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How To Form Opinions That Are Accurate & Intelligent (Part One)

Posted by Jerry De Luca on Monday, December 13, 2021


Many people form their opinions by thinking with their emotions rather than facts and truth. A smooth-talking liar will stir their emotions, cause them to get angry, and any attempts to convince them otherwise will be met with indignation. The mind has been circumvented and the victim has been duped. Some don't want to lose their friends or cause friction within their family so they go along with any convenient lie just to get along. Others are simply lazy and form their opinions with simple-minded one-liners. If they are suddenly discussing with someone with expertise or a lot of knowledge on the subject, they know they will be embarrassed and humbled, and will try to cleverly change the subject, act offended or dish out an insult. Their opinions are not valid, informed or intelligent because they know very little about the subject in general and know almost nothing about the other point of view. 

So on what basis have they formed their opinion? The following, taken from the Source listed below, is Part One on basic steps in forming an honest, valid and informed opinion. The Related Posts go more in depth.  

Monitor Your Own Cognitive Biases: “Practice reflecting on your own tendencies to seek only confirming evidence, and check the impulse. Counter ‘confirmation bias' by expanding your options for new (and conflicting) information beyond what immediately supports your pre-existing beliefs. Knowing when it is worth the work and when it is not is half the battle. If this is a critically important issue to you, take the time to explore more deeply, keeping an open mind. Take time to evaluate the evidence presented. None of us can think effortfully all the time, nor do we want to, so become tactical about what is important to you.” 

The Illusion Of Understanding: “Keep in mind that we can easily be persuaded when we reason with ‘confidence by coherence’. It may seem that mothers who share your values about breastfeeding also would know best about vaccinations, but do your own research. Beware the 'illusion of understanding' as it is easy to become overly confident about what we think we know. Watch your tendency to be persuaded by the power of a good anecdote, and seek scientific evidence to confirm or deny the message of the story you heard." 

Engage In Critical Thinking: "Critical thinking is clear, rational, analytical, and informed by evidence and involves analysis, interpretation and judicious evaluation. Not surprisingly, it is relatively easier when background information and prior knowledge are high. Good critical thinkers know when they have adequate knowledge to effectively evaluate evidence and when they do not and thus need to rely on others' expertise about the topic. When you take the latter path, recognize that you need to focus on evaluating the source of information and its reliability {before you evaluate} the information itself. Such skills can be learned, developed, and refined."   

Cultivate A Scientific Attitude And An Appreciation For The Value Of Science: "Value evidence, scientific methodology, and the scientists who work as a community to keep science a self-correcting enterprise. Stay open to new evidence and new findings. Recognize that the tentativeness of scientific findings does not undermine their value, particularly when there is a preponderance of evidence. This is especially important when the science is rapidly emerging and shifting during a crisis such as a pandemic." 

Improve Your Ability To Search And Evaluate Scientific Claims And Their Sources:  "A basic framework involves learning to -  

--Identify the motives of articles or websites 

--Identify tone or bias 

--Be skeptical of sources and develop tools to check them 

--Be aware that algorithms have targeted what appears in any search 

Learn to evaluate the results of your online searches the way a fact-checker would, reading laterally and not vertically, across sites, to get a wider, more impartial view. Those who operate like fact-checkers also spend more time sorting through results, are slower to reach conclusions, and are more accurate in their assessment of the integrity of sources."   


Gale M. Sinatra and Barbara K. Hofer, Science Denial: Why It Happens and What to Do About It, Oxford University Press, 2021 

Related Posts 

Devious, Hidden Motives Keep People From Honesty And Integrity  https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2021/12/devious-hidden-motives-keep-people-from.html 

30 Prying and Probing Questions to Bolster Critical Thinking  http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2016/10/30-prying-and-probing-questions-to.html     

Clarity 101: How to NOT Be Duped by Left- or Right-Wing Media Spin    https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2021/07/clarity-101-how-to-not-be-duped-by-left.html    

Hidden Motives & Factors Behind the Tidal Wave of Lies & Misinformation on Social Media                                              https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2021/05/hidden-motives-factors-behind-tidal.html  

The Dark Psychology of Social Media Manipulation   https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2019/12/the-dark-psychology-of-social-media.html    

16 Quick Tips to Enhance Clarity of Thought   https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2019/05/16-quick-tips-to-enhance-clarity-of.html     

Photo: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/22-artificial-intelligence-christian-lagerekscience-photo-library.html    

Jerry De Luca is a Christian freelance writer who loves perusing dozens of interesting and informative publications. When he finds any useful info he summarizes it, taking the main points, and creates a (hopefully) helpful blog post.


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