Critical thinking: May You Rest In Peace Old Friend

There seems to be some real confusion amongst us humans when it comes to opinion vs fact. Spoiler alert, they are not always the same thing.

Now, I have no plans on boring you to drool with some sort of political rant. Truth is, I could not possibly give less of a shit which party you belong to or what your OPINION is on what’s right on wrong.

I am only using politics as an example here, because it is so charged up with direct opposition that it makes an easy target. In this, I would like to explain to many of you the distinction between opinion and fact, because there sure seems to be a lot of mixing the two together as if they are the same thing.

Let’s start off slow with something you most likely learned at a pretty young age. If you stick the palm of your bare hand on the burner of a red hot stove, your hand will get burnt and you will experience some pain from it. This is what is known in scientific circles as a FACT. You yourself may even know this to be true from a previous experience.

Now…if a group of people in silly hats, with signs and megaphones comes along and tells you that sticking your hand on a burner or in a fire does not hurt, does that mean that it does not hurt? I mean, even if they tell you it with great conviction while waving a flag and telling you that you’re a communist if you say that it hurts, did that make it not hurt? Ya see, their OPINION is that it does not hurt, they are absolutely entitled to their opinion, no matter how wrong or stupid it may be, but it does not change the FACT. No matter how many times they repeat their opinion to you or to the world on a “news” show, the fact still stands its ground, because it’s a fact.

This critical thinking I mention is really quite easy, you don’t have to be a huge egghead to do it. Here is an example. Lets say that I wish to make an educated opinion on which brand of deck stain to use. If I go to a store that only sells one brand, guess which brand they are going to tell me is the very best. Right, the one they sell that benefits them, if I go on that same companies web site, I betcha they too will tell me their stain is the very best. Do I as a person who is interested in making an informed decision just go “duuuuh, okay” and look no further? Of course not. I need to see what other brands have to offer, I need to hear personal use experiences, perhaps I will even go as far as to look up the chemical makeup, then find out some facts about what does what during testing by independent parties. Once I have done all that, I can now consider my opinion on which one to buy an informed one.

Okay, here comes the really tricky part, I hope you’re ready. If I get home, follow the directions to the letter, apply the stain to my deck and if in six months if it turns to total shit, I need to acknowledge that I made the wrong choice. I need to first admit that I was incorrect.

Many of you would run right out and buy the same brand of fuckin shitty stain, because you’re sticking with your brand, even though it’s total shit. You have to, because changing a brand would be admitting you may have been wrong. Fuck the FACT that the stuff is garbage, your ego about having to be right is the most important thing here, not getting a good product, right?

Critical thinking is the ability to give challenge to what your opinion on something is, something you believe to be a fact, put it to the test to find out if it holds up. If you learn that it does not hold up, it is now time to learn how not to turn a blind eye to the fact, learn how to be wrong, it’s okay, we are just humans.

If you are totally unwilling to learn new things because you think you already know everything, what this does is just makes you a stupid person. Don’t be, be willing to hear out new and possibly better ideas.

The comical part in all this is there are a handful of people reading this who will scoff at the idea of learning new things, cuz it sounds like commie hippie talk.

I’ll close this with a suggestion. Step out of your comfort bubble, don’t surroumd yourself with books, ideas and people who back up everything you believe, step out and have a listen from the other side, the side that does not agree with you, ask questions, do some research outside your bubble, have an open mind, admit that you MAY be wrong. If you’re not wrong, cool, if you find out that you are wrong, also cool, you just learned something new.