Critical thinking isn’t about where you get your ideas from. It’s about how carefully you investigate those ideas. It’s about how creative you can be when connecting those ideas to other things. It’s about how constructive you can be at applying information in way that produces valuable results.
Too many people pride themselves on silly things like never listening to people of a certain religion, or a certain political philosophy, or a certain social demographic when none of these things say much about the actual quality of our thinking.
If you’re not impressed by the latest best-selling author, who cares? If you’re not impressed by some popular theory that everyone is raving about, who cares? If you’re not impressed by liberals, conservatives, libertarians, or whoever else, who cares? If you’re not impressed by atheists, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, or whoever, who cares? What is your experience of being unimpressed going to actually do for you?
Being a critical thinker has nothing to do with proudly announcing how unimpressed you are with certain kinds of people or philosophies. If you want to be a critical thinker, discover your reason for living and make use of everything and anything that allows you to be true to that.
The examined life isn’t about being part of some special club where you get to sit back and mock all the losers who can’t get in. The examined life is about examining. It’s about examining your prejudices, your biases, your assumptions, your ego, and anything else that’s holding you back from living fully and freely.
T.K. Coleman is the education director for Praxis and an adjunct faculty member for the Foundation for Economic Education.