Back when I was in college.... Does that make me sound old? It was a long time ago but doesn't seem like it really! Anyway... back in those days so long ago like 1995... critical thinking was the overriding paradigm in college. Particularly in the sciences where almost all of my higher ed was spent.
Here is how this is supposed to work. Someone tells you "the sky is blue" (or you read it, hear it, however).. a non-critical thinker would simply accept this and reply "yep the sky is blue". Where a critical thinker would acknowledge the statement but then conduct further investigation to indeed support for themselves "is this supported?" You see back in my day we did not have "fact checkers" to help us or Google for that matter! We were not only expected to do our own fact checking but it was a requirement! So the critical thinker would then embark on research from "multiple sources" to decide is the sky blue? This critical thinker would undoubtedly find the sky is actually many colors all the time. And then realize it only appears blue because of the different color wavelengths scattered by the earth's atmosphere of each color and our physical observational constraints. Further explaining why at sunset the sky can in fact be red. Or why on the moon where there is no atmosphere to scatter the wavelengths an astronaut can be standing in bright sunlight but the sky will be completely black. So through this critical thinking process one might say "you see the sky appears blue based on your physical limitations and personal perspective...however it is actually composed of many colors".
Or someone might say to you TGIF! Thank God it's Friday! A non critical thinker would jump right in and say YES! TGIF! Where a critical thinker would investigate.... breaking this down thusly... "Thank God?" Wait who is God? Is he this old white dude with long white hair and a beard floating on a cloud? Looking down on all of us? Or is he a black woman that looks like Whoopi Goldberg? Is she on a cloud or walking down the street? Then one might ask "wait is it Friday?" and what is "Friday?". Is Friday real or is it an artificial mental construct? Does my dog know it's Friday? Do the wild animals know it's Friday? Does God even give a shit it's Friday? Is Friday a real thing? Is any day of the week a real thing?
See how this works? You make an observation, but follow that up with the hard work of analyzing your interpretation of that observation. Remember an "observation" can be something you experience first hand or something you heard or something you read. No matter you follow up with the hard work of critical thinking... instead of taking the lazy option of just accepting it. The lazy option is what gives a long life to "dogma". Dogma is like a virus running through society. Dogma is simply believing a concept because others believe it. Maybe your parents accepted it so you do too? Once dogma becomes ingrained it may not even be questioned anymore. Things like "money doesn't grow on trees" or "because of your skin color" or "you should wear makeup" or "Don't eat saturated fat" or "sunlight is bad" and a million others. None of which are necessarily true except by our acceptance of them through a laziness to exert critical thinking.
Critical thinking takes effort and learning to pull off. Despite having all the information available from earth's creation to this moment in the palm of our hand... today we as a society have went totally backwards! We have gotten so lazy that we use "fact checkers" instead of invoking the discipline of critical thinking ourselves! Without even thinking "who is checking the fact checkers?" THIS IS HOW PATHETICALLY LAZY WE HAVE BECOME. We quickly consume tid-bits of information and then think we know the truth... because it was on the internet! Unfortunately tons of information does not equal tons of wisdom!
To exacerbate this dumbass, lazy paradigm we have thrown religion away to embrace "science" as belief. For the non-scientists out there, unfamiliar with the "scientific method"... please hear this- NO REAL SCIENTIST WILL EVER UTTER THE WORDS "BELIEVE IN THE SCENCE!" Anyone spouting this horse shit is not a scientist and lacks even a basic understanding of the scientific method. Never has there been two more opposite words used together as "belief" and "science". Science should NEVER be "believed". Science is not a religion and making it so is like a 100,000 year step backwards for humanity! The rigor of science is based on critical thinking and testing. In fact when one tests a hypothesis the discipline expects you to assume there is NO MEANINGFUL relationship between the variables, this is called the "null hypothesis". THIS IS CRITICAL THINKING. You test the null hypothesis and if it all works you only "support" your hypothesis. You are not writing the Bible.
Let's "believe in the science and throw our feces at each other" is where we seem to be right now as a society. When you tear down science and make it a religion you actually forbid it to be questioned.... which ironically is to totally deconstruct the scientific method! You demonize someone who asks "Are face masks effective in disease prevention in a non-clinical setting?", when science becomes your religion. In true science you actually invite and welcome other scientists to test your hypothesis! NOT DEMONIZE THEM! In religious questioning one tends to get "triggered" in science questioning one tends to move forward in understanding. If I say God looks like Whoopi Goldberg and you get triggered I can live with that.... but if I say "we do not know the extent of human induced climate change" and you become triggered, there is no excuse. Religion is blind belief... science is testing and disbelief.
I can recall in my first college orientation class the professor saying "If the only thing you leave here with are critical thinking skills then we as an institution have been successful". They probably don't even do this class anymore or if so its probably some perfunctory online check off. Once critical thinking is abandoned you then become an indoctrination camp.
I am grateful to have attended college back when critical thinking skills were encouraged and taught. Its why today I have neither a Trump or Biden sticker on my car...because anyone with even a modicum of critical thinking skills refuses to jump on either of those clown cars. Its a skill set which keeps me from falling into deep emotional distress when an Oxford epidemiologist model says whatever.... Or a former VP says the sky is falling from global warming... Or women's rights will be completely stripped.... Or the police will be completely defunded.... Or we live in a country steeped in racism.... Or the government is coming to take my guns.... Or there is an imminent communist take over... Or healthcare will be rationed... Or black people are getting gunned down in the streets by white cops... you get the picture. Critical thinking is indeed a valuable life skill and a skill we as parents, teachers, mentors and citizens should be passing on to the next generation. Our youth should be shown the difference between science and religion and the time honored wisdom to know when someone is "pissing on your leg then telling you its raining!" True freedom is in being your own person, living your own life, freely being yourself and not having to subscribe to dogma and fear pushed on you by others. The root of that freedom is critical thinking. But don't believe me... fact check it yourself and live your life!