Creating a Critical Thinking Mastermind

In this post, we discussed the importance of having someone in your life that you can count on to give you good guidance and tell you the truth.  Then in the next post, I shared some thoughts on how you create those relationships.  Now let’s look at creating an extended mastermind of critical thinkers you can draw on.

There’s never been a better time in human history to create an extended mastermind than it is today.  Because of two resources that become more valuable literally every day.  These two awesome resources are libraries and the Internet.  Both of them provide you an astounding avenue to tap into the greatest minds of record, and the brightest people alive today.

The library, bookstores, and Amazon offer you the chance to read books.  Books are magical, because they’re not tweets, blog posts or even essays.  They offer the opportunity for deep dive explorations into fascinating people, subjects, arts, and disciplines in a form other medium do not.  The simple act of writing versus speaking forces you to organize your thoughts in a superior way.  Writing a great book requires you to organize your thoughts in an even higher level of sophistication.  The library of books is the second greatest resource on earth.

And the greatest resource on earth today is the Internet.  The Internet allows you to study virtually all acquired knowledge of the human race and social media gives you a chance to interact with the most brilliant minds around today.

I have no patience for the feeble-minded people who complain about the culture or content on social media platforms.  On sites like these, you’re the goddam program director!  You get to exclusively personalize your feed exactly how you desire it.  It’s not that hard.  If you’ve got a bunch of angry trolls in your feed, stop following them.  Be more mindful of who you want to hear from.

One warning note: Because of the astounding amount and detail of information on the Internet, you will discover a lot more flaws about people.  Someone might be a brilliant economist but are misogynistic, or they could be the world’s preeminent expert on a subject but in their younger years did something stupid.  We’ve created a culture in today’s society of always searching for ways to devalue and dismiss people.  (Evidenced by the frenzy of cancel culture.)  This is a tendency you should zealously guard against.

Another very important factor to consider:  If you only are following people who agree with your world view, you’re defeating the whole point of the exercise.  (Which is a polite way of saying making yourself dumber.) Here’s a thought experiment for you: If I didn’t read your posts, could I ascertain what political party you belong to simply by perusing the list of people you friended or followed? Could I guess your political philosophy simply by the media outlets you follow?  Could I make a safe assumption you’re a misogynist, racist, or asshole, simply because of the misogynists, racists, or assholes you follow?  Ninety nine percent of the time, I can.

In terms of our discussion here, there is one platform towering above the others in terms of your access to mad genius minds and that is Twitter.  As far as the other ones, my personal opinion of them is as follows:  Facebook and Instagram are better served for connecting with family, posing and social signaling, and providing your most intimate personal information to Mark Zuckerberg.  LinkedIn is designed for job hunting and selling stuff to the corporate world, while Tik-Tok works best for pedophiles, time wasters, and people who enjoy being spied on by foreign governments.  WhatsApp and Telegram closed groups can provide some great opportunities for connection with the kind of people you desire to meet, but again only if you’re okay with Zuckerberg or foreign governments having access to your cell phone.

Twitter really is the only platform that serves as a town square and discourse is its reason for being.  Spend as much time selecting who you follow on Twitter as you would spend studying what university you were going to attend.  Your timeline can teleport you into a world of wonder, growth, and adventure.  Another great benefit is Twitter search.  I find this much more valuable than traditional searches like Google.   If you search a topic, you’ll discover a bunch of smart people in that area, and for sure many who have different views from you.

Since I’m frequently asked who influences and has influenced me the most, here’s a brief list of some of those great minds, living and dead. My criterion has nothing to do with success, degrees, or IQ, but simply their thinking process and how much they challenge mine. I over-index on people who demonstrate lateral thinking, critical thinking, a willingness to ignore conventional group think, and “mad genius” as I discussed in my book of the same name.  I’m not even that impressed with their abilities for solving problems, as I am their gift for finding problems – which is a lot harder to do. These are the people that challenge my beliefs, question premises, rethink conventional wisdom, and often have me grinding my molars in frustration.  (Which is where the breakthroughs live.)  I’m not putting links, because a list like this is for curious, inquisitive, proactive people, not entitled, pedantic, or lazy ones.

Those no longer with us:

(In no particular order, except for the top name on the list.)

Ayn Rand

Christopher Hitchens

Charles Fillmore

David Bowie

James Allan

Prince

Henry Thoreau

Golda Meir

Bruce Lee

Ernest Holmes

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Moshe Dayan

Michael Jackson

Abraham Lincoln

Erwin Rommel

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

Stephen Hawking

Steve Jobs

Still Kickin’ it:

(In no particular order, except for the top name on the list.)

Elon Musk

Oprah Winfrey

Naval Ravikant

Ray Kurzweil

Marc Andreessen

Gary Kasparov

S.E. Cupp

Steve Jurvetson

Sam Harris

Madonna

Seth Godin

Thibaut

Michael Shermer

Kunal Sarkar

Van Jones

Lady Gaga

Tim Ferriss

Andrew Sullivan

Richard Dawkins

Om Malik

Bonus homework:  If you didn’t read my post, Don’t Volunteer for a Lobotomy yet, do that next.

Thoughts, questions, comments? Who am I missing?  Give me a shout below.

Peace,

- RG

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