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Critical Thinking

Information Ignorance

Modern America is such a conundrum.

On the one hand, we’re the richest civilization to have ever existed, with access to almost every single piece of human knowledge right at our fingertips. On the other, we can disagree with each other so vehemently about things that should be a share reality; fundamental fact about how the world and the universe work.

The reality is that my opinions don’t outweigh your facts. We have to agree on at least some basic principles of reality before we can even begin having a conversation with one another.

Beliefs Have Real-World Consequences

For example, what if I told you, that this trail was flat, straight, and perfect for someone who’s never ridden a mountain bike. But you said, “No way, this isn’t good for beginners. Look at this!”

What if I dug in my heels and said, “No way! Nope! Flat, straight, and good for beginners?” How could we figure out who’s right?

Well, we could ask other cyclists, “Is this straight? Is this flat?” Hell, we don’t even have to ask! First, we can just find out if this meets the common definition of straight and flat.

But what if I still dug in my heels? I even formed a Facebook group with a million followers and called it Turn Trails Flat? Does that make this trial straight, flat, and ideal for beginners? No.

Split the Middle

“Well,” you might just say, “let’s agree to disagree. I’ll call it hilly, fast, and crooked, and you’ll call it straight and perfect for beginners.”

The thing is that we don’t exist in a bubble. Our beliefs have consequences.

Take trail maintenance as an example. You’re going to maintain astraight, flat trail much differently than you would something that’s steep and has lots of twists and turns.

So, if you and I want to have a conversation about trail maintenance but we can’ even agree on the definition of a trail, and you’re trying to say that your position is as valid as mine, then we have a problem, right? We’re at a standstill.

This is what I feel America is like right now. Willful ignorance. Digging our heels in and saying, “My beliefs are just as valid as your facts.” Or vice-versa. Hell, I’m wrong all the time.

Mindfulness as a Path to Truth

But, how can we minimize how often we’re wrong? I believe that mindfulness is one of the best ways. It gives us:

  • A minute to stop,
  • Reassess,
  • Take a breath,
  • Make sure we’re viewing reality through the right lens, and then
  • Proceed with the best course of action from there.

First, we have to be willing to put our egos aside and step outside of our opinions, weigh them against the facts, and understand that the world doesn’t revolve around us.

We’re better than this. And if we’re going to continue, we have to become better critical thinkers. And building the skill of mindfulness — taking it from the bike into the real world — is how we can start doing that.

Deciding to be Better

So let’s all fucking take a moment, put our goddamn egos aside, and come together for a country based on facts, science, and critical thinking.

Let’s be better!

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