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"Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking."

I keep going back to my suggested topics to argue with oneself about. Some are very politically charged, others are charged with self-defined morals that might differ between individuals, some are purely about whether laws should either exist or be much tougher, some are a mix of all three.

Religion is a form of 'environmental influence' that governs how some people will see some of these issues, but it isn't alone in influencing our views of the world. Our parents, teachers, colleagues, friends, and even casual acquaintances all have input into changing our minds over the years.

Our memory rewrites itself continually which helps mess with our minds even further, so it is often very difficult to discover exactly WHY we might believe one perspective over another: We just do have a preference, and in some cases we're quite aggressively defensive of that perspective and shut-down all critical thinking with emotional responses when someone might offer something that we can't quite reconcile with our 'current' beliefs.

So, the quote in the title is again from Wikipedia's definition of Critical Thinking and in my view is the most important aspect about this approach to thinking - something I think we all need to do a lot more often. In effect, I'm not trying to prove myself right or someone else wrong, I'm trying to assess what makes me think I'm seeing things from an unbiased perspective or recognizing the bias for what it is and understanding where it came from as well as why the opposite bias might exist from someone else's viewpoint.

Back to that list I keep going back to (see: "The Voices in My Head are having a debate and want you to join in.") What I'm going to do is pick a topic at random between 2 and 12 by rolling 2 dice to see what I'll discuss with myself in my next post:

I'll use and roll the dice - resulting in a 2 and a 1, thus my topic for my next post will be... "3. Legalize Sex Trade". Oh, what fun!

Reasonable Discussions

I like to call myself a Critical Thinker, which means that I should be wide open to the possibility that I'm wrong about some pretty obvious things... because they might only be obviously wrong to someone who is biased. It's an extremely challenging prospect to accept the possibility that the really whacky people in the world might have something right when all the rest of us think we see quite clearly based on the evidence we know to be the best available.

So, with this in mind we should allow room to at least listen - and I mean really listen to a lot of the bogus bits of information that might be thrown our way on the albeit slim possibility that it might not be bogus. That means trying to find some unique piece of clarity among a lot of nonsense about subjects like 'Flat Earth', 'anti-vax conspiracies', 'really - any conspiracy theory', and of course that includes the current COVIDIOTS that exist and perpetuate the belief that it's not as bad as it really is.

However, in one quick flip of a switch in my brain - I can still see they must be incorrect, not because most of the world sees that the Earth is a globe, vaccinations work, and governments aren't smart enough to maintain conspiracies, but because NONE of their arguments have any real comprehension of the facts behind them.

Having heard a lot of the 'evidence' presented by people who believe stuff the rest of society views as distorted, I can only come to the conclusion that their skewed perspectives are based on misinterpretation or outright manipulation of available data and distrust of science and professional analysis to the point that they seek out contradictions that don't exist... in other words, they make stuff up and spread it repeatedly to create circular references from like-minded people.

The Psychopathy of the Deniers

It doesn't matter what the issue is that grabs global attention and concern; Holocaust, Climate Change, or COVID-19, or even vaccinations in general... there are always deniers.

It seems to me that these people have a desire to be right at all costs that they'll overlook any evidence that there is reason to be concerned enough to take some preventative measures for the greater good.

There is no critical thought whatsoever active in the mind of a denier - they just cover their ears (or eyes) and block out anything that doesn't support their counterpoints. So, what's the counterpoints they go to: "Everyone is over-reacting.", "It's not as bad as people are making it seem.", "The evidence isn't solid science or a good representation of the overall scope - i.e. 'It only represents .00082% of the population'".

It's true that you can use stats to say anything you want them to, especially if you can take them out of context and not address what that small percentage actually represents.

In the case of COVID-19, sure - the population of the world is several billion and a couple hundred thousand infected is a small percentage world-wide... but that does NOT mean it is not a very good indicator of rapid spread of a disease.

I am having a very hard time comprehending the audacity of people who think they are immune to any risk of catching a disease simply based on the current percentages in their country - and their lack of understanding that one person... just one - can become a trigger that changes everything in the lives of their neighbours, if not them.

It simply makes sense to do 'something' rather than broadcasting some ill-informed insistence that people should not be trying to ensure they don't spread the disease.

