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Tags critical thinking , general population , logical thinking

View Poll Results: What fraction of the general population do think employ some reasonable form of criti
Less than 5% 12 21.43%
5% - 10% 12 21.43%
10% - 25% 19 33.93%
25% - 50% 6 10.71%
50% - 75% 3 5.36%
Just about everyone (I'm from planet X) 4 7.14%
Voters: 56. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 11th August 2007, 12:08 PM   #1
Just thinking
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What Fraction of People in the General Population are Critical Thinkers ??

What fraction of the general population do think employ some reasonable form of critical (logical) thinking skills in their daily lives? Then, perhaps you may wish to comment on what fraction of folks you associate with both at work and privately do so.

(OK -- I made the question too long ... it's my first poll.)
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Old 11th August 2007, 12:16 PM   #2
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99%?

People compartmentalize. Someone can be brilliant in every area of their lives but one, and then go way off the deep end in that one area.
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Old 11th August 2007, 12:17 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
99%?

People compartmentalize. Someone can be brilliant in every area of their lives but one, and then go way off the deep end in that one area.
Like, when driving?
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Old 11th August 2007, 12:21 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Just thinking View Post
Like, when driving?
Driving off the deep end?
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Old 11th August 2007, 01:15 PM   #5
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I think even if a majority of people are critical thinkers, which I very much doubt, they let themselves be swayed by emotional argumentation instead of rationality and logic far to much for us to be able to tell the difference!
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Old 11th August 2007, 01:44 PM   #6
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I'm going to apply some critical (logical) thinking here on this poll. I'm not going to vote on the poll because the question is nonsensical IMHO.

I get questions from manangement at work when they do yearly questionairres of all the workers. There is some of the questions that say "How much do you think the work done by our company in the field of XXXXX is beneficial to our clients".

My answer is always... "How the hell should I know". Even if I know the field of XXXXX that they're talking about, I don't know and have never met all of the clients, and in the case of this poll the "general population". I can only base an answer on what I have been told 2nd, 3rd, 4th of Xth hand from other people/media etc.

Therefore my answer can serve no useful purpose in any statistical analysis as it can provide no accurate reading relating to the subject of the question.

If I think that all people are critical thinkers then how is that going to help you?
If I think that only 50% of people are critical thinkers then how is that going to help you?

My answer would only be based on a contextual and baised opinion based on my own experiences, of which you will have no information just from me giving you a percentage vote.

Poor experimentation, full of flaws IMO.

*** No offence intended, just my critical thinking ***



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Old 11th August 2007, 01:58 PM   #7
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Most seem to rely on past experience without thinking much about anything. They come up with beliefs, make decisions based on those beliefs, and don't think about much else.

For instance, the world is 6000 years old and some god/s made it. Trees are therefore made from gods, and the seeds they make just make identical trees. There's no thought about what happens if the seed makes the tree greener or taller than those around them. There's no thought about how that would happen. There's just assumptions that all trees that look quite similarly are just exactly alike.

Or, if you buy a car from somebody you know, you assume they are trustworthy folks and don't get a mechanic to check it out first. They just trust their friend, and figure they shouldn't be practical and put safety first by getting the car checked. In fact, some people get insulted if you do a mechanic check before buying their car (I've heard of that happening). I don't care what anyone thinks, I'll get that car checked before buying it and driving my own kids around in it. I've learned to put safety first, and make sure I'm getting a good deal.

How many people do you know actually think things through or check anything out before they act?

I was the only student in my class to check out the emails my teachers read to us (even though the teachers encourage us to look things up too). The only one. The rest just assumed a teacher checks things out or knows the truth about everything, and didn't check the information given. I found 100% of the emails were debunked by snopes in the last 1-5 years. The rest of the classmates would have stopped buying swiffer products, never would have froze anything in plastic again, and feared aspartame was causing cancer in people the rest of their lives. Yeah, I get a quality edumacation at my school. I learned long ago that most teachers are not critical thinkers either though.

So, I voted optimistically for 5-10%, but I feel that almost 0% never really utilize critical thinking skills ever.

More on the definition of critical thinking can be found at:
http://www.criticalthinking.org/abou...finingCT.shtml

Quote:
Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.



A well cultivated critical thinker:
  • raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
  • gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively
  • comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
  • thinks openmindedly (without brain falling out completely) within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
  • communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems

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Old 11th August 2007, 02:41 PM   #8
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According to some alarmist organized skeptical clubs there is a 'rising tide', whatever that means since tides come and go.
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Old 11th August 2007, 02:50 PM   #9
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Yeah okay, don't actually contribute with a reasonable discussion on why you think most or even at least half of the population use some kind of critical thinking skills. At least demonstrate something to give us hope that people even know what a critical thinking process is and how it should be used in day-to-day living. Giving me some hope for the population would be far more beneficial than a drivey by ambiguous jab that contributes nothing to the discussion.

