“A great majority of the
so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even
the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do
not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of
propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education
must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the
false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction. The
function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and
to think critically.” - Martin Luther King Jr., 1947
Critical and Purposive Thinking
Critical thinking. What is it? Well, it is not dreaming or fantasizing. It
must perforce involve analysis and synthesis. Analysis involves looking from
all angles for pertinent aspects and identifying them seeing them as
distinct features or pieces. Synthesis nvolves putting these together in the
paradigm to form a meaningful picture or composite, which in itself may be a
segment or part of a bigger picture.
Doing this for an important reason is purposive thinking. Such as
understanding a significant problem or understanding an important or crucial
Martin Luther King Jr. said above, “The function of education...is to teach one
to think intensively and to think critically.”
Although I am not really disagreeing so much, anyone who could REALLY think critically
to the next level wouldn’t have said that! Let me explain.
As a child prodigy, I had the innate intelligence and potential to think critically, but my
intellectual/psychological/social environment did
NOT encourage it, and my religious environment and
indoctrination suppressed it.. I literally was
afraid to use it. I remember vividly asking certain
profound questions in my late pre-teen years
starting around the age of nine years. A couple of
these were left hanging because they weren’t TOO
critical, but my mind looked at the other issues and
said to itself, “Don’t go there.” I was literally
AFRAID–for a complex variety of religion related social and
psychological reasons–to think critically to the
point of violating my religious programming.
So, “education” cannot “teach” that which has been
winnowed out, it cannot overcome the propensity to
reject one LOL falsity and replace it with another
equally as bad. In my opinion, it cannot be “taught” but needs
to be stimulated, nurtured, protected, kept alive, cultured, and
ultimately MOTIVATED AND INSPIRED, BECAUSE doing so
will threaten those around you, especially the
charismatic leader types like Martin Luther King.
Given all the social, religious downside, what would
be the motivation? Does doing so make you more
friends” Obviously not! Does it initially make you more
adjusted, more secure, and more “hip”? Obviously
not! Does it attract women? I wish I could tell you
yes on that one. Does it make you happier, or more
fulfilled? Obviously not! What is the payoff for
critical thinking and thinking intensively? I can
probably do better in most value schemes by focusing on becoming a better
competitor and investor, generating more wealth!
I had to be inspired to DO IT ANYWAY! Even at the risk of “GOD” NOT
LIKING IT. I literally had to go against the whole crowd that thinks that
the key to salvation is to surrender. I had to reject the thinking that the
ultimate sin was to think independently. I had to eschew the temptation to
“go along to get along”. I had to fly in the face of repeated accusations
of, “Michael, your problem is
that you think too MUCH!” or “Michael, you have made
an idol of your own mind, and worship it.” I had to
spurn those that suggest reason and logic are the
real enemy, and that we should let our “hearts” rule
over them and our lives, etc., ad nauseam.
So, I completely had to leave that life behind. I essentially
lost everything and everyone except my mother,
brother, and son. And even THEY were concerned and worried.
Who is it that will protect the budding critical thinker from
the educators? From the family and friends that
discourage it? I had a maverick great-uncle, who
everyone in the family gossiped about in terms of
being “TOUCHED”, a little crazy, and a little
dangerous, who was naturally isolated as a man, and
made passes at my gorgeous divorced mother. My
great-aunt was a harridan, and he tried to travel or
be gone all the time. She remained “in the flock”
while he developed his own private religion. He was
characterized as slightly degenerate and off the
reservation, but was still an integral part of the
family and was interesting to me. He naturally was
interested in me, and during my early years
occasionally took me aside and artfully challenged my thinking.
Through the 7th grade, I was educated in a parochial
country one-room school. Great advantages, as well
as some downsides. In the 7th grade, one day the
teacher started a school-wide discussion and asked a significant
question that quieted everyone in the room except
me. It was an issue that I had thought about, and I
stood up and gave my opinion. The teacher engaged me
with arguments, distracting perspectives, etc.,
until I had changed my mind. Whereupon, he stopped
and practically shouted at me, “MICHAEL! You were
right in the first place, yet you caved under my
pressure. Don’t EVER do that again. Stick to your
guns when you are right!”
