Critical Thinking: What Critical Thinkers Can Learn From Actors

Uh Oh! HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS! Disinformation is, and will be, spewing forth right and left now that the next Presidential election campaign kicks off next week. If ever we’re in need of the ability to exercise Critical Thinking, now’s the time.

I know you all know what disinformation is, but humor me here… I’m going to give a definition (paraphrased from wikipedia), because now that we’re entering into the political fist fight that’s going to go on for the next 10 months,  it’s so important for all of us to recognize it when we see or hear it.

Disinformation is “intentionally false or inaccurate information spread deliberately”. It’s purpose is to convince someone of an untruth… to manipulate. Oftentimes it’s a tactic where the manipulator combines some truth or observations with false conclusions and lies, or reveals part of the truth while presenting it as the whole truth.

Disinformation is not the same as misinformation… both are inaccurate, but the purpose of the former is to deliberately mislead, whereas the latter is  stating information that is mistakenly believed to be true.

Regardless, we still need to develop a 6th sense for being suspicious of information that is…well…. suspicious!

When people deliberately set out to distort the truth and use the media…. and more importantly.. .distort information with the desired result being FEAR… I’m only half way kidding when I say that we should put these jerks in a pillory and throw eggs and apples at their faces…. haha… ??

Really, it makes me so mad. But in trying to avoid being taken in by these tactics, I know I have to be careful that I don’t overreact and become close minded, make snap judgements, and refuse to listen to viewpoints different from my own.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that the best chance for making a good choice is increased by looking at the most honest and educated opposing opinions I can find. I mean really, how can it HURT to hear another side? Unless of course you’re feeble minded and easily swayed…. but then, all the more important to dig down and practice critical thinking techniques.

The ancient Greeks based their whole society on this idea of debating issues with the goal to find the truth. They publicly debated the pros and cons, and listened to debates of opposing viewpoints. And of course, there were differing points of view…. they just weren’t deliberately distorted for the sole purpose of winning the argument. Throughout history, they’ve been admired and their government used as a model  to emulate.

So how has it come about that twisting facts, planting false information and playing on people’s fears and prejudices seems to have become a part of the norm in our country? This may be a good discussion. But the better one is “What are we going to do about it?”

How about this? “All that is necessary for triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” This statement is purported to have been made by Edmund Burke, the Irish political philosopher. Apparently there is no record of him actually saying these exact words, but there is record of this…” When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

I know I’m not alone, but I’m so disgusted and discouraged by the formalized manipulation of the public that has been adopted by the political machine (all parties, Democrats and Republicans alike), and it only seems to be getting worse. To me, it showcases a complete lack of caring about the future…our kids’ future…. and the big picture. Instead, it highlights an attitude of  self focus and win at all costs, and this attitude keeps all of us from being able to move forward.

As for the rest of us? Those maps they put up with the red states and the blue states? They pretty much say it all…on the whole, we’re so polarized and disrespectful of others’ opinions. OK, now I’m on a roll…

But really, I’ve never understood how people think it’s “winning” to triumph over an opponent, gloat, and then run rough shod over them for 4 years. Don’t they get that there will inevitably be a backlash? Then the shoe will be on the other foot and the same treatment will get dished out by the other side.

How is that moving forward? We need to get from A to Z and all this is promoting is bouncing around back and forth from A to maybe D. And what is this doing to any chance to develop a level of trust?

Instead of being swayed or overreacting to all of this,  I wonder if more Americans learned how to effectively call BS on the media, lobbyists and politicians, would things be more constructive and less of a circus?

Speaking for myself, an end result of all of this is that I feel like the truth is so hard to find and disinformation tactics so prevalent, that I’m afraid I’ll make a decision based off of disinformation and vote for the wrong person or the wrong thing.

I hate to say this, but it’s had the effect of making me apathetic about voting. And I used to have political parties in October to talk about the issues and candidates… I’d invite Republicans and Democrats and we’d have a straw vote at the beginning of the evening, then a discussion of various opinions, and then we’d take another straw vote to see if anyone changed their mind. (Most didn’t, but I’ll tell you what…. I felt much better informed and confidant when voting. The bummer now is that people are so angry and polarized that I really don’t want to have this party anymore).

Bottom line… I know I have to wade back into this struggle again and believe that my vote does matter. And my voice matters too. Speaking of which, you may wonder what this post has to do with “living in healthy balance”, but I’d argue that one’s ability to think clearly has everything to do with it.

As for what critical thinkers can learn from actors? It’s addressed in the 10 minute video below. And it makes sense too, because who other than actors have to be able to inhabit someone-else’s skin… see things from their point of view so that they can portray that person believably?

So here’s a link to a you tube video called The Critical Thinker. The author says the 5 components of critical thinking are: logic, argumentation, rhetoric, background knowledge, and cultivation of attitudes and values. They’re mutually dependent in order to be effective, but the most important one is background knowledge. After all, if one is ignorant, there’s not much chance of being a good critical thinker.

Not to beat a dead horse, but isn’t being open to many opinions and facts the best way to really attain background knowledge?

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