Tuesday, 17 May 2011

1: Critical Thinking

Definition: critical thinking
1. Examining accuracy, credibility and validity through consideration of merits and faults
2. An attitude of meticulously challenging assumptions, conclusions and viewpoints

As with many quasi-religious sects there is a lack of critical thinking, reason and questioning our own views in animal rights groups.

·         Go out of your way to hear dissenting opinions and the questions that might go unasked in your social circle [1]
·         Seek out information direct from both sides of the issue.
·         Don’t believe something just because you are told it; avoid misinformation, exaggeration, pseudoscience and folklore by scrutinising primary source evidence.

·         Don’t accept beliefs just because they seem comfortable or superficially reasonable [2]
·         Question any belief you find appealing; employ thorough scientific scepticism - the first thing you should ask yourself is, 'How might I be wrong?'
·         Investigate opposing viewpoints with an attitude of interest and understanding.

·         Keep an open mind that there may be things we have not thought of.
·         Never have such a strong level of certainty that you close yourself off to new ideas.
·         We should constantly question our beliefs, especially when we think we are right.

To become a critical thinker, you have to be willing to accept the fact that your own ideas might be wrong[3]
In order to do that, you have to be a secure person.
An insecure person feels threatened when questioned.
A secure person is interested in hearing why they are being questioned.

Read on to the next page to begin...

“A good way of ridding yourself of certain kinds of dogmatism is to become aware of opinions held in social circles different from your own...diminishing the intensity of insular prejudice. If you cannot travel, seek out people with whom you disagree, and read a newspaper belonging to a party that is not yours”

"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen"
Do not look for arguments from authority.
Avoid apotheosis; be wary of quoting authority figures (eg. Gandhi) as if they were a commanding, infallible visionary. Placing the weight of your argument upon the words of one man can come back to bite you.

“you go to a great school not so much for knowledge as for arts and habits; for the habit of attention, for the art of expression, for the art of assuming at a moment's notice a new intellectual position, for the art of entering quickly into another person's thoughts, for the habit of submitting to censure and refutation, for the art of indicating assent or dissent in graduated terms, for the habit of regarding minute points of accuracy, for the art of working out what is possible in a given time, for taste, for discrimination, for mental courage, and for mental soberness”
The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks