The Myth of Critical Thinking

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    For some time now I have suspected that the much lauded skill called "critical thinking" that is promoted by the online skeptic community is something of a myth, much like the equally hyped and much recommended "scientific method" that no real scientist ever actually uses. Even the most determined efforts to nail down what this term "critical thinking" actually means usually turn up with such generic vagaries and empty generalizations that one is left wondering why it was even invented in the first place. Wasn't just "thinking" good enough? It all seems to me a futile effort to moralize thinking into some objective procedure that only skeptics know how to perform. More often than not it's an excuse to dismiss a line of thinking as not being "critical" enough and so invalidated purely on those grounds. I suspect it is a hearkening back to the enlightenment myth of Reason as the ultimate revealer of Truth. A modern myth more proper to a treatise by Locke or Kant than to modern thinkers. Imagine my surprise upon coming across someone of the same opinion as I on this matter, and with the proper writing skills to express it far better than I ever could:
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    "Pundits, skeptics, and the educators of America are largely convinced that belief in strange phenomena, illogical political choices, and all manner of social ills are the result of a generalized poverty in an elusive and ambiguously defined faculty called “critical thinking”, a phrase which has come to mean pretty much whatever we want it to mean, as long as you agree with me. Apparently there is a mysterious meta-discipline out there reputed to arm the unwary with the tools to think properly, to deftly discern fact from fiction, and cut to the chase that is reality, allowing its acolytes to not just gather the appropriate facts, but also to analyze them without being handicapped by nebulous and pernicious influences such as culture, bias, and indeterminacy.

    Woe is us, the great unwashed who never learned to fire our neurons in the right order, and thus are prisoners of our own stupidity, fantasy, or madness. Science is of course held to be the great equalizer, providing an epistemology that actively promotes critical thinking. Sadly, not everyone can be a scientist, including many scientists. Enter the professionalized skeptic, who convinced of the mental inferiority of most of the human race recognizes we cannot train every Tom, Dick, and Harriet in scientific method for application in daily life when we mostly just want to get our bagels toasted and get on with our business, and despairingly promise that much of our uncertainty, the ambiguity of human existence, the vertigo-inducing ebb and flow of cultural norms and values, the mismatch between our dreams and our reality can be swept aside if we simply promote this white rabbit called critical thinking.

    When directed towards anomalies, strange phenomena, psychic powers, ghoulies and ghosties, and long-leggedy beasties, and things that go bump in the night, you’ll be pleased to hear that the application of critical thinking to the matter has abundantly elucidated their ontological status to the satisfaction of the skeptic. They just don’t exist, no doubt a great comfort to those who have perceived, encountered, or otherwise interacted with the weirdness of the universe. Were they only more rigorous in their application of critical thinking, they could have saved themselves a lot of heartache, psychiatrist’s bills, and time spent watching reality television.

    There are a minority of pedagogical scholars out there that have temperamentally raised the question of what the hell critical thinking actually is and why we are so convinced that it will solve all our problems? This is quite understandable as “a close reading of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects, Grades K–12, reveals that nowhere in the sixty-six page document do the literacy standards define or address what “critical thinking” is (Anderson, 2015, p83). This has certainly not prevented skeptics from pursuing it as the Holy Grail of their agenda, that is, a population armored with acceptable facts, steeped in critical thinking skills, hell bent on dismissing anything unnatural as misperception of the natural or wishful thinking. Oh, what paradise on Earth it would be.

    The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking, which one would assume has a pretty good grasp on what the proclivities we wish to instill are, defines critical thinking as the “intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” Nice and broad. In fact, the rest of us just call it “thinking”, skillfully or otherwise.

    As each generation looks around at the mess we’ve made of the world, they inevitably come to the conclusion that the real problem is the youngsters of the age are lacking in some fundamental faculty that guided their wiser elders. Critical Thinking is just the latest popular label for this intellectual will-o-wisp, a content-free, imaginary standard of rationality that allows one to identify an organic cause for why someone doesn’t agree with me. Marshalling one’s forces behind the cause of “critical thinking” is a desperate plea for certainty in an uncertain universe. The Information Age, once heralded as a means for every individual to access data needed to make informed decisions, thereby decreasing ambiguity and uncertainty in our assessment of the world around us, has simply increased uncertainty, as multitudinous voices compete for our mind-space, lauding their own brand of analysis as the true bastion of “critical thinking” while the rest of us are mired in the Dark Ages of Fake News, Media Bubbles, Belief Systems, and an inability to realize and appreciate the genius of the skeptic in piercing through all these ideologies to the underlying reality. Critical Thinking, rather than an exhortation to expand and entertain a thought or idea without necessarily accepting it, is yet another attempt to establish the boundaries of the discussion or as philosopher Henri Bergson said, “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”--------------https://esoterx.com/2017/01/13/where-the...-thinking/
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
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  3. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    I hope this trolling post upsets the forum as much as you hope.

    Good luck!
     
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  5. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Trolling post? Yes..evil post. Misbehaving post. Naughty post.. Viral post--infecting minds with alternative ways of seeing things...We can't have that now can we?
     
