Do You Use Critical Thinking?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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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