KungfuHobbit prefers to call critical thinking; ‘How to think, not what to think’. That’s just fine with me. And if critical thinking is that, than I guess I am #TeamCritical. It would be great if our culture were not closed minded and instead less obsessed with collecting facts and open to learning how to think about such facts. This type of thinking is the sign of a true genius. It is also the sign of an enlightened and free person; a true citizen.
I went and grabbed KungfuHobbit’s 10 Commandments of Good Thinking for your reading pleasure. I will most definitely present this to my students this upcoming fall semester. But the commandments are also a great reminder to myself and others on how to think in the most effective and brilliant way no matter the venue or time.
The Ten Commandments of Good Thinking
1. Always be able to change your mind.
2. Seek out criticism and counterarguments to your views.
Subject your beliefs to vicious and relentless attack.
Be curious how you might be wrong – there may be something you haven’t thought of.
3. Strength of opinion should be proportional to your investigation and understanding of its criticisms, counterarguments and alternatives.
Mild unless you consider yourself an expert.
Especially beware certainty.
4. Doubt everything. Challenge. Criticise.
Question what you are told. Ask ‘why?’ Demand evidence.
5. Go to the primary source.
To avoid second-hand distortions. Use language precisely.
6. Beware being emotionally infused with and attached to an idea.
For meaning, purpose, identity, pride, self-worth or in-group belonging.
Cultism and attachment make it harder to change your mind in the face of reason.
7. Beware knee-jerk reactions and opinion formations.
Be thorough, hesitant and deliberative.
Analyse soberly with thought and reason over gut feeling.
8. Beware logical fallacies*.
Particularly the trinity of appeal to tradition, authority and popularity.
9. Beware cognitive biases*.
Particularly reasoning under uncertainty, groupthink and in-group/out-group tribalism.
The hardest test is resistance to conformity with the prevailing opinion in one’s own in-group.
10. Details matter.
Appreciate context, complexity and nuance.