Make Critical Thinking Great Again

“The greatest tragedy for any human being is going through their entire lives believing the only perspective that matters is their own. “— Doug Baldwin

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to search for opposing viewpoints, not to criticize but to absorb into your brain. Why open yourself to potentially irritating views which you may strongly disagree with, you may ask?

Because it’s important to gain perspective on all topics, but especially the views you may not agree with. It’s a sign of intelligence to hold two opposing views in your mind. In this day and age where we’re fed opinions and lazily digest them as fact from any given source, we must work even harder at gaining perspective and avoid that ever fateful echo chamber.

It may feel warm and cozy to surround yourself with opinions you agree with. However, this is a sign of a truly myopic view of the world and will only drive you further into divisiveness. The world may appear to be in complete turmoil, but could it be that view is the only one you’re allowing yourself to see? Your perception and what you absorb will become your reality. So if you only consume information from one point of view, that’s all you’ll ever see.

Why give up your power to only one side? Why assign yourself to only one tribe? That’s what “THEY” want you to do. They’re counting on the fact you’ll lazily go with whatever the rest of the tribe believes. Have an independent thought outside of the things they’re trying to spoon feed into your brain. It takes a shit ton of awareness and the desire to seek other views in order to become a more rounded individual. It’s those who enjoy their comfortable echo chamber, which you need to avoid at all costs. That’s a person who’s easily influenced. It’s not someone you want to turn into, as there are many adversaries who just LOVE close-minded people that refuse to take the time to critically think about the information they’re being fed.

Do not succumb to ideology you may already lean towards. You’ll get you locked into it, so much so you’ll refuse to acknowledge any facts or figures from an opposing view. It’s called “tribal epistemology”. We’ve all run into someone, especially these days, that no matter how much scientific information you provide, they adamantly refuse to acknowledge a different viewpoint. They dig their heels deeper into their tribes’ ideology. This can be incredibly frustrating for the person who’s trying to convince someone to join their way of thinking. One might even suggest the opposing tribe lacks education or scientific knowledge. That may play a minor role, but what’s really going on is tribal epistemology. The person is so ingrained with their camp of like-minded individuals that no amount of facts from any source will change their mind. They will ignore facts in order to stay locked in with the tribe, avoiding going against their own people. It’s that ever important sense of belonging which can blind us from other groups’ viewpoints.

I’ll give you an example of this in action. For many years, my morning routine consisted of waking up and immediately going to CNN.com and MSN.com for my news. But about 7 years ago, I noticed something odd happening. They were no longer serving me unbiased news on a platter each morning. They were providing THEIR interpretation of the news. I noticed this trend happening more frequently. They used persuasive writing tactics, trying to drum up an emotional response from their reader. I rejected this, as I knew what they were trying to do. I was hyper-aware of the angle they were taking. From what I could see, CNN was no longer a balanced media news source for me.

Can you guess what I did next?

I pushed myself to read FoxNews.com. They’d have similar stories as the other news sites, but with their own spin, which they, too, were trying to feed my brain. I understood the core mission of these media giants. It’s all about gaining eyeballs. That’s all that matters. They NEED you to feel anxiety about the world so you continue to tune in. The media sells a drug, and it’s called “Anxiety”.

  • Next time, you watch a news video/channel, close your eyes and listen to the words. You’ll hear words and structure of sentences they specifically used to make you feel a certain way. That’s all expertly crafted. It’s scripted that way on purpose.

That’s not to say I don’t read/watch the news. But I will say, I look at it with a very critical eye to ensure I’m not being pulled into any one tribe or way of thinking. It’s okay to have a healthy degree of skepticism. In fact, it’s encouraged! Leaning heavily in any one direction is when you get locked into an echo chamber. Broaden your horizons a bit. Get out of your comfort zone and allow your brain to absorb other points of view.

And guess what? It’s okay to change your opinion on issues. You’re not a flip-flopper. You’re a human being who’s interested in growing your consciousness. No one said you’re locked into the tribe you chose. Mingle around a bit with the information that’s out there. In fact, you can agree with both sides of an argument! That’s not only doable, but it’s a sign of intelligence.

