As long as I have been an adult I have always valued critical thinking. I think it is why I went to law school. I was never good with numbers so subjects like statistics were never attractive to me even though it is cold hard facts and there is no room for feeling or emotions. I liked being able to get as much information as possible and choosing the best solution. To me that seemed like the obvious choice.
However, perhaps I am in the minority in this country. I see so many people just motivated by emotions and feel when the facts and logic and experience and history clearly say this is the incorrect path. It drives me nuts. Discussions between people ruled by emotion and people ruled by fact seldom go anywhere. It is like talking in two completely different languages. Both people think the other is clearly missing the obvious and is a moron.
I think emotion is great when you are cheering for your favorite team. I just don’t think it should be the guiding principle in most major decisions and choices. It can lead you into some very big mistakes. We all think our first love will be our forever love. We can’t imagine life without that person. Our parents tell us to slow down as we have plenty of options and a whole life ahead of us. We think our parents are idiots. Invariably, for most of us, our parents were correct and our first love was not our forever love. As we grow older we still use emotion for love but those of us that find fulfilling relationships also use the information we gathered from our failed relationships. We pick up on certain traits that are deal breakers for us. Certain life styles that will not make us happy. We use that information to avoid getting into a serious relationship that will inevitably fail. The lucky ones take all of the failure and turn it into success. I would suggest that they sprinkled in some critical thought into their quest for love.
I think people fall in love with their politicians. There were a lot of people who absolutely loved President Obama. He could do no wrong…even when he was wrong. The same holds true for President Trump. Things that they use to hate they love. Russia comes to mind. Deficits are another. There are plenty. When these people fall in love with their president they defend him like he is their boyfriend even if it is obvious the president is making a mistake. I never fell in love with a president. There are presidents I like and presidents I don’t like but I always knew they worked for me. It was not emotional for me it was business. That is what allows me to go from topic to topic and not view a president as all bad or all good. I think critically about what they are doing and how it affects things I care about. See I have emotion but it does not rule the day.
Politicians know we are ruled by emotion. They create slogans for us to latch onto. Hope and Change. Make America Great Again. It is much catchier than “things will be slightly better if we vary our path a little”. Nobody could get behind that. Most people do not take the time to look at a politician’s background. Their past, their votes, their wins, their losses their flaws. Nah most of us grab onto the slogan and a well delivered speech.
I think letting our emotions rule us and not looking at things critically is tearing this nation apart. Nobody dares to think, research, or listen. It is much easier to get all worked up and scream. My guy is the best and your gal is the worst is much easier to wrap our minds around even if the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. I’ll give you an example from this week’s radio show. We played a new ad from Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren. She talked about among other things how bad Goldman Sachs was bad and Trump’s cabinet was filled with people from there, looking out for the middle class, and how lobbyists control Washington. These are things she has been talking about for years. Donald Trump ran on many of those same points to great success. Yet Trump and Warren feud. Trump fans hate Warren and Warren fans hate Trump. I am guessing it is because neither really listened to what the other side was arguing for and what said candidate was doing about it. Nah, it is just easier to believe the other one is bad instead of critically thinking about what is being presented. So we fight and name call and hate.
I believe there should be renewed emphasis on critical thinking in schools starting in Kindergarten. Looking at information and processing it. I am aware this is done now but I think we need to double down on it because it is just not sinking in. Now we have more information than ever at our disposal with easier access yet most of us prefer to believe a meme cobbled together by some basement dweller. If we can really emphasize that knowledge and critical thinking are things to be prized maybe we can slowly ween ourselves off of the toxic public discourse.