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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Good and bad thinking ...

Came across the following on Climate etc., a blog run by Dr Judith Curry, a noted climate scientist.
Unfortunately, there is not simply good and bad thinking in the world, both easily recognized as such. There is also bad thinking that appears to be good and therefore wrongfully, sometimes disastrously, used as the basis of very important decisions. Very often this “bad thinking” is defended and “rationalized” in a highly sophisticated fashion. However flawed, it successfully counterfeits good thinking, and otherwise intelligent people are taken in. Such thinking is found in every dimension of human life and in every dimension it does harm; in every dimension it works against human well-being. 
While she is addressing some of the name calling and arguing in the climate science/Anthropomorphic Global Warming debate that black is white and vice versa, it struck me, reading her article, that this is what has gone wrong in so many aspects of our present society. In my view the entire Politically Correct agenda is a result of "Bad Thinking" in that it has taken perfectly reasonable and logical issues and created a monster out of them.  Morality is turned on it's head in this process and becomes a draconian beast, the ally of bullies and misogynists who spend all their time examining every statement and every action in others in an effort to find and " - ismist" intention.

This is what has spawned such oxymorons as "institutional racism, sexism, homophobia" and so many more. This is what spawns the sort of idiot who can take a light-hearted comment and turn it into a racist slur, or see a father taking a photograph of his child and turn it into an act of paedophilia.

How does it arise? I suspect it begins innocently enough, as something one can identify with as a "cause" to be supported. Gradually it grows as more and more misinformation is added or misdirection is received until someone, who probably has a tendency toward obsession anyway, becomes so convinced of the "justice" of their cause, they start a crusade. This is the sort of thing that begins with, for example, the perfectly reasonable desire of those who find themselves drawn to a same-sex relationship, to be able to enjoy that relationship openly and without censure. Then it becomes a campaign to demand that everyone must acknowledge that right and finally, as in Sparta, it must be made the "norm" in the eyes of the campaigner. In this drive to compel everyone to accept everything, all sense of balance and "reasonableness" is lost. If you disagree with someone's views, you risk being labeled fascist, if you think Islam isn't the same as Christianity, you are an Islamophobe. If you are uncomfortable with homosexuality, you are a homophobe. Normal, everyday behaviour is now regarded with suspicion by the advocates of PC ideology because it might mask some "-ism" they are against. Using an ordinary figure of speech can get you branded as a racist ...

Another example of how this kind of thinking can be used is to study the case of the fundamentalist in any religion. They will consider no argument around their belief. The reasoning is usually circular and closed. This is clearly manifest in both sides of the climate change debate. Neither side will actually 'hear' what the other side is saying - hence Dr Curry's "bad thinking" label.

But "bad thinking" seems to pervade almost every aspect of our lives at present. I have already mentioned the religious fundamentalist, but they are joined by the anti-religion faction who have arrived, by some rather interesting manipulations of facts, at the conclusion that all wars are started by religions and all sexual abuse is committed by Roman Catholic priests... Again, if the actual crime statistics are examined, less than 2% of all clergy commit any sort of offence and this accounts, across the world, for under 10% of the actual crimes of sexual abuse. What one must not do, is try to discuss this with anyone who is convinced of the mantra: religion = war; clergy = abusers.

I find myself asking what is it in some people that prevents them from critically examining their reasoning or their cause? Is it actually a form of mental illness? 

Maybe there's a doctorate and vast amount of research funding to be had in examining it!

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