It is pure self-centered, egotistical, and antisocial behaviour. It's detrimental to pretend that the children and elderly near us aren't at risk by a lack of doing 'something' on our part, and worse by aiding the spread of misinformation (and in this case the disease) by insisting that others are taking things too seriously.

Critical Thinking is not about being critical of others.

After hearing that some people think that Critical Thinking is about thinking ethically, I had to once again question my self - Do I really know what I'm talking about when I refer to critical thinking? So luckily, there's this thing called google which helped me find several nice definitions, but as it turns out it also pointed me to a thing called wikipedia that had a more lengthy description:

"Critical Thinking is the analysis of facts to form a judgment." I'll stop there for a second, as that is pretty much the very basic definition and this is all that is really needed to realize that it has nothing to do with making ethical choices.

Wikipedia continues: "The subject is complex, and several different definitions exist, which generally include the rational, skeptical, unbiased analysis, or evaluation of factual evidence." Now that part splits up the analysis of facts into some important approaches, the most important of which I'd argue is the unbiased part.

More from Wikipedia: "Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking." Wow! - that is the MOST important aspect of critical thinking in my mind. It's all about self-checking and not judgment of others or their views. It's about what we do to correct or alter our own world views.

Then Wikipedia gets a little long-winded: "It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities as well as a commitment to overcome native egocentrism and sociocentrism." Geezus - a lot of verbiage to repeat that one has to overcome one's own existing beliefs that were embedded from how they were raised.

So, critical thinking could be applied to ethical decision making if one isn't so sure about the choices they're making, but it's definitely not just about right and wrong. In a world where facts get lost in sound bites or tweets, we seem to see fewer and fewer people willing to think and then re-think about the facts (if any exist) behind the noise.

It isn't up to us to judge the value of someone else's thinking, but when it comes to influencers that are misguiding the public with crap like anti-vaxing then it is up to us to reiterate that there are facts that are not being considered at all by those people and we can provide some pointers to where facts might be found for their readers' to make up their own minds based on the most recent scientific facts available.

Ignoring the facts or calling them fake news is highly detrimental to a society that seems prone to just absorb sound bites with emotional biases because it leads to a decline in the collective brain power of the human race. If we want to improve as a species, we need to be informed by more than just repeated sound-bites.

Wash Your Hands... of Gender Bias

We may have noticed that viruses spread quite easily around the world, and the simple means to protect ourselves and those around us is to wash our hands.

However, other viral infections exist within our thinking that we may not be aware of and have been already affected; we are also quite contagious as we spread our condescending views that effect other people. We are not thinking critically when we take a self-centered view of the world and suggest other people must conform to our expectations of normal.

The fact that there's a definition of 'toxic masculinity' in existence is a great indicator that people are waking up to the fact that they have been brainwashed and are prone to brainwashing their children. In recent years, there has been a big enough push for gender neutrality in public places and work environments as well. This push tends to center around washrooms and the seemingly unnecessary insistence of gender based segregation.

"I will not be comfortable sharing a bathroom with someone of the opposite sex."
"You are forcing your beliefs on me."
"I don't want to be accused of exhibitionism or sexual assault when I walk into a washroom."

The statements above are emotional and self-centered or 'entitled' views that are clearly not coming from an informed or critical thinking mind. For starters, public washrooms don't have to be any different than the ones in our house - i.e. they're gender neutral. One person goes in and closes the door - simple.

Redesigning public washrooms/restrooms/bathrooms or whatever you want to call them alleviates an awful lot of congestion for females in particular, but could benefit for men as well. You should be able to walk into a room with full length stalls and do your natural business whether you are male or female.

Now, men have a built in masculine need to stand while we urinate - so, we expect urinals to be available and this is one of the reasons that the men's line-up in highly congested locations like sports' arenas goes much faster than for women. There's a downside though to urinals - splash or splatter that bounces off the porcelain or out of a toilet onto the floor.

Any male who thinks his aim is precise and that there's no splash-back is delusional. I've stood on sticky floors in many places to know better, and anyone who has ever cleaned a bathroom knows the floor around a toilet where males reside takes some guts to deal with.

