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Critical Thinking

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I have nearly 400 credit hours of college work, including a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a Global Master’s in Business Administration.

During the course of my college career – and it was a career by every measure – I’d switched majors numerous times, starting in General Education, switching to Computer Science Engineering, contemplating a move to Psychology when I failed Calculus and Physics, changing to Business Management as time went on and finally landing on Marketing when I committed to obtaining the Master’s in Business.

On graduating with my MBA in 2009 – feeling a little lost career wise – I considered getting a JD and took the LSAT twice – scoring a perfect average 147 and 146 both times, applied to Georgetown, but really, in my heart of hearts had always dreamed of attending Harvard law school. Not just because of it’s rating, but because I deeply admired it’s reputation and it’s image.

And let’s face it. Rachel’s husband was a lawyer. So to some degree this elevated the pedestal I’d put lawyers on and made me admire someone who had attended law school, enough to want the education myself – not just to understand the mindset, but to understand why attractive women tended to be so attracted to these men.

Vanity. Ya gotta love it.

But alas. I was denied entry into Georgetown, twice, but am halfway convinced I received the education of a lawyer in my own way. Coping with rejection being a well calculated part of that education.

This concluded my formalized pursuit of education.

But back when I started attending community college to begin with – Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona, beginning to understand the processes to moving to curriculum I was interested in I was told I had to take basic Math and English classes, combined with a class called Critical Thinking.

Now Math And English I completely understood.

But Critical Thinking. I just didn’t understand. Why would they make this a required part of a college education? I’d assumed that anyone attending college would be high school educated, and would already be well versed and educated in critical thinking skills. So this as a required class didn’t make sense.

The class was interesting – it focused primarily on reading, and assignments from the professor would range dramatically.

On one assignment, the professor passed a piece of paper around the room asking for you to write your least favorite movie of all time on the list next to your name. Once the teacher had that list, the student was then asked to write a review of that movie as if it was your favorite.

It was a subjective experience, for sure, and the instructor made it clear that negative subtext and negative innuendo about the movie would result in the assignment being docked points from their final grade.

The point of the class was to understand my own thinking processes as I continued on with my education and to eventually come to question the origin of critical and oftentimes self defeating thinking processes.

Ten years later, I came to be educated in ‘spin’ by the US government thanks to Public Affairs training.

And through the process of work experience and understanding customer behavior and information supply chains while pursuing my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, I began to question information origin as a whole.

I know this is coming across dry but there’s a point to all this:

I subscribe to RSS news feeds for a wide array of subjects, and participate regularly on Yahoo Answers and other participatory forums and have tried (in vain) to make legitimate modifications to purportedly open participation information sources such as Wikipedia.

And one thing I’ve come to believe is that – the United States and our information sources are being compromised and influenced in ways that are hindering the economic, cultural and technological progress of our nation.

It’s subtle how it’s happening. And if you’re not educated in critical thinking and hypersensitive to it like I am, you might actually miss it, but once you do see it, it’s impossible NOT to see.

So yesterday, I was talking with a friend – Brenda – when she discussed a problem associated with her work which she was using to validate her wide spread belief that women are oppressed and she identified with the march for women’s rights that occurred last Saturday.

Now Brenda’s a highly intelligent business woman who I have great respect for.

And while Brenda’s not normally the victim type, I was surprised at her and asked a simple question:

Have you considered there’s another side to the story to explain the negative discourse to occur?

In a rare moment, Brenda looked at me and admitted perhaps I had a point.

I suppose it’s this phenomena that’s surprising me on the internet, and in general.

I learned over time to question and even come up with my own stories about why people did what they did, and to leverage this knowledge to avoid making the actions and choices others made as wrong to make my beliefs and decisions right. For me, it’s felt like a simple common sense approach to live life, circumvent drama, and heck – to be walk away from opposition without it leading to war, hatred, or continued animosity.

It’s not a perfect system and way of thinking. Making others right, preserving their right to be an individual, to think individually even though you may know or believe very differently.

But a lesson I’ve learned from Christians over the years has been

“It’s ok to have a belief and world view that’s different than others, that’s what makes you an individual”.

And while I myself don’t believe in talking snakes and clouds that issue commands.

I’ve learned to coexist.

And walk away from those lacking respect when they try to thump that bible over my head again.

Or whatever other club they’re carrying telling me their opinion without considering or encouraging me for having my own.

Critical thinking, kids. Goes a long way not just in understanding and respecting perspective, but also for instilling a defense system against those who may not be interested in reciprocation.


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