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133: Critical Thinking

If you have young children then you’re probably familiar with this one word that crops up every few hours.


Children are curious and have a lot to learn and so will question everything they come across.

But for some reason we get to an age where questioning things becomes less important, we develop trust in our peers and no longer question whether something we are being taught is true.
We believe what we’re being told and form opinions based on external influences.

As adults we need to be aware that this happens so that we can question our understanding of the world, our political beliefs, our morals, ethics and judgements.
Once the EU referendum was announced I heard scores of people offering their opinion on whether IN or OUT is the best thing for the country, people had already made their mind up and anything that they watched or listened to since either confirmed their belief or it was ignored. That’s Cognitive Bias at work.
But we cannot form an opinion on anything at all unless we look at both sides first.
I think that the best way to do that, is to spend some time deliberately looking at the opposing viewpoint.
With regards to the referendum on 23rd, if your knee-jerk reaction was to stay in, then spend some time listening to the reasons to leave, and vice versa if your knee-jerk reaction was vote leave then listen to the reasons to stay.
Deliberately considering the opposite to your original view means that you can make your mind up yourself, you can put a cross in the box knowing that it was done so with some genuine consideration of what you think is best.

I urge everyone to live their life like this, not just about big things like the EU referendum, but even smaller things.

It’s called Critical Thinking and has allowed us to learn that the earth isn’t flat after all, and that it’s definitely older than 4000 years.
It’s meant that Doctors no longer use chicken poo to try and cure baldness or blow tobacco smoke up someones bum in an attempt to cure a hernia.

If we don’t check the facts then we’re never going to challenge ourselves. We won’t override inaccurate beliefs about ourselves and the world.
Critical thinking allows us to sit on the fence for a while, look at both sides of something and make our own mind up. We need to be open to the idea that we might be wrong about something.

It means that we can challenge whether we’re stupid or not, whether we’re a bad person, whether we’re lazy or fat.
If we don’t challenge our thinking we can end up making all the wrong decisions based on facts that are nothing more than a story we tell ourselves.

Because if we only look for evidence to backup that story then that’s all we’ll see and the story becomes real.
If you already have the story in your head that markings on the pavement outside houses are to tell burglars whether or not there’s a vulnerable old lady in the house then you’ll get that story reinforced, unless of course you work in civil engineering and you already know that the markings are to tell road workers that there’s an underground water pipe.

That’s why it’s important to sit on the fence sometimes and question both your beliefs and the beliefs of others.
Learn to think for yourself.

Episode List

Episode 138: Keeping Up With The Joneses
Episode 137: The Likeable You
Episode 136: Why It's OK To Be A Loser
Episode 135: The Psychology Of Extremism
Episode 134: Are You A Lobster?
Episode 133: Critical Thinking
Episode 132: There Is Nothing Either Good Or Bad
Episode 131: The For And Against Of Imagination
Episode 130: Loneliness & Social Networks
Episode 129: Letting Go Of The Past
Episode 128: What Is Love?
Episode 127: Procrastination
Ep. 126: Who Were You Before The World Changed You?
Episode 125: Stop Saying "Sorry"
Episode 124: Emotional Contagion
Episode 123: Patience
Episode 122: Building On Your Foundations
Episode 121: Dealing With The Critics
Episode 120: Being Assertive. Just Say No!
Episode 119: Inactivity
Episode 118: Social Functioning & Evolution
Episode 117: Unleash Your Inner Superhero
Episode 116: Goals, Values and Priorities
Episode 115: 10 Tips To A Happier Life
Episode 114: Lies And Confabulation
Episode 113: Confirmation Bias
Episode 112: Are You An Imposter?
Episode 111: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger
Episode 110: Are New Years Resolutions a good idea?
Episode 109: The African Violet Queen Of Milwaukee
Episode 108: Reframing
Episode 107: Spiders And Behaviourism
Episode 106: Practise Makes Perfect
Episode 105: Fear Of Flying
Episode 100 - 104: Happiness
Episode 99: Body Image And The Media
Episode 98: Evolution and Adaptation
Episode 97: Reflections And Regrets.
Episode 96: Dealing With Fear
Episode 95: Confidence
Episode 94: Enthusiasm
Episode 93: Tips To Relieve Christmas Stress
Episode 92: Dealing With Change
Episode 87 - 91: Self Esteem
Episode 86: Correlation Does Not Imply Causation
Episode 85: The Importance Of Being Lazy
Episode 84: Elephant Chains
Episode 83: Eating Bananas And Setting Goals
Episode 82: Ignoring The Media And Listening To Music
Episode 81: Awakening The Instincts
Episode 80: The Fine Line Between Love And Hate
Episode 79: The Best Medicine
Episode 78: A New Start
Episode 77: Time Distortion
Episode 76: Making Decisions
Episode 75: What's In A Name?
Episode 74: Pushing Ourselves Further
Episode 73: Conformity
Episode 72: Purpose
Episode 71: Perspective
Episode 70: Expectation
Episode 69: The Mind / Body Link
Episode 68: Overcoming Shyness
Episode 67: Mood Boosting
Episode 66: Sabotaging your goals
Episode 65: Self Talk
Episode 64: Money Makes The World Go Round
Episode 63: First Impressions Count
Episode 62: False Belief
Episode 61: Absolutes
Episode 60: The Psychology of feeling calm
Episode 59: Belief
Episode 58: Anchoring Emotions
Episode 57: Negativity and Perspective
Episode 56: Health And Happiness
Episode 55: Imagination vs Reality
Episode 54: Change