Critical Thinking

I was talking to a co-worker, the other day, when the subject matter turned to the 2020 presidential election. He claimed, unequivocally, that Donald Trump had won the election in 2020 and that Biden stole the election through the use of a massive and coordinated fraud campaign. Obviously, after I gave him the infamous Mike eye roll, I asked him what proof he had to back up his claim. He mentioned several elaborate tales of missing ballots, “hacked” voting machines and ballot dumps. Again, I asked him for proof, and he told me that all I had to do was a little “research” on the internet. Of course, I mentioned to him that almost every lawsuit that was filed by, and in support of, the Trump administration, just after the election, was denied or found completely baseless. There were over 60 lawsuits filed, some of them at the Supreme Court level William Cummings: USA Today: January 6th, 2021. I also mentioned that his own attorney general, Bill Barr, a staunch conservative, stated that there was no proof of election fraud substantial enough to change the election outcome Michael Balsamo: AP: June 28th, 2022. And, of course, I mentioned that several states, where election fraud was alleged, conducted investigations and audits that found no evidence of widespread voter fraud August 2022. My coworker responded with…”I don’t care. It’s all a part of the fraud conspiracy. Do your own research and don’t listen to the mainstream media”. The conversation ended there when I realized that I was talking to someone with ZERO critical thinking skills. He isn’t the only person who has subscribed to the theory of a massive voter fraud conspiracy. In a recent poll, 69% of Republicans and 38% of all registered voters believe that Donald Trump won the 2020 election despite all the evidence to the contrary Jennifer Agiesta: CNN: August 3rd, 2023. That’s more than 60 million people. It’s baffling to me that so many people have completely abandoned their brains and the ability to think critically. Ideology plays a role in the “stole the election” conspiracy theory, but what about the people who believe that the earth is flat, that contrails are “chemtrails” to control the weather, or that COVID was a creation of the global elite to control the population? Where did the ability to think critically go?

It’s likely that most people have either never learned to think critically or that, for whatever reason, they chose not to use their brains. 

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze facts objectively and form a judgment Maggie Wooll: BetterUp: March 14, 2022. Good critical thinkers use supporting evidence to form their opinions and infer their logical conclusions from facts. Critical thinkers must be able to tell the difference between truth and fiction. Understanding that certain conditions must be met in order to discern the truth is important. In my opinion, the art of critical thinking isn’t taught enough in schools. Schools are more interested in teaching kids how to jump through hoops and pass tests, rather than how to think critically and creatively Larry Ferlazzo: Education Week: March 22, 2021. Teaching this skill to students will help them to be more successful, not only in school but also for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, many people, regardless of what they’ve been taught in school, or not taught, will continue to ignore “common sense” and facts when forming an opinion. They believe so strongly in their opinion that they will not re-examine its legitimacy. This interferes with their ability to think logically and analytically, which leads them to believe in nonsense. There are several reasons that many people completely abandon their critical thinking skills Nguyet Yen Tran: Ideapod: November 20th, 2022. Fear is a big reason. Fear prevents people from seeing things with an open mind and accepting conclusions without bias. If you are frightened by the possibility of opening up to an idea or fact that contradicts your beliefs or opinion, you’re not going to be open to critical thinking. Basically, you’re afraid of the idea that your belief could be wrong. And if all your friends have the same belief, why rock the boat? Just blend in to be accepted. Another reason that people avoid critical thinking is that they are just plain lazy. If an opposing viewpoint presents itself and it doesn’t support your belief, then why even look at it? If there’s so much information out there on social media that supports your belief, then it must be correct. Why look at opposing facts or views? One more reason that people avoid using their brains is because they believe everything they read and hear in the news or on social media. Many media outlets are biased in their reporting. Bias to the point of presenting the information from their own viewpoint or the viewpoint of the news outlet. It’s news presented in a biased opinion. Gone are the days of Walter Conkrite. When you watch CNN or Fox News, you’ve got to realize the slant in their reporting and take it with a grain of salt. Compare their story with the version on the opposing network or less biased sources such as the AP or Reuters Gavin Phillips: MUD: June 11th, 2023.

It amazes me, sometimes, the views and opinions that some people have. Some of them are baffling and completely void of factual evidence to support the belief. When I present cited facts that disprove their belief, they come up with other “wacko” ideas such as “the fake news media” and “the master plan of the global elite”. It’s almost as if they would rather believe the crazy stuff. I’d like to think that they’re just “yanking my chain” but they really believe it. 

So if you’re reading this and you believe that the 9/11 attack was perpetrated by the government, or the moon landing was fake and filmed in Hollywood, or that JFK Jr. wasn’t killed in a plane crash and that he will reappear as Trump’s 2024 running mate, or that the January 6th attack on the capital was orchestrated by the CIA, or that the COVID epidemic was a plan, by Bill Gates, to control the population…..please take a step back and take some time to reevaluate your belief. It’s possible, I guess, that any one of these beliefs is true but the evidence, if you care to look, is overwhelmingly against that belief. Don’t be “that person” that doesn’t use their brain.

By Mike C


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