In one episode of , Cartman becomes obsessed with conspiracy theories and sings a song about needing to think for himself and find out the truth.The show is poking fun at conspiracy theorists, who often think that they are exercising critical thinking when in fact they are simply exercising too much skepticism towards common sense and popular beliefs, and not enough skepticism towards new, unnecessarily complicated explanations.
Too often, people talk about critical thinkers as though they’re solitary explorers, forging their own path through the jungle of ideas without help from others. Real critical thinking means you constantly engage with other people, listen to what they have to say, and try to imagine how they see the world.
By seeing things from someone else’s perspective, you can generate far more new ideas than you could by relying on your own knowledge alone.
Obviously those two modes of thought are in some tension.
But if you are able to exercise only one of these modes, whichever one it is, you’re in deep trouble.” (Carl Sagan, In this quote, Carl Sagan offers a sensitive analysis of a tension within the idea of critical thinking.
Sooner or later you have to come up with your own ideas, your own solutions, and your own visions.
That requires a creative and independent mind, but one that is also capable of listening and learning.Critical thinkers need to be both open to new ideas and skeptical of them; similarly, they need to have a balanced attitude toward old and traditional ideas as well.Critical thinking has emerged as a cultural value in various times and places, from the Islamic scholars of medieval Central Asia to the secular philosophers of 18th-century America or the scientists and engineers of 21st-century Japan.He was deeply indebted to the whole tradition of scientists that had come before him — Europeans, Greeks, Arabs, Indians, and all the rest.“It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses…and at the same time a great openness to new ideas.Through curiosity and probable skepticism, he not only worked out the basic rules for matter and energy in the universe — he also realized that the force causing objects to fall was the same as the force causing celestial objects to orbit around each other (thus discovering the modern theory of gravity).He was also known for having a big ego and being a little arrogant with those he considered beneath his intellect — but even Newton had enough humility to recognize that he wasn’t doing it alone.Critical thinking, in the history of modern Western thought, is strongly associated with the Enlightenment, the period when European and American philosophers decided to approach the world with a rational eye, rejecting blind faith and questioning traditional authority.It was this moment in history that gave us modern medicine, democracy, and the early forms of industrial technology.For example, at one stage in the classic RPG , your character has the option to serve as a juror on another character’s trial.In order to save the innocent man, you have to talk to people throughout the town and, using a combination of empathy and skepticism, figure out what really happened.