Do You Use Critical Thinking?

Sculpture of "Thinking Man" by Rodin, Paris, France.
Sculpture of "Thinking Man" by Rodin, Paris, France. | Source

A reader of one of my articles (let's call him Nick) made the comment that I could not think critically. I'm always open to constructive criticism. That's the only way I can grow—be aware of flaws and attempt to fix them.

How accurate was Nick's observation? First, let's look at the definition of critical thinking.

Dictionary.reference.com gives us, "the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion."

Notice that this definition does not include the idea that the conclusion or answer is correct. It merely provides the method used to reach such a product or result. Of course, critical thinking would increase the odds of finding a correct or effective answer, but it wouldn't guarantee it. Perhaps that's why ideas need to be reassessed from time to time to ensure they still work, rather than holding onto them as dogma or law.

Irrespective of the sphere of thought, "a well-cultivated critical thinker":

  • raises important questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely
  • gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively
  • comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards
  • thinks open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences
  • communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems, without being unduly influenced by others' thinking on the topic.

Wikipedia

The article in question talked of evidence that supports the hypothesis that 9/11 was an inside job. Nick's claim was that no one can keep a secret, therefore 9/11 could not have been an inside job. Really!

Let's examine this claim. First of all, it seems to be an argument to ignorance. Apparently Nick has no evidence that a secret has ever been kept.

Perhaps that's the point of a secret! But claiming that something is untrue simply because one does not have evidence is an "argument to ignorance"-type logical fallacy.

The lack of proof of something can never disprove an idea. This has been shown throughout history. Someone may think something is impossible or cannot possibly exist, but it only takes one discovery to blow their claim out of the water.

For example, some scientists during the latter part of the 19th century apparently felt that an incandescent light bulb is an impossibility. Thomas Edison's discovery proved them wrong.

Scientists Lacking Critical Thinking

Yes, it happens. And likely, it happens far more often than we might want to admit.

There were some scientists who felt that the city of Troy had never existed and that Homer's great, heroic poem was pure fiction. Any search for such a city would remain foolishness and a waste of time. It took an amateur who did not buy into their reasonableness to find the legendary city at Hisarlik, Turkey.

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. A painting of the Trojan Horse.
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. A painting of the Trojan Horse. | Source

If Edison had bought into the reasonableness of his peers, he never would have looked for his incandescent light bulb. Thank goodness for his unreasonable persistence.

A century later, some scientists still felt that the legend of Amazon warriors was pure fiction, but in 1995, American and Russian scientists, J. Davis-Kimball, V. A. Bashilov and L. T. Yablonski, discovered in the burial kurgans of Southern Russia the remains of women buried with their armor and weapons, while men were buried separately with the children. These kurgans were in the region to which the Greek historian, Herodotus, had said the Amazons had migrated. Proof that the Amazons of the Trojan War existed? Perhaps.

Another example where science is left having to "eat crow" involves the "Clovis first" doctrine. Such a closed-minded, "know-it-all" attitude is a certain recipe for professional blindness. For years, North American anthropologists held that Clovis was the earliest culture to have existed in the Americas. Anyone digging below the Clovis horizon (stratigraphic layer at the date of the Clovis culture) was ridiculed.

Why ridicule? Aren't scientists supposed to be above such pettiness? Can such behavior be classified as effective communication or open-mindedness? Apparently not. Science by ridicule also is not very objective. And science by dogma is the antithesis of scientific method. All it took were several examples of pre-Clovis culture finally to put to rest this deeply entrenched doctrine and the unscientific behavior which accompanied it. Thank goodness for the mavericks of anthropology who risked their careers to break through this unreasonable barrier.

Ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, author of Timaeus and Critias from which we receive the story of Atlantis.
Ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, author of Timaeus and Critias from which we receive the story of Atlantis. | Source

One of the most reviled blasphemies to modern science is that of Atlantis. Nearly every mainstream scientist involved in geology, archaeology or related fields has nothing good to say about the idea that Atlantis, as Plato described it, may have been real. Anyone stating that Atlantis could have been real is immediately and thoroughly ridiculed.

A few years ago, one historian asked a university archaeologist friend to help investigate ruins found off the coast of Bimini Island in the Bahamas. The archaeologist refused, saying that it would ruin their career. You see, Bimini is associated with the Atlantis legend. Any scientist in their right mind would refuse to have anything to do with investigating such ruins. Again, the specter of ridicule raised its head above reason and the humility of honest research.

