One of the primary tasks of being a critical thinker is to become conscious that the process of interpretation is occurring and to determine whether that process and its conclusions are warranted.
We have many terms for the process of interpretation. Most of these terms indicate our opinion about whether they are warranted:
Lying (to lie)
A problem occurs when we are not conscious that what we consider facts have been interpreted for us and the results are harmful. A popular example is the used car salesman. Everything about the car will be wonderful according to the salesman. This is the interpretations he places on the facts because he wants to sell the car. Critical thinking should warn you to check his interpretation against whatever reality to which you have access... In other words, you should have a good mechanic go over the car and give you HIS interpretation of the car's condition.
A car salesman's agenda is easy to guess. The situation is a huge clue to how he is apt to interpret things. Other situations are not as easily discerned, particularly if most people in our society have bought into a version (interpretation) of reality and are critical of anyone who questions that version. We are social animals and it is difficult indeed to go against the group.
"Critical thinking.. involves overcoming not only intellectual barriers..
but psychological barriers as well" (Paul, ii)... "Given.. our inherent
tendencies toward self-deception, and our tenacious grip on unconsciously
absorbed beliefs.. [we must] prepare ourselves for a lifetime of diligent
and rigorous intellectual work."|
by Richard Paul
Going against group, seeing through commonly accepted versions of reality, speaking up despite the resulting unpopularity and hardships, is what dissent is all about. There are those rare individuals among us who have both the insight to see past the lies we tell ourselves and the courage to challenge the rest of us to eschew our comfort in order to face the real truth. THIS is why a study of dissent is so important to those learning to think critically.
"If a man's actions are not guided by thoughtful
conclusions, then they are guided by inconsiderate
impulse, unbalanced appetite, caprice, or the
circumstances of the moment. To cultivate unhindered,
unreflective external activity is to foster
enslavement for it leaves the person at the mercy of
appetite, sense, and circumstance."|
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