THE ELUSIVE TRUTH: Introduction

elusive-truth-coverEven before this past year’s presidential election (and the focus it brought to the topic), I noticed it was becoming more difficult for some people to distinguish between “real news” and “fake news.” And, of course, we’ve even been told that “there are no such things as facts.”

I’ll be the first to admit that you are likely to find a multitude of sources online that will support a corresponding multitude of opinions and world views–making it easy to spiral deep into a dark, comfortable and homogenous cavern of agreeability.

But, today, even that deep, dark cavern is likely to have Wi-Fi and you are still likely to get some minimal exposure to flashes of opinion unlike your own. You can either ignore these flashes or open your eyes and mind and examine them. Ignoring is the easiest path–you remain secure in your own opinion and you simply use the time for other things. Examination of these flashes is the rougher path as it requires time and skills–and, it may lead to a questioning of your own world view.

I would argue that the second path is the only path for an engaged citizen–first, because it has the potential to further strengthen your old world view (if your analysis leads that way); and, second because, again, no matter how deep our personal cavern of opinion, we all interact with people of differing opinions on an almost daily basis.

So, given the idea that examining and analyzing differing opinions can be a good thing, how do we address the shortage of time and critical thinking skills essential to the process?

 

MAKING TIME

For some of us, this is not just a matter of making time to critically examine differing opinions, but a matter of that PLUS making the time to learn the critical thinking skills necessary to that examination.

Notice that I say “making time” and not “finding time.” The determination of “making time” will always trump the implied luck of “finding time.” You must make time in your schedule. Once a day, three times a week, once a week–it does not matter if you are consistent.

At that regular time, set aside 15-30 minutes to 1) read and analyze a blog post, newspaper article. listen to and analyze a radio show or podcast or watch and analyze a news station that you know is typically counter to your opinions; and/or 2) learn a new method of critical thinking or analysis.

 

CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS

Some people are lucky and have a naturally questioning and analytical mind–and some people do not. But, everyone can learn the basics of how to critique the influencers in our world–powerful individuals, the groups to which we belong and the media.

I had the good fortune of being introduced to a wonderful book while in school–“The Elusive Truth” by Philip Roden. Unlike the Roget’s Thesaurus I acquired in seventh grade, my copy of Roden’s book didn’t make it through my moves throughout the years.  I recently bought one through Amazon with the goal of using it for the basis for several blog posts outlining tools for critical thinking.

In future blog posts, I’ll be discussing topics ranging from “Group Pressure” and “Believing the Mass Media” to “Point of View” and “Precise Meaning.” It’s my hope that for some of you, the discussions will be a nice review and reminder and for others that it may help you look at the opinions and information presented to us in this world in a slightly different (more critical) way–making us all better citizens.

 

 

 

 

~ by kipwkoelsch on January 10, 2017.

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