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Christians, Conservative or Progressive – THINK!

November 25, 2016

Why write an article about something as abstract as thinking? Not the stuff of grabbing attention, right?

Yes, and that’s the point!

We’ve become more and more “victims” of attention-grabbers.  Like Facebook. And Twitter. Instagram. Cable or internet TV, anyone?

So in even writing about thinking, I feel compelled (perhaps wrongly) to write in short sentences and leave lots of “white space”.  Sure, a few scholarly types might read a more pedantic-style article, but most people wouldn’t – the very people who most need to think deeper.

So I’ll try to make a few succinct points without lots of detail or references. Then you can think about them…. And hopefully will!

Issue one: Thought vs. emotion

Emotion trumps thought most of the time – as to decisions, as to opinions. It’s always been that way, I presume.  But I’m as sure (as my emotions will let me be) that thinking used to occupy more of our brain “space” than it does now.  Also that exercising and training our brains does make a positive difference.  

Issue two (related): What occupies our brain “bandwidth”? (You probably guessed it.)

Prior to radio, newspapers and town criers (or gossips) were the news media.  The better newspapers and magazines were a major stimulus for thought. If you wanted entertainment, you went to church or perhaps a live concert or living room sing-along.  Sunday or evening events.  On workdays (every day for a great many, who had farms)?… You had your thoughts.  Or conversation with co-workers, often on issues of substance. Things that took some pondering. 

Radio was still more mind-activating than the next phase: TV.  The emergence of television may mark the turning point in the demise of thinking.  Are we more informed? Perhaps.  But not more thoughtfully engaged.

Internet: generally more of the same.  Tons of information, for which I’m grateful! But it now includes “fake news”, unthoughtfully taken as real by many.  Not to mention the torrent of emotion-spewing interaction on blogs, certain news sites, Facebook, etc.

Comment threads on some blogs/websites are indeed thoughtful interactions, conducted civilly.  I know because I participate in them, and learn a lot on occasion.  But I’d guess such involvement is a nearly miniscule percentage of the populace. Not enough to help the cause of more and better observation, analysis and overall thinking.  It’s natural and not necessarily against good thinking to mostly read or listen to/watch what tends to line up with our own beliefs.  But have you tried finding such places where there opposing viewpoints and good analysis is also represented? Where respectful interaction gives some deeper point-and-counter-point to aid our thinking process? 

Issue three: Understanding our own thought processes. “Know thyself”!  An ancient and often quoted adage.  But do we pursue it? And do we apply it to an understanding of our actual style of thought, not just general personality? We now have copious information readily available about what influences our beliefs and the processes by which we form them. It matters… are we paying attention to that body of knowledge? 

Do we think about thinking? Both thinking in general and, particularly and most importantly, our own unique tendencies and patterns? We all tend to think we don’t fit the mold of “most people”… our personal thinking is superior. (This is the oft-cited “self-serving bias” we only moderate by carefully watching for it.) 

We are more “right” based on what? (Hint: it isn’t just intellectual stars who feel superior here, though they often don’t deserve to either, being unable to spot the inconsistencies in their own thinking or other “errors” of thought.) I know we can’t always explain where and how intuition kicks in and may serve us well.  But most of the time, only if we can explain in some detail how and why our position on something is better than others’, and how we arrived at it, do we have any business thinking that it is.  

Note: Has this post been in any way educational or interesting to you? If I get such feedback, I will plan to continue this subject with further points… It’s “near and dear to my heart” (and mind), and there is a lot more I’d love to get into.  Please “like” the post or leave a quick comment to help me out.  Thanks!

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