(Friday Filosophy 8/11/23)
Happy Freakin’ Friday!
Last time we chatted I promised you a post on the dangers of making your critical thinking a little too critical. Let's jump into it…
The people who make amazing breakthroughs, achieve higher levels of success, and actually move the world forward, do so through superior critical thinking skills. And there may be no element more critical to the process than questioning premises. Even (and especially) the most common, conventional, and universally accepted premises.
When you question premises, your problem-solving skills improve, your imagination flourishes, and you'll find your creative expression exploding with possibilities. This can manifest in writing a ground-breaking opera, launching a unicorn startup, or anything in between. Instead of problems you see possibilities. The danger comes when you go too far, become an automatic contrarian and disbelieve everything. People who do this are just as easy to manipulate as those who accept everything blindly. Critical thinking means questioning and evaluating premises objectively and analytically – and reaching a rational, non-emotional conclusion based on the evidence. Which often means you discover that the premise you were questioning is a valid one.
It's keeping emotion out of this analysis that makes this difficult…
You're receiving literally thousands of messages a day from billboards, coffee mugs, streetwear, ads on the bus and subway, banner planes, and especially the ecosystem of traditional and social media. These last two in particular, need to enflame your emotions and fears to fuel their business model. Their goal is to trigger an emotional response that causes you to take an identity. It doesn’t even matter to them what identity you take: vaccine or anti-vaxxer, Democrat or Republican, masker or anti-masker, pro-life or pro-choice, Star Trek or Star Wars. Once you have an identity, you feel the need to defend it, and your emotions are easily triggered. You lose objectivity, your thought process declines, and you move from skeptical to cynical, and from cynical into the realm of conspiracy theories.
And with social media today, once you click on a link or two about a conspiracy theory, they'll start sending you enough validation to have you drinking the Kool-Aid in no time. Often successful, educated, and even highly intelligent people fall prey to this and essentially become functional kooks who have lost any connection to reality. (Ex: Alex Jones, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Lindell, RFK, Jr.)
You can question the premise of the Covid-19 vaccine and the benefits it was promised to deliver. An objective analysis will show that it did not deliver the way it was promised and there are serious questions about whether it should have even been administered to young people and certain other groups. But that doesn’t mean you should go down the conspiracy rabbit hole of population control, 5G cell towers, or Bill Gates surreptitiously inserting microchips.
Question the premise. Refuse the Kool-Aid.
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