Individuals with “1up Vision” know how to avoid drama, confusion, deceptions, and daily pitfalls
Many agree that thinking critically is a strategy for determining how to persuade others, and whether to be persuaded ourselves. Under the assumption that the goal of education is to have positive impacts in the lives of those who partake in the process; parents, community leaders, and educators would do well to promote critical thinking applications and concepts to young men and women in urban communities. Self-improvement and social improvement are presupposed values of critical thinking. This meaning, critical thinking requires an effort to see others and ourselves accurately. This requires recognizing gaps between ideals and practice. Advocating for critical thinking education is important because it aims for self and social improvement. “The foundation of Critical Thinking” defines egocentricity as confusing what we see and think with reality. When under the influence of egocentricity, we think that the way we see things is exactly the way things are. Egocentricity manifests itself as an inability or unwillingness to consider others’ points of view, a refusal to accept ideas or facts which would prevent us from getting what we want (or think we want.) Below are additional comments from, “The Foundation of Critical Thinking,” concerning this topic.
In its extreme forms, it is characterized by a need to be right about everything, a lack of interest in consistency and clarity, an all or nothing attitude (“I am 100% right; you are 100% wrong.”), and a lack of self-consciousness of one’s own thought processes. The egocentric individual is more concerned with the appearance of truth, fairness, and fair-mindedness, than with actually being correct, fair, or fair-minded. Egocentricity is the opposite of critical thought. It is common in adults as well as in children. As people are socialized, egocentricity partly evolves into sociocentricity. Egocentric tendencies extend to their groups. The individual goes from “I am right!” to “We are right!” To put it another way, people find that they can often best satisfy their egocentric desires through a group. “Group think” results when people egocentrically attach themselves to a group. One can see this in both children and adults: My daddy is better than your daddy! My school (religion, country, race, etc.) is better than yours. Uncritical thinkers often confuse loyalty with always supporting and agreeing, even when the other person or the group is wrong. If egocentricity and sociocentricity are the disease, self-awareness is the cure. We need to become aware of our own tendency to confuse our view with “The Truth”. People can often recognize when someone else is egocentric. Most of us can identify the sociocentricity of members of opposing groups. Yet when we ourselves are thinking egocentrically or sociocentrically, it seems right to us (at least at the time). Our belief in our own rightness is easier to maintain because we ignore the faults in our thinking. We automatically hide our egocentricity from ourselves. We fail to notice when our behavior contradicts our self-image. We base our reasoning on false assumptions we are unaware of making. We fail to make relevant distinctions (of which we are otherwise aware and able to make) when making them prevents us from getting what we want. We deny or conveniently “forget” facts that do not support our conclusions. We often misunderstand or distort what others say. The solution, then, is to reflect on our reasoning and behavior; to make our beliefs explicit, critique them, and, when they are false, stop making them; to apply the same concepts in the same ways to ourselves and others; to consider every relevant fact, and to make our conclusions consistent with the evidence; and to listen carefully and open-minded to others.1
With the knowledge provided by the foundation, I feel that egocentric tendencies can be limited and avoided when we see them and recognize our habits of irrational and unjust thinking. The development of children’s awareness of their egocentric and sociocentric patterns of thought is a crucial part of education in critical thinking. This will be a slow process, but I personally feel this can grow considerably, over time. I often pride myself in asking, why? I also pride myself in asking for examples so that people can illustrate their points. Critical thinkers often want to know the main point, and how the information relates to the main point. I agree with those who say that we need to heighten student awareness of and practice in them as often as we can. These ideas, thinking processes, and lines of questing are nothing new, and are accepted in critical thinking communities all around the world. I may not be the originator of this thought, but I listened to it, as it was presented to me, I evaluated the information, I compared it to other concepts, and I concluded that embracing, learning, and educating others about the importance of critical thinking is important for the survival and elevation of the human species. I also see critical thinking education as a tool underprivileged and oppressed people can utilize to recognize and avoid all means of propaganda, media manipulation, and all means of mis-education and indoctrination.
