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How important is critical thinking?

The past two months I had put together a series called “The Arrivals” and one of the first few videos dealt with the subject of critical thinking. It emphasized the importance of learning how to form your own opinions. Living in a world where the media presents anything it wants whether it’s genuine or not, the problem with deciding what we personally think seems to be either discouraged or simply not accepted. It is almost as if there is actually something wrong with you thinking for yourself! You often hear things like, “People are entitled to their own opinions”or sometimes, “Your opinion doesn’t matter.”Both are often mentioned with negative intentions, connotations and implications.

I have very often talked about how we live in the Information Age and that means, to me, taking very seriously the information that is presented to us. It is to be checked, drafted, discarded, kept. Probably not really in that order but all those steps are vital to a healthy mind.

What are you feeding your mind?
A person’s outlook on life is determined by the values they live up to,  which is influenced by the information they receive through the experiences they have and what they allow into their minds. The subject of marriage nowadays is practically the equivalent of dating! The world teaches more and more how its purpose is meaningless. Why would that be so? The only reason is because of how lightly divorce is taken! The world is in direct opposition to the Word of God. God teaches that marriage is important (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19) and that divorce is not (Matthew 19:3-9). Now the Scripture I would love to emphasize here is Malachi 2:16:

For the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I hate divorce and marital separation and him who covers his garment [his wife] with violence. Therefore keep a watch upon your spirit [that it may be controlled by My Spirit], that you deal not treacherously and faithlessly [with your marriage mate].

Scripture could not be any clearer! The sad thing is that the more movies, cartoons and T.V shows are seen, the less valuable this very instruction becomes. How so? Simple, because of what is being delivered into the mind! Ideas, false principles, doctrines are formed in a person by and through everything they see. It may initially appear as “innocent information” presented just for the sake of the program (that is entertainment’s sake) but you have to ask yourself, “How much of such info directly influences a person’s way of thinking?”

This is just one example. Of course sex is the biggest thing promoted and is ultimately the source of all, if not most, of the relationship problems faced today. At least that’s what I think. If you can get past sex being the motive in the relationship, whether directly or indirectly, there should be a decent decrease in divorce rates and teen pregnancies.

Even the small things matter
 Sometimes I think that it’s not a matter of opinion that matters (hehe), but rather respecting each other’s opinions. Thank God for subjects in schools like thinking skills and history where you are required to decide for yourself how the events really took place or what actually happened. The only sad thing is that not everyone takes those subjects and critical thinking is not an integral part of education as a whole. At the end of the day it is important to take very seriously-relating to anything-the question, “What do you think? ” Whether you’re in the role of judging someone or something, or forming an opinion on an outfit, food, places to go (including vacation trips), or making small and big decisions about anything. I believe this is where it all really starts when you think about it. The more you practice critical thinking with small things, the easier it is to do the same with more serious things such as relationships, properties, businesses and so on.

Don’t believe everything you read and hear.

That obviously means that you should believe (most of the time only) some things that you read and hear unless it is based on Scripture. That’s the only absolute thing. The key thing is to always ask “why?” Whichever song becomes the next hit, ask “why?” Do the same with bestsellers, hit movies, T.V shows, and anything that’s made a huge deal of. The most important area to ask the “why” question is the news.

It would actually be a great idea to practice inductive and deductive reasoning as well. Inductive reasoning is the process of coming up with a conclusion based on a series of events that repeat. An example would be to push a light switch up turns on the light and pushing it down turns the light off. If you do this over and over, say 1000 times, you could conclude that the light goes on when the switch is up and it is off when the switch is down. Unfortunately, the conclusion may not always be true because other circumstances may cause the light to not go on when the switch is up. The light may burn out, the electricity goes off, etc.

You could practice this by asking, “What are some of the things that are continually broadcasted/displayed over and over again but in different forms?” This does not have to be just with the news, even magazines, anything on T.V, books, music, music videos etc. That way you can see a pattern in the types of messages amongst other things being portrayed. Coming up with your own conclusion then will be the wisest approach.

Now, deductive reasoning is the process of coming up with a conclusion based on facts that have already been shown to be true. Hence, your conclusion will always be true. The facts that can be used to prove your conclusion deductively may come from accepted definitions, postulates (something assumed without proof) or axioms (universally accepted principle), or previously proved theorems (an idea or statement generally accepted without proof).

We are bombarded with these kinds of information every single day! Whether we’re simply reading a book, watching a video or movie, even going for a drive, at some point we are given information that more often than not, is an opinion formed by someone and it seems to accepted without anyone testing it! A decent example would be Ignorance is bliss (supreme happiness) or even worse what you don’t know can’t hurt you.

The smartest thing to do is to always challenge popular thinking.

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