Zeno's Paradox
While critical thinking may not make up for a lack of knowledge, it is essential for gaining knowledge.
Monday, June 21, 2004:  
Critical Thinking, Influence:
Bridging the Chasm between Two Cultures
I've been studying the conflict between the skeptical community and the metaphysical/new age community for a few decades now, and I think I've finally discovered the central issue that makes communication so difficult. It is not merely, as many surmise, a conflict between fact-based viewpoints and faith-based viewpoints. Nor is it simply a conflict between rationality and credulity. No, it's a full-on clash of cultures that makes real communication improbable at best...
One of the biggest falsehoods I've encountered is that skeptics can't tolerate mystery, while New Age people can. This is completely wrong, because it is actually the people in my culture who can't handle mystery - not even a tiny bit of it. Everything in my New Age culture comes complete with an answer, a reason, and a source...

We love to say that we embrace mystery in the New Age culture, but that's a cultural conceit and it's utterly wrong. In actual fact, we have no tolerance whatsoever for mystery. Everything from the smallest individual action to the largest movements in the evolution of the planet has a specific metaphysical or mystical cause. In my opinion, this incapacity to tolerate mystery is a direct result of my culture's disavowal of the intellect. One of the most frightening things about attaining the capacity to think skeptically and critically is that so many things don't have clear answers. Critical thinkers and skeptics don't create answers just to manage their anxiety.
Wow!

It's a few days after I've read the article and I'm still stunned by it. One of the thing that hits me hardest is how the author is exceptionally sensitive to the viewpoints of both sides, and has written the article in such a way to avoid, as much as possible, offending either side. I wish I had even a small part of her writing talent. Though I don't stop trying, for the most part I assume there is no way I can write about critical thinking in human factors without offending much of the audience I'd like to reach.

    -  Ron  1:43 PM

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