“To think independently and fairly, one must feel the need to face and fairly deal with unpopular ideas, beliefs, or viewpoints. The courage to do so arises when we see that ideas considered dangerous or absurd are sometimes rationally justified (in whole or in part) and that conclusions or beliefs inculcated in us are sometimes false or misleading. To determine for ourselves, which is which, we must not passively and uncritically accept what we have ‘learned’ we need courage to admit the truth in some ideas considered dangerous and absurd, and the distortion or falsity in some ideas strongly held in our social group. It will take courage to be true to our own thinking, for honestly questioning our deeply held beliefs can be difficult and sometimes frightening, and the penalties for non-conformity are often severe judgment.” – CTF2
I define “overstanding” as having full knowledge, beyond comprehending. Many Rastafarians define it as the state of mind that emerges when all illusions, those in the conscious and subconscious mind, are removed; the intellectual state free from mis/disinformation, propaganda, lies, and deception; a grasp of the whole truth. It is the human beings’ natural state of mind undisturbed by the ego. From a biblical sense, overstanding is “Epignosis,” while understanding is “Gnosis” and there is a tremendous difference between having Gnosis (knowledge) and Epignosis (wisdom).
Child development and the importance of critical thinking education
Many would agree that one of the most important aspects of child development is preparing a child to be an independent thinker and a good decision maker. So the question becomes, how does a parent, teacher, guardian, or anyone dealing with children, prepare a child to become an independent thinker, and a good decision maker? In my opinion, the education and practice of critical thinking applications should play a very important role in child development. I define critical thinking as a well-planned process in which individuals examine and evaluate information before they form interpretations, or accept information, as being true or false. In order to teach a child to think critically, one first must understand the biases and generalizations they cling to, on the topics and issues in which they desire to teach. For example, if you are a parent and you would like to teach a child about American history, it’s important to let the child know that you have a perspective you agree with, and why you have chosen to accept a particular viewpoint. It’s also important to let that child know that there are other viewpoints and presentations that exist on the issue of American history. When you introduce other ideas and viewpoints to young children, they may get a little confused, but at least you are not locking their minds in a one-dimensional box, leaving them with one perspective of thinking. Kids are more likely to want to ask questions. Many will want to explore who, what, when, where, and why.
This may be a little frustrating to individuals doing the teaching, only because they themselves have not explored those same questions. Instead of teaching children to cram and memorize information, teaching them the skills needed to examine, question, and dissect information, should help children to become better independent thinkers. Let’s get more in depth in to the concept of teaching children to be good decision makers. We all make mistakes, so I am not speaking as a perfectionist. The main idea here is to help children to become better decision makers right? Well this is something that takes practice. It will not happen overnight or in a few months. One way to improve a child’s thinking ability and decision making is to give the child daily decision evaluations. Let the child define an objective or goal. For example, the child may want you to purchase a toy. Make an agreement that the child has to do certain chores and follow certain behavior guidelines in order to get this toy. Monitor the objectives with a point system. Make sure that points are deducted for bad behavior and bad decision-making. For example, if the child comes home and throws clothes on the floor, instead of hanging them up, points may be deducted. If the child puts clothes in the dirty basket instead, points may be added. At the end of each day, give a list to the child showing how you arrived to a point total. Go over ways in which points could have been increased, and deductions could have been avoided. Allow the child options of ways to gain points, and allow the child to create strategies to gain these points in a certain amount of days. Allow the child to see the consequences of their decision-making, and allow them to think outside the box to achieve goals. This is one of many applications that one can use when applying critical thinking concepts in child development.
America under a critical thinker’s microscope
Critical thinking often involves evaluating tough issues by first, asking simple questions. I’ve written a few simple questions dealing with topics, which most Americans are clueless or uniformed about. As you read each question, try to separate the facts surrounding these topics, from your personal opinions. Hopefully you will be encouraged to learn more about American history, after reading this book.
- What were the separate views of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, concerning the economic philosophy and role of the federal government, and which view did George Washington and congress accept?
- What actions by Alexander Hamilton and congress resulted into a “Whisky Rebellion” and what was George Washington’s approach to dealing with the rebellion?
- What were the fundamental differences between the Federalist Party and the Democratic-Republican Party
- What are the different beliefs between a Deist and a Christian?
- Why did the Southern States decide to secede from the Union?
- What was Jim Crow?
