Edition: 032617b – Words: 1390 – Audio: 11:16
This is what’s lacking and I am guessing there are people, maybe even reading this, that think they are a pinnacle of critical thought. Um.. no. Let’s start simple here… the definition of critical thinking…
“…the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue to form a judgment.”
Just because a person has liberal views does that automatically make that person a godless, Constitution-destroying, socialist-commie-pinko, welfare-loving, Clinton-loving, conspiratorial, send-us-your-tired-your-poor refugee embracing, welcome-to-all-terrorists, gun-control-loving, piece of sh**? Not sure I see a lot of critical thinking to reach that conclusion. Hence, it’s an idiotic opinion, not worthy of anyone’s time. On the other hand, equally absurd is thinking all Trumpsters… ok.. Trump supporters, are rural trailer trash good-old-boys, unemployed, uneducated, beer swilling, wife-beater shirt wearing, gun loving, white racists, with a fat wife, three kids, and a rusty pickup in the front yard with a Confederate flag sticker on the back window (or if from a northern red state, an old faded Clinton/Gore sticker).
The “Good” Trumpsters –
Here’s what I perceive as being a more common sense, “higher road” approach. Whether it was only 46% who got Trump elected or not, a large number of those folks are not the extreme right, white racist trailer trash types. Yes, it’s a free country and we can believe in white racism. But thankfully most people do not fall into that category… and to me they have idiotic opinions and don’t really count in the grand scheme of things (thankfully) for any number of anti-social reasons. But my point here is that there were a large number of voters, many who previously voted democratic, who are really disenfranchised with “the system” for various reasons. They are fellow Americans who feel they have been left out. They feel their situation is so extreme that they didn’t give a damn about Trump’s character and abilities or the pussy grabbing but rather became vulnerable to his maverick rhetoric. Hillary’s emails were more important to them to avoid than Trump’s diminished moral character, lack of political experience and abilities. These are the target folks I would like to engage.. and for two reasons.
The first is to try and understand where they are coming from and see if there is a way I could support (in my own menial way) efforts to address their problems. After all, they are fellow Americans. On the other hand, there is a bigger picture involved in being an American; a responsibility to the world in order for our country to maintain it’s economic leadership and security. That’s where critical thinking comes into the picture. It’s understanding that it’s way more than just emotional outbursts and lashing out because you don’t have your share of some pie you feel you are entitled to have.
The second reason is to convey why my opinion is what it is. I am certainly no rich guy; hell, I’m into retirement age now and I am one of those who didn’t bother with some financial retirement strategy decades ago. I’ve often lamented that before the election I was a liberal conservative. Parties have changed and so have the labels so I dunno what I am at the moment. So my political opinions are not formulated by some lack of economic security I would prefer having. Also, I accept responsibility for my life. I blame no one for where I am currently at on the money tree. I made choices, not all were good or what some might presume to assign as “not smart”, but they were my choices to make at the time. Some choices were good, and I stick by them. My whole point here is that I am never set in my opinions to the point that I can’t consider other ideas. THAT’s the basis for a level of critical thinking. I like to engage with folks who take life in a balance and not constantly assigning blame.
An Example of A Critical Thought Process –
Recently I was at a conservative blog site and the post was a warning about the impending spread of Muslims immigrants somehow imposing Islam across America. The author’s example was a small rural town in Michigan. So many Muslim immigrants had settled in the community that it forced the closing of a long-standing Polish deli in the center of town. The owner said that due to the influx of immigrants business declined rapidly to the point where he had to close down. Of course the author made a connection that those Muslim immigrants were somehow a vanguard coming to rural America to displace Christianity and bring in Sharia law.
Now, there were two ways for me to handle that information. I could have just jumped on the typical far right band wagon and accept that information at face value, grab a beer from the fridge, and go dry-fire my favorite gun.
Or… break down all that information by stripping the intended emotion the author wanted from me as a reader, and explore some background. Obviously my own common sense kicked in and that fed my reply to that author my question as to how much research he did in forming that opinion. The first thing I brought up is what made the long-standing residents, who obviously liked the Polish deli for generations, leave the town? Then I asked, why might a bunch of immigrants decide to live in that community to the point that their mere presence in numbers starting closing businesses (or A business)?
My first thought was the common sense thought… we are talking Michigan here.. and rural Michigan on top of that. How much more economically depressed could an area get, what with the reduction in auto manufacturing and the huge ripple effect across the state? Would it be possible that the changing residential demographics of that town over the years had resulted in a diminishing population in that rural town? If so, that might lead to deflated real estate values big time. Where might immigrants might want to live to avoid the possible racial problems and expense of urban living? Makes some sense that they might settle in a small, rural, depressed land value town.
I told the author that all he had to do would be to check with the local census to see population trends over the years… get some idea of the kinds of new residents settling in the area… ages, family data… to try and establish credibility for the conclusions he was drawing for the Polish deli going out of business. You see.. THAT is critical thinking. In essence, this author created his own “news” to fit the emotional response that fit his own personal political position of passing on fear. More than anything, this level of ignorance is inexcusable, but all too much common place.. especially on the far right.
It’s All About How You Arrived At Your Opinion –
Yet while I promote critical thinking I am fully aware that in spite of any critical thinking process people can still end up with different, and very diverse, conclusions. It is rather like the old math teaching concept of the early 1960’s called “New Math”. (You can look it up yourself for more detail, or you can check out a light and entertaining post I made in 2013 on my old blog about my experience going through that period HERE.)
The whole idea of New Math was the focus, not on getting the correct answer, but rather on how you arrived at your answer. Application of critical thinking is the same thing. It’s how you arrived at your opinion rather than the end result of the opinion itself. I have a greater respect for how you arrived at your opinion, than in the possibility your opinion agrees with mine.
But, critical thinking is just part of analyzing the stuff you read or listen to in the world. You have to also consider the sources of where you get information.. and that requires… Media Literacy… in Part 3.