Importance of Critical Thinking

I saw a hilarious demonstration of how some people are so biased, they refuse to think things through critically when Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg got so mad at something Bill O’Reilly said that they walked off the set.  O’Reilly quoted a poll which showed that the majority of 9/11 families and Americans don’t want the Muslim Community Center built near Ground Zero because it’s inappropriate.  They asked why it was inappropriate and he said “Because Muslims attacked on 9/11.”  This infuriated them.  Why?  They hold themselves up as informed thinkers, well educated people who should be listened to.  Aren’t they then aware of the fact that most Americans do not distinguish between the terms Muslims and Muslim extremists?  In fact, extremists of any kind are regularly lumped in with non-extremists of all worldviews.  Because I am a Christian who is anti-abortion, I am automatically judged in favor of bombing abortion clinics.  Because I am a Christian who is against redefining the term “marriage” for gays, I am a gaybasher.  They miss the fact I support civil unions for all and full rights for gay partners. I just consider marriage a sacred religious rite. Similarly, the good, decent every day Muslims who find the 9/11 attacks and all Muslim terrorism abhorrent are lumped in with the extremists.  No, it’s not right, but it’s a fact.  Another fact:  if it were Christians in the poll, they wouldn’t have walked off.

All this goes to show how little critical thinking people do these days, even supposedly smart people.  I went to school with both gays and Muslims.  Several close friends in those groups.  Growing up in a small Kansas city, I had not been aware of knowing anyone from those groups, so my friendships with them opened my eyes.  I have also traveled all over the world studying cultures and peoples and worldviews and how they differ.  I have tried to live among them and dig in to see the world through their eyes so I might begin to understand who they are.  This has taught me to think through everything.  My common sense and powers of observation both tell me all Muslims are no more extremists than all Christians.  After all, some 60 Muslim families lost loved ones at the World Trade Center.  But the mass public doesn’t have experiences like mine to pull from.  When they hear charismatic or confident known people make statements, they believe them.  When someone tells them Muslims are evil, they buy it.  All Muslims are evil terrorists.  Others buy that all Christians are abortion clinic bombers and gaybashers.  But a small amount of critical thought, study, and observation can prove those assumptions false.

The poll reflected mass opinion, not informed opinion.  So to get upset by O’Reilly explaining the reasoning is a display of ignorance on Goldberg and Behar’s part.  I am just as offended by the idea the majority of the public assume all Muslims are terrorists as they are, but unfortunately, that’s the way it is, and getting mad and walking off does nothing to change it.  Instead, they should have dialogued about why that’s a misconception and why people need to reeducate themselves.  They missed an opportunity to counter the statements off the poll and O’Reilly with common sense, either because they don’t care about common sense or have none.  And that’s a sad statement on the state of our country.  No wonder things are so antogonistic these days.  No wonder people are feeling pulled apart.  Until we all start thinking critically, questioning everything we hear, say, do, read, etc., we will continue to feel pulled apart.  Part of being informed is taking the time to educate yourself on the issues and the facts.  If you can’t be bothered, you can’t really claim to be informed.

For what it’s worth…

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