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  7. Michael 345 Valued Senior Member

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    NO

    We must critically think

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  8. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    That sounds familiar.

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  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    ZZZZzzzz.............

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  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Esoteryx also has this to say, in the first paragraph of its About page:
    These are perfectly fine views to hold, for both the author and Magical Realist, who has brought this to us.

    The problem comes when one decides to purport and defend such views on a science forum. Whether or not they are posted in (or get summarily moved to) a pseudo-science subforum does not remove the propensity for science-minded people to poke holes in them. Presumably, that's why one would choose to post it in a science forum, rather than, say, a forum where members are largely amenable to alternative ways of thinking.

    So it causes one to ask the question:
    Why wilfully post stuff where you know how it will be analyzed - because that's what this place is about?
    And more importantly:
    Why complain when it goes exactly as you - and everyone else - expects? Why expect special treatment?
     
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  11. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    And so now we trot out all the transparent attempts to censor my thread here.

    I'm posting in a philosophy forum in case you didn't notice..
     
  12. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    I did. I am talking about that which inspired this thread, which lies elsewhere.
     
  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    What inspired my thread was "critical thinking" and what it is supposed to represent. How do YOU define critical thinking?
     
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Indeed.

    Not four hours ago, you expressed a virtually identical sentiment here:
    The question remains: why post things that will be challenged using critical thinking (whether or not one likes it) in a place where one knows what one is going to get? Why complain when one gets it?

    It is your right to post. It is not your right to not be challenged.
     
  15. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Where have I complained about being challenged on what critical thinking is or even that it is valid? Quote it..

    Again..How do you define critical thinking?
     
  16. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    I just did.

    You said you don't know what it is, and if that's it, you want no part of it.

    Well it's what a science forum is about. Why do you keep posting here, knowing what you'll get? Why challenge what a science forum is about?
     
  17. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Right..that's not complaining about what critical thinking is. It's admitting it is an unknown to me. Totally different line of thought there.

    Again..how do you define "critical thinking"?
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
  18. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    And then four hours after encountering the term, you start a thread denigrating it . Including labeling it as a "myth" in the title, meaning your primary motive is to dismiss it.

    This thread is the complaint.

    Wouldn't it behoove you to bone up on basic methods for public discussion, debate, offering and defending arguments before doing all the name-calling?

    You call people liars and trolls when what you really mean is "I don't understand this logic."

    You've kind of shot yourself in the foot there.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
  19. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    But you said I was complaining about it in those earlier posts. I was not.


    Show me where I haven't reasoned correctly. What step did I miss? What name-calling did I use? How would critical thinking have prevented me from asking these simple questions? Again..what is your definition of critical thinking?
     
  20. Michael 345 Valued Senior Member

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    Define ' for some time ' please

    Also below is a definetion of scientific method

    scientific method
    noun
    • : principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledgeinvolving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses
    First use: circa 1810

    Mirriam-Webster

    which you say no real scientist ever actually uses

    Can you please summarise what method(s) real scientist do use during their working days?

    A bit long winded I grant you however surprise surprise not ever person thinks like that

    Or even shortened version which you designate just thinking

    Those people who don't critically think or even think their thought processes go like this in a two step process
    1. I don't understand
    2. god did it
    Ding brain shut down

    Lets make it easy and keep it down to two generations
    Old ones
    Young ones

    Young ones

    Old ones


    Young ones

    Young ones

    Old ones

    Summary

    YOUNG ONES - think OLD ONES made a mess because - YOUNG ONES conclude the real problem is - the YOUNG ONES lack in some fundamental faculty that guided their wiser elders OLD ONES were guided by

    Presumably the same OLD ONES who stuffed up

    Try it for size and see if that makes sense please

    Ya critical thinking skills have nothing to offer

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    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
  21. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Here is a (hypothetical) example of a failure in critical thinking:

    Assertion: A pixie is an unidentified flying object.
    Counter: Pixies and UFOs are not the same thing.

    Flaw: The assertion does not state that they are the same thing.
    'Unidentified flying object' is a category of many things, to which (the assertion claims) pixies belong.

    A simpler example:

    Assertion: 3 is a number.
    Counter: 3 and numbers are not the same thing,

    Flaw: The assertion does not state that they are the same thing.
    'numbers' is a category of many things - to which (the assertion claims) 3 belongs.

    This need never have happened. The counter argument is not an example of thinking critically.
    But, spelled out, it is trivial to see how the application of critical thinking could have avoided the flaw.
     
  22. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    They don't use any method at all. They use their reason and logic and empirical data to arrive at their own conclusions.

    Snip the rest of the verbal salad.
     
  23. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Initial flaw right there. A pixie is defined as a mythical being with pointed ears and a pointed hat. That's it. It doesn't mesh with ufo at all.

    pix·ie
    ˈpiksē/
    noun
    1. 1.
      a supernatural being in folklore and children's stories, typically portrayed as small and humanlike in form, with pointed ears and a pointed hat, and mischievous in character.
    https://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome-psyapi2&rlz=1C1CHZL_enUS699US699&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8&q=define pixie&oq=define pixie&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.5741j1j8
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017

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