"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Pogo
Actually, our enemy is irrational thinking, as that leads to poor decisions and often great harm - or at least ineffectiveness in getting what we want in life.
We MUST change this!
Solutions to significant problems facing modern society demand a widespread qualitative improvement in thinking and understanding. . . . We need a breakthrough in the quality of thinking employed by both decision makers and by each of us in our daily affairs.
—Ornstein, in Costa, 1991
Some advocate against rational thinking
What is rational thinking?
What are the benefits?
What are the indicators of "not-ratonal" thinking?
All rational thinking includes this
Examples of irrational thinking
SOME ADVOCATE AGAINST RATIONAL THINKING
Some people advocate against rational thinking because they believe (erroneously) that it is emotions that determine what we should do in life. They fail to see the simple proven reality that events are neutral and it is our beliefs about them that cause emotions. Emotions are results of beliefs and are designed to motivate us, but they are not the same as thinking. You can consider the messages from our brains that we consider to be gut thinking or from our heart, but ultimately it is you thinking rationally that will create the good decisions and good things in life.
Not thinking rationally leads to poor decisionmaking - indeed, it is the basis for being further toward the side of the spectrum that is called insanity. It doesn't mean we are insane (because we automatically have some rational thinking, without trying to think it), but it does mean that we are less effective in life.
And the result of rational thinking is that you will feel many more good emotions and not suffer the restriction in emotions that typically results from irrational thinking and stupid conclusions. And you also become more creative and more open.
WHAT IS RATIONAL THINKING?
Pretty simple. It is using reasoning (logic) based on facts and a sound understanding of the facts to produce rational results, which are defined as good, desired results.
It is not rational thinking to have a professor teach that socialism is good and capitalism is bad as that is not fact-based and does not represent applying logic to facts to come to reasoned conclusions. Such thinking can be quite harmful.
Rational thinking looks for the facts - all the facts, including the long term consequences, so that the overall tradeoffs can be weighed and a good decision be made from one's sound reasoning.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
That seems to be a silly question, but people are so caught up in mythical thinking and false beliefs about rational thinking that they fail to see the huge benefit.
You make better decisions and implement them better so that you produce more of what you want and produce much happiness.
There are no disadvantages (if you're experiencing any it is from not using rational thinking!).
WHAT ARE THE INDICATORS OF "NOT-RATIONAL" THINKING?
Often we can do as Michelangelo said about creating the statue of David: "I simply chiseled away everything that was not David."
So, let's see if we can chisel away and clarify rational thinking by eliminating irrational or not-rational thinking.
We can identify "not-rational" thinking by these results and/or actions (we only need one of them to be sure we have identified the need to correct one's thinking):
Negative results from our actions (within what is controllable, of course)
Complaining (which is bringing up what is wrong without seeking solution, often hoping someone else will solve it for us; this often entrains into us victim thinking and passivity and pushes out personal responsibility and proactivity)
Fear (of anything not tangible)
Not considering tradeoffs and realities and/or not seeing them or understanding them
Negative emotions other than fleeting discomforts
Know that there are direct "cause-effect" relationships, such that if you see an effect, you can be certain of the cause (or causes). If you see any of the above, you can be sure that "not-rational" thinking is involved.
ALL RATIONAL THINKING INCLUDES THIS
It is objective, logical, factual. It produces excellent results.
The process parts:
What do I want? (Results)
What do I need to understand about this? (Who can I get to help, so I don't have to be too much of an expert needlessly?)
Analysis: What is the definition of the problem and/or potential problems? What were the causes and factors involved in them coming about?
What are the benefits?
What are the costs (the price I must pay)?
What are the consequences? What are the possible unintended consequences and what are we giving too little weight to. (Such as governments giving pension benefits without considering the future costs and/or funding them adequately.)
Have I reasoned this out, without any false beliefs in it?
How shall I proceed, in as much detail as I need to effectively implement this?
SEE EXAMPLES OF IRRATIONAL THINKING
In politics, there are numerous examples of irrational (incomplete) thinking.
Believing "talking points" of your favorite side, without considering or looking at the facts and both sides.
We cannot discriminate against other people. Therefore, we cannot profile people who might be terrorists trying to kill us, even though profiling is effectively used in other countries. Their rights are more important than a few of us dying.
I am right and those people are wrong. They are evil for wanting to prevent abortions as a god-given right of a woman. Or it is evil to kill a fertilized egg as it is a human, etc. (It is rational to see that these are beliefs with no definitive answer and that it makes no sense to get emotionally upset about it and make other people wrong for believing what they believe. It is rational to advocate and take personal responsibility and to be respectful in being persuasive about it.
I just can't stand Bush. He got us into the war and faked the intelligence because he wanted to avenge his father. (This is the height of irrational thinking and lack of personal responsibility. We don't know all the facts that went into the decisions. A Senate investigation revealed he did not try to influence the intelligence. People didn't know the intelligence was in error and there is no logic to saying they should have, even though it seems obvious to us that it is wrong [hindsight, Monday morning quarterbacking]. To assume you have superior moral authority and judgment is also not rational thinking. Etc. and etc. and etc. See Iraq and Enhanced Interrogation.)
Wall Street caused the economic collapse. Capitalism is bad. We've got to help the people.
(Of course, helping people in a rational way is good, as long as it does not "enable" dependency. Perhaps some people on Wall Street were just acting out of greed, but certainly they cannot all be bad. Most people have some moral fiber and to assume Wall Street is the exception is very irrational. Capitalism itself is proven to have benefits. It is the abuses that we need to protect against so that we have a non-abusive limit on capitalism. Read about Capitalism - The Basics and read The Economic Collapse.) The problem is that there is income inequality. The rich caused that. The system caused that. (We have to look deeper than that. See Income And Wealth Disparities.)