Becoming A Contrarian Isn’t A Shortcut To Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is essential to survive the Information Age. It sadly isn’t as common to our reasoning as we would like to think or, alas, boast. Shortcuts are something else that everyone is after today. Unfortunately, high demand can’t always translate into high availability. Contrarians are tragically consumed by both concepts.
The idea behind critical thinking, regardless of how much we drag and brandish the concept around, is that we commit to assessing information as objectively as humanly possible, that we commit to assessing all the available information, and that we accept we might not like the conclusion we reach. Thinking critically doesn’t mean criticising liberally. After all, half of the job still involves thinking. Many commentators seem to place all the weight of the critical element on what they judge. I can’t help but feel that it should be our thinking we pledge to be critical of when we claim to be critical thinkers. The subject should be critical in their thinking of the object, surely, not critical of the object itself. Thinking a lot of critical thoughts about anything might be entertaining to some, but it is hardly intellectual.
Enter the shortcut. Since being a critical thinker is in demand at best and sounds good at worst, many seek to get there the easy way: finding the fast track and figuring out the rest once we get there seems to be the norm. From what I’ve seen and heard, it seems that becoming a contrarian is the most effective way to be classed as a critical thinker. Some have become so skilled at this trick that I wonder what exceptional thinkers they could have evolved into had they exerted themselves equally in critical thinking. Instead, they wait for the arguments to come, for opinions to fly and retorts to follow, and then they pounce, like hungry predators, ready to take the opposite stance of whatever agreement has been achieved. Contrarians will disagree to agree every time, whatever you throw at them. Honestly, you should try throwing things at them — it can be highly amusing.
Critical thinking isn’t something we can do only when it suits us, only when comfortable. On the contrary, critical thinking is hardly ever comfortable. We are critical…