…you really make people think about their own beliefs and thoughts and how funny they seem looking outside in! It really makes you question what you’ve been preached and taught all your life.
That was a portion of one of the most flattering emails that I have ever received. It was sent to me by my nephew. Although I don’t normally give names, I am so pleased that he recognizes what I try to do in a lot of my blogs.
Think different. Think out of the box. Question everything. Stay crazy. We hear these phrases all the time. It seems to me that every time a great innovator such as Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs, Andy Grove – former CEO of Intel, etc., gives a speech they talk in that language. What does it mean? Those giants of the 20th century are all saying the same thing. They are saying THINK CRITICALLY.
Critical thinking is the process or method of thinking that questions assumptions. It is a way of deciding whether a claim is true, false, or sometimes true and sometimes false, or partly true and partly false.
It is something that a person making his life in science MUST do. For everyone else, maybe it is optional – but you ignore it at your own peril.
Allow me to illustrate: In the year 2000, Apple Corporation was just Apple Computer Company. When Steve Jobs and company were looking around for new ideas, they looked at the MP3 players. The designs at the time were, in Steve Jobs’ word, “crap”. Indeed they were. Steve and company redesigned the MP3 player, called it the iPod and the rest is history. The iPod was quite a different design than other MP3 players, both in its appearance as well as its functionality – and it was so successful that now you would be hard pressed to find another MP3 player on the market. If those guys did not “stay crazy” or “think out of the box” we wouldn’t have the iPod, iPhone, or iPad.
About a month after the iPhone was introduced, I bought one. I took it home and compared it with my Motorola Razor. Functionally, they weren’t much different, but the usability of the iPhone was light years ahead of the Razor. Now, everybody wants an iPhone.
We needn’t stick to scientific innovation. In American history we have been blessed with many great thinkers — for example Thomas Jefferson. He thought very hard about all that he read. In fact, he re-wrote the New Testament. Even today, if you want to, you can get the Jefferson Bible from Amazon. It is a very easy and short read (he didn’t believe much of it).
In Jefferson’s time, it was a given that the church held a special part in the governing of any nation, yet, he seemed to recognize that religion (or at least religious leaders) was the cause of a lot of the European wars — and he wanted no part of it. Critical thinking definitely has a part in politics. Jefferson’s contributions to the US constitution is probably one of the major reasons why we have lasted so long as a nation. We are lucky to have had him.
It goes on and on. Every day you should be questioning decisions that you made in the past. Do they still make sense? Are they still valid? Are you still satisfied with them? You will be a better person for it — and your country might be better off as well.
Correction: don’t question absolutely EVERY decision, as my wife reminds me. Just most of them.