ultimate_seeker was poking at some of what I said on the “What is a moderate?” post (post + comments here). I thought I’d pull my most recent comments up to the top here, as they raise an interesting question about the relationship between critical thought and Grant’s definition of a moderate.
I’ve always felt like genuine critical thinking drags you away from the poles. We all have out ideologies at some level, but critical thinking is a process devoted to examining and challenging those core assumptions. If you haven’t turned the guns on your beliefs, you’re not a real thinker.
Lately I’ve been pondering the notion of unpredictabilty. There are a lot of people out there who, once you know two or three things (or less, in some cases), you really know all you need to predict their take on most any issue. To that extent, then, really strong critical thinkers tend to be harder to predict, because their minds have gone places you might not know about and have thought about issues in ways that others don’t really think about them.
The people I have a hard time predicting fall into three categories:
1) those about whom I don’t have any data
2) those who are legitimately crazy
3) those who are really very smart
The more easily I can predict what somebody is going to say on a subject we haven’t talked about before (assuming I have a bit of general data to work with), the less likely they’re somebody who thinks very seriously. We’re probably talking about somebody what has neatly slotted him or herself into one of our society’s easy categories – “liberal” or “conservative” being two of the most relevant pigeonholes here of late.
And from a personal standpoint, the less interesting they’re likely to be for me.
That said, ideologues tend to be really easy to predict…