Now, wait a minute! Scientists will not investigate proof of Atlantis unless and until Atlantis is proven to have existed in a peer-reviewed journal. But such proof will never appear in such a journal unless a scientist first investigates such evidence. This is your classic Catch-22 situation—impossible to solve. Again, scientists are letting dogma blind them.

As an amateur scientist, I didn't have to dig very far to find evidence supporting the possible past reality of Atlantis. Not only did I find a geological mechanism for the creation and later destruction of that mid-Atlantic island, but I discovered 3 separate pieces of evidence that prove a world-changing event occurred right when Plato said Atlantis sank into the sea.

We still don't have direct proof that Atlantis existed, but the evidence in favor of that legendary island is substantial. Now, all we need is a thorough survey of the Azores region at a depth of up to 3 kilometers to test fully the hypothesis. That's a bit shallower than the Titanic's resting place, so we have the capability. But who would fund such foolishness?

Could George W. Bush have been amongst those behind 9/11? It's a scandalous question, but should it be asked? (See photo credits, below.)
Could George W. Bush have been amongst those behind 9/11? It's a scandalous question, but should it be asked? (See photo credits, below.)

Secrets and 9/11

Nick felt that he had the skills of critical thinking and that I didn't. Nick has an MS in computer science. He's got me there. I only have a bachelors degree, summa cum laude. I've done a fair amount of computer programming over the last 20 years in nearly 2 dozen computer languages. And I wrote a 3D astronomy program called, "Stars in the NeighborHood." It takes a little bit of critical thinking in order to make something like that work. So, I'm not entirely devoid of critical thinking.

So, what was Nick talking about? He felt that our government could not do such a thing as 9/11 and keep it a secret. He said that he has friends who know George W. Bush personally, so he resents the implication that the former president could have been involved in mass murder. Loyalty is a good thing. Blindness isn't.

Photo of 9/11 WTC and Statue of Liberty: National Park Service, PD, via Wikipedia

Photo of George Bush: Agência Brasil, CC BY 3.0, via Wikipedia

I gave Nick an example of one secret that had remained that way for more than 3 decades—Operation Northwoods.

This had been declassified in the 1990s during an investigation of 1960s government documents related to the Kennedy administration and possibly related to Kennedy's assassination. Operation Northwoods proposed the murder of American citizens, the hijacking of airplanes and crashing them, the killing of our own troops and then blaming it all on the Cubans. Why? Northwoods would have given us a pretext for attacking that island nation. Though written by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Northwoods was never approved. Northwoods was what is called a "false flag" operation—attacking our own country under the flag of the nation you want to attack.

Despite this example, Nick maintained his viewpoint that no one can keep a secret. But Operation Northwoods had remained a secret for more than 30 years. What if there are other secrets that will remain undisclosed for longer periods? What about the classified documents of the American intelligence community? And what if non-strategic documents are leaked to make it look as though secrecy is not perfect? Certainly, something as evil as 9/11 would be made public if indeed the government was complicit in that crime. Or would it? What are the assumptions here? Secrets of wrong-doing have been revealed, so the government can't keep illegal secrets? Wouldn't that be nice? Why was Northwoods kept secret for 35 years? How could something that evil be kept secret for nearly two generations?

Coca Cola 24-can pack. What is the formula of Coke? It's a closely-guarded secret.
Coca Cola 24-can pack. What is the formula of Coke? It's a closely-guarded secret. | Source

You have to ask yourself: Can anyone keep a secret? Not everyone, certainly. But to say that "no one" can keep a secret seems to be a statement lacking in critical thinking. Again, it's an argument to ignorance. Such generalities as "no one" or "everyone" tend to indicate a lack of critical thinking simply because of their extreme and absolutist meaning. More often than not, such statements have exceptions and are therefore false. And, of course, there are exceptions to this rule, too.

Plus, the whole idea of secrets is to hide their existence in one fashion or another. For instance, one can have a secret that everyone knows exists, but the contents of which remain a secret; for example, the formula for Coca Cola. One can also have a secret the existence of which also remains a secret; and I could tell you about one, but then I'd have to kill you (joke). And there are likely secrets that can exist in either state for a limited amount of time or that remain that way forever.

But Someone Would've Talked

Another 9/11 Whistleblower

So, with these videos we have several whistleblowers who reveal inside information about 9/11 that they tried to make broadly public, but the mainstream media refuses to cover their stories. Nick apparently had never heard these stories. They had been kept "secret" from him.

