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View Diary: Orson Scott Card: What's Mainstream in the Madness (144 comments)

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  •  Critical thinking isn't a generalized skill. (1+ / 0-)
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    It's domain-specific. Most people don't actually think critically outside their areas of expertise; they rely on trusted sources and are often easily manipulated by charlatans who play to their audience's preconceptions. That's why we have many examples of people who are highly effective critical thinkers in some fields, but have blind spots in specific areas like vaccines, evolution, and climate change. Card has bought his church's party line on homosexuality.

    Critical thinking can also be context-specific. Someone might be able to think critically about a subject in an abstract or hypothetical context but not in a real one. It's particularly common for critical thinking to be derailed by reality when a subject is emotionally- or politically-charged. In Card's case, his fiction is actually anti-racist (though like Heinlein and other SF writers of the same era, he generally shows it through implication and allegory) - but when he's confronted with real black people, his political views and conditioned emotional reactions cloud his thinking.

    "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

    by kyril on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 09:19:50 AM PDT

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    •  Although Critical thinking can be relegated to (0+ / 0-)

      one's area of expertise it is often the very opposite!   Because one tends to form biases around that which one believes one knows.   Even scientists (who one would think would be more able to think critically)  have often gone so far as to actively resist factual, objective info so as not to disturb their biases (case of H. pylori and Barry Marshall springs rapidly to mind).  

      Humans resist critical thinking in areas where they have a vested belief.  Be it their area of "expertise" or their "culture".

      It has been shown in studies that a different area of the brain is used for critical thinking than beliefs...but that the belief area (sort of an easy short cut to an answer) is used more readily  than the critical thinking area.   As I recall (although my memory is not as good as it was) some persons are more apt to use the critical thinking areas of their brain more often than others.

      Dollarocracy is not Democracy

      by leema on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 03:15:12 PM PDT

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      •  Emotional attachment can create blind spots (0+ / 0-)

        in anyone. If an expert gets too attached to his or her theory, s/he might be less likely to think critically about it.

        But it's important to differentiate between the basic capacity to do something and the ability to exercise it under specific circumstances. Our expert, if s/he really is an expert, would be perfectly capable of thinking critically about the theory in question if it weren't his/her own pet theory. The belief problem is a circumstantial limitation, not an absolute limitation.

        The primary absolute limitation on critical thinking is background knowledge. One doesn't necessarily need to be an expert in a field to think critically about a problem - but one does at least need a solid understanding of the field at the level necessary to understand the problem and its context. And it really helps to know the standard ways of approaching similar problems, lest one end up attempting to reinvent the wheel. The deeper one's background knowledge, the more likely it is that one's efforts at critical thinking will actually produce something interesting.

        It may be true that people might be less likely to attempt critical thinking within their specific narrow area of greatest expertise, especially on particular problems to which they believe they already know the answers. But when they do attempt it, they're most likely to come to accurate/interesting/novel conclusions when thinking about their area of expertise and closely related areas, and most likely to come to false/useless/unoriginal conclusions and fall prey to deception and emotional manipulation when thinking about areas about which they know very little.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 11:31:10 PM PDT

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