think by questioning
“A great many people think they are thinking when
they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” — William James
(tho’ts not questioned are biases)
“Two quite opposite qualities equally bias our minds – habits and novelty.”
— Jean de la Bruyère —
“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among rocks.” — Charlotte Bronte
Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking
Don’t Believe Everything You Think:
The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking
Think for Yourself!: An Essay on Cutting through
the Babble, the Bias, and the Hype (Speakers Corner)
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Auguste Rodin’s classic statue “The Thinker” is one of my favourites. It’s hard to look at it (or one of its many replicas) without being moved by it. … Perhaps we have such reverence for this kind of deep thinking because it’s so uncommon. Having thoughts does not constitute thinking. We all have thoughts. We all have opinions and beliefs, usually lots of them.
William James once wrote, “A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” Just because there’s mental activity going on in our minds doesn’t mean we’re thinking.
Bob Proctor, in his book “You Were Born Rich,” writes, “Thinking is the highest function of which a human being is capable.” He goes on to say that what passes for thinking for most people is really just the faculty of memory, playing old movies and rehashing past events. Clearly, this is not what Rodin’s great work of art depicts.
Thinking is hard work. Maybe that’s why so few people do it. Edison went even further: “There is no expedient to which a man will go to avoid the real labour of thinking,” and Emerson, “What is the hardest task in the world? To think.”
Why don’t we think more? I believe one reason is that we’re so busy doing that we don’t have time to conceive, cogitate and consider. We’re used to being entertained. We’re bombarded with information. It comes at us so fast that we have little time to reflect on much of it, if any at all.
~Michael Angier in “The Lost Art of Thinking“
[DO click thru to read the rest..]
Bias is a sort of “blind spot” in a person’s thinking – a place where their assurance of being right makes them vulnerable to imagining the world to be different from how it truly is. It is, in short, a minor delusional state.
As Mark Twain is reported to have said: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” So it is the blind spot of bias that gets people into trouble. Ignorance is merely a need for information or education; error — especially when it is believed wholeheartedly — is a calamity waiting to happen.
A good analogy would be a map. If your map of reality has blank spots, you are likely to be more cautious in those areas. You’ll ask questions, listen to what people who have been there have to say and keep you eyes open. On the other hand, if your map has roads where there are none and smooth plains where there are cliffs and pits, then you are walking into trouble.
Bias can lead to self-deception (more about that later) when it convinces a person to ignore good information because it conflicts with their pre-formed (and self-corroborated) view of reality. … While it would be nice if we could all look reality in the face at all times, this simply is not the human condition. Failing a complete refit of the human psyche, what can we do to avoid self-deception?
1. Check your ideas with someone else.
2. Be skeptical of everything you hear, especially if you agree with it.
3. Occasionally step back and ask yourself, “What would it take to make me believe/not believe this?”
~Prometheus in “The Power of Critical Thinking: Bias and Self Deception“
[click thru for more on bias, self-deception & these 3 suggestions]
“Fortunately for serious minds,
a bias recognized is a bias sterilized.”
— Benjamin Haydon —
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