With 9/11, we have secrets that continue to exist, but which are surmised by evidence which is known. For example, we now have incontrovertible proof that all 3 buildings in New York were brought down by controlled demolition. It takes weeks to set up such a demolition and Al Qaeda could not have done this in secret. The World Trade Center (WTC) was a secure facility. The Bush family security company (in charge of the World Trade Center) and the CIA (a tenant of building 7) would have known about it. So, were the Bush family and the CIA part of the inside job, or were they both so incompetent and clueless that months of delivery and installation of tons of explosives and thermate cutter charges went unnoticed? What do you think?

We do not know exactly who all was behind 9/11, but it could not have been only Al Qaeda, if them at all. Also, we know that Al Qaeda was, at one time, a CIA operation. We know that Osama Bin Laden was a CIA operative. And we know that George H.W. Bush was head of the CIA, before he was vice president and then president. What we don't know is if Al Qaeda remains a CIA operation even today. But we do know that the Bush family and the Bin Laden family have been friends for decades.

Nick may be right. Perhaps I have deluded myself into thinking that I have a talent for critical thinking. What do you think?

I welcome more feedback. If anyone can tell me how my thinking is not critical, I welcome it. Awareness is the first step to making anything better.

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Comments 26 comments

GClark profile image

GClark 4 years ago from United States

Voted Up. I like the way you think. While reading this was reminded of how over one hundred years later scientists are now taking notice of published research on how enzymes can fight cancer. Many scientists have had the unfortunate experience of being way ahead of their time and coming up against the "current accepted thought." In George Washington's day, it was common practice to "bleed" someone with pneumonia!


lone77star profile image

lone77star 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks, @GClark. I love those brave scientists who buck "conventional wisdom." Sometimes it leads to great things, sometimes it doesn't. But the "fixed idea" held by established science can sometimes be a big barrier. I think the problem there is "attachment." And behind "attachment" is "ego." People attached to their ideas are threatened by new ideas that contradict their sacred beliefs -- it bruises the ego.

It's an interesting, and perhaps potent fact, that Big Pharmaceutical companies focus primarily on profits. Curing anything is bad for profits. The best possible situation for Big Pharma is disease that is made to persist so that their drugs can "maintain" them. That's the nature of self-interest (ego) at work.


Gary 4 years ago

Well - I can't really comment on Nick's critical thinking - but having nothing but your two articles to go on - I agree with him on questioning your critical thinking ability.

Your original article on the 9/11 theory makes number of assertions that are not fully supported. "Three (3) buildings were brought down on 9/11 by controlled demolition. That is a proven fact" is one that stands out. You quote a website as evidence of this 'fact' and happily move on building the rest of your editorial on that foundation.

But - in fact - that's NOT a fact. It has thoroughly been debunked. That you would neglect to mention that important piece of information clearly makes your claim of 'critical thinking' suspect at least.

Also - I think many would find your notion that reaching a 'correct' conclusion is not germane to good critical thinking skills somewhat odd.


CoauthorU profile image

CoauthorU 4 years ago from Inland Northwest, USA

2 Gary...

Pot calling the kettle in your case. You say, "debunked" and happily move on.


CoauthorU profile image

CoauthorU 4 years ago from Inland Northwest, USA

2 lone77star...

How do you know of "Nic's" credentials..? I know why you would "know" of your own, but Nic's..?


lone77star profile image

lone77star 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thank you, Gary, and touche! You're absolutely right about me passing off the proof to another website. Now, you could ignore that other website and miss the proof to which I referred, or you could check it out and find it quite solid in its scientific method.

Also, I could've included all of that information in my 9/11 article, but that would've made it quite a bit longer. Writing a book in a short article is frowned upon.

I'll give you one piece of evidence which is a dead giveaway for controlled demolition -- debunking the debunkers: iron microspheres found in the 9/11 concrete dust.

There were thousands of tons of concrete dust which covered lower Manhattan. Several samples of this dust were analyzed (each sample from a different location within lower Manhattan). Each sample contained many iron microspheres. By percentage of weight, we can estimate that there were a few tons of iron microspheres in the 9/11 dust.

Even a few ounces proves that extremely high temperatures were achieved, far above the melting point of steel. If the temperatures had been only at the melting point, then the iron could not have shaped itself into spheres before it solidified again. Forceful dispersal is required to change liquid iron into aerosolized droplets. Both the heat and the force could've been achieved by thermate cutter charges. The heat could not have been achieved by jet fuel fires -- not even close.

