BARRIERS TO CRITICAL THINKING Barriers to critical thinking if left unchecked can harm, and even seriously injure a curious and open mind, the ability to think through issues, analyzing issues from multiple view points and other critical thinking concepts. Let’s call theses threats land mines. Much thinking of the untrained mind is distorted, incomplete, biased, uninformed and prejudiced. This kind of thinking creates a potential mine field that can hold a person back from using his/her knowledge, schooling, experience, reasoning, intuition, common sense and confidence to make informed decisions.
This section was created to raise awareness of the critical thinking mine field and ways of avoiding the mines. Then, you can focus your efforts on thinking more critically. Egocentric thinking is viewing everything in relation to oneself. These individuals are self-centered and consider only their interests. This impedes critical thinking. It is difficult for many people to identify this characteristic within themselves. The egocentric person is usually unaware of his or her thinking patterns.
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There are many successful business people, lawyers, politicians, and others who are egocentric thinkers. They are closed minded to the thoughts and ideas of others. This damages their critical thinking abilities. Open minded thinking is one of the fundamental critical thinking skills. The best defense to minimizing thinking egocentrically is to be aware of it and to be mindful of the needs of others. In essence, to continually strive towards viewing ideas and concepts from multiple vantage points. Social conditioning can be a benefit or drawback to your ability to think critically.
Each of us is unique. Age, IQ, race, genes, gender, culture, family, friends, and a wide array of other factors have a dramatic effect on how we view the world and the people we interact with. Critical thinking is hindered when the world and people in it are viewed from biased conditioning without learning the needs, desires and dreams of others. It may not be possible to completely understand others, but open minded critical thinking can enable you to listen, learn and empathize. This helps you understand others better.
For example, because someone is a Christian, that doesn’t mean he or she can’t appreciate the beliefs of Judaism, Buddhism, or Confucianism. The same is true for any religious, social or political belief system. Arguably one of the biggest problem in the world today is lack of acceptance. In another word: intolerance. Race, religion, culture, and a wide array of other factors can bring us together or tear us apart. Each of us chooses if we will accept others, or not. Recognizing and accepting the influences of conditioning from social effects is normal.
However, strive to understand how and why they are biasing thoughts. That enlightenment will help clarify your thinking about issues and help guide you towards conclusions that are rational, unbiased, logical and fair. To learn more see: The Re-Discovery of Common Sense. Return from Social Conditioning to Problem Solving Techniques Biased experiences are a relative of egocentric thinking. Although experience is a wonderful teacher, if it is filtered through a biased or distorted view, that is how it is remembered. Self-delusion supports self-delusion.
Create an open mind and question logic by asking again and again: “Am I thinking logically and rationally. ” This is called a sanity check. Another good sanity check is choosing friends and colleagues who will tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear. These friends are priceless as sounding boards for your stream of thought and rational thinking. To learn more see: The Re-Discovery of Common Sense. Arrogance and Intolerance Arrogance and intolerance are not welcome in the mind of the true critical thinker. They are recognized for what they are and kept to a minimum.
Arthur Ide, who is the editor of my first two books once said to me: “Everyone is prejudice, I hate bigots! ” These words have stayed with me for several years and I find myself saying them when the occasion is right. Another example: The economist Milton Friedman makes a strong case for individual freedom. He has stated: “The people who always get us into trouble are the people who know better than you do what’s good for you. ” He goes on to say: “Arrogance and intolerance are what produce the ills of the world. ” These simple words say a great deal.
When a mind is closed, so is the ability to find the best solution. Critical thinking skills are crippled. To learn more see: The Re-Discovery of Common Sense. Schedule Pressures Schedule pressures can be an enemy of sound critical thinking. These pressures can lead to: • Cutting corners – That can lead to mistakes and poor decision making. • Undue stress – This can also lead to mistakes and bad decision making. • Procrastination – This comes from not knowing how or where to start. This can lead to even more stress and cutting corners. A vicious circle begins. The result is excessive cost and time to fix.
