The X, Why and How Axes: Your key to discernment, knowledge and truth.
The following is a little bit of info I try to instill in the hearts and minds of my children. I think it can benefit each of us, if we apply it (or adapt it) to the way we go about life.
Every day of your life, people feed you info. They attempt to persuade you, entice you, confuse you or enlighten you. Friends, family, co-workers, television personalities, internet users, radio broadcasters all try to sway you in one direction or another.
What can you do to stay grounded and effectively navigate through the muddled mess of daily life in the Information Age? How about some critical thinking? Let’s mingle it with a little math.
Let ‘x’ represent the information you hear, read or see. It will be plotted on the regular x-axis. Then replace the traditional ‘y’ with the question: Why? ‘Why’ is now the name of the vertical axis that we usually call the y-axis. For the third dimension, let’s replace the ‘z’ with the question: How?
Any time you detect someone or something is attempting to modify your views on a subject, identify what the basis of the claim is. This will be your ‘x’. Does the presenter of the information have an interest or stake in the outcome of anything related to ‘x’? Is this person a politician? Is he or she an expert in the subject and is his or her knowledge reliable? How can you verify this?
After you’ve established what 'x' is , you can assign it a value — based on the face value of the claim.
Next, to begin assessing the claim’s validity, ask yourself: Why is this message being shared? To answer this question, you will need to further study out in your mind what motives the presenter of the info may have. Is the person or entity trying to gain something from you? Will it cost you anything? What are the possible consequences of accepting the ‘x’ and acting on that information? Or the opposite…what if you accept the info being presented and as a result, you cease a certain action? What opportunities are lost? Why is this message being shared?
As you answer the ‘Whys’, you may realize that even if you are being “sold”, the 'x’ might not be a bad thing. Too often, we are skeptical once we understand that we are being sold to. It is okay to be open to a bigger picture, while still asking the questions.
Once you have evaluated how much the ‘Why’ applies to you, you can plot its point — the value it has to you — on your graph.
After you identify your ‘x’ and ask your ‘Why(s)’, the third dimension is the How-axis. Ask yourself: How can X come about or be accomplished? This step is particularly helpful when hearing or reading campaign promises. But it isn’t exclusively for dealing with politics. If someone claims they can make your dreams come true, ask yourself how. If ‘x’ is a promise of some sort, how can the entity presenting you with the ‘x’ make that ‘x’ a reality? If you cannot logically and honestly understand how steps 1, 2, and 3 may lead to the realization of ‘x’, you may be getting sold a load of manure.
Your assessment of the ‘How’s’ feasibility will help you determine where on the How-axis you would plot a point.
If at the end, the point where your x, Why and How come together isn’t off the original plane, perhaps that x isn’t something you should let bother you. If, however, your plotted point is over far enough, outward enough and high enough, perhaps your x is worthwhile information.
To summarize: Take the time to identify what people are telling you. Then analyze that info by asking yourself why the information is being presented and how it might possibly come to fruition.
By critically thinking, you are at a huge advantage compared to most of today’s consumers of information — those who read headlines and get their details in 140 characters or less.