I'm not suggesting all men should squat to pee because that is too radical to suggest for all the brainwashing we've been through that to be male means you stand. What I'm saying is that the bowls shouldn't have water in them when the lid is up. It's a small redesign that should keep a lot more splatter inside a bowl. The fact that anyone behind closed doors shouldn't care whether the person in the next stall is male or female.

The next problem is noise. We are all flatulent at times - and some of those farts are rather explosive. Again, it doesn't matter what gender you are; we all defecate and we all have gas building up that releases through an almost identical sphincter. So, why do we care that on a given day the young woman we saw go into the next stall explodes - or the old man grunts with constipation. It happens to each and every human throughout their lives.

What I'm getting at is - why are we hung up on something that is natural for all humans regardless of gender that we feel a need to segregate our washrooms? We shouldn't shield our children or one another from reality where they eventually have to have awkward 'first time' experiences in a relationship where you destroy the bathroom.

Reprogramming our Brainwashed Neural Maps

We are all brainwashed and we let it happen.

Of course, we didn't know it was happening when we were children, but even as adults we still let ill-informed biases bend us to the will of the environment we grew up in - even if we're no longer in that environment.

A lot of people don't know that they are brainwashing young minds into the 'cult'ure that they inherited from when they grew up. Distrust of people who don't fit into the general 'normal' definition that exists within our little world is quite common and done often without conscious thought.

How many people stop to think that some definition of human appearance or behaviour makes them uncomfortable? It is only that way because their minds have literally been made up - from many years of culturally acceptable norms. Even something as simple as two humans greeting one another becomes awkward when people from different environments meet because both of them have neural mindmaps that are strictly bound to the one 'standard' set of acceptable greetings.

Kissing, handshaking, bowing, hugging, or even high-fiving... are all made uncomfortable because our brains don't like to break from its super neural-highways that have been implanted into us through years of cultural brainwashing.

Take this to the next level. Think of any human interaction that makes you feel uncomfortable, including those hot controversial topics that people want to avoid because... we are all brainwashed and it is very hard to literally Change our minds. Don't get me wrong, we can do it. That's what critical thinking and neural plasticity have in common.

If we're willing, we can reprogram ourselves and be a little more understanding of how other humans see the world. We might surprise ourselves to discover something we believed to be so horribly 'wrong' is actually a fun and healthy 'right'.

Go ahead, pick a subject - and change your mind on just one thing. It's a good place to start.

The Voices in My Head are having a debate and want you to join in.

So, here's the thing... Challenging one's own views is easy to talk about and suggest that everyone should be open to constructive criticism and being proven wrong - and with critical thinking we're supposed to have already considered the probability that our view is somewhat biased.

Also, we must keep in mind to stay away from emotional arguments and focus entirely on reasoned and hopefully informed points - Solution: Flip your opinion - randomly.

This is an exercise to discover how the other side of a potentially polarized issue might see the world.

1. Toss a coin to find out which side you are on with one of the issues below or make up your own to discuss.
2. Heads... make one statement that supports the idea of the issue - what good will come from this.
Tails... make one statement that questions the value of the issue - what harm will come from this.
3. Each following coin toss supports or counters the previous one.

Of course, one could play the coin toss with several people each taking the coin in turn and discovering which side they are going to provide input to the discussion - offer that point and so on...
If you do enjoy some mind games with others, remember to stifle emotional responses and mocking humour which is okay if your playing by yourself.

Some topics to play with:
1. Carbon Tax on all producers of Greenhouse gases
2. Minimum Basic Income - replacement of welfare, Employment Insurance, and Old Age Security
3. Legalize Sex Trade
4. Capital Punishment for mass murder, rape and sexual abuse of children.
5. National Pharmacare and Dentalcare
6. Definition of Marriage is a contract between 2 or more consenting adults.
7. Flat Tax on corporations and Income Tax
8. Immediate assessment of refugee claimants no matter how they arrive...
9. Naturism/Nudism in public spaces
10. Dual Citizenship and running for election
11. Free Post Secondary Education
12. Automation and AI replacing workers
13. Regulating Dress Code for Public Employees and Schools
14. Removing Daylight Savings Time
15. Doctor Assisted Death
16. Religion and Prayers in Schools
17. Sex Education in Elementary school
18. State sponsored assassinations of potential enemies (before war is declared)