Critical Thinking- You Are Doing it Wrong

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What we are deficient in his critical thinking skills. There’s a lot of talk on the Internet and all these blogs about privilege.  White privilege, male privilege, white male privilege, female privilege, CIS privilege, ad nauseam.  Perhaps it is a larger issue that affects our society. Maybe it’s some sort of cultural inherent behavior that were taught from birth. Personally I think it’s a failing of our schools and the curriculum

No one in this country is taught how to think critically. Logic is something they cover briefly in a math course, usually in high school. I’ve sat in boardrooms with CEOs and VP’s that are not capable of finding a root cause to an issue. Highly experienced professionals that can’t tell the difference between an opinion and a fact.

Example:  There was a minor fender bender involving two forklifts. Both drivers were following company policy, drug tested, and came up clean. So now everybody meets around the boardroom and tries to discuss what happened, what went wrong, and how do we fix it.  I was informed that the root cause was carelessness on the part of the driver. No one could illustrate how they came to that conclusion or find any supporting documentation. They thought about it and they put themselves in the drivers position and they came up with they just weren’t paying attention

No one went out to the site of the incident, no one took pictures, no one looked at the dock area. They just stated their belief firmly and emphatically. Because surely, if they stated their opinion enough times with enough emphasis it would become a fact and everybody would just accept it because of their position of authority.

Enter me: Demanding to have documentation and photographs evidence. You can all imagine how well this was received! Heaven forbid I say “perhaps there was an obstacle that prevented them from seeing the other driver, let’s go look.” I was told we couldn’t because it was a few days ago and now the dock looks different and here I go again with my logic saying let’s look at the cameras from the date of the accident. It took a good 20 minutes to convince people that we should look at the film footage and actually view the incident as it was occurring. Turns out there was a large pallet in an intersection and it was blocking the view of both employees.

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Sounds like we found the root cause. Okay, now we have to come up with some sort of corrective action. That one was easy, we will just move the pallet. Great! Now what are we going to do about a preventative action to make sure that it doesn’t happen again? Apparently, insisting that we don’t overload the dock is pure blasphemy. It seems the only acceptable solution is that everybody be more careful when the dock is overloaded and their view is of obscured. I pointed out the deviation in investigating our incident or record keeping would not be an acceptable solution to a government agency. That was met with a whole bunch of eye rolling and sighing. And remember, I’m dealing with VP’s and CEOs who are rolling their eyes and sighing at me. And let’s not even discuss the one manager who was outright hostile to my suggestion that they might need to make some changes in their operating procedures to ensure the safety of their employees.

So back to my original point. This is what’s wrong with people in our country and our culture. No critical thinking skills. We have a population of “educated adults” who can’t think logically. Grown people who cannot tell the difference between their opinion and a fact. Experienced professionals who think that just because they don’t agree with the law or regulation that’s enough to ignore it.  Some days I feel like my entire professional life has been spent trying to convince upper management that it would be much easier, faster, and efficient to just comply with the regulation then it would be to find ways to get around it. And all of this because I’m dealing with people who can’t draw a straight line from A to B to C. Large groups of people who cannot seem to make the connection between cause and effect

We can make the argument that this is a cultural phenomenon due to privilege. Of course that may be true and in some cases it probably is. The solution to this is to introduce critical thinking and logic into our school system. It’s really hard to justify putting down one group of people to raise up another when you’re using logic. Once you understand the difference between your opinion and the actual data presented to then you, you’re able to make much more concise choices. My mantra at work for the past 15 years has been this ” It is not my opinion, this is a regulation. You don’t know what my opinion is because it’s a relevant.” I just can’t understand why when something is a government regulation and I show them where it is written that they then go “Well, do we really have to do that?” Yes, yes you really have to do that and you have to do it right and you have to do it consistently and you have to train everybody to do it. Yes, you do even you even though you are a VP, even though you’re a CEO, and even though you’re a white male. Nobody cares,you still have to do the right thing. You still have to follow the law.

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