London Atheist Activist Group (informal community) Message Board 1. MAIN FORUM - (non-Islam) › What epitomises critical thinking?

What epitomises critical thinking?

Georgi L.
Guffaw
London, GB
Post #: 2,689
We've been discussing that critical thinking should be taught in schools, but easier said than done, obviously. It got me thinking, what are the barriers ( faith being one big one of course) but are there other barriers?

Adrian's made the point that we seem to be predisposed towards binary thinking e.g. respect (for example) doesn't have to be a binary position. If you don't respect ( and why should you, without reason) then the default isn't disrespect but a neutral position.

So perhaps one of the fundamental barriers to critical thinking is that we do tend to think in binary terms, perhaps exacerbated by the fact that we're essentially a binary design i.e. does the fact that we have a front and back, left and right, up and down, left and right brain hemispheres... mean that we tend towards simplistic yes/no type thinking?. I don't know, but society does seem to tend towards polarised views - rather than where are you on the spectrum we're asked "are you left or right wing?", "are you straight or gay" , "are you creative or logical" etc etc.

Shouldn't the answer almost always be, "it depends"? But that doesn't fit into nice neat little tick boxes and sound bites ...
David S
hyponitrite
Shepperton, GB
Post #: 220
"... we seem to be predisposed towards binary thinking."

... and exemplified in Taoist philosophy, the Yin and Yang principle; as well as male & female, naturally!

MI
Roger
user 33309642
London, GB
Post #: 645
Left & Right - we don't have a middle hand!
Neil M.
user 137566492
Brentford, GB
Post #: 97
atheist and theist is a binary position too, if taken absolutely literally.
David S
hyponitrite
Shepperton, GB
Post #: 221
"Foreman of the jury, how do you find the defendant?"
"Ah ... on a scale of one to ten or will binary do, m'lud?"

MI
Oliver S.
user 141808712
London, GB
Post #: 13
Interesting discussion.

I do agree that people have a tendency to fall into simple binary thinking. I do try to avoid this as much as I can, not always successfully. I think my avoidance of binary thinking is probably related my distaste of having to identify as anything.

However, I think the more interesting question raised here is related to the principle of "respect". When engaged in a conversation with someone who you disagree with they will often say something like, "...but we have to respect each others opinions". No we don't! Moreover, if the person's opinion is completely unreasonable we don't even have to tolerate it.

Not respecting someones opinion does not mean that you disrespect the individual. All it means is that you do not respect some of their values, opinions, or positions. Unfortunately, many people do not see things this way and feel that a lack of respect for their opinion/position is disrespectful to them as an individual. The problem with this is that by demanding respect they are pleading to emotion to validate their opinion/position as equal. Yet, in all honesty not all positions/opinions are equal.
Georgi L.
Guffaw
London, GB
Post #: 2,692
Oliver, I find myself fully agreeing with you again (and they say getting atheists to agree is like herding cats, ;-))

We had a long discussion about 'respect', and it isn't easy to get some atheists, humanists etc, to see the points you've made. I think because society and media so infiltrates our subconscious with nonsense meaningless phrases like the one you mention " We have to respect each others opinions" or "everyone is entitled to believe what they want". When you actually think about what that means, it is a merely a way of avoiding the real issues e.g. right to believe what you want sounds all lovely and cuddly and right-on libertarian, but it essentially means that we're ignoring the fact that this belief impacts on this person's children's rights as well as the rights of the society they live in.

But the notion of saying "you have a RESPONSIBILITY to others", rather than "you have a right" isn't a vote winning soundbite. So governments won't say it, and neither will accomodationists/apologist non believers as they want to be seen as 'the good guys' and are often scared of any 'confrontation'. Hardly anyone likes confrontation but I do think it's pretty cowardly and downright unethical to pander to the person who is front of you by giving these "you have a right" messages, and conveniently ignoring those faceless people that you don't know or see, but upon whom this person's beliefs are negatively impacting.

You have probably seen this but just in case ...


This too is part of critical thinking, to THINK about what these meaningless phrases actually engender. In this case, a 'hands-off' position and even an apology from most people, when there is no cause for either. Which of course is why "I'm offended/insulted" is so often employed.


Oliver S.
user 141808712
London, GB
Post #: 14
Yes, I remember that Stephen Fry poster/meme. Was it displayed as an ad in Tube stations?
Georgi L.
Guffaw
London, GB
Post #: 2,694
Yes, I remember that Stephen Fry poster/meme. Was it displayed as an ad in Tube stations?
Wow wouldn't that be good. But sadly, no. There is no organisation with the money and/ or ovaries (;-)) to put out such a supposedly challenging message. I wish!
Brian
roy23
London, GB
Post #: 215
"critical thinking should be taught in schools"
Most children I meet in secondary schools have all ready had their mind's made up!
Parents and primary schools have had time to make their "beliefs" quite solid.
There are some critical thinking cources in school but not untill they are 14 yrs old.
( I would suggest that it is almost too late by then.)
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