I feel compelled to say something about an article published by American Thinker yesterday — an article strangely critical of critical thinking, titled “The Great Critical Thinking Dodge.”
The article describes critical thinking as the means by which liberals “shut out and shout down” the scientific method but in my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth.
Liberal academics absolutely love the scientific method, and actually use it as a weapon to discourage critical thinking skills. Liberal teachers don’t want to teach their students to think for themselves — they want students to simply believe what they have been taught.
In July of 1925 the Scopes Monkey Trial was held because critical thinking in schools was literally illegal — students could only be taught creationism in science class, not Darwin’s theory of evolution via natural selection.
From September to November of 2005, the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial was held because critical thinking is still illegal — students can only be taught the theory of evolution in science (not philosophy) class, and teaching intelligent design is illegal.
Apparently the goal of education isn’t really to teach young people how to think, but what to believe. Indoctrination is not optional.
Most people believe that Darwin’s theory of evolution is true, well supported by copious amounts of scientific evidence. Biologist Jerry Coyne even wrote a book titled Why Evolution is True. An overwhelming consensus of biologists agree that the evidence is overwhelming.
“Critical thinking” about the theory of evolution isn’t really allowed anymore — we must accept total indoctrination into that system of beliefs, or face severe scorn and ridicule. We aren’t supposed to question the conclusions of the intelligentsia, if we know what’s good for us.
Unfortunately, apparently I don’t know what’s good for me.
When Dr. Ken Miller described human chromosome #2 as a “fusion” of two primate chromosomes and smoking-gun evidence for ape-to-human evolution, I wrote an open letter to the well known and respected biologist specifically to question his use of that particular word, which typically describes a process that happens instantaneously — was he suggesting that the first humans were born of apes? Dr. Miller specifically told his audience that if this evidence of fusion did not exist, then the theory of evolution would be in serious trouble.
Dr. Miller was kind enough to reply to my question, but his answer still left me confused — if the fusion of two ancient primate chromosomes was not a driving force in the development of our species, homo sapiens, how can it be called evidence of ape-to-human evolution?
Perhaps some day in the future I’ll summon the courage to bother him a second time with another query, but if I do I’ll be sure to be very specific with my questions. Dr. Miller certainly knows more about biology than I do, to be sure.
But I was hoping to inspire him to think critically about what he’s saying, and to ponder the process of evolving into a new species.
What are the driving forces of natural selection that led to the origin of a species? According to Jerry Coyne they are sexual reproduction, isolation of a small breeding population, and time.
However, that seems lacking. Something besides sex, isolation, and time must be missing from our list of driving forces that explain what caused the differences between a chimpanzee and a human being, because the differences are significant.
According to the American Thinker article, critical thinking today means that when a pot of water is placed over a flame, the critical thinker can then think about whether or not we want the temperature of the water to increase, which is completely absurd.
So I Googled “critical thinking” found this rather useful definition:
Critical thinking is the process of analyzing and evaluating information, applying logic and reason to the information we currently have at our disposal, in order to reach a conclusion.
And just about everybody has a worldview they believe is correct — otherwise, it wouldn’t be much of a worldview, would it?
If one comes to believe his or her worldview is incorrect, they should change it, shouldn’t they?
More importantly, critical thinking is how we learn to best interpret evidence obtained via the scientific method.
To illustrate how critical thinking has a detrimental effect on society, the American Thinker article referred to Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty and claimed that critical thinking was the reason those failed policies remain in effect.
However, in my opinion, it has been the absence of critical thinking that allows liberals to continue the War on Poverty. As a general rule, society cannot afford to pay able-bodied men and women not to work, which is what entitlement programs do. Yet we continue to waste money on programs that prolong misery rather than actually helping people.
Too many modern liberals are not only incapable of critical thinking, they are violently opposed to the idea, and viciously attack those who do apply logic and reason to their personal worldview.
Take, for example, the climate change/global warming debate. The typical liberal position is this: the subject is closed, no longer open to debate. An overwhelming consensus of climate scientists (97 percent is the most popular number cited) have agreed that something must be done to stop anthropogenic (man-made) global warming.
What exactly must be done? Raise taxes, of course. How does that solve the problem of climate change, if we assume it exists? Taxes don’t. Raising the price of coal and petroleum won’t reduce need, it will only affect the affordability of energy.
Question: from where does this 97 percent of climate scientists figure come, exactly? Is this number an actual statistical value, or a SWAG? (acronym for Sweeping Wild-Assed Guess) As far as I know, Jon Oliver or Bill Nye could have made it up. Or it could just be the product of a silly television stunt.
Second question: what has consensus got to do with the scientific method? If consensus is so great and wonderful, then why do liberals tend to get upset when I bring up Galileo and Boris Belousov after they start throwing around buzz words and phrases like “consensus” and “peer review?”
If liberals actually wanted more people to learn how to think for themselves, they would not be advocating that people should be fired from their jobs or even imprisoned for daring to question their “consensus” opinions — the most insidious form of censorship there is.
Here’s another example to illustrate why consensus is useless when it comes to science: of every 100 people, 97 of them or more would agree that injecting a form of HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) into a girl dying from leukemia would be a terrible idea.
And they would be wrong. Terribly wrong, in fact.
Consensus is nothing more than an agreement of opinion, not the establishment of some scientific truth. Critical thinkers do not put a pot of water on the stove and then decide whether or not they want hot water. Even consensus seekers would agree that the only reasonable and logical reason to put a pot of water on a stove would be that you wanted hot water.
But the critical thinker asks questions and observes results. If the water doesn’t get hot in a sufficient amount of time, the critical thinker uses logic and reason and asks why is the water still cold, perhaps then discovering that the burner was turned back off or the flame blew out.
We should encourage,and never discourage critical thinking.
Advancements in science will never be made and new knowledge will never be gained if we’re afraid to challenge conventional wisdom, which we should never blindly trust.