Truth Seeker

Critical thinking. Can’t say when that began to happen in my life. If the endgame to critical thinking is truth then I guess it’s always been there. Even when I was devout in religiosity I was more eager in asking for truths rather than abundance, a good life, to be heaven bound, a hot wife, or a Jaguar XJ 220 (I just love the body. Even better looking than the body of a hot wife methinks).

As a kid I would get told off for questioning the truths that older folks transmit to me. It’s only by the threat of imminent brute force that I would concede and try my darnedest to show that I receive. All the while muttering under my breath in inner dialogue, “How is this right?”.

However. Before I go any further, I should clarify where I’m coming from with this. Almost everyone I’ve met would profess to critical thinking. But never seem to display much of it in conversation, be they casual or formal discourses. And of those whom I have gotten to share their notion of it, it’s simply about thinking things through and not taking things for granted. But why do so much untruths or weak truths still spew forth? I had to investigate.

In a good argument the premise supports the conclusion.

Geoff Pynn, Northern Illinois University

Best I start with examples. Let’s say I ask out loud why would we need to wear masks during this pandemic. These are replies I would get:

First reply,

  • I look to the government to look out for me.
  • They mandate masks.
  • Wearing masks works

A weak argument. The premises are based on emotions and sentiments. It’s the weakest kind of structure to hold up the conclusion. Not the strongest reason for wearing masks.

Next comes,

  • Medical personnel learn about infections and diseases.
  • They wear masks.
  • Wearing mask works.

A better argument. These premises could be true. But the medics offer general health care and would still rely on specifics from epidemiologists. Of which most of them are not. The argument is ampliative. Probable. But no guarantee.

And finally,

  • The virus spreads through respiratory droplets.
  • Masks shields them from spreading.
  • Wearing mask works

Solid! These premises guarantees the conclusion best. A deductive argument. I will wear masks.

So with a strong preference for deductive based truths, I take my thoughts to the masses. And get my arse whipped left, right and centre.

The thing is, folks like their truths coated with feelings. Never mind if it’s weak truths or even untruths. As long as it satiates their emotions, it’s all good. I believe this is where confirmation bias is borne.

I can dig that. I went through turbulent times before I could come to terms that certain truths I held dear all my life turn out to be complete bollocks. I did my due diligence; I read the literature, researched the resources, looked for discussions, debates and discourses, and took a stand on all sides. Studied fallacies to sniff and snuff them out so I won’t fall in for falsehoods. And constantly do a reality check with the empirical outcome of every argument. And with that I’m better for it. For having eliminated what I believe is called limiting beliefs