- What happened during the 1921 Tulsa Riots?
- What are your views on the Japanese American internment of 1942?
- What provisions were in the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
- Why did Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. oppose the Civil rights act of 1964?
- What were the objectives of the US Black Panther Party of the mid 60’s through the 70’s?
- What took place during the Tuskegee syphilis experiment?
- What role did the “Dixiecrats,” or “The States Rights Democratic Party,” play in American politics?
- Why did the US Government and the FBI label Martin Luther King a Communist?
- What is Cointelpro?
- What were the findings and final results of “The Church Committee” during the 1970’s?
- Who is Fred Hampton?
- What role did the American Government play in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980’s?
- What was America’s federal deficit during the Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr. Administrations
- Have you ever gone to the IRS website and reviewed the current US tax code, and then compared it to previous years or previous administrations?
- Should college admission legacies be treated the same way as affirmative action legislation?
- Under affirmative action legislation, should historically black colleges continue to be awarded government funding for providing college scholarships to white students?
- In your opinion, when was America at her best socially and economically, during which decade and whose presidency?
- What is African American culture, and what is the difference between African American culture and American culture?
Critical thinker’s self-evaluation 1
Below are a few questions from the critical thinking workbook, “What Do You Think?” Try answering these questions as a critical thinking exercise and as a tool for self-examination. You may also want to share these questions with your family and friends.
- Who are you? On a sheet of paper, describe who you are without providing your name, financial status, or listing your material belongings.
- What factors did you use to determine, who you are, and how did you separate this from, who you would like to become?
- What are the 10 things you like most about yourself? Do not list anything dealing with material acquisitions or your economic status.
- What are the 10 things you dislike about yourself?
- Do you believe everything you read? How do you decide if what you have read is acceptable or not?
- How do you systematically determine if something is true or false? How often do you carry out this procedure?
- What are ten of your most important values? Who introduced those values to you and why do you accept them as your own?
- How do you define love?
- Who do you love, based on your definition of love? Make a list of all the individuals you love based on your definition of love.
- What is the most cherished accomplishment in your life, and why?
- Is there anything you can do to better, or improve, the person that you are? Write it down, and attempt to do the things you have written moving forward.
- List something in the past, which you’ve done, that you are currently trying to avoid doing again. Why is it important to avoid this action, and why did you do it to begin with? Make sure to examine all factors which bring you towards, and away, from this action. Make a list of what you will need to do to avoid doing this action again, and keep it as a reminder.
- What are the five best memories of your life? Make a list the individuals who were instrumental in enhancing each experience.
- What are the five worst memories of your life? Make a list the individuals who were instrumental in the struggles of each experience.
Helping young people deal with peer pressure
I’ve been around long enough to know that young people are often influenced by television, music, and by peer pressure. I will keep the focus on negative peer pressure, and give some advice on how to deal with it when it happens to you. Four things many young men and women are often pressured to do are, smoking weed, drinking alcohol, having sex, and purchasing specific clothing items. I clearly understand the risk young people take when they make decisions that are unpopular amongst their peers. They are at risk of being labeled as outcast, especially in high school, where it is easy to find many social cliques, but they must learn to become responsible and self-reliant adults. After reading this book, one should be able to articulate responsible objections to peer pressure concerning the four issues listed above. If you are being pressured to smoke weed and you are a teenager or a college student, this is what you need to ask the person who is pressuring you. Is it illegal in this state? If the authorities catch us, what are some of the consequences that come with possessing or smoking it? What are the guidelines of weed being cleared to use for medical use in this state? How much money do you spend a week on the purchase of weed? If the police were to stop us right now, how would we explain who the weed belongs to? You already know you will be told how harmless it is, and that it would be legal if the government could make money from it. Regardless if that is true or not, you want to put yourself in a position of avoiding the consequences that come with using it and possessing it.
To keep from getting involved in drugs, you can always use the excuse that your job does testing for marijuana use or that you are looking for work, and you have to pass your drug test. Just mention that employers can test your hair sample to find out if a person has smoked weed, even in a year’s time, and that you are not willing to take any chances. Feel free to share music with your peers from artists who promote a drug free and healthy life style. Play music form artists like Sticman of Dead Prez. Create competition to embrace and brag about how long you can go without smoking weed, and make others who are smoking weed feel that what you are doing makes you very special and unique. Tell them you have developed will power. Ask them if they have will power, or if they are too weak to take on your challenge of going without it.
