There was a time when I was passionate about politics. I lived it, I breathed it. I drank deep from the cup of partisanship. The world, in my mind, was divvied up into two factions: Us and Them.
Anything said by “my” side had to be the unvarnished truth. Conversely, every word rendered by the “other” side was assumed to be skewed and distorted, if not an outright lie.
It was about this time that I attended a course entitled “Critical Thinking.” Critical thinking is actually a process; a learned and practiced skill. And a vital element of any deliberative research endeavor.
Critical thinkers probe patiently and deeply for the truth, challenging equally the “facts” of both sides. The real revelation comes when those methods are applied to the wares of the political marketplace. What shocked me was the sheer amount of deliberate deception. Leaders venerated as honest were in truth world-class manipulators.
It’s easy to be critical of those with whom we disagree. It’s hard, however, to demand of someone we do agree with, and even respect and admire, “cite your evidence,” and then to follow up with research. Most people are reluctant to do that because it risks popping that delusional bubble that surrounds our comfort zone. For still others, seeking the truth is simply too much work.