Notice, that the microspheres were found to be iron -- not steel. Thermate consists mainly of iron oxide and aluminum. It also contains other elements to make lower the melting point of steel. Iron microspheres are a standard by-product of thermate, because iron oxide is converted into iron (reduction) and the aluminum takes the oxygen (oxidation).

It's interesting that several of the companies in the WTC towers had experience with demolition. One, Komatsu, even had a patent on laser-triggered thermate cutter charges. And it's also interested that some of the Bush family members who worked in the towers had offices in the impact zone of both planes -- Marsh and McLennan and subsidiaries. Thankfully, one guy moved his meeting across the street before the impact. Another, L. Paul Bremer (friend of Bush and later Iraq Occupation Governor), escaped by hitting the television studios to tell us that Osama Bin Laden was behind 9/11 and that we should attack Iraq and possibly Iran. Coincidences? Perhaps, but they beg to be investigated further.

What does all this mean?

Well, I love America and hate to see the Constitution and Bill of Rights shredded for any reason. I hate to see America become the Evil Empire we once found embodied in Soviet Russia -- attacking country after country which has not attacked us.

The erosion of liberty and escalation of violence all come back to 9/11. And what if 9/11 was an inside job? Then the loss of liberty and the deaths from those wars were based upon lies. Yes, lies!

Bush lied about WMDs and Al Qaeda camps in Iraq. Later, when this was revealed, Bush laughed about it, as if it was some cute joke. Thousands of our soldiers died. Tens of thousands of men, women and children lost their lives as collateral damage. And Bush thinks it's funny.

And did we pull out when we discovered it was a mistake? Did we say, "Oops," and apologize?

What was the real reason for invading Iraq? Could it have been the oil? Could it have been to establish a beachhead in the Middle East where most of the world's oil reserves reside? Questions!

Don't be afraid to ask questions.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@CoauthorU, thank you for your delightful and simple insight. If you're interested, see my reply to Gary.

How do I know Nick's credentials? Honestly, I don't "know." I have to take his word for it. I checked his profile on Hub Pages. Looks impressive. But even scientists with impressive credentials have said and done dumb things. I greatly admire Albert Einstein, but he went too far in his disdain for quantum physics. Perhaps he could've added a great deal more to science if he had not held so tightly to his own fixed ideas.

9/11 is still an unsolved puzzle. The deeper I dig, the more it seems that the establishment was involved in a massive cover-up, if not entirely complicit in the event itself. There's a great gap between suspicion and proof. Perhaps we'll never have proof of who really did it, but if we can affect a change of policy away from loss of liberty and away from increased violence, that would be a good thing, I think.


CoauthorU profile image

CoauthorU 4 years ago from Inland Northwest, USA

2 lone77star...

Thanks for the reply... don't know much about quantum anything, but am a fan and student of critical thinking, and a Jesus freak to boot. Love your stuff and will return often.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks, @CoauthorU. I'm freaky about Jesus, too.


CoauthorU profile image

CoauthorU 4 years ago from Inland Northwest, USA

2 lone77star...

Read the response to Gary, and of course most of the details you mentioned were "above my pay grade".

I would like to weigh in your last complete paragraph... I do not think the leaders of any nation in our modern age can act in accordance to that nation's sovereignty. I think we all are being led by puppets and their controlling strings are held by the Central Banks. And in this regard, it has never really been about Money, Oil, or any other Natural Resources. In my opinion it is all about Power/Control.

Central Banks govern our global Corporatocracies, Governments, Corporate Banks, Corporate Farms, etc. We are alive, according to the whims of they like the Rockerfellers and Rothschilds, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rothschild_family ) and their kinds, and I don't think their whims for our longevity are going continue "status quo" much longer. I believe we are on the very cusp of the final holocaust.

Mat 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@CoauthorU, thanks. That's exactly the passage I was thinking about. From the standpoint of these bodies, that's intensely sad. But from the standpoint of the immortal soul (the lost children of God), within, that's all extremely good news -- not for the suffering, but for the closeness of salvation.


Emanate Presence profile image

Emanate Presence 4 years ago from the Head to the Heart

Lonestar, et al. Your article and the thread of comments made an interesting read this morning. As a former Jesus freak who liked to say, 'I would rather be naïve than cynical,' well, the years have modified that view. I would now rather be a neutral observer and realize that my interest in such subjects goes just so far until I say, 'What does it do?'