  • Take a hotly contended issue and see if you can make valid arguments for each view.

Whatever you decide to absorb into your brain, always be very aware of how and why the information is being presented to you. Think of the media as the very first Influencer. They’re pushing stories in order to gain advertising dollars. They want your eyeballs and need your clicks. And the media will do and say anything to get them.

It hasn’t always been this way. With the advent of social media, news corporations had to fight for your eyeballs. The more sensational the story, the more likely you would click on their page. It’s difficult to blame the journalists, as the powers that be will reject their stories if goes against the news companies’ narrative. Unfortunately, this is where journalism has ended up. I believe it will shift back to being a vehicle of information, not infotainment. However, in the meantime, it’s YOUR job to assess the very things you read or watch and determine for yourself what you believe. Do not give up the power of your thoughts. It’s very hard to get it back when you do. If it sounds like you’re being brainwashed, that’s because you kind of are. I’m not saying to swear off all media sources as evil agents with hidden agendas. Not at all.

It’s about making critical thinking great again. That responsibility is solely on you. Just because we have access to any and all information at any given moment does not mean we should turn our brains off. Avoid becoming a zombie.

Did You Know?

Photo by Uday Mittal on Unsplash

Our brains are so evolved that they switch into “analysis mode” in order to alleviate any uncertainty about the future, activating anxiety neurons.

The problem with this is we sometimes get trapped into the “Well, what about this?” cycle, which will stop us from making a change in our lives. Anxiety stems from the fear of the unknown.

“Anxiety is an emotional response to a perceived threat that’s not actually there in front of you.” — Mazen Kheirbek, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

We need a healthy dose of anxiety to keep us safe from danger. There’s no way to turn off the “anxiety neurons” that fire up in our brain. However, we must be able to keep it in check to avoid paralysis of life.

How To Keep Your Anxiety In Check:

  • Meditate, meditate, meditate. I can not stress enough how vital it is to include meditation in your daily routine.
  • Breathing exercises. Are you aware of how often you may hold your breath without knowing it? Your brain needs oxygen to be able to function properly. Take a day and really pay attention to your shallow breathing and how to best to take bigger, deeper inhales and exhales. Get oxygen flowing!
  • Exercise is an obvious one, but the effects of it are monumental. Even taking a walk outside every day will bring a level of awareness and calmness, which will tell those anxiety neurons to relax a bit.
  • Fully embrace the fact that you do not have all the answers about the future and you only have control over your present. The minute you can release the worry of a future that hasn’t come into existence yet, the much happier you’ll find life to be.
  • Limit your intake of the news for very obvious reasons.

“The problem is that imagining and predicting and preparing for bad outcomes can take a toll on us psychologically and biologically.” — Aoife O’Donovan, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry

Would You Rather?

… go back in time or travel to the unknown future?

You could probably guess which one I’d choose. (The latter, obviously, as there is nothing in the past for me. There’s nothing in the past for any of us.)

Which one would you choose and why?

Make Humor Great Again

A man married a woman who had been previously married five times.

On their wedding night, she told her new husband, “Please be gentle. I’m still a virgin.”

“What?” said the puzzled man. “How can that be if you’ve been married five times?”

“Well, my first husband was a sales specialist. He kept telling me how great it was going to be. The second husband was an engineer. He understood the basic process but wanted a few years to research, implement, and design a new state-of-the-art method. The third was a marketer. He had a nice product, but was never sure how to position it. The other was a psychologist. All he ever did was talk about it. The last was a stamp collector. All he ever did was… God! I miss him! But now that I’ve married you, I’m really excited!”

“Well,” said the new husband, “but why?”

“You’re a lawyer. This time I know I’m gonna get screwed!”

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Kira Mamula

Kira Mamula

31 Followers

I’m a writer and life guru with a head full of wisdom, knowledge, and experience on how to thrive in this thing called life. I believe in humanity.