Thanks for nothing as usual T'ai.

I will wait for an actual optimistic post with some interesting information that can actually demonstrate I'm being too cynical.
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Old 11th August 2007, 04:18 PM   #10
athon
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As Joe said, there is no real answer to this question as the concept of a universal critical thinker is nonsense. We as skeptics try to embrace the concept of critical thinking as an ideal, yet even most of us here find it difficult to not be influenced by social thinking with regards to some things. Of course, at the other end of the spectrum, most people use critical thinking in some way for most things in their life, compartmentalising those precious fields which are emotionally dear to them.

Even your biggest religious nutjob would probably use critical thinking when evaluating some things, and even your most hardcore skeptic will have some areas where they unwittingly use emotional reasoning to justify their actions.

In short, while we talk about 'critical thinkers' and 'skeptics', the term refers more to an ideal than an actuality. They don't really exist.

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Old 11th August 2007, 06:05 PM   #11
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Depends of who you are referring to when you say "general population". Do you mean in the Western world or are you including all the third world cities, villages and 'tribal areas' of the world where the vast majority of people still reside? As far as people who have had the opportunity to go to school, sadly it seems to be 25% or less. If you are talking about the entire human population by my estimate, it is much lower.
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Old 11th August 2007, 06:18 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
Depends of who you are referring to when you say "general population". Do you mean in the Western world or are you including all the third world cities, villages and 'tribal areas' of the world where the vast majority of people still reside? As far as people who have had the opportunity to go to school, sadly it seems to be 25% or less. If you are talking about the entire human population by my estimate, it is much lower.
Fair enough ... one could, I suppose, try to incorporate all of mankind or just limit their population to their home country or region. I'm glad you at least placed descriptors of how many (percentage-wise) use critical thinking skills. This is, however, nothing more than an opinion poll and can be taken almost any way you like (or dis-like as the case may be).
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Old 11th August 2007, 06:21 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Eos of the Eons View Post
Most seem to rely on past experience without thinking much about anything.

... More on the definition of critical thinking can be found at:
http://www.criticalthinking.org/abou...finingCT.shtml
Thanks Eos for your comments (personal input and definition).
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Old 11th August 2007, 06:26 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Eos of the Eons View Post

So, I voted optimistically for 5-10%, but I feel that almost 0% never really utilize critical thinking skills ever.
You know, I think I like your answer better than mine, but I still think I'm right and you're wrong.

Now, if the question were changed to involve critical thinking about things of consequence, you'd be right. I'm reminded of the beginning of one of Michael Moore's books, where he questions the idea that Americans are dumb. He counters that Americans are very obviously capable of pretty impressive thinking on a lot of subjects, most of which are completely trivial.

I'd say that most people are capable of critical thinking... and very few of them apply it to anything worth bothering with.
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Old 11th August 2007, 06:31 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by athon View Post
... Even your biggest religious nutjob would probably use critical thinking when evaluating some things, and even your most hardcore skeptic will have some areas where they unwittingly use emotional reasoning to justify their actions.

In short, while we talk about 'critical thinkers' and 'skeptics', the term refers more to an ideal than an actuality. They don't really exist.

Athon
I think you're failing to see the forest because of those trees getting in the way. This isn't meant to be a highly scientific analysis on critical thinking and who does exactly what, rather it's just a personal poll on what fraction of the population (and you can describe that population however you wish) you believe uses what you consider to be critical thinking skills (as a default way of normal thinking) going through everyday life. If you still feel that's nonsense, then OK, I'm fine with that.
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Old 11th August 2007, 06:35 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
... I'd say that most people are capable of critical thinking... and very few of them apply it to anything worth bothering with.
To me that comment seems to border on the verge of nonsense, as critical thinking would make one realize it as being so.
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Old 11th August 2007, 06:38 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Just thinking View Post
To me that comment seems to border on the verge of nonsense, as critical thinking would make one realize it as being so.
Your own post seems to be a bit confused, actually.

Critical thinking, as per an earlier post, is defined as " the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action."

Well, yes. That would be it. Do you accept that definition? Can we agree on terms before going further?
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Old 11th August 2007, 06:43 PM   #18
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Sure -- let's use that for now.
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Old 11th August 2007, 06:45 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Just thinking View Post
Sure -- let's use that for now.
Thanks. Where in that definition does it state what that "conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating" must be directed towards?
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Old 11th August 2007, 06:48 PM   #20
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It states ... "as a guide to belief and action".

Although, I would have used and/or instead of just and.
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Old 11th August 2007, 06:50 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Just thinking View Post
It states ... "as a guide to belief and action".