I am in agreement with the statements for awareness and a search for truth wherever it may be found, even if it means painfully letting go of fixed ideas we didn't know we were so attached to.

I know that much goes on behind the scenes, and there are people who manipulate and control in massive ways. I know the universe is full of life. What is that to me? It is not to be drawn out by it. What may be missing here, for my taste, is stepping back and being real, not to feel self-important, and remembering to live the qualities of the True Self.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@Emanate Presence, thanks for your lovely input. And I agree, self-importance (ego) is deadly. The True Self is what it's all about.


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

Nicely written. Many in our society lack the ability to think critically and in fact there are more than a few that exist off a list of talking points, especially in the political arena. They are the ones who love to have that (D) or the (R) attached to them. That way they just have this blind ideology attached to them and they vote accordingly. Looking at the entire mess our government has become illustrates exactly what I am referring to. Brain freeze substitutes for critical thinking and logic and we now see what we see.

Great analysis and writing.

The Frog


lone77star profile image

lone77star 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks, Frog. Now, we simply need to spread the good word and get people to start thinking for themselves, critically.


abbykorinnelee profile image

abbykorinnelee 4 years ago from Ripon Wisconsin

What about the two ways of thinking we have delved into in my research design and statistics class for psychology; lateral versus sequential thinking? Apparently lateral thinking is not a common and easy form of thinking that we as humans, possess. I find it also interesting that we can think so critically or in other ways and we (as a human race) still will tend to support our view and deny emirical evidence. Just something that popped into my mind


lone77star profile image

lone77star 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@abbykorinnelee, I'm not familiar with your studies. Thanks for sharing.

And I agree, em[p]irical evidence is all too frequently ignored. Even I ignored the empirical evidence that 9/11 was an inside job for 10 years. It seemed too strange. I was uncomfortable with the notion that the government could be behind the murder of its own citizens. Discomfort is not evidence, and I finally realized this when I faced my feelings head on.

Holding onto our own view is essentially clinging to ego. It's kind of like ontological inertia.

Thanks for popping in.


Dan Barfield profile image

Dan Barfield 3 years ago from Gloucestershire, England, UK

Absolutely spot on! People are so often blinded by loyalty to belief systems that they put on a throne and celebrate as if they are the 'truth' despite the numerous assumptions that they are built on. It irritates me so much when someone scoffs at the idea of conspiracies. Are their memories really so short? What about the holocaust? The nazi's managed to keep that under their hats until they fell! History is littered with many, many examples. It is irrational not to ask questions when questions need to be asked. Following the word of authority figures blindly never leads to anything but trouble and suffering.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Well said, @Dan.

The sad thing is that I didn't ask questions about 9/11 for ten years. For that decade, I believed the Bush "conspiracy theory," though I despised Bush, even though he was from Midland, Texas and I was from Odessa, Texas, next-door.

But a good friend took the time, with kindness, to spread the word that helped to wake me up. If someone had yelled at me and called me names, I likely would not have listened. But I can understand the anger some go through when they find out they've been betrayed.

If we can take responsibility for it (not blame!), then we can no longer be victim to it. Anger disappears and you become part of the solution.


web923 profile image

web923 3 years ago from Twentynine Palms, California

An instruction in reason/critical thinking... Very interesting! I too like the way you think and especially enjoyed your other Hub i.e. Bible Commentary. This one convinced me to follow your work!


lone77star profile image

lone77star 3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@web923, thanks for your warm words. I look forward to reading your works, as well.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

One video I just saw sheds some more light on Bush's and now Obama's war crimes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEIM-3GNGag

Even if an international court were to arrest, convict and incarcerate any of the US or former US government, it likely would not change the way business is done.

It may well take an act of God to change our evil ways... or at least to make the evil seek the cover of darkness.


AISHAKHATTAK profile image

AISHAKHATTAK 2 years ago

Just loved the THINKING MAN Sculpture


lone77star profile image

lone77star 2 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks, Aishakhattak. It's a powerful symbol for an important topic.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 22 months ago from Home Sweet Home

my brain doesn't works when it comes to critical thinking, it just froze and hang, had to reboot again


lone77star profile image

lone77star 22 months ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Peachy, thanks for the good laugh. I needed it.

After a long day at work, even when I love what I'm doing, my mind feels like mush.

More critical than critical thinking is having a loving heart. With that you can heal the world.

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