Learning to think

ana

The Living Force
Buddy said:
Ana said:
Yes, I agree, my point was that before, some skills to determine "what it is/what it is not" as you said must be developed. We are just trying to do it step by step so that we don’t end slaves of precipitated and usually flawed “insights” of System 1.

OK,would it be useful at this point to have an example problem to which we might apply some critical thinking?

I think so!

It occurs to me that maybe we can start by assessing the validity and veracity of a statement.

How about:
Humanity is free.

How can we start assessing the veracity of this statement?

I know it’s a complicated subject but since the objective is to train our critical thinking skills, I think this one can provide a lot practice and we'll see where it lead us!
 

Buddy

The Living Force
[quote author=Ana]
It occurs to me that maybe we can start by assessing the validity and veracity of a statement.

How about:
Humanity is free.

How can we start assessing the veracity of this statement?[/quote]

We can start by defining the terms, I think. For instance, how does the author define "free" in this context so that we can examine the statement's meaning without using our imagination to fill in blanks?
 

ana

The Living Force
Buddy said:
[quote author=Ana]
It occurs to me that maybe we can start by assessing the validity and veracity of a statement.

How about:
Humanity is free.

How can we start assessing the veracity of this statement?

We can start by defining the terms, I think. For instance, how does the author define "free" in this context so that we can examine the statement's meaning without using our imagination to fill in blanks?
[/quote]

Then why not asking also about the author’s meaning for humanity?

The thing is we haven’t the author here for a dialogue, so we can’t address him/her, as it happens when we are exposed to constant religious, political, and other media statements and we can’t engage in a dialogue with them.
 

Buddy

The Living Force
Ana said:
Then why not asking also about the author’s meaning for humanity?

Sure, but at this point, I only needed to see if I had to translate "free" in order to put the statement into proper form. If we can assume the word "humanity" refers to "all people", then all I can do so far is this:

All people are free people.

And its reverse:

No people are not-free people.

Ana said:
The thing is we haven’t the author here for a dialogue, so we can’t address him/her, as it happens when we are exposed to constant religious, political, and other media statements and we can’t engage in a dialogue with them.

Maybe we don't need them yet? If the statement is made with no surrounding context whatsoever from which we might glean some meaning, or infer some basis, then there is no reason to believe there is any meaning there and nothing need be done (as far as I can tell).

What would be our objective for pursuing it further?
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
[quote author=Ana]
It occurs to me that maybe we can start by assessing the validity and veracity of a statement.

How about:
Humanity is free.

How can we start assessing the veracity of this statement?[/quote]

The statement by itself without any supporting reasons is an opinion. To test the veracity of it, one would need to find evidence both in favor of and against it. One would first need to clarify the meaning of freedom. Webster defines freedom as "the absence of necessity, coercion or constraint in choice or action." Taking this definition, one could take a look at facts and evidence available on human populations in different parts of the globe which supports or does not support the above notion of freedom. We can try to answer the questions

- is there evidence for/against "absence of necessity in choice/action " for representative populations
- is there evidence for/against "absence of constraint in choice/action " for representative populations
- is there evidence for/against "absence of coercion in choice/action " for representative populations

One can take examples in areas like choice of government, choice regarding education, religion, choice to have thoughts and beliefs which do not cause harm to others yet does not match with official guidelines etc.

The most likely conclusion after examining the evidence would be that the statement is not true. A more accurate statement could be "only a very small percentage of humanity in positions of power over others have freedom in most aspects of life "
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
This thread is diverting into pretty useless wise-acreing.
 

ana

The Living Force
Ok then.


The material I’m reading on critical thinking suggest that we can divide questions or statements on the next categories, which I find useful:

1) One System.
There is one established system or procedure for obtaining the answer.
The objective when dealing with questions in this category is to determine what that established method is, and then to follow the identified method to the answer.
These are questions of fact, or knowledge.
Examples:
39865+55874=95739
How many atoms have a molecule of sulfur? It has 8 atoms.
In 1934 Herbert Clark Hoover was the President of the United States. False it was Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)


2) No system
About subjective preferences.
Calls for establishing or is establishing a subjective view.
Can not be evaluated.
Examples:
What’s your favorite colour?
I love summer because it makes me feel happier.


3) Multiple systems
Reasoning within multiple systems.
Answers can be better or worse.
Requires evidence and reasoning within multiple systems to reach a reasoned judgement.
Examples:
How does psychopathy affect our world?
What is the best way to fight psychopathy?
Read Crito or Euthyphro by Plato (I think Socrates was the perfect example of well reasoned judgement).
 

ana

The Living Force
I thought it would be helpful to do a summary/list with obstacles we can find and so must be taken into account in exercising Critical Thinking, so far this what I found, if someone remember or find more please feel free to add:


Ignorance
The lack of essential background knowledge or information on a subject .