Well, with that approbation yet rather more so an affirmation, that challenge, that
inspiration I determined that I never again would
cave in when I am convinced in my own mind!
Wonderful! you say? Not so much! That’s practically a formula
for being perverse, stubborn, and intransigent.
Because, given how ignorant we are of pertinent
information and lack of alternatives, how do we KNOW
when we are right? We’ve all been wrong so many times in
the past, we have all mis-remembered, misunderstood,
misconstrued, etc., so how can we ever have any
confidence, much less ultimate confidence?
The Paradigm IS Paramount
Critical thinking very quickly becomes intimately
associated with a paradigm, or happens within a
paradigm, belief system or world view. At some point
the critical thinker understands that it is the
paradigm that is paramount. You then realize that
the major effort should be directed at getting the
paradigm right, because the paradigm affects and
even effects the interpretation of all the information.
At this point one is tempted to being so daunted by the
extensiveness of doing this and its unknown endpoint that you want to give
up. You have a sense that this is not only an enormous undertaking fraught
with opposition, but that it will seriously affect your life, its focus, its
pattern, its relationships, its direction, and its outcome. However, the serious
believer in and seeker of truth WILL DO IT ANYWAY!
Now, I wouldn't change or trade the results of this in me for ANYTHING!
Some Critical Thinking on the Differences between Paranormal
Claims, Scientific Theories and Historical Reconstructions.
First, a little fundamental
philosophy: the essence of all perceivable and–to my mind–conceivable
reality involves some combination of change, limits, discontinuity,
To be confused about what is different and what is
not, is to be confused about everything. - David Bohm
contrast, and irreversibility. We experience, perceive or
apprehend the differences of things–tangible and intangible. For
instance, if every tangible thing that we cast our eyes upon was the same
color and shade, we would see nothing. If there were only one unvarying
sound or tone of the same intensity, we would hear nothing. So it would be
with the senses of smell, taste and tactile feeling. We rely upon our five
physical senses to perceive the changes or discontinuities of the physical
realm to give us our experience of physical reality.
And so it is in
the intangible, intellectual (spiritual) realm. If we do not apprehend
and appreciate the differences in various aspects of our intellectual or
non-material reality, our thinking will be foggy, muddled or lacking in clarity
so that we can be confused to the point of thinking or concluding
inaccurately. As a significant example, a discipline in our modern world
known as Information Theory made important and useful distinctions between
data, facts, information, and knowledge.
There are also important and
basic differences between paranormal claims, scientific theories,
historical reconstructions, and philosophical paradigms; and there are
critical differences between the criteria that necessarily be applied to the
reasonable evaluation of their validity or correctness. We will be at sea
if we do not realize these differences and deal with them accordingly.
The above types of proposals
are so much blather, hot air–are meaningless–until it somehow becomes
IMPORTANT to evaluate them to the point of accepting or rejecting
their correctness and thereby necessarily relying on the correctness of our
acceptance or rejection. And, if we accept any such proposal to the point
of relying on it in any important way, we have essentially added that
particular understanding to our "knowledge."
In understanding the
differences in our proposal trio, it is useful to recognize that there are
primarily five categories or types of knowledge that pertain to these issues. These can be listed as:
Intrinsic: Intrinsic knowledge is a kind of "hard wired" or
intuitive knowledge that can still be further developed as time goes
on. Intrinsic knowledge shows up in rationality and the application of
logic, allows us to know how to learn. Intrinsic knowledge is internal,
and is the most reliable or trustworthy knowledge that we have.
Sensory Sensory knowledge is simple perception which comes
directly from the five senses that we don't normally question. Sensory
knowledge is personal, dependent upon intrinsic knowledge, and takes a
minimum of interpretation.
Evidential: Evidential knowledge is composed of personally
experienced evidence which implies conclusions reached beyond a
reasonable doubt. With this type of knowledge we sense or address the
evidence directly but not the thing itself, and this knowledge is less
reliable than that based on experience because it overwhelmingly relies
upon interpretation. Evidential knowledge has an external source, and is
significantly less reliable than intrinsic or sensory knowledge.
