July 8, 2013

7 Signs You Are A Critical Thinker

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What is the issue?

1. When people talk about views different than your own, you don’t get angry

You can’t be angry without being afraid and you have no reason to be afraid your argument is wrong if you are a critical thinker. Your argument isn’t you, it is a thing you think, which can be replaced by another, stronger version if only people would help you think more sharply about it. People who are critical thinkers don’t identify as their arguments because they know every argument has a weakness, and changes with time. This doesn’t make the thing you think bad. Iron sharpens iron, and this is good for both of the individual pieces of metal.

2. You dump people for weird reasons

You might be talking to a cute guy and he says something like “my daughter could never have a mohawk. No reason why. It’s just wrong!” That is the absolute end of your crush. You find it impossible to be attracted to people who accept things without having actual reasons, other than social norms. Or, even being able to articulate that a social norm might be a big enough reason for them to arrive at their conclusion.

3. You like to read controversial things

When you read something insane like “in defense of murdering people” you can pick out a few interesting things the writer said without dismissing it entirely because you disagree so vehemently with the overall premise. You respect people like Peter Singer, who is fantastic at making logical arguments, though you might not necessarily be a vegan or be sending monthly checks to Oxfam.

4. You’ve never said the phrase “you just set the women’s movement back 50 years”

When people say things you think are asinine, you’re just excited that it’s a platform for discussion.

5. You don’t preface responses with “sweetie” or “honey”

You have no need to be condescending. You are either confident in your response, or genuinely curious to test your theory out, it’s not an emotional competition in which one person wins and the other loses. You’re not trying to “win,” by discussing something, you’re trying to satisfy your curiosity. The latter has no stock in making the other person feel bad.

6. You ask “why?” at weird times

If you are staying at a hotel and you discover you can’t use the pool at 8am even though there are no rooms surrounding the area, you are going to ask the staff why this is. Likely, the hotel cribbed their pool rules from another hotel without thinking about whether they made sense at their venue. That entire process is so foreign to you, it doesn’t even occur to you so you are busy trying to understand a thought process that doesn’t exist.

7. You ask a lot of questions

Even if you feel very confident in your answer, you are the kind of person who could always feel more confident. You are a curious person and lack emotional attachment to your views. This is not to say you don’t care passionately about anything you think, just that you know that you care about the essence of what you think—not the particular words or form of an argument you happened to come up with. Example: if you are a Christian, you ask questions about the existence of god because your passion is for an idea greater than whatever particular argument you’re tossing around. You care about Truth as a whole, not the shard of it that is manifesting in any particular argument. You know that if your argument is shot down, it wasn’t true to begin with, something else is, and you better find it. TC mark

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