Inert Information

Taking into the mind information that, though memorized, we do not understand-despite the fact that we think we do. It leads us to think we understand what something means, though most of us do not translate it into any practical criteria.

Personal Biases and Prejudices
Preformed opinions, resulting from our own unique life experiences and worldview.

Confirmation Bias and Selective Thinking

A tendency to favor information that confirms one’s beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one’s beliefs.

Egocentrism
The tendency to cherish and defend those beliefs most closely associated with an individual's identity.

Ethnocentrism

The tendency to take the side of your own ethnic group rather than objectively thinking about the situation.

Conformism
The desire to just go along with what everyone else says regardless of what you might say if you actually thought about it.

Perception Limitations
Not being aware of our own perception limitations that can lead to misconceptions about reality.

Physical and Emotional
Stress, fatigue, drugs, and related hindrances can severely affect our ability to think clearly and critically.

Doublespeak
Language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words.

Doublespeak Euphemisms
The use of inoffensive words or expressions to mislead, disarm, or deceive us about unpleasant realities.

Doublespeak Jargon

The use of technical language to make the simple seem complex, the trivial seem profound, or the insignificant seem important, all done intentionally to impress others.

Emotive Content
Intentionally using words to arouse feelings about a subject to bias others positively or negatively, in order to gain influence or power.

Rhetoric
Language that is psychologically persuasive but does not have extra logical force.

False Implications
Occurs when a statement, which may be clear and even true, implies that something else is true or false when it isn't.

Vagueness
Language which is less precise than the context requires, its meaning is fuzzy or inexact.

Irrelevant Comparisons

Making a comparison that is irrelevant or inappropriate.

Argument from Ignorance
A logical fallacy claiming something is true because it has not been proven false.

False Analogies
Making illogical analogies to support the validity of a particular claim.

Pareidolia
A type of illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct

Communal Reinforcement
The process by which a claim, independent of its validity, becomes a strong belief through repeated assertion by members of a community.

Evading the Issue

If one has been accused of wrongdoing, diverting attention to an issue irrelevant to the one at hand.

Fallacy of False Dilemma
Intentionally restricting the number of alternatives, thereby omitting relevant alternatives from consideration.

Wishful Thinking & Self Deception
The process of misinterpreting facts, reports, events, perceptions, etc, because we want them to be true.

Relativistic thinking
The view that truth is a matter of opinion.
 

anart

A Disturbance in the Force
I think the issue here is that you all have taken what should be a concise, clear topic and turned it into philosophizing about critical thinking - which couldn't be further from critical thinking. There is also a quality of over-analysis going on here, which instead of lending clarity to the topic, seems to be just making it more obtuse - again - the opposite of critical thinking.
 

ScioAgapeOmnis

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Where does "connecting the dots" fit into this? Thinking outside the box, seeing not-apparent patterns and relationships, using your creativity and intuition to help you? All the stuff you guys outlined has to do with logic as a way to obtain objectivity. But a lot of times you cannot arrive at objective understanding of things simply by logical deduction. An emotional understanding can often be as important as intellectual. Not to mention, remember the book "Blink" that discusses subconscious decision making? A lot of times we know things on levels that our conscious mind simply cannot understand or process, because there are too many variables and they are too complex to handle consciously.

Sometimes things don't seem to be logically related, but there is some unforeseen relationship, maybe as a synchronicity, or another level entirely that you wouldn't realize unless you really think outside of the box, use your intuition, etc. Logic is good, but not everything that happens is logical, especially when it comes to human nature and free will. Sometimes understanding people and why they do things is a mix of psychological knowledge and personal experience that hones a good "hunch" without you fully understanding certain behaviors and their motivation consciously.

Don't mean to discount logic, it is very useful and I'm not saying we should embrace logical fallacies, but just don't limit ourselves to pure intellectual deduction, or we may miss the beauty, the love, and the sometimes illogical but yet strangely sensible actions of the universe. Otherwise we'll always be stuck on "if god is good, why does she allow evil in the world?", which many people seem unable to answer because their brains somehow just cannot conceive of a fitting and logical answer due to self-imposed restrictions on thinking and definitions of words like 'good'.

Note the playfulness and sometimes seeming randomness of the C's, for another example. When talking to the C's I don't get a sense that we're talking to a supercomputer that is extremely logical and has access to everything. A lot of humor is involved, which may not be "logical", but it is funny! Sometimes they free-associate. But always the advice is to expand our mind, and I think pure logical deduction does work, but within the limits of our own definitions and understandings, so we must always remember to be willing to expand ourselves and not shy away from the feeling center helping us do that. Otherwise perfectly logical things can be perfectly wrong and we wouldn't realize it.
 

ana

The Living Force
Hi Sao,

I wonder if you’ve been reading Thinking Fast and Slow. As I said in my first post, this thread was aiming to study how to improve System 2 and I thought that the study and practice of Critical Thinking could be a good start.