Experiential: Experiential knowledge is composed of perhaps
prolonged personal life experiences that have come in a series of
learning situations. It is always a personal mix of beliefs and other
knowledge that takes a maximum of interpretation, yet it can be the most
meaningful knowledge that we have. The validity of this knowledge is
conditional on the validity of the personal interpretation.
Consentual: Consentual knowledge is composed of knowledge that
others have shared that we consent to hold because we trust (rightly or
wrongly) in the person or source passing on this externally derived
knowledge. Often the consent is given based purely on the lack of any
reason not to trust and should always be held with skepticism.
Consentual knowledge can be broken down further into three meaningful
- That based on other's intrinsic, sensory, evidential, and experiential
knowledge and interpretation.
- That based on other's consentual knowledge.
- That based on other's beliefs, opinions, estimations, imaginations,
misinterpretations, fantasies, falsities, misunderstandings, neuroses, and psychoses.
is the most prevalent and voluminous in our knowledge base but the
least reliable, and it is staggering to realize to what extent we
have incorporated consentual knowledge by what may be uncritical
consent. There would be a lot more humility and much less acrimony
if the popularizers and promoters of scientific dogma were aware of
the proportion of the consentual component in their "knowledge base."
A paranormal claim is considered paranormal precisely because there is a normal or
reasonable doubt as to whether the phenomenon actually happened,
happens, or can happen. A para-normal claim is not the same as a
para-normal explanation for an event or phenomenon that is not in
doubt. Let us remember that any situation or event that is on the
extremes of the normal distribution curve looks para-normal and can
invite a "paranormal" explanation."
A "scientific" theory, if it is not going to morph into a
philosophical paradigm, must restrict itself to an explanation of
observable phenomena. A Black Hole is not an observable
phenomenon, it is just one among other explanations for observable phenomena.
Einstein's Theory of
Relativity is not so much a scientific theory as it is a
materialistic or "scientific" paradigm. But it has elements
that violate our most basic logic. Roger Penrose's Tensor
Theory and David Bohm's Holographic Universe are examples of other
scientific or philosophical paradigms.
In the realm of knowledge, scientific theories, paranormal claims and historical
reconstructions–hereinafter called proposals–should be subject to
what the acronym FLIPPERS stands for.
Falsifiability - It must be possible to
conceive that the proposal could prove to be false. If it cannot be
conceived as false then the proposal is not saying anything
significant or meaningful. Furthermore, it must be possible to
devise ways to test the validity of the proposal before it can be
considered worthwhile to consider it.
Logicality - Any argument offered in
support of a proposal must be logically sound.
Integrity - The critical data or evidence
offered in support of a proposal must be factual or true and complete,
while the selection of the evidence must be honest, open and
unprejudiced, i.e., non-fudged.
Predictability - Any proposal must offer
some implied and inferred predictions, which can be checked.
Extraordinary predictions which are verified are generally considered as
having substantial weight in an evaluation of the premise.
Productivity - Any valid proposal must have
an aspect of productivity or meaningfulness to it, in that some implied
and inferred benefit or usefulness would construe in its adoption.
Extensiveness - The evidence offered in
support of any proposal must be exhaustive–that is, all of the
significant available evidence must be included for consideration with
none deliberately left out.
Replicability - Any experimental results
garnered under replicable conditions and offered in support of the
proposal must be replicable. Furthermore, empirical data and evidence
gathered from one situation or locale should be consistent with or
buttressed by other comparable data and evidence gathered from a
different situation or locale. Except for historical reconstructions,
total reliance upon historical or non-replicable evidence at least tends
to reduce the worth or validity of the proposal.
Sufficiency - The evidence offered in
support of any premise must be adequate to establish the validity
beyond an agreed upon reasonable doubt, with these stipulations:
(1) The burden of proof for any proposal should rest primarily on the claimant(s).
(2) Extraordinary proposals demand extraordinary evidence.
(3) Proposed evidence based upon authority and/or testimony is
ALWAYS inadequate by itself, and must be considered as supportive
rather than indicative.
If the premise or proposal being offered cannot meet or
satisfy the above criteria, it must be considered to be either invalid,
or inadequate, or at least primarily in the realm of dogma, opinion or
an unsubstantiated possibility instead of being useful or in the realm of knowledge.