HOW TO THINK – BY ALAN JACOBS
DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR – BY HAROLD EVANS
COMMENTARY BY ENRIQUE ABOITIZ MENDIETA
03 – 2018
Much of what these two writers tell us can be of value to most, if not all of us. Taken in tandem, their value rises. We all need improvement in how we communicate and how we think or the other way around. We are all affected by what Harare refers to as myths; we are all lazy to think and we all communicate between poorly to well. We all use “very, very good” when one “very” is sufficient. We all use more words that we need to. We are all affected by the many biases that have been infused in our brains from childhood. Most of the myths, particularly, religious ones are pure creations of man.
As Catholics, we think the Muslims are off, and as Muslims, we think that Catholics are off. The Koreans believe that their great leader, the original Kim, was born on Mount Paektu. And when he was born the grey sky opened up, sunshine abounded and a star appeared to welcome his coming. Now that is as much a creation as the Trinity, Mary being a virgin, Kim the result of a cosmic event, and that jihad brings you to heaven to enjoy multiple virgins and yet millions believe in these myths. That is, of course, their right. Many of these myths have played great roles for good in the world in different periods of history. I would like to think that more good came out during the course of history than otherwise. We hear much of the abuse of power fueled by religion and the greater glory of a God that we hope exists and very little of the great good that many of the silent heroes that over centuries helped the sick, the poor and the elderly.
We are entering a time of great knowledge and greater knowledge to come. It might be wise to peel out of the myths, what does us good and shed what does not. It does not matter if Mary was a virgin, but compassion does matter.
Whenever I write about anything that is about Christian History, messages go to people in our organization saying I should not write about it. That is a sign of a lack of confidence in the belief and it is a sign of a closed mind that does not want to think and open a door for fear of what one will find. It’s about insecurity. Jacob warns that thinking will alienate you from your family and friends.
Every day, we encounter a world of faster change, of greater complexity and that is more complicated. We need people in our lives and our enterprise that can think and think well. People that are not affected seriously by biases and that genuinely are searching for the best solution and the closest position to the truth as possible; people that truly want to better things and that do not have minds that are deformed by biases and mental midge-try. Allowing biases to enter our discussions does us damage. It prevents us from being competitive. It prevents us from managing change as well as we could. It prevents robust discussion, argument and change. We all know that not adapting to change means perishing.
Biases deform our thinking.
Jacobs has some very enlightening thoughts.
He starts with defining Thinking. It is not the decision itself. It is what goes into the decision, the consideration and the assessment. It is about testing your own responses and weighing available evidence carefully and responsibly. It is about what might be. It is knowing when not to go alone, and whom you should ask for help.
He talks of two types of thinking. System One is intuitive thinking. System Two is about conscious reflection expanding by saying that System Two kicks in when we perceive a problem or an inconsistency. We run most of our life on System One.
When we do not know or when we do not know enough, we tend to substitute emotion for thoughts. This is what is happening to people that react negatively to any criticism of religion and politics. They just do not know enough nor want to. They do not think so they react with emotion – Pure Stupidity. And often by intelligent people; well people with high cognitive capacity that do not really know how to think or do not want to face the negative consequence of thinking differently from family and the society around them because social bonding is cemented by shared emotion which in turn generates social bonding.
You read the book and make up you own mind. Jacobs does leave us with a checklist:
- When faced with provocation — take five minutes and take a walk before you respond — and think.
- Value learning over debating. Do not “talk for victory.”
- Avoid people that fan flames.
- You do not have to respond to what everyone else is responding to in order to signal your virtue and right-mindedness.
- Gravitate toward people who seem to value genuine community and can handle disagreement with equanimity.
- Seek out the best and fairest-minded people whose views you disagree with. Listen to them for a time without responding. Whatever they say, think it over.
- Patiently, and as honestly as you can, assess your repugnancies.
- Beware of metaphors and myths that do too much heavy cognitive lifting. Notice what they are directing your attention away from. Look for hidden metaphors and the power of myth.
- Try to describe other’s positions in the language they use.
- Be brave.
You will benefit greatly by studying the thoughts behind both these authors.
Bias deforms your thinking!