If you are being pressured to drink alcohol, this is what needs to be asked. What does it feel like to be drunk? What was the worst thing that happened to you while you were drunk? What’s the difference between a potbelly and a beer belly? What was the fatality rate caused by drunk drivers last year? Why do some people have to go to AA meetings to try to stop drinking alcohol? When you are pressured to drink alcohol, let people know that there are too many crazy people out in the world, so you have to be on full consciousness, and high alert at all times. Be proud to say you easily get dizzy and throw up after you drink, and that you are not about to make a fool out of yourself for other peoples entertainment. Feel free to share music with your peers from artists who stopped drinking alcohol, or who talk about not drinking alcohol in their music. Share information about individuals who are suffering from alcoholism, and share information about those who fight the addiction every day. Create competition that allows you to brag about how long you can go without drinking, and make others who are drinking feel that what you are doing makes you very special and unique. Tell them you have will power.
If you are being pressured to have sex, this is what needs to be asked. How would your life be different if you were to create another human? Can you do all the things you want to do and still be responsible for taking care of another human? What type of diseases can a person catch from having sex, and are any of them life threatening, or altering? What’s the difference between having sex with someone that you find attractive; versus someone you love and really care for? What’s the difference between lust and love? After having sex, what happens if the person you had sex with wants to spend a lot of time with you, and wants to be seen in the public with you, everywhere you go? If peers are pressuring you to have sex because they are having sex, and think it makes them cool or more mature, there are several things you can do to get them to chill out. Often times, most young people exaggerate about how frequently they are having sex, even when they are not having it at all. If you can expose their exaggeration, with just the two of you having a discussion, it will be easier for you to ask them to stop trying to pressure you into having sex. Also, if you know someone who has a child at an early age, or who sleeps around a lot, in a kind way, say you are no better than them, but that you would like to avoid some of the attention or the trials that this individual currently experiences. Tell those who pressure you about having sex that you don’t want to be burnt out from doing it so much that you become unable to enjoy and “appreciate” it by the time you get married. You can also tell them, you have a hard enough time taking care of yourself, and that you do not want to gamble and be in the situation where you are responsible for taking care of another human being, or being labeled as a dead beat who skipped over his or her responsibility.
Finally, if you are being pressured to wear a specific brand of clothing, this is what you need to ask or say. How often do clothes come and go out of style? Would you value what Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, or Martin Luther King Jr. had to say if they were not wearing designer clothes, or if their clothes were purchased at Woolworth or “Walmart?” Just, because your parents have more money than my parents, and can afford to buy you more name brand designer clothes, does that make you a smarter, and a better person than I? Do your clothes give you your swag, or does your knowledge give you an edge? Let people know that your clothes do not make you look good; but that you are the reason the clothes stand out. Let people know you can spend less money, and you still look just as good as or even better than they, because your swag is not based on purchasing expensive brand name clothing. Take pride in being an individual, and make it clear that you don’t want to look just like everybody else. Take care of the clothes that you can afford, and make sure you are not purchasing expensive clothes just because it’s the in thing for the season. If someone calls you out for wearing a generic brand of clothing, take ownership to it, and be proud of it. Say something like this. “Even though I can’t afford what you are wearing, I am not embarrassed that my parents cannot afford to buy that brand, and I’m not going to spend all the money I make, trying to buy one pair of shoes, when I can get several nice items that “I” like. Once people see you are confidant in who you are, they will limit their attempts to try to pressure you, or nag you, about a lot of things.
Questions for high school students
When students graduate from high school, it is often considered a very great milestone, as they venture into their adult lives. As a person who promotes critical thinking education and social entrepreneurship, I’ve listed a few questions that I think every high school graduate should tackle their minds around, before they leap into adulthood, and the world.
- What’s your game plan to build your credit score, and how will you avoid being in debt moving forward?
- What’s the most important thing you learned in high school, and how will you apply it to life moving forward?
