Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” – (JOHN F. KENNEDY)
I always embraced the challenge of teaching freshman students to think “critically” in my thirteen year tenure at Broward College. Upon instructing them to form their opinions on the basis of sound evidence, prior knowledge, and logical reasoning, I saw significant progress in their comprehension of difficult reading passages. By questioning their assumptions when “reading between the lines”, they also seemed more aware about how their personal biases could impair rational thinking about a particular issue at hand.
Consider the following examples:
“ The mechanic purchased nails for the weekend project.They were very strong and worked well.No hammer touched those nails.”
Would one assume in this case that the mechanic was a man with handyman skills who purchased nails to pound on a wall or would they see the logic that the items bought were indeed false fingernails worn by a woman?
“Norman was lying in the middle of a busy road with trucks and cars rapidly coming down the highway. No one ever saw him.”
Picturing a motor vehicle accident, many would interpret this scenario as unlikely to happen. Yet this person might be hidden somehow in the median strip of deep grass or perhaps the road was closed to traffic. More imaginatively, he(she) might even be an invisible ghost.
As you see, faulty assumptions can cause one to think/act wrongly in the rush to make hasty judgments in their daily life. Do you interpret anger from someone who blows their car horn at you as you sit idly at a busy intersection? To what extent do you allow emotionally charged propaganda cloud your mind toward extreme , right wing or left wing thinking? How do the politically polarized terms sexism, racism, and Americanism negatively influence your voting behavior?
As we begin to question our own “perceptual cocoon” of self biases, we learn to observe “how we think” as a vital component of “what we think.”Listen keenly for meaning in both choice of words and non-verbal mannerisms as others speak, take a greater interest in obtaining facts on all sides of an issue and embrace the unifying heart of an “open mind. Gloomy thoughts in crisis can lead to “glass empty” pessimism. So you might alter your perceptions then to appreciate the beauty of life surrounding you and thus feel the joy of “glass full”optimism”.