This is unfortunate when proper planning and execution could have helped tasks to be done right the first time. Many times tasks can be done within the budget allocated. Think of a time when you or someone you know had some excessive pressures from tight schedules. • Were an undue number of mistakes made? • Did it cost time, energy and money to fix later? • If more focused time had been invested up front to do the task correctly, would the results have been better? There is an overused statement at many work places. It is: “We don’t have time to do it right the first time, we will fix it later! Many companies lose millions of dollars each year from schedules that have high pressures. It costs individuals dearly as well. To help minimize the negative effects of excessive pressures from schedules do the following: • Before starting, map out the project steps using the tools and techniques shown on this website. • Determine the schedule drivers and see if relief is possible. • Work hard, but make time to relax however you do it best>br> (Consider: exercise, chilling, listening to enjoyable music etc). Group Think -The Herd Mentality Group think is a danger to critical thinking.
There is an old but worthwhile statement: “When everyone thinks alike, no one thinks very much. ” It has much truth to it. Critical thinking by its very nature questions ideas, opinions, and thoughts of yourself and others. It uses internal and external reflection. There are three reasons it can be tough to escape this mentality. They are: 1. The group think mentality is present every day from many sources. Radio, television, news papers, magazines and the Internet all reflect the current so called norm of thinking. Too many times opinions are stated as fact by self-proclaimed experts.
They cater to the most uninformed. Unfortunately, many people don’t question what they hear, nor do they question the source of information before repeating it as gospel. 2. The problems of the world are complex. For the non-critical thinker the world is a much simpler place to live. 3. The drive for acceptance from others is a strong motivating factor. Thinking outside the group can be uncomfortable. However, it is necessary for the critical thinker. Becoming a critical thinker takes conscious and constant diligence. A critical thinker continually asks the questions: • Does this make sense? If so, why? • If not, why not? Here is an example: David Crockett was best known for his adventures in the wilderness and fighting at the Alamo. He also served as a Congressman where he was known as an honest and conscientious man. During the time of his tenure in Congress a law known as the Indian Removal Act in 1830 was being debated. This was a proposed law that would relocate the Five Civilized Tribes of Native American tribes living east of the Mississippi River to further west. It was favored by many who would gain access to lands inhabited by these tribes. They influenced many congressmen.
David Crockett was one of the few in Congress who spoke against the Indian Removal Act. It was passed after a bitter debate in Congress by a small margin and then signed into law by Andrew Jackson. The relocation of the five tribes had many hardships. It became known as: “The Trail of Tears. ” Thousands of Indians died during the forced relocation. David Crockett was a strong critical thinker who followed his own beliefs and values. He couldn’t be bribed to support any measure he thought was wrong. His celebrated motto was: “Be sure that you are right, and then go ahead. ” The Drone Mentality
It is easy to fall into a drone mentality (a pattern of not paying attention to the world, people and surroundings). This mentality can sneak up at any time. Working through daily chores without thinking is one symptom. Another symptom is to shy away from new challenges or problems. Many people live this pattern for years, sometimes decades. Without a conscious effort it is easy to loose critical thinking skills over time. There are some serious problems to not paying attention to what goes on. The drone mentality can cost dearly. The movie Catch Me if You Can by Steven Spielberg is about a young man who was a brilliant master of deception.
It is based on the real life exploits of Frank Abagnale, Jr. who successfully passed himself off as a teacher, a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer all before he reached his 21st birthday! He did this in the late 1960’s. Frank Abagnale Jr. used disguise and deception to get away with his antics. He passed off bad checks to finance his expensive life by targeting drone like people. He stole the bulk of the money from corporations. Today, fraud and theft criminals still prey on drone like people however now it is personal. Identity theft and fraud are at epidemic proportions. The scams are getting more creative and damaging.
It is tough enough as a critical thinker to protect personal and private information and not get caught in a scam. A drone like mentality can cost individuals significant time as well as thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars—or more. Identity theft alone has affected several million people in the United States and is growing. Always protect personal information. If approached about a “deal” where someone asks for money be very skeptical. Ask: • Does this deal make sense? • If so, why? • If not, why not? “What I did in my youth is hundreds of times easier today. Technology breeds crime. ” ~ Frank Abagnale Jr.