Although, I would have used and/or instead of just and.
Yes, so I ask you: as a belief in, and/or action towards WHAT? Does it specify?
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Old 11th August 2007, 06:52 PM   #22
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That which is arrived at through critical thinking -- it can be many things, but somehow I don't think it will result in one believing in pink unicorns or a flat-earth. (Get my drift?)
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Old 11th August 2007, 06:59 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Just thinking View Post
That which is arrived at through critical thinking -- it can be many things, but somehow I don't think it will result in one believing in pink unicorns or a flat-earth. (Get my drift?)
You totally missed my point. I'm not saying that critical thinking will lead you to woo-woo beliefs. I'm saying that people can be completely unthinking when it comes to religion or astrology or homeopathy, and yet incredibly effective critical thinkers when it comes to figuring out which sports teams will do well in any given year, or picking parts when customizing performance cars or other relatively useless areas of life.
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Old 11th August 2007, 07:05 PM   #24
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Bad examples, I'm afraid.

Effective at picking winning sports teams? Tell that to the bookies who make more than a mint at it when taking bets.

Picking performance parts for cars? I can tell you that as a car nut myself, there is more than the fair share of nonsense out there that will not improve your car's performance -- yet it sells like crazy.
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Old 11th August 2007, 07:15 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Just thinking View Post
Bad examples, I'm afraid.

Effective at picking winning sports teams? Tell that to the bookies who make more than a mint at it when taking bets.

Picking performance parts for cars? I can tell you that as a car nut myself, there is more than the fair share of nonsense out there that will not improve your car's performance -- yet it sells like crazy.
Actually, perfect examples. PERFECT!

Bookies and the people selling crap parts? They often prey on many people who are otherwise rational and critical thinkers. At the same time, I'm sure there are plenty of people who are into astrology and other woo who, at the same time, are NOT suckered by people when it comes to sports, cars, or a dozen other subjects.
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Old 11th August 2007, 07:21 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
Actually, perfect examples. PERFECT!

Bookies and the people selling crap parts? They often prey on many people who are otherwise rational and critical thinkers. At the same time, I'm sure there are plenty of people who are into astrology and other woo who, at the same time, are NOT suckered by people when it comes to sports, cars, or a dozen other subjects.
Huh ???

Wasn't your original comment pointing out how people can be critical thinkers in useless areas by picking winning sports teams and choosing performance parts for cars?

And now you admit that their buying into such actions and beliefs is an expression of them being critical thinkers in other areas, not the woo-woo just mentioned? What other areas? I thought your first examples were the critical thinking areas.

Quote:
... and yet incredibly effective critical thinkers when it comes to figuring out which sports teams will do well in any given year, or picking parts when customizing performance cars or other relatively useless areas of life.
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Old 11th August 2007, 07:24 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Just thinking View Post
Huh ???

Wasn't your original comment pointing out how people can be critical thinkers in useless areas by picking winning sports teams and choosing performance parts for cars?

And now you admit that their buying into such actions and beliefs is an expression of them being critical thinkers in other areas? What other areas? I thought your first examples were the critical thinking areas.
I'm thinking that you've got some issues with YOUR thinking, because my posts were perfectly clear, and you are misreading them.
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Old 11th August 2007, 07:24 PM   #28
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A lot of low estimates coming in here.

I might agree with some of the lower estimates, in the 5% to 10% range, if the poll were asking specifically about "trained" or "formal" critical thinkers, people who can actually state and apply principles of critical thinking by name, who can talk about falsifiability and logical fallacies and statistical significance.

But I've also encountered, in daily life, a somewhat larger percentage of people whom I'd describe as "doubters" or "intuitive" critical thinkers, people whose skepticism comes from their personality, culture, and/or experience (which makes "intuitive" probably not a great description, but what the heck). They're not as quick as formal critical thinkers to reject internally plausible but unsupported hypotheses such as Bigfoot, and they're often less convinced than most formal skeptics by newer, more speculative scientific theories such as dark matter cosmology. But in general, their mommas didn't raise no fools; they know Astrology is bunk and that the magic diet pills in the infomercials won't work. And I think they're harder to convince to part with a dollar than most hardcore formal skeptics. A lot of liberal theists seem to fall into that group.

Between the two groups, I'd say the total portion of the population reaches somewhere between 15 and 30 percent.

Respectfully,
Myriad
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Old 11th August 2007, 07:29 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
I'm thinking that you've got some issues with YOUR thinking, because my posts were perfectly clear, and you are misreading them.
OK, let's have someone else comment on this exchange we had ... one who has not previously sided with either of us.
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Old 11th August 2007, 07:47 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
... At the same time, I'm sure there are plenty of people who are into astrology and other woo who, at the same time, are NOT suckered by people when it comes to sports, cars, or a dozen other subjects.
The problem I am having is that you started off claiming that 99% (or so) of the population uses critical thinking in one area or another. This is in agreement with Michael Moore's comments as well. Yet when you supplied examples of these areas you used ones that I felt were poor at best, and then you seemed to agree with that. If your point is to find a specific area for each individual and then say that most everyone uses critical thinking as a result, then you missed my point -- and that of the overall definition of critical thinking. How many do you think use it as a default (if you will) way of thinking on most issues?

