be able to articulate your position with confidence and a full understanding of the subject.

One of my favorite by-products of practicing critical thinking is being able to recognize the techniques being used when you are being mislead or deceived. This alone can help you in any discussion because once you see your being mislead, you can quickly turn the subject back to the point. Otherwise you find yourself going down this endless path of defense on subjects that wind up having nothing to do with what you were discussing, and if you choke up anywhere along the line, they take that as a victory of the entire discussion and you both walk away dumber than you started. Another favorite by product is that you'll discover who you are in a deeper sense than you ever knew. No two people travel the exact same path in applying critical thinking. Our life experiences alone divert these paths though we may end up at the same conclusion.

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