- List three mistakes you will avoid, that most make after their graduation?
- What is your immediate goal for the rest of the year, and if things don’t work out according to plan, what is your alternate action?
- What activities, or which individuals do you need to avoid, to have a better chance of accomplishing your next goal? (Why exactly should you avoid these activities or these individuals?)
- How will you recognize and avoid temptation and peer pressure, moving forward?
- How will you self-educate yourself moving forward?
- How will you make, and save money, moving forward?
- Which resources are available for you in reaching your next goal?
- What have you learned about social entrepreneurship, and critical thinking, and how will you apply it to your life moving forward?
Recognizing perception vs reality
If I’m in a room full of people, and someone starts using a lot of antic’s, while trying to “teach me,” “enlighten me,” or to “persuade me,” as to how “I” should feel about someone, or something, the scam alert goes into effect. No one should be “teaching” me how to feel about anything. I trust my natural instincts in determining what’s good or bad for me, or around me. I don’t need the WOW factor, or fascinating tales, to determine if something is genuine, real, or sincere. We are all different, and what works for one person, may not work for the next person. Sometimes people will copy your behavior and work ethic, and get totally different results. There is no scientific pattern (in life) that says, sharing the exact same values, and participating in similar educational processes, eating patterns, or educational processes, will guarantee the exact same life accomplishments, experiences, or failures. There are way too many outside factors or personal experiences, for the results to turn out the same way. Former NFL wide receiver, Jerry Rice, could share with you the entire process of how he ran routes, and read defenses. He could explain and demonstrate his entire practice regimen to you, and provide you with the blueprint for his eating, and diet process. No matter how discipline, and how long you would follow his instructions, the odds of you becoming a great NFL wide receiver would still be slim, for most individuals. As a matter of fact, if you were to ask NFL great, wide receiver, Chris Carter, to give you instructions into how to become a great wide receiver, his instructions would not follow the same process as Jerry Rice. There is nothing wrong with people sharing information and experiences, as some value may come from it at times. It’s just important to be wise enough to understand that results ultimately are based on many different circumstances and outside influences, which have nothing to do with our personal processes or efforts. Some people are naturally gifted at certain things, while others have to work two or three times harder to obtain the same skills. No matter how hard some people try to accomplish some goals, they will never do as well as others, who do not have to try as hard to achieve those goals. Just because you experienced specific result by doing or accepting A, B, or C, does not mean the next person will get the same results by accepting or doing the same things as you have done. It’s important we examine our surroundings, and become critical thinkers, instead of just being followers and mimickers. The term “knowledge of self” is very fitting.
Critical thinker’s self-evaluation 2
As a critical thinker, it is important to ask questions and examine the ideas and philosophies you are presented with daily. It is also important to self-examine your views, ideas, philosophies, and to recognize the biases you hold. If you take the exercise below seriously and respond to the instructions honestly, it will head you in the positive direction.
1) List three of the most influential people in your life.
2) List three accomplishments you are most proud of.
3) List the three most important things you have learned about the world you live in.
4) List the three most important things you do daily.
5) List three positive events that were reported in yesterdays’ news, television or newspaper.
6) List three of the most important items you’ve ever purchased.
7) List three of the most influential books, which you have read from cover to cover.
8) List three ideas or philosophies you once believed, which you no longer believe.
9) List three obstacles you currently need to overcome.
10) List three things you plan to work on to improve as a person.
Critical thinking approach to voting
- If you are not actively committed to researching and educating yourself about the daily legislation’s and bills being written, rejected, and passed in the state and federal government, you are not taking your voting rights seriously. Relying on local and cable news, and political pundits, often leaves you repeating words of individuals who may hold biases, issuing half-truths and misleading talking points.
- If you cannot list at least five bills passed over the last five years, which have impacted you directly, you are not taking your voting rights seriously.
- If you do not know the individuals responsible for creating the legislation’s, which have impacted you over the last five years, you have are not taking your voting rights seriously.
- If you can list five bills passed over the last five years, which have impacted you directly in a positive or negative way, but you have never taken the time to read the legislation’s, and you really have no idea what the bills actually say, most likely your opinions and feelings about these bills are totally based on what you have been told to feel. Expressing opinions, and often debating about bills which you have never read, often means you are not taking your voting rights seriously.