I will also go on to say that if one does employ critical thinking as their default approach on most issues, a good deal of their conclusions would result in recognizing these dozens of topics (retail items -- sports betting -- etc.) as useless, and not just limit their coherent reasoning to one (if any) subject.
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Old 11th August 2007, 07:52 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Just thinking View Post
If your point is to find a specific area for each individual and then say that most everyone uses critical thinking as a result, then you missed my point -- and that of the overall definition of critical thinking. How many do you think use it as a default (if you will) way of thinking on most issues?
That's just what I said. Your initial post was unclear as to what you meant, and you could have saved me bunches of typing by clarifying your own post, instead of misinterpreting mine.
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Old 11th August 2007, 07:59 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
That's just what I said. Your initial post was unclear as to what you meant, and you could have saved me bunches of typing by clarifying your own post, instead of misinterpreting mine.
Did you read this, from my first post?
Quote:
What fraction of the general population do think employ some reasonable form of critical (logical) thinking skills in their daily lives?
Daily lives is usually taken as meaning normal everyday behavior. This too would pretty much include most issues they normally encounter in life. No, not every issue every day, but the normal everyday behavior being critical thinking is at work.
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Old 11th August 2007, 08:04 PM   #33
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You also used the word "some" which means "not all"... your lack of clarity is hardly my fault. On the plus side, it is Saturday... have some fun with it.
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Old 11th August 2007, 08:04 PM   #34
Eos of the Eons
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Thank you for posting such a thought provoking thread Just thinking

Originally Posted by athon View Post
Even your biggest religious nutjob would probably use critical thinking when evaluating some things, and even your most hardcore skeptic will have some areas where they unwittingly use emotional reasoning to justify their actions.


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Old 11th August 2007, 08:09 PM   #35
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Finally, a Planet X option I can vote for in all seriousness!

Everyone uses some form of critical thinking and logic in their daily existence. To say otherwise is going to presume a lot of people walking in front of trucks!
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Old 11th August 2007, 08:16 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
You also used the word "some" which means "not all"... your lack of clarity is hardly my fault. On the plus side, it is Saturday... have some fun with it.
And you couldn't have just asked me to clarify it for you?

Oy !!
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Old 11th August 2007, 08:19 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Foolmewunz View Post
Finally, a Planet X option I can vote for in all seriousness!

Everyone uses some form of critical thinking and logic in their daily existence. To say otherwise is going to presume a lot of people walking in front of trucks!
Ahhh .... but I did say reasonable, not walking into obvious danger is rather trivial, don't you think?

No, wait. Don't answer that. I don't want to go through this all over again!
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Old 11th August 2007, 08:26 PM   #38
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As someone who self identifies as a "skeptic", I'd like to equate "skepticism" on those "skeptical issues" with "critical thinking".
But really, I don't think that's fair. I know a lot of very smart folks deep into some woowoo who are excellent critical thinkers when it comes to other stuff.

I also know some genuinely stupid/intellectually lazy people who don't appear to ever think about anything too deeply.
So I voted "50-75%" since the poll doesn't have an option for 92%.

I should have voted 99% since that's closer, though, come to think of it.
Oh well.
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Old 11th August 2007, 08:32 PM   #39
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So, the amount of "skeptics" in the world with the least amount of sell-out to woo woo thinking (checking things out before falling for it hook line and sinker)- about 5% of the population. The rest are more liable to be suckers when being told ethene will cause MS with a good anecdote behind it, or will buy the advertised online "dna free" food if told dna is what causes cancer in all other food.

The amount of people who might use critical thinking on some sort of level, even if that means buying the same exact product, only cheaper at another store-100%

Whaddya think?
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Old 11th August 2007, 08:46 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Eos of the Eons View Post
So, the amount of "skeptics" in the world with the least amount of sell-out to woo woo thinking (checking things out before falling for it hook line and sinker)- about 5% of the population. The rest are more liable to be suckers when being told ethene will cause MS with a good anecdote behind it, or will buy the advertised online "dna free" food if told dna is what causes cancer in all other food.

The amount of people who might use critical thinking on some sort of level, even if that means buying the same exact product, only cheaper at another store-100%

Whaddya think?
Sounds about right.

A lot of people just lack the confidence to figure out a lot of things for themselves, too, I think. A lot of people don't know that they are smart enough to learn the basics of DNA, for example. They fall for the woo because they either don't have access to reliable information, or they lack the confidence to troubleshoot various theories on their own.
But when they do know a lot about a certain issue, the critical thinking can kick in.
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