Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Critical thinking

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It has long amazed me how poor people’s critical thinking skills can be. I am an advocate of teaching critical thinking in schools. Children should be taught logic, so adults do not have to be taught logic. Moreover, people so often separate science and logic from morality one would think they were two opposing forces. Far from it – an immoral scientist is the worst kind of scientist.

Critical thinking is about being both willing and able to think. Ideally one develops critical thinking skills and at the same time the disposition to use those skills to solve problems and form good judgments. The dispositional dimension of critical thinking is characterological. Its focus in developing the habitual intention to be truth-seeking, open-minded, systematic, analytical, inquisitive, confident in reasoning, and prudent in making judgments. Those who are ambivalent on one or more of these aspects of the disposition toward critical thinking, or who have the opposite disposition [biased, intolerant, disorganized, heedless of consequences, indifferent toward new information, mistrustful of reasoning, imprudence] are less likely to engage problems using their critical thinking skills. […]

Critical thinking may be distinguished, but not separated, from emotions, desires, and traits of mind. Failure to recognize the relationship between thinking, feeling, wanting, and traits of mind can easily lead to various forms of self-deception, both individually and collectively. When persons possess intellectual skills alone, without the intellectual traits of mind, weak sense critical thinking results. Fair-minded or strong sense critical thinking requires intellectual humility, empathy, integrity, perseverance, courage, autonomy, confidence in reason, and other intellectual traits. Thus, critical thinking without essential intellectual traits often results in clever, but manipulative, often unethical, thought. In short, the sophist, the con artist, the manipulator often uses an intellectually defective but effective forms of thought—serving unethical purposes. However, whereas critical thinking yields itself to analytical considerations readily and may be considered largely “objective”, few humans notice the degree to which they uncritically presuppose the mores and taboos of their society (and hence fail to discern their own “subjectivity.” and one-sidedness). Critical thinking

Intellectual humility is a characteristic that internet diet gurus and resident web forum ‘experts’ rarely possess. I have come across very few individuals indeed who go into situations in a state of true open-mindedness, without having already formed a number of prejudices regarding a subject. People think they ‘just know’ the answers to big questions, without understanding that ‘just knowing’ is a supreme form of intellectual arrogance, the opposite of critical thinking.

People think that ‘just knowing the answer’ is somehow empathic and deeply spiritual – as if they are directly tapped into the fundamental truths of the universe. But unless you are able to accept that you do not ‘just know’ everything, you will almost always confirm your own prejudices instead of finding the truth. If spirituality is the quest for truth, and our only method of uncovering the truth is through the scientific method, then the arrogance of ‘just knowing’ is the exact opposite of spirituality.

The moral of the story: if you go on a quest to find ‘the cause of food chemical intolerance’, or ‘the cause of autism’ (as many individuals I have come across are prone to doing), do not decide two weeks into your quest that THE CAUSE is ‘everyone has vitamin deficiencies’ or ‘everyone has been poisoned by heavy metals and organophosphates’ or ‘everyone has gut dysbiosis’ or even ‘everyone has unusual genetics’.

Have a little less arrogance. Real scientists with access to laboratories and medical studies have been working on this question for over thirty years. What makes a crank like you who hangs around internet forums think you are so much smarter than everyone else?


Written by alienrobotgirl

23 April, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Posted in How to be Scientific

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  1. Very true.

    My girlfriend is a PhD in immunology currently researching Crohn’s Disease. Talking to her I realise the complexity of nutrition / biochemistry etc and my own ideas end up seeming very simplistic. I don’t think the scientistis are always right, but life on the internet is very detached from what the scientists are doing.


    24 April, 2008 at 10:01 am

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