- If you often wait for the establishment to hand pick candidates for you to vote for, and you never take the time to learn about those candidates and their voting history and accomplishments, you never take the time to examine the legislation’s which they have created or championed, and you only rely on one sided media programming to present the history of their political stances, then you are relying on the media alone to shape your image and perception of the candidates, and you are not taking your voting rights seriously.
- If you vote regularly, but often find yourself not being able to list one accomplishment of the people you are voting for, you are not taking your voting rights seriously.
- If you voted in a previous election, and you cannot list five bills, which the individual(s) for whom you voted for has written, passed, or rejected, you are not taking your voting rights seriously.
- If you don’t follow database systems (from direct sources) like, The Library of Congress Thomas, The US Congress, Senate, and House reference pages to view daily votes on legislations and bills by elected officials, you are not taking your voting rights seriously.
9. If you are not willing to vote for someone who has championed and fought hard to push many of the same issues, and causes you value, because the media says they are unelectable, you are not taking your voting rights seriously. If you only vote for people because they are affiliated with a specific political party, you are not taking your voting rights seriously.
10. If you think the individual you are voting for will keep all of his or her promises made during a campaign, or you think you have to vote for a candidate, even if you know nothing about them, you are not taking your voting rights seriously.
Questions to Ask Republicans, Democrats, and Tea Party Supporters
- Why did Aaron Burr, the Vice president of America (1801-1805), shoot and kill Alexander Hamilton, an impactful American forefather? What was Burr’s Conspiracy Trial about?
- What is your opinion of the views spelled out in Thomas Paine’s “Agrarian Justice” pamphlet, written and published in 1797?
- What are your views on the term neo-colonialism, and do you think the people of Africa should be the main individuals profiting from the land and resources in Africa? Why do you think the people of Africa are not profiting from the land and resources of Africa?
- What are your views on the Whiskey tax by Alexander Hamilton and George Washington, which resulted to the Whiskey Rebellion in 1791? Do you agree with the way George Washington dealt with the situation?
- What were the separate views of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, concerning the economic philosophy and role of the federal government, and which view did George Washington and congress accept? What were the fundamental differences between the Federalist Party and the Democratic-Republican Party?
- What are your views of the reparations agreement between Israel and West Germany?
- What are your views of The Rainbow Coalition founded in Chicago, Illinois, by Fred Hampton, of the original Black Panther Party for Self Defense, and what coalition with other races, were the KKK a part of? What is the definition of racism, and what is Cointelpro? After years of court trials and legal pandering, what were the final findings of the Fred Hampton murder case against the Chicago police and the FBI?
- Who were the Copperheads, and what are your views of their claims about President Lincoln, presented in the book, Abraham Africanus I, his secret life, as revealed under the mesmeric influence: mysteries of the White House, written by J.F. Feeks?”
- What are your views of the last paragraph written by Benjamin Franklin, in his book: Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries? This short essay was written in 1751. The last paragraph of that book reads: “Which leads me to add one remark: That the number of purely white people in the world is proportionally very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes are generally of what we call a swarthy complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English make the principal body of white people on the face of the earth. I could wish their numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, scouring our planet, by clearing America of woods, and so making this side of our globe reflect a brighter light to the eyes of inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we in the sight of superior beings, darken its people? Why increase the sons of Africa, by planting them in America, where we have so fair an opportunity, by excluding all blacks and tawneys, of increasing the lovely white and red? But perhaps I am partial to the complexion of my Country, for such kind of partiality is natural to Mankind.”
- Lincoln was a Republican who supported the Union against the Confederacy. Most of the southern (Confederate) states supported the idea of slavery labor vs low wage industrial labor. What correlation does former President Lincoln have with modern day red state republicans; southern states confederate flag (southern heritage), with the understanding that Lincoln was a Union supporter, at odds with the southern confederacy?
- What were former President Ronald Reagan’s positions on the civil rights legislation’s of the 1960’s when he supported Barry Goldwater? During the presidential election of 1964, what were the six states won by Goldwater, what is known as the southern strategy, and when did usually democratic (Dixiecrat States) become solid Republican states?