When Information Gathering Replaces Critical Thinking

The market for information is saturated in the age of the internet. With every minute that passes another 1,400 blog posts, 72 hours of YouTube video content, 2.4 million Facebook status updates, and 277,000 tweets are added to the worldwide web. 1

The answer to nearly every objective question that may arise in our minds is literally at our fingertips, and we can quickly mine out opinions on all sides of subjective issues.

We’re no longer forced to think critically or deduce truth through the employment of logic. We can simply open the closest device with an internet connection.

Critical thinking is onerous. It requires intellectual honesty. It’s much easier for us to simply follow others on social media and bookmark our favorite websites that serve as outlets to tell us what to think in light of what we wish to be true. In other words, we can choose the more comfortable path of living in a perpetual state of confirmation bias.

When we do this we set ourselves up to rarely be exposed to opposing viewpoints and are, therefore, seldom forced to defend our ideas. On the rare occasion that we are confronted over our beliefs, the battle of ideas isn’t waged with weapons of logic and reasoning, as it should be. Instead, we lash back with a flurry of links to various websites that argue in favor of the belief we claim to hold, yet are wholly incapable of coherently defending ourselves, because we’ve never taken the time to reason it through within our own minds.

This is precisely what happens when information gathering replaces critical thinking.

Why a person believes something is superseded by what they believe. Logic necessitates the inverse of this order of operations. After all, how can we come to believe in the veracity of any truth claim without first understanding why we believe it to be true? Yet, this is the kind of cognitive dissonance playing out in the minds of millions of information gatherers today.

Men must resist the temptation to close the door of critical thinking. For it is through the application of logic that men primarily arrive at truth and impart it to other men for their benefit. In fact, one of the key attributes of our masculine design is the power we’ve been given to suppress our emotions in order to judge matters objectively.

Failing to think logically is a blight on our masculinity.

In today’s podcast I discuss this epidemic of critical thinking being replaced by information gathering in America. You can use the media players below to watch the video podcast or listen to the audio only version as I cover the following topics:

  • how information gatherers fail to reason through their beliefs
  • why political discourse is such a hotbed for information gathering without the employment of logic
  • the tendency to create online profiles that expose us to ideas that only reinforce what we already believe to be true
  • why conservatives tend to be forced to reconcile their beliefs and why liberals are not
  • the benefit of having to defend your own views against opposing viewpoints
  • how information gathering can become a confirmation bias addiction
  • the reason critical thinkers are less likely to be controlled by others
  • how liberty and freedom become threatened when critical thinking is replaced by information consumption
  • why we shouldn’t shy away from engaging in debate with those that hold different beliefs us

When Information Gathering Replaces Critical Thinking Video Podcast:

When Information Gathering Replaces Critical Thinking Audio Only Podcast:

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– Craig James

(1) http://www.littlejackmarketing.com/industries-trends/this-is-how-much-online-content-is-created-every-minute/




1 Readers Commented

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  1. theantichamber on August 5, 2017

    I agree with your basic premise that much of our critical thinking is replaced by fanatical partisanship, and I believe you’re correct that the dramatic increase in information accessibility and dissemination has blown our weakness for tribal-thinking wide open.

    If I could offer some push back, it would be against first: the stereotype of man as a logical and emotionally-suppressed creature and woman as an emotional and logically-deficient creature, and second: the idea that conservatives are more likely than liberals to have well-reasoned positions.

    There are differences in the way female and male brains are wired, but for the most part, studies show that while on average each brain type may have its strengths and weaknesses, there is significant overlap in abilities, meaning many women will have better visuospatial abilities than the average man, and many men will have better verbal abilities than the average woman, to take a couple of stereotypical examples.

    As for conservatives having a better grasp of their beliefs than liberals, I’d like to see data supporting that claim. I think you may be confounding a study that showed conservatives understand liberal positions better than liberals understand conservative positions. The researcher said something along the same lines as you have here, about conservatives being more exposed to liberal media. I think a more cynical, yet plausible, hypothesis could be that liberal positions are simply easier to understand. It could very well be true that conservatives have thought more about their opinions. I think you’ll still agree that while the right may be more exposed to the other side than the left, both sides aren’t really engaging in a personal, honest way. Part of this could be that politics is a sensitive subject to bring up in personal relations, but on the internet there isn’t really an excuse.

    Like I said, I entirely agree with your essential premise – there is a dearth of critical thinking in political discourse. I would invite your listeners to engage with the opposition in live one-on-one political chat to practice thinking through and articulating their positions.