Critical Thinking is more than logical deduction, I think we can use the Cassiopedia term Thinking with a Hammer to have a wider perspective:

In QFS usage, the term thinking with a hammer means approaching the object of thought from all angles. The hammer also implies hammering against one's beliefs and prejudices, creating internal friction by being critical of the thought process itself. Thinking with a hammer is in a sense the opposite of habitual thinking. Thinking with a hammer means forging new paths and connections as opposed to forcing things to fit within the grooves of existing categories. It is expanding one's mind to be at the measure of the questions instead of shrinking the questions to fit the mind's habits. Thinking with a hammer cannot take place in a state of sleep. It needs an application of will and going against one's internal resistance.

If someone has more ideas on how to improve System 2 they are welcome.
 

ScioAgapeOmnis

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Ana said:
Hi Sao,

I wonder if you’ve been reading Thinking Fast and Slow. As I said in my first post, this thread was aiming to study how to improve System 2 and I thought that the study and practice of Critical Thinking could be a good start.
I think the quote on thinking with a hammer is exactly what I was trying to say, which does go beyond critical thinking as it is usually understood. I've taken a class on critical thinking in my university and it was abysmally lacking in anything I'd consider a true critical thought. I'll have to pick up that book and read it soon, so I can follow this discussion better. :)
 

Buddy

The Living Force
For my part there was no intent at all to wiseacre, philosophize or over-analyze. I actually thought a practical point was about to be made.

How many times have each of us had trouble understanding what someone was trying to say and so we asked and then someone replies that they could tell by the context that he/she meant this or that? Well, the point to be made here, I thought, was simply that it is illusion to believe that something can exist (especially in any meaningful way) without a context that gives rise to it.

From my perspective, any statement made in the affirmative (Humanity is free) is like a figure against a ground from which it is being distinguished and 'absolute' statements like this are the easiest to dispose of, OSIT. If the author meant 'all people are free', then he is attempting to distinguish 'all people' from a ground of what...'all people'?. IOW, if the 'figure' and the 'ground' covers the same territory, how can any distinguishing be done? What is being juxtaposed with what? It only makes sense to me, to see the statement as encouraging a reader to combine something in reality with some fiction in imagination. That's just typical automatic System 2 faux mentation, OSIT.

Maybe this perspective could be explained better, but I'm not sure how ATM.

Making that point would have then led me to simply asking the person who was having a problem with that statement to talk about, not the meaning of the statement, but his/her System 1 reaction to it - System 2 having done all it could with it.

That's all. I won't belabor this anymore, but if anything needs clarification, please ask. If anyone sees something major wrong with the above, please say so. I've a feeling that could do major damage to my foundation. That could be a good thing. :)
 

anart

A Disturbance in the Force
Buddy said:
For my part there was no intent at all to wiseacre, philosophize or over-analyze.

But that's rather your default mode of operation, Bud. It's been pointed out many times to you over the years. In fact, I'd posit that it might be your chief feature (though I can't say for sure).

b said:
How many times have each of us had trouble understanding what someone was trying to say and so we asked and then someone replies that they could tell by the context that he/she meant this or that? Well, the point to be made here, I thought, was simply that it is illusion to believe that something can exist (especially in any meaningful way) without a context that gives rise to it.

From my perspective, any statement made in the affirmative (Humanity is free) is like a figure against a ground from which it is being distinguished and 'absolute' statements like this are the easiest to dispose of, OSIT. If the author meant 'all people are free', then he is attempting to distinguish 'all people' from a ground of what...'all people'?. IOW, if the 'figure' and the 'ground' covers the same territory, how can any distinguishing be done? What is being juxtaposed with what? It only makes sense to me, to see the statement as encouraging a reader to combine something in reality with some fiction in imagination. That's just typical automatic System 2 faux mentation, OSIT.

Maybe this perspective could be explained better, but I'm not sure how ATM.

Making that point would have then led me to simply asking the person who was having a problem with that statement to talk about, not the meaning of the statement, but his/her System 1 reaction to it - System 2 having done all it could with it.

The above is wiseacring and philosophizing about critical thinking. It's belaboring, as you put it - it's getting overly intellectual and overly complicated about what should be a concise and clear subject. I'm not sure that will help you understand the issue, since I've tried to point this out about your thinking patterns before, but since they're your thinking patterns, you can't see it. So, fwiw.

b said:
That's all. I won't belabor this anymore, but if anything needs clarification, please ask. If anyone sees something major wrong with the above, please say so. I've a feeling that could do major damage to my foundation. That could be a good thing. :)

I don't know. I just know that there is reality and then there is the analysis, over-thinking and philosophizing about reality - all of which usually bear little resemblance to reality itself.
 

ana

The Living Force
I diverted the subject to a more philosophic and less clear and precise one with the example I gave to Buddy's request and the following responses I made.

Actually every post we make here, every interaction can serve as an exercise on critical thinking, so, there is where we need to make the effort.

I want to apologize to everyone.
 
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