The blind acceptance of fake news and false facts in general, has demonstrated the failure of critical thinking in the United States (the U.S. is not alone). Human beings have always been suckers for flashy and exciting people; and in politics this is nothing new. However, the current political landscape shines a bright light on how individuals and the media have accepted, at face value, any comment or statement tossed out by either party.
Critical thinking is about thinking clearly and intelligently. Critical thinking is the process of identifying, analyzing, and evaluating arguments and truth claims; basically stepping back and questioning what you hear. Unfortunately, critical thinking is ignored on a global scale. Simple questions such as “Is that true?” “Where did that information come from?” “What is the source of that claim?” and “How does this belief compare to its counterpoint?” are never posited when various statements are expressed; or at least not on a wide scale.
Bias, prejudice, closed-mindedness, short-term thinking, and unwarranted assumptions block critical thinking. The majority of people do not go about life questioning what they read, watch, or are told. Most people do not question their own opinions, and thus become closed-minded to other options. The majority of us reason egocentrically; closed minded, and one-dimensionally. Opposing views are shut out and challenged (usually aggressively) based on opinion rather than fact; instead of objectively analyzing the information.
As the U.S. founding fathers eloquently wrote, we need to pursue truth [and become curious] (don’t worry about happiness). Dissecting unsupported assertions, and any assertion, is critical to developing an unbiased opinion on statements or arguments, and finding the truth.
A leader (politics or business) who avoids critical thinking and relies more on emotion and intuition is setting himself up for problems. As most of us know, when we lead with emotions we typically do and say things we regret. On a global political stage, this behavior can result in dangerous consequences. And in business, this can result in wasted resources and market failure.
Acting without analyzing consequences (or at least how it appears) can stir-up the system (good or bad). Yes, the current political system is a mess and needs major repairs. However, the current global political issues (Iran, Russia, Middle East, etc.) need a new, balanced perspective based on history, facts, and analysis, rather than opinions and emotions. We need to start asking new questions and look at issues from new perspectives, not blindly pursue policy based on opinion and rumor.
Yes, politics is ugly and both sides of the political spectrum continuously blur the lines of truth and accuracy. This propaganda deliberately attacks democracy. It is up to every individual and the media to continually question. The blind acceptance of any and all statements is a dangerous path. Individuals need to clearly and accurately analyze and question.
Hopefully, things will calm down, the world won’t implode, and we can focus on real problems such as education, the environment, and ensuring ongoing innovation for economic growth and an expansion of jobs. But remember, it is up to every one of us to question and challenge and ensure we follow a path to success and a safe and prosperous future. We must not mindlessly follow and accept faulty reasoning, vague statements, and weak arguments. It is critical to develop a free and open mind based on thoughtful reasoning and evidence.