Critical thinking

Professor found one: Rush Holt, a U.S. Congressman from New Jersey of all things, on Science and Critical Thinking. The enlightenment was in an interview he gave with The Humanist: Thinking Like a Scientist.

What Holt describes is what he calls “thinking like a scientist” rather than critical thinking. It’s core precepts include asking questions that can be answered with evidence and being ready for a cross examination exploring and probing your understanding in an empirical and rational way.

“Holt: It’s invaluable, whether you’re making a consumer decision like which laundry detergent to buy or whether you’re trying to decide what career you want to pursue. There are ways to ask yourself both what you’re trying to accomplish and how to measure whether you’ve accomplished it. If you’re able to express it that way, then you’re thinking critically.”

It is too bad the interview tosses in the idea that “it’s quite likely we wouldn’t have invaded Iraq if more people in the CIA or in Congress had been thinking critically” as that just illustrates how foreign Holt’s point is to some folks. Ignoring evidence and impugning agencies and political opponents by overlooking or ignoring evidence – and pretending it doesn’t exist – as in the conclusion of the interview quote is exactly why critical thinking, or thinking like a scientist, is such a problem in ideological discussion. It is the honest subjecting of one’s views to what actually exists that is a critical part of intellectual integrity and that can’t happen when you leave no room for reality in your perceptions.

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